Cases

  • The defendant, a self-employed oil distributor, was charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty for intentionally or knowingly failing to provide food and care for his horses. After being denied a petition for pretrial division and a petition for a writ of certiorari, the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee, who granted the defendant permission to appeal, but affirmed the lower court's decision that the assistant district attorney general did not abuse his discretion and that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant's petition for writ of certiorari.

  • In an action in mandamus, relator property owner sought a writ ordering respondent building commissioner of the City of Euclid to issue a building permit for the construction of a store building.  The store building would be used for the slaughter of chicken.  The state tired to oppose the building by stating the use would be against Ohio's cruelty to animal statute.  The Court ruled that the term "animals" as thus used meant a quadruped, not a bird or fowl.  Thus, the court ruled in favor of the property owner in his mandamus action against the commissioner.  

  • Defendant's horses were seized on December 14, 2005 pursuant to a search and seizure warrant signed by the court. The warrant was sought, in part, on affidavits that alleged possible violations of the Cruelty to Animals statutory provisions. Defendant Rowley filed the instant motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction because the state has failed to comply with the provisions of § 22-329a and because the search and seizure warrant is invalid. Specifically, defendant maintains that the phrase in subsection (a) authorizing the chief animal control officer to "lawfully take charge of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated" merely allows the officer to enter the owner's property to care for the animal, but does not authorize seizure of the animal without a prior judicial determination. This court rejected Rowley's interpretation of the phrase "lawfully take charge." The court found that, as a practical matter, it is inconceivable that animal control officers, having found animals that are neglected or cruelly treated, would then leave them at the property.

  • The "Missourians for Protection of Dogs" ("MPD") advocated a statewide ballot measure to enact a new statutory provision to be known as the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." The certified ballot title included a summary statement reading: "Shall Missouri law be amended to: . . . create a misdemeanor crime of ‘puppy mill cruelty’ for any violations?" One taxpaying Missouri citizen, Karen Strange, subsequently filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief against the Secretary of State, challenging the summary statement as being "insufficient and unfair." In this action, the Humane Society of Missouri sought protection from an order of the circuit court requiring it to disclose and turn over Document 10 -  a series of focus group findings and related documentation developed by the Humane Society of Missouri and its partners to formulate political strategy. Writing on behalf of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, Judge Victor C. Howard, with all concurring, granted the HSMO’s writ of prohibition. HSMO’s preliminary writ of prohibition was made absolute, rendering Document 10 non-discoverable.

  • The Kansas Attorney General had advised the cockfighter that cockfighting was illegal in Kansas under the provisions of § 21-4310 (Supp. 1972). The gamecock fighter believed the Attorney General was wrong and advised a county attorney that he intended to fight gamecocks on his farm so the State then sought a declaratory judgment.  On appeal, the court found that cockfighting did not fall within the prohibition of § 21-4310 as constituting cruelty to animals, as Kansas statutes proscribing cruelty to animals had traditionally been directed toward protection of the four-legged animal, especially beasts of the field and beasts of burden. 

  • State of Iowa sued the owner of a hog confinement operation for violations of manure disposal and animal control regulations.

  • Sixteen residents who violated portions of the wildlife code challenged the hearings that they received before a panel from the Department of Conservation, which were not conducted in an evidentiary fashion or recorded.  The Court found that, pursuant to the rulemaking authority granted under the State constitution to the Department of Conservation, the regulations provide for noncontested hearings unless the permitee is entitled by law to a contested hearing (a "contested case" is a proceeding before an agency in which legal rights, duties or privileges of specific parties are required by law to be determined after hearing).  The Court found that no such law applies to this case, citing a case that determined hunting is not a fundamental right.

  • The special action considers whether a person who uses a dangerous instrument in committing an animal cruelty offense may be sentenced as a dangerous offender. The facts in the underlying case are as follows. A witness in an apartment complex heard a dog crying and observed Shundog Hu using a rod to hit a dog that was inside a pet enclosure. Hu was charged with both intentionally or knowingly subjecting an animal to cruel mistreatment, a felony, and under the "dangerous offense" laws because the animal cruelty "involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a pole and/or rod, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, in violation of A.R.S. §§ 13-105 and 13-704." Hu moved to dismiss the dangerous offense allegation stating that, as a matter of law, "a dangerous offense cannot be committed against an animal." Hu contended that the legislature's inclusion of the phrase "on another person" in the statutory definition for "dangerous offense" evinces this intent. The State, on the other hand, argued that sentencing enhancement is based on the use of the dangerous instrument rather than the target of the instrument. The superior court granted Hu's motion and the State petitioned for this special action. This court accepted jurisdiction because " the State has no adequate remedy on appeal and the petition presents a legal issue of statewide importance." This court first examined the statutory definition for a "dangerous" felony offense: "an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.” The State's contention is that the "or" in the definition is disjunctive and, thus, the phrase "on another person" only applies to the second independent clause. Hu counters that such an interpretation would cover harm to anything and lead to absurd results. This court first noted that the statutory definitions are silent as to whether they only apply to humans. Applying principles of secondary interpretation and sensible construction, the court held that legislature's purpose in drafting the dangerous offense definition and the related statutes was to enhance crimes to “dangerous offenses” to protect human life. The State cannot charge a crime as a dangerous offense unless the target is against another person. In reaching this conclusion, the court contemplated extreme examples involving felony damage to vegetation as well as comparison to a recent decision in Texas where a deadly weapon finding was limited to human victims only.
  • After a judge granted two humane societies permission to dispose of nearly 120 severely emaciated and malnourished horses, the horses' owner, instead of posting a bond or security, filed for a writ of mandamus with the court of appeals. The appeals court issued a stop order and transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. Here, the horses’ owner argued two points, but the Missouri Supreme Court found that (1) the spoliation of evidence doctrine does not apply at this juncture and that (2) the statute was not unconstitutionally vague, nor does the owner allege that the statute discriminates based upon classification or that the statute discriminates in its application so as to violate the equal protection clause. The stop order was therefore dissolved and the petition for the writ of mandamus was denied.

  • Police seized 120 neglected horses pursuant to a search warrant and a Circuit Court Judge allowed humane societies to dispose of the horses.  The owner of the horses sought a writ of mandamus against the Circuit Court Judge.  The Missouri Supreme Court held the Circuit Court Judge had jurisdiction to permit the seized horses to be disposed of and the impoundment statute was not unconstitutionally vague.

  • A trial court granted a local humane society permission to humanely dispose of horses placed in their custody by the Sheriff.  A man filed petition for a writ of mandamus against the the trial judge and humane society to challenge the judge's order.  The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court holding the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the Humane Society of Missouri. Opinion transferred to State ex rel. Zobel v. Burrell , 167 S.W.3d 688 (Mo., 2005).

  • This is an appeal from an order of the county court invalidating a City of North Miami ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bull dogs.  The ordinance in question, City of North Miami Ordinance No. 422.5, regulates the ownership of pit bulls by requiring their owners to carry insurance or furnish other evidence of financial responsibility, register their pit bulls with the City, and confine the dogs indoors or in a locked pen.  The court dismissed defendants claims that the ordinance violates equal protection and due process, and that the ordinance's definition of a pit bull is on its face unconstitutionally vague.
  • Jane Smith was charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty after 47 dogs and other animals were seized from her property where she operated a private dog rescue. Smith was ultimately sentenced to jail time and required to compensate the Humane Society for the money that was spent to care for the 47 dogs that were seized from Smith’s property. Smith appealed her sentence, arguing that the lower court had made five errors in coming to its decision. The Court of Appeals only addressed four of the five arguments made by Smith. First, the Smith argued that the court erred in not suppressing evidence on the basis that her 4th Amendment rights had been violated. The Court of Appeals dismissed this argument, holding that Smith’s 4th Amendment rights had not been violated because the information that led to the seizure of Smith’s dogs was provided by a private citizen and therefore not applicable to the 4th Amendment protections. Secondly, Smith argued that the court violated her due process rights when it made multiple, erroneous evidentiary rulings that deprived her of her ability to meaningfully defend herself at trial. The Court of Appeals found that Smith had not provided enough evidence to establish that her due process rights had been violated, so the Court of Appeals dismissed the argument. Thirdly, Smith made a number of arguments related to constitutional violations but the Court of Appeals found that there was not evidence to support these arguments and dismissed the claim. Lastly, Smith argued that she had made a pre-indictment, non-prosecution agreement that was not followed by the court. The Court of Appeals also dismissed this argument for a lack of evidence. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision and sentencing. 

  • Defendants were convicted of animal cruelty with regard to underweight and malnourished horses.  The Superior Court reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a jury finding, and the State appealed.  Held:  reversed.

  • Defendant, the director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut, Inc., was charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty for failing to give animals “proper care by exposing [them] to conditions that placed [them] at risk of hypothermia, dehydration, or to conditions injurious to [their] well-being....” Defendant was the director of a nonprofit animal rescue organization and housed rescued dogs in an uninsulated outdoor barn heated solely by space heaters. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of 15 counts and acquitted of the remaining 48 counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, the defendant claimed that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and (2)C.G.S.A. § 53-247(a) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case. The appellate court rejected defendant’s claims and affirmed the trial court’s decision.
  • The defendant was indicted at spring term, 1883, for a violation of the act of assembly in reference to cruelty to animals. The indictment is substantially as follows: The jurors, &c., present that the defendant, with force and arms, &c., "did unlawfully and wilfully overdrive, torture, torment, cruelly beat and needlessly mutilate a certain cow, the property of, &c., by beating said cow and twisting off her tail," contrary, &c. The jury found the defendant guilty, and on his motion the judgment was arrested and the state appealed.  The Supreme Court reversed the lower court's descision to arrest the judgment.

  • After witnessing the 73 year old defendant-appellant emerge from area by the veterinary's dumpster holding an empty, wire cage animal trap, an employee of the clinic followed the defendant-appellant's car and obtained the vehicle's license plate number. Upon returning to the dumpster, the employee found a kitten with matted eyes that seemed unhealthy. The defendant-appellant was charged with one count of animal abandonment in violation of R.C. 959.01 and was found guilty. Defendant-appellant appealed her conviction and sentence on the grounds that the court erred in finding beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a keeper or, if she was a keeper, the court erred in determining that she abandoned the animal. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that once the defendant captured the animal in a cage, she assumed the responsibility that she would treat the animal humanely and could therefore be considered a “keeper.” Since Amos captured the animal and released it in another location without taking steps to make sure the animal would be found, the Ohio Court of Appeals also held that a reasonable person could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant-appellant had “abandoned” the animal. The judgment was therefore affirmed.
  • Defendant Michael Ancona appealed his conviction of permitting a dog to roam at large in violation of General Statutes § 22-364(a). The defendant claims that (1) the court improperly held him responsible as a keeper of a dog when the owner was present and known to the authorities, and (2) the state adduced insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. The plain language of the statute § 22-364(a) states that an “owner or keeper” is prohibited from allowing a dog to roam on a public highway. Either the owner or keeper or both can be held liable for a violation of the statute. The court also found sufficient evidence that defendant was the keeper of the pit bull: the dog stayed at his house, he initially responded to the incident and tried to pull the dog away, and defendant yelled at the Officer Rogers that she was not to take "his dog."

  • In this Ohio case, after police received a complaint about possible neglect of dogs located in a barn, an officer went to investigate and entered the barn through an unlocked door. The Humane Society then assisted the department in seizing forty-two dogs. Defendant-Anello was convicted by jury of two counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence: to wit, the dogs from the barn. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the barn was not included within the curtilage of the residence since it was leased by a different person than the owner of the house (who had moved out of state). Further, the plain view/exigent circumstances exceptions came into play where the officers heard barking, smelled "overwhelming" urine odors, and observed through a window seventeen animals confined in cages that were stacked three high while the temperature outside was eighty degrees with high humidity. 

  • Defendant appealed from a conviction of participating as a spectator at an exhibition featuring dog fighting alleging that the statute under which he was convicted is unconstitutionally vague, overbroad and an invalid exercise of police power. The appellate court found the statute to be constitutional. Defendant also argued that the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the charge for insufficient evidence, however the appellate court found that there is substantial evidence to support the conviction. 

  • The Defedant was convicted of the charge of cruelty to animals for the beating of his own horse.  The Defendant appealed this descision to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire on two grounds.  First, the lower court failed to instructe the jury that intoxication was a defense to the charge.  Second, the lower court instructed the jury that the beating of an animal for training may at some point become malicious and illegal under that statute.  The Court held the lower court was not in error and affirmed the decision.

  • This New Jersey case involved an appeal of a borough ordinance that limited ownership to three licensed dogs.  The prosecutrix was found to have been keeping 39 dogs.  The court found that she presented no evidence that she was operating a kennel, nor was the ordinance unreasonable in its restriction.

  • The defendant was convicted, in the Somerset Oyer and Terminer, of malicious mischief. The indictment charges that the defendant unlawfully, willfully, and maliciously did wound one cow, of the value of $ 50, of the goods and chattels of J. C. T.  The defendant appealed the conviction contending that the act charged in the indictment didn't constitute an indictable offence in this state.  The Court held that the facts charged in this indictment constitute no indictable offence, and the Court of Over and Terminer should be advised accordingly.

  • This Texas case represents the State's discretionary petition for review after the lower court and Waco Court of Appeals granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The evidence at issue involved the seizure of defendant's 13 dogs from his aunt's backyard property, which then led to his indictment on felony cruelty to animals. As to the first issue, this court found that defendant has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his aunt's backyard despite the fact he did not have an ownership interest. Secondly, the court found that the officers were not authorized by the plain view doctrine to make a warrantless entry into the backyard to seize the dogs. Finally, the court found that the community caretaking doctrine was not argued by the State at trial or at the court of appeals; thus, the State was barred from advancing that argument in this appeal.

  • The Circuit Court of Wayne County ordered that Tinkerbell, a female pit bull terrier, be destroyed pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute, after she injured a neighbor child who was playing in the dog’s yard. The circuit court's decision ordering that Tinkerbell be destroyed relied on a presumption that pit bull dog breeds are inherently vicious. Because extensive debate exists over whether scientific evidence and social concerns justify breed-specific presumptions, the court concluded that courts may not, upon judicial notice, rely solely upon a breed-specific presumption in ordering the destruction of a dog pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute. The adoption of breed-specific presumptions with regard to this statute is the prerogative of the Legislature, not the judiciary, the court stated. In the absence of a breed-specific presumption, the court determined that neither the remaining findings of fact in the circuit court's destruction order nor the facts presented in the record provided satisfactory proof that Tinkerbell must be euthanized. Consequently, the court reversed the circuit court's destruction order.
  • The issue before the court in this case is whether defendant's felony conviction for being a spectator at a cockfight (contrary to General Statutes § 53–247(c)) violates defendant's constitutional rights to assemble and associate, and his equal protection rights. In rejecting defendant's arguments, the court noted first that the right to assemble does not encompass the right to assemble for an unlawful purpose. Further, the right to associate was not infringed because "[a]ttending a cockfight as a spectator is neither a form of 'intimate association' nor a form of 'expressive association' as recognized by our courts or the United States Supreme Court . . ." As to defendant's claim of violation of equal protection, the court found that the aim of § 53–247(c)(4), criminalizing being a spectator at a cockfighting event, is rationally related to the legislative goal of preventing such fights from being staged.

  • Defendants were convicted of interfering with agricultural operations under the anti-picketing provision of a criminal statute. The Court of Appeals held that the anti-picketing provision was not facially over-broad under the free speech or free assembly provision of State Constitution. The provision, which imposed criminal penalties on people engaged in picketing but created an exception for those involved in a labor protest, did not violate the privileges and immunities clause of the State Constitution, but it did violate equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution. The statutory presumption of severability did not apply in this case.

  • In a state prosecution for animal neglect, the trial court ordered forfeiture of the animals to a humane agency. An appeal by the owner of the animals was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The Oregon Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and held that the statutes controlling appealable judgments allowed the animal owner to appeal the forfeiture of the animals.

  • In this North Dakota case, the defendant appeals from a criminal judgment finding she violated the Cass County Animal Control Ordinance after her neighbors reported her barking dogs. In her first appeal ground, Brown contended that the Ordinance constituted an unconstitutional delegation of power. The court disagreed, finding that Cass County adopted a home rule charter and thus had the power to create criminal penalties for violations of ordinances. Brown next argued that the legislature “has statutorily prohibited the county from attempting to regulate dogs as public nuisances.” Since the state has defined certain “dog activities” that constitute a public nuisance, the county is precluded from declaring any other dog-related activity a public nuisance according to defendant. The court found that this broad interpretation would preclude action by the county if the state has exercised any authority and would virtually eliminate the county's authority granted by home-rule authority. The court also rejected Brown’s argument that the Ordinance is unconstitutionally vague. The Ordinance provides that an animal that “barks ... in an excessive or continuous manner” is a public nuisance. The court held that its holding in   Kilkenny, 2007 ND 44, ¶¶ 20-25, 729 N.W.2d 120, is controlling here, where the words excessive, continuous, or untimely have a common understanding and are not vague.

  • The defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals for the overworking of his mule.  The defendant appealed the desicision by the lower court to the circuit court.  The circuit court affirmed the lower court and the defendant agained appealed.  The Supreme Court of South Carolina held that jursidiction was proper against the defendant and the evidence supported a finding of ownership by the defendant.  Thus, the Court affirmed the lower court's decision.

  • The Defendant was charged with unlawfully and cruelly torturing, tormenting, and needlessly mutilating a goose under Ind. Rev. Stat. § 2101 (1881).  At issue was the ownership status of the goose.  The affidavit alleged that the goose was the property of an unknown person, and thus was the equivalent of an averment that the goose was a domestic fowl, as required by Ind. Rev. Stat. § 2101 (1881).  The court noted that whenever the ownership of the animal is charged, such ownership becomes a matter of description and must be proved as alleged.  Interestingly, the court in this case also observed that there is "a well defined difference between the offence of malicious or mischievous injury to property and that of cruelty to animals," with the latter only becoming an indictable offense within recent years.  The Supreme Court held that the motion to quash should have been overruled and reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings.

  • The Florida appeals court held that the lack of a pre-deprivation hearing prior to the seizure of respondent’s alligators for lack of a permit did not violate the due process clause of the Constitution. Since the state owned title to all wildlife, and since Butler did not have the required permit to possess the alligators, there was no protected interest requiring due process.

  • After a call reporting the poor health of over 100 dogs at a large Malamute breeding operation and the recruitment of the Humane Society of the United States, including several volunteers, to help execute a warrant, defendant was charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and 91 counts of felony cruelty to animals pursuant to § 45–8–211, MCA. Defendant was convicted by a jury of 91 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for a total of 30 years with 25 years suspended. A prohibition from possessing any animals while on probation was also imposed on the defendant, as well as an order to forfeit every seized dog and all puppies born after the execution of the warrant. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Montana, defendant argued the District Court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search on Fourth Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court held, however, that the search warrant authorizing seizure of “any and all dogs” and “any and all records pertaining to dogs” was not impermissibly overbroad; that the participation by civilian volunteers and Humane Society personnel in execution the warrant was not prohibited by the Fourth Amendment or the Montana Constitution; and that the use of civilian volunteers to assist in execution of search did not violate defendant's right to privacy. The Supreme Court therefore held that the lower court did not err in denying the motion to suppress the evidence. Next, the defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion when it improperly determined that the results of an investigation of his kennels in 2009 were irrelevant pursuant to M.R. Evid. 403. The court, however, agreed with the District Court, despite defendant's claim that 2009 inspection would show that the poor conditions of the kennels and the dogs in 2011 were justified due to economic hardship and health issues. Finally, defendant argued that the District Court was not authorized to order forfeiture of the defendant’s dogs that were not identified as victims of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court, however, held that the statute authorizing forfeiture of “any animal affected” as part of sentence for animal cruelty did not limit forfeiture of defendant's dogs to only those that served as basis for underlying charges, nor did it implicate the defendant's right to jury trial under the Apprendi case. The Supreme Court therefore held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in requiring the defendant to forfeit all of his dogs. The lower court’s decision was affirmed.
  • Animals -- Cruelty to Animals -- Cockfighting -- Gamecocks Not Animals -- No Statutory Prohibition Against Cockfights -- Statute Not Vague. In an action filed pursuant to K. S. A. 60-1701 in which the state seeks a construction of K. S. A. 1972 Supp. 21-4310 (cruelty to animals) making its provisions applicable to cockfighting, the record is examined and for reasons appearing in the opinion it is held: (1) Gamecocks are not animals within the meaning or contemplation of the statute. (2) There is no clear legislative intent that gamecocks be included within the category of animals protected by the statute. (3) The statute does not apply to or prohibit the conducting of cockfights. (4) As construed, the statute is not so vague, indefinite and uncertain as to violate the requirements of due process.

  • Defendant was convicted of two counts of cruelty to animals, two counts of unlawful hunting, and negligent use of firearm. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that "any animal," within meaning of animal cruelty statute, applied only to domesticated animals and wild animals previously reduced to captivity, and thus, the animal cruelty statute did not apply to defendant's conduct in snaring two deer.  The court also held that even if the Legislature had intended to protect wild animals in Section 30-18-1, New Mexico's laws governing hunting and fishing preempt the application of Section 30-18-1 to the taking of deer by Cleve in this case.

  • Defendant appealed from his conviction for "driving deer" under Maine statute § 7458(10) (among other convictions), contending that the statute was unconstitutionally vague.  The Court rejected defendant's argument, finding the version at issue here plainly tells people that if they participate in a group hunt and they organize or plan the hunt so that several people move in a coordinated fashion toward other members of the hunting party who by predesign are standing or moving toward the first group, in a planned effort to flush out the deer, they are hunting illegally.  With regard to the entrapment defense for the illegal transporting of deer, the Court found that although another hunter may have created the opportunity for Cloutier to commit the illegal transportation violation, "more is required for the entrapment defense than providing the opportunity to commit the crime." 

  • Prompted by a phone call to make a return visit to the defendant's house, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Animal Control were asked, by the defendant, to wait at the door. After waiting by the door for some time, the officers discovered the defendant in the backyard, where she housed at least eleven dogs, trying to remove dog excrement from a pen and trying to remove ice from dog bowls. After further investigation, the defendant was charged with one count of animal abuse and with one count of violating a city ordinance for failure to vaccinate. At the trial, the defendant was convicted on both accounts. On appeal, however, the defendant was found guilty of animal abuse, but was cleared from the ordinance violation.

  • Plaintiff-appellant, State of Ohio/City of Bexley, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Municipal Court dismissing the indictment against defendant-appellee, Joseph Conte. Appellant cited appellee for violating Bexley City Code 618.16(e), entitled “Dangerous and Vicious Animal.” Two days later, animal control then issued another citation against appellee for allowing his dog to run free without restraint in violation of Bexley City Code Section 618.16(e). In granting appellee's motion to dismiss, the trial court struck down a portion of Bexley City Code 618.16(e) as unconstitutional that provided that the owner of a vicious or dangerous animal shall not permit such animal to run at large. On appeal, this court found that the ordinance was not unconstitutional where the prosecution must prove at trial that the dog is vicious or dangerous as an element of the offense. 

  • A neighbor of the owner of 3 dogs complained to the dog warden, alleging that two of the dogs bit her.  The dog warden then advised the owner that her dogs were dangerous and vicious and that she must follow the statutory rules for owning vicious dogs.  When she failed to follow those statutory rules, she was criminally prosecuted.  The Supreme Court of Ohio said that her constitutional right to due process was infringed because she had no chance before trial to challenge the designation of her dogs as vicious.

  • Defendants were convicted of aggravated animal cruelty for subjecting ten or more animals (cats) to mistreatment or neglect by confining them in a cruel manner and/or failing to provide adequate food and water. On appeal, defendants raise two main issues: (1) whether the State presented sufficient evidence and (2) whether the District Court abused its discretion in denying their motions for mistrial. As to the sufficiency argument, the Supreme Court held that the testimony from veterinary experts as well as the individuals involved in the rescue of the 400-plus cats removed from the three travel trailers was sufficient. On the mistrial issue, the Supreme Court agreed with the District Court that the remarks were improper. However, there was no abuse of discretion by the trial court's ruling that the comments were not so egregious to render the jury incapable of weighing the evidence fairly.

  • After being tipped off about a dog fight, authorities seized several dogs from a home. Defendant was charged with one count of second-degree animal abuse and four counts of second-degree animal neglect. After the presentation of the state's evidence in circuit court, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal on all counts, arguing, as to second-degree animal neglect, that the state had failed to present sufficient evidence from which a jury could conclude that defendant had custody or control over the dogs. Circuit court denied the motion and defendant was convicted on all counts. Defendant appealed the denial of the motion, again arguing that the state failed to prove that he had “custody or control” over the dogs. The appeals court concluded that the plain text and context of ORS 167.325(1), together with the legislature's use of the same term in a similar statute, demonstrated that the legislature intended the term “control” to include someone who had the authority to guide or manage an animal or who directed or restrained the animal, regardless if the person owned the animal. Given the facts of the case, the court concluded that based on that evidence, a reasonable juror could find that defendant had control over the dogs, and the trial court had not erred in denying defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal.
  • This is an appeal of a circuit court decision in an aggravated animal abuse case.  A defendant was convicted in circuit court of aggravated animal abuse and other charges. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the defendant's testimony that he loved his children more than the dog he shot was not evidence of his character, thus the evidence offered by the state in rebuttal (that the defendant assaulted his spouse) was not admissible and not harmless error by the trial court.

  • In this Ohio case, defendant was convicted of 10 counts of cruelty to animals resulting from her neglect of several dogs and horses in her barn.  On appeal, defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient where the prosecution witness did not state the dogs were "malnourished" and said that a couple were reasonably healthy.  The appellate court disagreed, finding that defendant mischaracterized the veterinarian's testimony and that there was no requirement to prove malnourishment.  Further, the dog warden testified that she did not find any food or water in the barn and that the animals' bowls were covered with mud and feces.

  • After the USDA went to the defendant’s house to perform a prelicense inspection for an Animal Welfare Act permit for a rabbit, the USDA discovered the defendant also kept a Bengal cat, a Jungle cat and a Bobcat on the premises; the USDA then notified the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the three cats. After the defendant’s attempt to sell the three cats, the DEP confiscated them and placed them in the care of an expert; the DEP also charged the defendant with three misdemeanor violations of General Statutes section 26-40a. After trial and appellate court determinations, the Connecticut Supreme Court found the three cats to be included on the list of prohibited felidae in General Statutes section 26-40a and found General Statutes section 26-40a did not violate Due Process.

  • Defendant appeals his conviction of two counts of cruelty to animals—specifically, cruelty to several dogs found within his home. Evidence supporting the conviction came from a warrantless entry into defendant's home after police found it necessary to do a "welfare check" based on an overflowing mailbox, 10-day notices on the door, and a "horrible odor" emanating from the home. In reversing the convictions, the appellate court determined that the facts did not suggest that defendant or the dogs were in immediate danger supporting the emergency exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.

  • The defendant, Devon D., appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of eleven offenses, in three separate files with three different docket numbers, pursuant to three separate informations, involving three different victims. Devon asserted that the prosecution as to the charges concerning C1 should have been separated from the charges as to C2 and C3, and that the evidence from C1’s case should not have been cross-admissible as to C2 and C3, an argument the Connecticut Appellate Court accepted as justifying reversal. Devon also argued on appeal that “the court improperly permitted the state to have a dog sit near C1 while she testified to provide comfort and support to her.” The appellate court concluded that the trial court had abused its discretion in permitting the use of the dog to comfort and emotionally support C1 while she testified without requiring the state to prove that this special procedure was necessary for this witness. At trial, defense counsel specifically told the trial court he was not making a confrontation clause claim as to the presence of the dog, and the appellate court therefore considered such a claim waived. Despite the absence of statutory authority for permitting a facility dog, the appellate court did conclude that the trial court had “inherent general discretionary authority” to permit such a dog, but also determined that this discretion was abused under the facts of the case. The judgments are reversed and the cases are remanded for new trials.
  • This case is the companion case to State v. Fessenden,258 Or. App. 639, 310 P.3d 1163 (2013) review allowed, 354 Or. 597, 318 P.3d 749 (2013) and aff'd, 355 Or. 759, 333 P.3d 278 (2014). Defendant was convicted of first-degree animal abuse, ORS 167.320, in association with having allowed her horse to become so severely emaciated that it was at imminent risk of dying. On appeal, defendant challenged the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence obtained through a warrantless search of the horse. In affirming the lower court, this court found that the warrant exception that allows officers to assist seriously injured people extends to animals under certain circumstances. Citing Fessenden, this court found that a warrantless seizure will be valid when officers have "objectively reasonable belief, based on articulable facts, that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals that have suffered, or which are imminently threatened with suffering . . ."

  • In this Washington case, Defendant Dye appeals his conviction for residential burglary. The victim in the case was an adult man with significant developmental disabilities. At trial, the State obtained permission to allow a dog named "Ellie" to sit at the victim's feet during testimony. On appeal, Dye contends that his right to a fair trial was compromised because the dog's presence improperly incited the jury's sympathy, encouraged the jury to infer victimhood, and gave Lare an incentive to testify for the prosecution. The court found no prejudice to defendant from the presence of the dog, especially in light of the jury instructions to ignore her. Affirmed.

  • The Defendant appealed his conviction for residential burglary. The victim in the case was an adult man with significant developmental disabilities. At trial, the State obtained permission to allow a dog named "Ellie" to sit at the victim's feet during testimony. On appeal of the Court of Appeal's decision, the Supreme Court held that defendant failed to establish that his rights to a fair trial were violated (283 P.3d 1130 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2012)). Further, any prejudice that resulted from Ellie's presence was minor and largely mitigated by the limiting instruction that the trial court gave. The Court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion and the Court of Appeals decision was affirmed.

  • In this Missouri case, defendant appealed her conviction for animal abuse. The facts underlying defendant's conviction involve her care of her dog from July 2004 to December 2004. When defendant's estranged husband stopped by her house to drop off their children for visitation in December, he noticed that the dog was very sick and offered to take the dog to the vet after defendant stated she could not afford a vet bill. Because it was the worst case the vet had seen in twenty-seven years of practice, he contacted law enforcement. On appeal, defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence presented that she “knowingly” failed to provide adequate care for Annie. The court disagreed. Under MO ST 578.012.1(3), a person is guilty of animal abuse when he or she fails to provide adequate care including "health care as necessary to maintain good health." Evidence showed that defendant was aware of the fact the dog was sick over the course of several months and even thought the dog had cancer.

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