Cases

  • Richard "Dick" Robinson was charged by the Department of Agriculture with violating the Animal Welfare Act for transporting a wolf from Utah to California for exhibition on television without a license. Robinson exhibited the wolf on several television programs to promote his most recent book about his exploits as an animal trainer and producer of animal films. Respondent once held a valid exhibitor's license under the AWA, but the license was revoked in 1979 when Robinson failed to comply with the terms of a consent decision requiring him to install more adequate plywood cover for his bear cages. After a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the Department of Agriculture issued a cease and desist order to prevent Robinson from further illegally transporting and exhibiting his animals and assessed a $500 civil penalty against him. The Judicial Officer of the Department of Agriculture affirmed the order of the ALJ on appeal. The 10th Circuit affirmed the ALJ's conclusion that a cease and desist order by itself was insufficient and that a $500 penalty was necessary to impress Robinson with the need to comply with the Act's requirements in the future.

  • Dog fighting case. Where the dog fighting area was in an open section of woods near the defendant's home, police officers were not required to obtain a search warrant before entering the defendant's property because of the "open fields" doctrine.

  • A planned event called "The Creepy Crawly Show" was to have been held at a racecourse and to have involved the display and sale of small exotic animals by a number of different breeders, dealers and enthusiasts. The event's organizer applied to the local council for a pet shop licence under the Pet Animals Act 1951. The application was refused on the ground that the event was prohibited by section 2 of the Act which states that a person is guilty of an offence if he "carries on a business of selling animals as pets in any part of a street or public place, [or] at a stall or barrow in a market". The organizer's appeal to the local magistrates court was dismissed. Held: the holding of the event would have involved the carrying on a business of selling pets in a "public place". It would also have involved the selling of animals in a market. The event was therefore prohibited by section 2 and that it would have been unlawful for the local authority to have licensed it.

  • In this Maryland appeal, appellant Rohrer questions the authority of the Humane Society to act under CR § 10–615 (the law that allows an officer of a humane society to take possession of an animal from its owner). Rohrer also challenges the legal ownership of the animals in state custody. The seizure of Rohrer's animals began in 2014, when an anonymous tip led humane investigators to Rohrer's farm. Field officers and a local veterinarian observed cattle that were "extremely thin" on Rohrer's farm. These concerns led to a search warrant of appellant's property. Due to the presence of dead animal bodies intermingled with the living, high piles of animal feces, and goats with hooves so overgrown they could not walk, the Humane Society (HS) and Sheriff's office seized all the animals under the warrant. The actual "seizure" resulted in a transfer of some animals to foster farms and an agreement between HS and Rohrer to adequately care for remaining animals on the property. Rohrer was charged with 318 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, eventually being found guilty on only 5 counts and sentenced to supervised probation. During the initial proceedings, Rohrer filed a "petition for return of seized animals" under CR § 10–615(d)(2). When the District Court gave conclusions on the petition, it lamented on the "lack of guidance" in the statute and noted that that the "statute really doesn't say" whether Rohrer would lose ownership of the animals. After the criminal trial, Rohrer again sought return of the animals after negotiations with the HS failed. The Circuit Court upheld the District Court's denial of the Petition for Return, finding the ruling was not clearly erroneous and it was not in the best interests of the animals to return to Rohrer. On a writ of certiorari to this court, Rohrer raises three issues: (1) can the HS seize an animal already in state custody from a search warrant; (2) must the seizure by the HS be justified by the conditions at the time of seizure or may it be based on previously observed conditions; and (3) how does a denial of a petition to return the animals affect the owner's property rights in the animals? In looking at prior codifications of the law as well as surrounding legislative history, the court first held that a HS officer may notify the owner of animal seized by the state in connection with a criminal warrant of its intent to take possession of the animal upon its release from state custody. Secondly, a HS officer may rely on previously-observed conditions to justify seizure under Section 10-615. The court noted that, similar to a search warrant, the factors justifying seizure can become weaker with time. So, when an owner files a petition for return, the HS has the burden of showing the court the seizure was necessary under the statute. In Rohrer's case, this Court found the District and Circuit Courts did not reach the question of whether the necessity supporting HS' possession of the animals continued. Since the animals were released after the criminal trial concluded, this Court stated that the District Court may now consider this question. Finally, the Court weighed in on whether the denial of a Petition for Return affects ownership interests. This Court declined to adopt the standard of "best interests" of the animals. Instead, the Court found that the function of the Petition for Return is to determine who has the right to temporarily possess an animal in question and this does not vest ownership rights in the animal if the petition is denied. This case was remanded to Circuit Court so that court can determine whether the final disposition of the criminal case and subsequent release of the animals held under the search warrant affects the disposition of Rohrer's Petition for Return of this animals.
  • The question on this appeal is whether a plaintiff can recover damages for emotional distress she suffered from watching defendants' St. Bernard dismember plaintiff's poodle while she was walking the dog near her home.  Relying on a case that allowed damages for emotional distress suffered from witnessing injury to a third person, plaintiff contended that her relationship with her poodle was a close one within the confines of that case.  However, the court summarily denied her claim, holding that a dog is personal property and damages are not recoverable for negligent infliction of emotional distress from witnessing injury to property.

  • Several reports to the police were made that a man had threatened several individuals with a firearm. In responding to the calls, the police identified the plaintiff pet owner as the allegedly armed man. Officers then proceeded to the plaintiff’s home and acknowledged that they saw a “Beware of Dogs” sign, but still entered the fenced-in premises. Upon entering the yard, four dogs approached and one of the officers shot and killed one of the dogs. The plaintiff brought suit against the officer and municipality and alleged violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In evaluating the officer’s claim of qualified immunity, the court held that the officer’s actions were objectively reasonable, considering he had reason to believe the plaintiff may be armed and dangerous and claimed “several large dogs ran out aggressively charging, barking and growling.” The officer’s relation of events was backed up by his fellow officer on the scene.
  • This is an action for damages alleged to have been sustained by plaintiff by reason of the killing of her dog, of the variety known as Pomeranian, by an Airedale belonging to the defendant. In 1919, a California court determined damages to be limited to the veterinary expenses connected with the injury to the animal. In the opinion, the court lovingly discusses the value of the animal. Notwithstanding these words of praise for the small animal, the court decided that the value was limited to the fair market value and related expenses.

  • Defendant was charged with criminal mischief and cruelty to an animal after dragging it with his car. The court concluded that, although some of the photos admitted were gruesome, the municipal court validly admitted the photos of the dog that defendant injured into evidence because the photos clearly aided the jury in understanding the nature of those injuries and the veterinarian's testimony as to the medical attention that the dog received.

  • The Georgia Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals in Greenway v. Northside Hosp., Inc ., 317 Ga.App. 371, 730 S.E.2d 742 (2012), to determine if the Court erred in finding that the deputy involved in that case was entitled to official immunity in connection with the euthanization of two dogs. The plaintiff-dog owner sued a hospital, animal control officers, and sheriffs after he was pressured to sign a release form to euthanize his dogs when he was admitted to the hospital. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's ruling of summary judgment for Roper, the hospital, and the animal shelter operator. Specifically, the Court of Appeals found that the doctrine of official immunity insulated Roper from liability from his decision to ask Greenway to sign the form, but not from the actual execution of that decision. In the instant action, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals' judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court noted that whether Roper's actions were malicious were beyond the scope of this writ of certiorari.
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  • Pig breeder sought damages from feed manufacturer after pigs got sick, died, or became sterile after eating feed. The Court of Appeals held that jury should have been instructed that basic measure of damages for dead and injured livestock was based on market value of affected animals and did not include separate award for unborn litters.  Failure to give proper instruction was prejudicial error that required a new trial on the issue of damages.

  • A zoning board granted landowner’s application for a special permit, and neighbor property owners appealed. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts held that defendant’s proposed use of land for horse stables fit within the agricultural use exception of the zoning ordinance and by-laws, and that plaintiffs had standing to enforce a deed restriction on defendant’s property.

  • Petitioner-Debtor challenged the Bankruptcy Court’s denial of Petitioner’s application for a Temporary Restraining Order and for a stay pending appeal after the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society seized 23 cats from Petitioner’s prior home for failure to provide proper sustenance/cruelty to animals and subsequently obtained a bond against Petitioner for the cost of providing animal care.   The United States District Court, N.D. New York denied Petitioner’s motion for leave to appeal requesting relief identical to that which was denied by the Bankruptcy Court, finding that the exhibits submitted show that Petitioner was currently charged with four misdemeanors, and that the commencement of the criminal charges against Petitioner and the posting of security pending the disposition of such criminal charges fall within the exception to the automatic stay under federal law.  

  • The plaintiff in this case filed suit against the defendant, a dog breeder, to recover medical fees after receiving a dog that had a “severe genetic heart defect.” The dog was purchased by a third party and given to plaintiff as a gift. The court in this case held that the plaintiff was not entitled to damages under the General Business Law or the Uniform Commercial Code. The court held that the plaintiff was not entitled to damages under the General Business Law because the dog was not actually purchased by plaintiff. In addition, the plaintiff was not entitled to recover under the Uniform Commercial Code because plaintiff was unable to establish “privity with the defendant or personal injuries arising from the alleged defect,” which are required in order to recover damages. The judgment was affirmed.
  • The plaintiff argues that G.L. 1956 (1987 Reenactment) § 4-13-16 permits recovery for indirect injuries, specifically including emotional trauma resulting from the destruction of property, in this instance the destruction of plaintiff's dog by two other dogs.  The court disagrees, finding that under § 4-13-16, a person may recover damages in a civil action from a dog owner where the dog causes an injury to a person or to another domestic animal, and nothing in the statute permits recovery for emotional trauma.  With regard to the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, the court notes that in this jurisdiction a third party may recover if, inter alia, the party is a close relative of the victim, which was not the case here. 

  • This Georgia case involved a dog bite to a person who went to went to the Pauls' house in order to verify and update information for the Oglethorpe County Tax Assessor's Office.  The court held that in the absence of any evidence showing that the owners of a dog had knowledge, prior to a mauling incident, that their dog had ever bitten another human being, the owners of the dog were not liable to the victim even though the dog's presence on the premises where the incident occurred was in violation of the county leash law.  In order to support an action for damages under OCGA § 51-2-7, it is necessary to show that the dog was vicious or dangerous and that the owner had knowledge of this fact.
  • This opinion concerns the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts' motion to dismiss plaintiff Rowley's (formerly plaintiff "Friends of Ruth & Emily, Inc.") citizen suit for injunction under the federal Endangered Species Act. Plaintiffs allege that two Asian Elephants, Ruth and Emily, were mistreated by the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford by chaining their legs, housing them in inadequate facilities, failing to provide proper socialization, and failing to provide adequate veterinary care, which gives rise to a "taking" under Section 9 of the ESA. Rowley claims that she is a member of the zoological society there and visits the elephants on a "near daily basis," resulting in “an aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual relationship with Ruth and Emily over the years.” The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts asked both parties to brief on the issue of standing for the instant action. The court first noted that the ESA expressly authorizes citizen suits for injunctive relief. To survive a motion to dismiss, Rowley must, through facts, clearly demonstrate standing, and then the court must analyze those facts under a multi-pronged approach. To begin, the court distinguished cases that established the proper "animal nexus" for injury in fact with those that did not meet that finding. Here, Rowley's complaint established injury in fact because she lives in New Bedford, is a member of the Zoo's Zoological Society, and observes the elephants on a near daily basis. Rowley alleges that the maltreatment of Ruth and Emily injures this ability because she observes their ongoing suffering while in substandard captivity. The court was not persuaded by New Bedford's claim that Rowley has not established injury in fact because she has no specialized training in wildlife or animal welfare. In fact, this claim ignored precedent from this very circuit that "aesthetic injury" can be established by viewing animals in inhumane conditions. In addition, the court rejected New Bedford's "nonexistent requirement into the injury in fact analysis" that Rowley must have observed or will observe Asian elephants in their native habitats. As a result, the court found Rowley properly established injury in fact. As to the next requirement of causation, the court found that Rowley sufficiently alleged that the Zoo's actions caused the harm complained of for purposes of surviving a motion to dismiss. Finally, as to redressability, the court found that Rowley's request for a declaratory judgment as to the Zoo's treatment of Ruth and Emily, and an injunction prohibiting the Zoo from euthanizing the elephants met this prong. New Bedford's contention that Rowley's further suggestion of moving the elephants to a sanctuary in Tennessee impaired her redressability argument because Rowley did not propose how the cost of relocation would be funded was also rejected. At this stage, the court does not need to determine whether this solution is necessary or feasible. The District Court ultimately held that Rowley demonstrated sufficient standing to pursue her claims. Hence, New Bedford's motion to dismiss was denied.
  • A deer being hunted with a pack of hounds jumped onto a road and fell under a stationery vehicle. Members of the hunt dragged the deer from under the vehicle to a nearby enclosure, where the Master of the hunt slit the deer's throat and killed it. The Divisional Court held that the Master could not be convicted of an offence of cruelty under the 1911 Act because, for the purposes of that Act, which protects only captive and domestic animals, a mere temporary inability to escape did not amount to a state of captivity.

  • The respondents were charged with nine counts of inflicting unnecessary suffering on an animal, a cow, and one count of of subjecting 50 cows to unnecessary suffering. The trial judge found the respondents wrongly charged and dismissed the charges without the prosecution clearly articulating its case. The trial judge was incorrect to dismiss the charges for want of particulars. The trial magistrate was also incorrect to dismiss the tenth charge for duplicity. In some circumstances it is possible to include multiple offences in the same charge where the matters of complaint are substantially the same.

  • The respondent was the owner of a dog which was found with skin ulcerations, larval infestations and saturated in urine. On appeal, it was found that the trial judge failed to give proper weight to cumulative circumstantial evidence as to the respondent's awareness of the dog's condition. It was also found that 'illness' was intended to cover a wide field of unhealthy conditions and included the larval infestation. The respondent was convicted and fined.

  • The appellant, the RSPCA, relied on the fact that a horse, once in RSPCA care, had a significantly improved condition in comparison to that described as 'emaciated' while in the respondent's care. The respondent claimed that the horse's condition fluctuated depending on the presence of mares in heat during summer and that she had tried several changes to the feed to counter a loss in weight. On appeal, the appellate judge did not disturb the trial judge's finding and confirmed that the respondent's conduct was reasonable in the circumstances.

  • It was held that for an animal fight to have taken place, contrary to Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act, the following must have occurred: a "protected animal" must have been placed with another animal in an environment where the ability of both to escape is restricted and controlled by some person or persons connected with that activity or by some artificial restraint. ‘Placed with’ is to be construed as a ‘matter of normal language.’
  • Appeal against the order of the Magistrate dismissing a complaint - prevention of cruelty to animals - respondent charged with ill treating an animal in that failed to take reasonable steps to alleviate any pain suffered by the animal who had a fractured leg bone contrary to sec 13(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1985. Dismissal was upheld and court found that defendant did not understand dog was in pain and had and was going to take reasonable steps.

  • This appeal stems from an action against a defendant veterinarian for the alleged negligent vaccination of plaintiff’s pregnant hogs (gilts).  The court articulated the standard of care: "As a veterinarian defendant was duty bound to bring to his service the learning, skill and care which characterizes the profession generally. In other words, the care and diligence required was that as a careful and trustworthy veterinarian would be expected to exercise. . . We are convinced the correct standard of the veterinarian's care should be held to that exercised generally under similar circumstances."

  • While the plaintiff was tending her garden, the defendant's dog jumped on a chain-linked fence that separated the plaintiff's and defendant's property. Startled, the plaintiff fell and injured herself. As a result of the incident, the plaintiff brought a personal injury suit against the defendant. Finding the dog had no vicious propensities, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant; the plaintiff then appealed and lost.

  • This North Carolina case is an appeal from a denial of summary judgment in favor of Franklin County Animal Control. Defendants argue that the trial court erred by declining to enter summary judgment in their favor on the basis of governmental immunity. The appellate court agreed, reversed the trial court's decision, and remanded for an entry of summary judgment for defendants. The court found that there is no dispute in the record that Franklin County Animal Control and Stallings, in his official capacity as an Animal Control Officer, were performing a governmental function in impounding and euthanizing plaintiff's dog. Further, plaintiff failed to allege in her complaint that defendants waived governmental immunity, subjecting her action to dismissal.

  • The plaintiff brought this action against Defendants Fort Dodge Animal Health, Inc. and Wyeth Corporation, seeking economic damages suffered from the purchase and injection of her dog with ProHeart® 6 to prevent heartworm. The complaint alleged products liability/failure to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and violation of state deceptive business practices, among others. In 2004, defendants recalled ProHeart® 6 in response to a request by FDA due to reported adverse reactions. This Court found that Massachusetts law follows the traditional “economic loss rule,” where such losses are not recoverable in in tort and strict liability actions where there has been no personal injury or property damage. Here, the plaintiff was barred from recovering because she has not alleged any personal injury or property damage under her products liability claim. Further, plaintiff failed to show that defendants' deceptive act caused some injury and compsensable loss. Defendants' motion to dismiss was granted.

  • Appellant was the pastor of an all-race Native American church that required the use of eagle feathers during certain worship who challenged the BGEPA after being denied a permit to obtain eagle feathers because he was not a member of a recognized Indian tribe.  Under an equal protection analysis, the court found the limitation on the use of eagle parts to Native Americans is rationally related to the government's interest in preserving the eagle population as well as the special religious and cultural interests of Native Americans.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by non-Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Paris N. Rupert, unlawfully, willfully and feloniously deliver to the Frisco Railroad Company, a common carrier, for transportation out of said territory and to the city of Chicago in the state of Illinois, the dead bodies of quail, which said quail had theretofore been killed in the Territory of Oklahoma in violation of the laws of said territory and with the intent and purpose of being shipped and transported out of said territory in violation of the laws of said territory.  The court held that the territory of Oklahoma had the authority to provide by legislation, as it did, that wild game, such as quail, should not be shipped out of the state, even though the game was killed during the open season.  Further, the act of Congress (the Lacey Act) is valid wherein it is declared that the shipment out of the territory in violation of the territorial law constitutes a crime under the national law.

  • The applicants held sheep in a pen pending live export. The respondent broke into that pen and put pork products in their feed rendering them unfit for export to countries whose markets had religious proscriptions against eating pork products. The court found that the respondent's conduct did not amount to 'hindering' as defined in the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) and that his action was for the dominant purpose of environmental protection, which included protecting sheep from the conditions suffered during the live export trade.

  • The trial judge held that the respondent's placing of a ham mixture in the feed of sheep prior to live export was covered by the defence of dominant purpose for environmental protection under the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth). On appeal, the court held that the respondent's actions were not an attempt at environmental protection but rather sought to prevent what he believed would be cruelty to those animals on board the ship during live export and upon arrival. The case was referred back to the Federal Court for assessment of damages.

  • The respondent placed ham in food to be fed to sheep prior to live export. This action resulted in delay of live export and constituted a breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) without falling under the defence of 'environmental protection'. The second applicant was entitled to damages from the respondent falling under the following heads: purchasing sheep; transport; killing fees; processing fees; freezer storage fees; cost of resale; and travel expenses. The total loss was calculated at $72,873.73.

  • Passerby sued dog owner for bitten finger.  Held:  because dog had shown no previous vicious propensities, the owner is not strictly liable, and, the owner was not negligent.  Reversed.

  • Plaintiffs commenced the instant action to recover veterinary expenses incurred by reason of the fact that the dog sold to them by defendant was not healthy. The court held that plaintiffs were not entitled to avail themselves of the remedies afforded by article 35-D of the General Business Law by reason of their failure to comply with the requirements set forth in section 753 thereof (to wit, they did not produce the dog for examination by a licensed veterinarian designated by the dealer, nor did they furnish the dealer with a certification of unfitness of the dog within three days after their receipt thereof). The court, however, noted that the article does not limit the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law, so the award by the court was affirmed (albeit on a different basis).

  • (This case was vacated by United States v. Hardman, 260 F.3d 1199(10th Cir. 2001). Appellant was descended from the Chiricahua tribe of Apache Indians, and, although originally recognized as a tribe, it is not presently recognized.  The court affirmed the vacating of defendant's conviction for possessing eagle parts, holding that the present test under RFRA with regard to whether a tribe has been formally recognized bears no relationship whatsoever to whether one sincerely practices Indian religions and is substantially burdened when prohibited from possessing eagle parts.  For discussion of Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion .

  • Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association filed suit challenging the federal government’s suspension of imports of trophies from elephants sport-hunted in Zimbabwe. In April of 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“the Service”) suspended imports of trophies from elephants on the basis that the Service could no longer make the finding required under its regulations “that the killing of the animal whose trophy is intended for import would enhance survival of the species.” Safari Club asserted four main arguments against the Service’s suspension of imports: (1) the agency violated APA rulemaking requirements by not providing for notice and comment; (2) the agency applied prohibited guidelines and the wrong standard in making its findings; (3) the agency failed to overcome a statutory presumption in Section 9(c)(a) of the Endangered Species Act; and (4) the agency violated the APA by failing to explain why it maintained the enhancement finding requirement in the Special Rule after the requirement was eliminated from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The court reviewed Safari International’s arguments and granted summary judgment only with respect to the argument that the Service had failed to publish notice of the changed Zimbabwe enhancement finding in the Federal Register until May 12, 2014. The court dismissed the remaining arguments put forth by Safari International and granted summary judgment in favor of the Service. The court found that the Service had violated its commitment to publish any notice of a change in the Federal Register before the change can take effect. The Service violated this commitment by publishing notice of the suspension of imports of trophies in the Federal Register on May 12, 2014 but making the effective date of the suspension April 4, 2014. For this reason, the court found that the effective date of the suspension must be changed to May 12, 2014. With respect to Safari International’s other arguments, the court found that Safari International was unable to meet its burden and held in favor of the Service.
  • This case dealt with an action brought by an organization of safari hunters and firearm advocacy association under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS), challenging the decision to suspend imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered summary judgment in FWS's favor, and the organization and association appealed. Under the ESA, sport-hunted African elephant trophies may only be imported into the United States if, among other things, the FWS makes “[a] determination ... that the killing of the trophy animal will enhance the survival of the species”. The Court of Appeals held that 1) FWS's interpretation of Special Rule forbidding import of sport-hunted elephant trophies was permissible; 2) FWS could base finding that killing of African elephants did not enhance species' survival on absence of evidence that sport hunting enhanced survival of species; 3) FWS's conclusion that it lacked evidence to make finding that killing African elephants in Zimbabwe would enhance survival of species rebutted any presumption that importation did not violate any provision of ESA or regulation issued pursuant to ESA; 4) removal of enhancement requirement from Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora did not require FWS to reconsider Special Rule; 5) finding constituted rule rather than adjudication; and 6) FWS's failure to engage in notice-and-comment prior to finding was not harmless error. Affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded so the FWS can initiate rule making to address enhancement findings for the time periods at issue in this case.
  • Appellant animal hospital sought review of the judgment entered against it for the injuries suffered by an individual after a cow escaped from the hospital and struck the man who owned the house to which the cow had run as the man tried to help the veterinarian secure the animal.  The court held that appellant's liability is predicated upon its position as an owner or occupier of land whose duty with regard to the keeping of domestic animals is circumscribed under a bailment theory. Further the court held that the evidence supported the trial court's finding that appellant negligent under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. 

  • After suffering a disabling stroke, a retired police officer’s pit bull mix was trained to become a service dog. However, the town where the retired police officer resided had a Breed Specific ordinance that prohibited pit bulls. The retired police officer and his wife brought this suit against the city alleging that the ordinance violated his rights under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and also sought a preliminary injunction to enjoin the city from enforcing the ordinance. The officer’s preliminary injunction was granted after the court found: 1) the officer was likely to succeed on merits of ADA claim; 2) the officer would suffer irreparable harm absent injunction; 3) the balance of equities was in favor of injunctive relief; 4) and the national public interest in enforcement of ADA trumped more local public interest in public health and safety reflected in ordinance.

  • At her facility, Defendant raised and housed more than 200 mice and rats to be sold as feed for snakes and other carnivores. Until March 2013, Defendant had a valid license issued under Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act (PACFA), but it expired. Upon the expiration Defendant kept operating her facility despite a cease and desist order from the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture. The trial court granted the Commissioner's request for a permanent injunction to prevent Defendant from operating without the required PACFA license and from violating the cease and desist order. On appeal, the court rejected Defendant’s argument that her rodents were outside PACFA’s “pet animal” definition, despite the fact the mice and rats she sold were used as food, not household pets. Additionally, the court found rats and mice did not fit within the statutory exemptions for livestock or “any other animal designated by the Commissioner.” The court was also unpersuaded that Defendants rodents were “working animals” because there was no indication that she used them to perform any function that could be considered “work.” The district court’s decision was affirmed.
  • Construction worker brought negligence action against homeowner for injuries sustained by another contractor's pit-bull dog, after homeowner had given the contractor permission to allow the dog to run loose on homeowner's property. The Court of Appeal, First District, Division 1, California, held that a landlord does not generally owe a duty to protect third parties from injuries by his or her tenant's dangerous dog without actual knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities and ability to prevent or control the harm. However, a homeowner, who maintains possession of and control over the premises, and thus is not acting as a landlord, is not required to have actual knowledge of a dog's dangerous propensities to owe a duty of care to his or her invitees.  

  • The Plaintiffs appeal from an order granting dismissal of their complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In 2014, Plaintiffs filed a civil suit under North Carolina's anti-cruelty "citizen suit" provision, N.C. Gen.Stat. § 19A–1, against King Kong Zoo. Plaintiffs contended that the zoo kept animals in "grossly substandard" conditions. King Kong Zoo is an Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) licensed exhibitor of wild and domestic animals. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the applicable law here is the AWA and “N.C. Gen.Stat. § 19A–1 ... has no application to licensed zoo operations.” On appeal, this Court found in a matter of first impression that the AWA does not expressly preempt claims under N.C. Gen.Stat. § 19A. Instead, the AWA "empowers Section 19A to work in conjunction with the AWA." The Court also found no conflict of law that would preclude bringing the action. The matter was reversed and remanded to the Cherokee County District Court for determination consistent with this opinion.
  • Plaintiffs Sam Lambert and Andria Lambert appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in this lost dog case. Specifically, plaintiffs filed an action against defendants Sally Morris and Steve Hair alleging conversion, civil conspiracy, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress, as well as injunctive relief and damages related to the disappearance of their dog, Biscuit. Biscuit went missing in August of 2015. After searching for Biscuit for several days, plaintiffs contacted the local animal control and posted Biscuit as a lost dog on animal control's unofficial Facebook page. Over a month later, a citizen brought Biscuit (who had no microchip or collar on) to animal control where she was placed in a holding cell. After the 72-hour hold, Biscuit was transferred to the Humane Society. Biscuit was spayed and examined by a veterinarian, and a picture was posted on the Humane Society website. At the vet exam, tumors were discovered in Biscuit's mammary glands and so surgery was performed, some of it paid for by defendant Hair. Hair eventually adopted Biscuit. Almost a year later, plaintiffs found an old picture of Biscuit on the Humane Society Facebook page and attempted to claim Biscuit. Defendant Hair learned of this and requested that plaintiffs reimburse for veterinary expenses, to which they agreed. After some discussion, Hair learned plaintiffs had over 14 dogs and refused to return Biscuit without a home inspection. That caused a heated discussion and the meeting between plaintiffs and defendant ended without the dog returning. About a month later, plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, whereupon defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. On appeal here, the court first noted that, per state law, an animal shelter hold a lost or abandoned dog for at least 72-hours. Here, animal control satisfied its legal duty by keeping Biscuit in custody for the required holding period before transferring her to the Humane Society. Thus, plaintiffs lost any ownership rights to Biscuit after the 72-hour mark. Moreover, almost a month had passed between the time Biscuit was taken in by animal control and the formal adoption by defendant Hair at the Humane Society. As a result, the court found that Hair was the rightful owner of Biscuit and was entitled to negotiate with plaintiffs as he saw fit. Thus, no genuine issues of material fact existed for plaintiffs at trial. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to defendants and dismissing plaintiffs’ claims.
  • In a tax proceeding, the Commissioner argues that defendant should be disallowed a charitable deduction for donating several artifacts containing eagle parts to a museum because it will frustrate the purpose behind the BGEPA.  The court disagrees, finding it unlikely that such an allowance will encourage others to procure eagle artifacts for the sole purpose of obtaining a tax deduction.  Further, the court disagrees with the Commissioner that Sammons acquired illegal title to the artifacts, finding Sammons had sufficient ownership interest in the eagle artifacts for donation.  For further discussion on commerce in eagle parts under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Agency's choice of sanction is not to be overturned unless it is unwarranted by law, unjustified by facts, or represents abuse of discretion; sanction is not rendered invalid in particular case because it is more severe than sanctions imposed in other cases.
  • In this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Defendants-Appellants, seven San Jose City Police Officers and Deputy Sheriff Linderman, appeal from an order of the district court denying in part their motions for qualified immunity. This action arises out of the simultaneous execution of search warrants at the residences of members of the Hells Angels, and at the Hells Angels clubhouse on January 21, 1998. While executing search warrants at two plaintiffs' residences, the officers shot a total of three dogs. This court held that the shooting of the dogs at the Vieira and Souza residences was an unreasonable seizure, and an unreasonable execution of the search warrants, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Exigent circumstances did not exist at either residence, as the officers had a week to consider the options and tactics available for an encounter with the dogs. The unlawfulness of the officers' conduct would have been apparent to a reasonable officer at the time the officers planned for serving the search warrants.

  • In this case, Heather Sanders filed suit against Joseph D. Frank after she suffered injuries as a result of rescuing Frank’s horses that were running at large. The lower court dismissed Sander’s complaint with prejudice and Sanders appealed. On appeal, Sanders asserted four main arguments: (1) the doctrine of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk should not be applied when defendant negligently violates a statute; (2) the rescue doctrine should preclude the assumption of the risk doctrine even though Sanders voluntarily assisted in the capture of the horses; (3) the trial court erred in applying the assumption of risk doctrine; and (4) the trial court erred by preventing recovery of damages. Ultimately, the court of appeals reviewed the case and affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the complaint. The court found that all four of Sander’s arguments were without merit. The court held that although Frank had negligently violated a statute, allowing his horses to escape and run at large, Sanders voluntarily assisted in the capture of the horses and was not responding to any immediate emergency or threat to human life. Also, the court pointed out that Sanders had “assumed the risk” based on the fact that she had helped rescue Frank’s horses in the past. As a result, the lower court did not err in dismissing Sander’s claim based on contributory negligence and the assumption of the risk doctrine.

  • Deborah Sanzaro and Michael Sanzaro are the plaintiffs in this action. Plaintiffs are homeowners and members of a homeowners association ("HOA"). Three incidents occurred at the HOA clubhouse in which Deborah Sanzaro attempted to enter with her Chihuahua, which she claimed was a service animal. In each of these three incidents, Deborah was denied access to the clubhouse. The first incident occurred on March 11, 2009. Deborah entered the club house with her dog and the manager of the HOA asked her why she brought the dog into the clubhouse with her. Deborah explained that her dog assisted her with her disability and was a service animal, however, she could not provide any documentation to the manager as to that effect. She was then asked to leave the clubhouse to which she refused. Only after security was called did Deborah leave. Later, on that same day, Deborah entered the clubhouse with her service dog without any incident. The HOA sent a letter to the plaintiffs after the first incident notifying them that that Deborah had violated the HOA’s governing documents and that a hearing before the HOA board would take place on March 30, 2009. Plaintiffs never showed for this hearing which ultimately resulted in the Board finding that Deborah violated HOA rules and regulations by entering the clubhouse with her dog and not providing documentation. Deborah was assessed multiple fines. Prior to the hearing, the HOA sent out letters to the other residents letting them know that they would accommodate any legitimate service animal if their staff is properly advised of such. They also mailed out a letter regarding the incident with the plaintiffs to all of the other residents. The plaintiffs began to receive hate mail and verbal harassment regarding their dispute with the HOA board. The plaintiffs received many threats and had their property defaced by an anonymous homeowner who spray painted their garage door telling them to get out of the neighborhood. The HOA did nothing to stop this harassment. Plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Division and their claim was submitted to a non-binding arbitrator. Deborah provided a doctor’s statement requesting that her dog be registered as a service dog, a notice of entitlement to disability benefits from the SSA, a doctor’s statement regarding Deborah’s disability, and a statement from Deborah explaining how her dog had been trained to assist her. The Arbitrator found for the Ardiente Homeowners Association because she did not find Deborah’s explanation as to why she needed the dog as being persuasive. The arbitration decision was upheld by the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County, Nevada as well as by the Nevada Supreme Court. On July 26, 2010, Plaintiffs entered the clubhouse again with the dog. They were told that they could not come in unless they provided more documentation despite the documentation that the Deborah had provided during the arbitration proceeding. On January 29, 2011 the plaintiffs entered the clubhouse again with the dog and they were again denied entry until the plaintiffs could provide documentation that the dog was a registered service animal. The HOA eventually foreclosed on the plaintiff’s home in order to recover the fines and attorney’s fees that were owed. Plaintiffs then brought 102 causes of action in federal court under the ADA and FHA which were pared down to two questions: (1) whether the HOA clubhouse was a place of public accommodation under the ADA and NRS § 651.075, and (2) whether Plaintiffs requested, and were ultimately refused, a reasonable accommodation under the FHA. For the plaintiff ADA claims, the District Court found that Deborah is disabled as a matter of law and that the HOA and other defendants were aware of her disability at least as of July 27, 2009 (the date of the arbitration). The Court also found that the clubhouse was not a place of public accommodation and that the entire community including the clubhouse was a private establishment. As a result the plaintiffs were not able to establish a claim for disability discrimination under the ADA. For the plaintiff’s FHA claims, the Court found the following: Deborah was qualified as handicapped under the FHA; the defendants were reasonably expected to know about her handicap; an accommodation was necessary for Deborah to use the clubhouse; the dog qualified as a service animal and permitting the dog to accompany Deborah was a reasonable accommodation; and the defendants refused to make the requested accommodation which makes them liable. For the Nevada law claim, it failed because the community and clubhouse are a private establishment and were not considered public accommodations. Plaintiffs were entitled to damages for their FHA claims only. The Court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $350,000 in compensatory damages, $285,000 in punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation.
  • A dog bite victim sought damages against absentee landlords after the tenant's bull mastiff dog bit him in right thigh. The deposition testimony of one landlord indicated that he visited the rental house approximately once per month to collect rent and check on the house in general, and only on two of those occasions did he see the dog. During one of these visits, he petted the dog without incident. Thus, the landlord established that he neither knew nor should have known that the dog had vicious propensities, and that he did not have sufficient control over the premises to allow him to remove or confine the dog.

  • This Georgia involves an interlocutory appeal arising from a dog bite lawsuit. In 2016, Plaintiff Saulsbury was walking her English Bulldog past Defendant Wilson's house when Wilson's pitbull dog escaped its crate in the open garage. A fight ensued between the dogs. Wilson then attempted to break up the fight and was allegedly bitten by Saulsbury's dog, suffering a broken arm in the process and necessitating a course of rabies shots. The Saulsburys then sued the Wilsons in magistrate court to recover hospital and veterinary expenses. Wilson counterclaimed for her injuries in excess $15,000, thus transferring the case to superior court. At this time, the Saulsburys moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals here reverses that denial. The court found that Wilson assumed the risk when she intervened in a dog fight with her bare hands. In particular, the court observed that assumption of risk serves as a complete defense to negligence. That finding was bolstered by the fact that Wilson had knowledge that her dog had previously bitten other persons and had admitted to breaking up previous dog fights with a stick. The court relied on previous case law showing that all animals, even domesticated animals, pose a risk as does the act of breaking up even human fights. The court was not persuaded by the fact that Saulsbury may have been in violation of various DeKalb County ordinances related to an owner's responsibility to control his or her animal. A plain reading of those ordinances does not impose a duty on the part of an owner to "dangerously insert herself into a dog fight." The court found the lower court erred in denying the Saulsbury's motion for summary judgment and reversed and remanded the case.
  • Two Louisiana "game clubs" filed an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against parish commission and parish sheriff's office after being informed by the sheriff that an existing parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting would be enforced. The clubs contended that the ordinance was violative of the police power reserved explicitly to the state (the state anti-cruelty provision is silent with regard to cockfighting).  The First Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo granted the clubs' request for a preliminary injunction.  The Supreme Court reversed the injunction and remanded the matter, finding that the parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting did not violate general law or infringe upon State's police powers in violation of Constitution.

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