Cases

  • This is an unconstitutionality claim against Articles 1º, 2º and 3º of Ley 1638, 2013 that prohibit the use of native and exotic wild animals in circuses. Plaintiffs argued that these Articles violated numerous provisions of the Constitution, including the right to work, right to choose a profession, rights to culture and recreation, and a violation to the freedom private initiative of the owners of the circuses. In decision C-283, the court held that Congress has the power to prohibit certain cultural manifestations that involve animal cruelty. The Court stated that “culture needs to be permanently reevaluated so it can adapt to human evolution, to guarantee of rights and the fulfillment of duties. Especially when the purpose is to eliminate the traces of a marginalized society that has excluded certain individuals and collectives.” The court also stated that the duty to protect animals is not absolute, as its application can be limited by values, principles and constitutional norms in specific cases that are contradictory to the principales. The judge must analyze each case under a reasonableness test, in a way that cultural manifestations can work harmoniously with the rights, principles, and duties established in the legal system. The Court held Article 1 of Ley 1638, 2013 constitutional, and refrains from deciding on the constitutionality of Articles 2 and 3, for lack of evidence to render a decision.
  • This is an unconstitutionality claim against Article 87 of Ley 769, 2002 (Trafic Code), relating the transportation of animals on vehicles of public transportation. Article 87 of Ley 769, established that only guide dogs could travel in this type of transportation when accompanying a blind person. The Plaintiff argued that this Article, which prohibited the transportation of animals on vehicles like buses and taxis, violated the right to equality, rights to personal and family privacy, right to free development of personality, freedom of locomotion, and private property. The court concluded that there was a violation to the right to free development of personality, freedom to locomotion, and to private property of the owners of domestic animals. The court added domestic animals as an exception to article 87, of Ley 769, meaning that this prohibition still remains for specimens of the wild fauna. Domestic animals now can travel on vehicles of public transportation, so long they are transported in conditions of health, safety, comfort and tranquility according to the applicable rules. The court also considered that a pertinent regulation was necessary to establish the requirements to transport animals on public vehicles.
  • The Constitutional Court decided on an unconstitutionality claim against Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection Ley 84 of 1989 that corresponds to the exceptions to the duty of animal protection. This decision established the conditions that must be met for the exceptions of Article 7 to apply. Put in different words, through Decision C-666, the court limits the scope of the legality of bullfighting, establishing certain requirements. In its holding, the Court stated that the seven practices in Article 7 would not violate the Constitution, so long as they were done within the following parameters: (1) As long as it is understood that these animals should, in all cases, obtain special protection against suffering and pain during the execution of these activities. This exception allows the continuation of cultural expressions and entertainment with animals, so long as exceptionally cruel acts against these animals are eliminated, or lessened in the future in a process of adaptation between cultural expressions and duties of protection to animals; (2) These practices can only take place in municipalities and districts in which the practices are themselves a manifestation of a regular, periodic and uninterrupted tradition, and therefore their execution responds to a certain regularity; (3) These practices can only take place during occasions in which they have commonly taken place and in the municipalities and districts where they are authorized; (4) These are the only practices that are authorized to be part of the exception in Article 7 to the constitutional duty to protect animals; and (5) Municipal authorities cannot economically support the construction of installations for the exclusive execution of the activities listed in Article 7 with public funds.
  • Decision C-889 grants constitutional value to animal protection. It establishes the parameters for tradition and social roots. It limits the scope of bullfighting in the national territory. On this opportunity, the court decided on the constitutionality of Arts. 14 and 15 of the statute of Bullfighting Statute. It establishes the criteria that must be met in order for bullfighting to be legal: (1) Bullfighting has to meet the legal conditions established for public shows in general; (2) Bullfighting must meet the legal conditions established in the statute that regulates the taurine activity, Ley 916 of 2014; and (3) Bullfighting must comply with the constitutional conditions, restrictions, and limitations established in decision C-666 of 2010 to satisfy the mandate of animal welfare, animal protection, and to avoid suffering and pain. It must also satisfy social ingrain, location, opportunity, the condition of no financial funds, and exceptionality.
  • This is the first time an animal, more specifically a dog, filed a lawsuit seeking that the government grant protection for the dog’s rights to life and health. The judge denied the action of "tutela" filed by the dog ("Negro") based on the definition of person given by the civil code. As a result, the judge concluded that "Negro" was not a person and therefore was not entitled to have rights. However, there is a possibility that the Constitutional Court on appeal will grant the plaintiff the rights he is seeking based on Decision T-622 de 2016, where the court declared that a river was subject to rights that guarantee its protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration, and that the government was the main guarantor of these rights.
  • In this decision, the court drew a line between the concept of animal welfare and the concept of animal rights. The court continues to see animal protection from a moral perspective when it states animals do not necessarily have rights, even though they should be treated with respect and should not be abused. The Plaintiff brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary, created for the sole purpose of protection of fundamental rights) against ‘la Personería Local of Fontibón’, the local Mayor’s office of Fontibon, the District Secretary of Health, the Zoonosis Center and the Distril Secretary of the environment of Bogota. The Plaintiff argued that these governmental entities had violated his fundamental right to petition and the right to animal welfare of twenty five dogs, when the authorities ordered the confiscation the canines that were located in the District Ecological Park of the Wetland of Capellanía and who were cared for by volunteers. The Plaintiff argued that the Defendants did not respond to his request to provide funds to build a shelter and provide food and veterinary assistance of the dogs or funds to relocate them. The Plaintiff sought a response from governmental authorities on the petition and to provide the funds to save the animals, thereby avoiding the Zoonosis Center to assume their care, who would euthanize the sick animals that were not adopted after five days of being up for adoption. The lower court denied the protection of the fundamental right to petition, as it found that the authorities responded to the petition of the Plaintiff in a clear and timely matter by denying the request to fund the Plaintiff to relocate the dogs or build a shelter for them. In regards to the right to animal welfare, the lower court considered it was a legal rather than a constitutional issue, therefore the action of ‘tutela’ was not the appropriate mechanism as its purpose is to guarantee the protection of fundamental rights. The court held that there was a constitutional duty of animal protection that derives from the duty to protect the environment. However, this duty to guarantee the well-being of animals as sentient beings is not absolute and may be subject to exceptions. The court determines that the mandate to protect the environment, which includes sentient beings, does not translate into a right to animal welfare, and for that reason such duty is not enforceable through an action of tutela. The duty to protect animals presumes an obligation to care and prohibits maltreatment and cruelty against animals, unless these actions come from one of the limits stipulated in the constitution. The court affirmed the lower court decision to deny the protection to the right to petition and declared the inadmissibility of the action of tutela for the protection of animal welfare.
  • The Plaintiff brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary created for the purpose of protection of fundamental rights) acting as the legal guardian of her husband, who had spastic quadriplegia and mixed aphasia as a result of a severe cranioencephalic trauma, against Corporación Autónoma Regional de Caldas ‘CORPOCALDAS’. The Plaintiff argued that Corpocaldas had violated the rights to health and dignified life of her husband when the Defendant confiscated a parrot that was part of the Plaintiff’s rehabilitation treatment. The Plaintiff sought immediate restitution of the parrot by the Defendant. The court affirmed the decision of the lower court to deny the Plaintiff’s petition. The court determined that the confiscation of the parrot by Corpocaldas was reasonable and according to the law, therefore there was not a violation of the rights of the Plaintiff. The court stated that as wild animals belong to the nation and they can only be reduced to property when the are obtained through legal hunting or from legal breeders. In this particular case, the Plaintiff obtained the parrot as a present from her cousin, and she did not present evidence of title. The court concluded that the bird belonged to the nation, and therefore the environmental authority had acted in accordance to its duties. The court stated that even though there was a narrow relationship between the rights to health and life with the right to environment, the protection of the environment did not only aim to the protection of humans. The court indicated that the environment should be protected whether or not it offered a benefit to the human species. The rest of the beings that are part of the environment are dignified beings that are not at the absolute and unlimited disposition of the human beings. Humans are just another element of nature, and not a superior entity that has the environment at their disposition. Therefore, the use of natural resources should not cause damage or deterioration that could threaten diversity and environmental integrity, the court stated in its reasoning.
  • This is not a judicial decision that touches on animal welfare issues. However, it is important to mention as the Constitutional Court granted for the first time the status of legal person to a river. The Plaintiff, ‘Centro de Estudios para la Justicia Social “Tierra Digna”’ brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary created for the purpose of protection of fundamental rights) in representation of various community councils of the Atrato region in the Colombian Pacific against the Presidency of the Republic and others. The basin of the Atrato river covers and area of about 40,000 KM2 (15,444.086 sq mi) It is considered one of the highest water yields in the world. There are many ethnic communities that live in the adjoined municipalities that include Afro-Colombian communities, indigenous communities and mixed communities that obtain their sustenance from activities such as artisanal mining, agriculture, hunting and fishing by this river. The water of the river is also used for direct consumption. The Plaintiff alleged that the contamination of the river is a threat to the health of the communities that use the river as a source of work, recreation and to obtain food. The Plaintiffs sought that the court stop the large-scale and permanent use of illegal extraction methods of minerals such as gold and platinum. Additionally, logging that includes the use of heavy machinery and highly toxic substances such as mercury and cyanide as well as other toxic chemicals used in mining of the Atrato river. They argued that the illegal mining in the Atrato river was resulting in harmful and irreversible consequences on the environment, affecting the fundamental rights of ethnic communities that live in the area and the natural balance of the territory. For these reasons, the Plaintiffs asked the court to declare protection of the fundamental rights of the ethnic communities: life, health, water, food security, a healthy living environment, to culture and to the territory, by ordering the implementation of structural changes. The lower courts denied the action of ‘tutela’ in first and second instance, arguing that the Plaintiff sought the protection of collective rights, rather than fundamental rights. Therefore, this constitutional mechanism was not appropriate. After holding that the action of ‘tutela’ was the appropriate mechanism for the protection of the fundamental rights of the ethnic communities, the court established in its ruling that the right to water was a fundamental right, as it is a necessary component to the right to a dignified life, and it is essential for many organisms that inhabit the planet to be able to survive. The use of mercury and other toxic substances in mining activities is prohibited, regardless the legality of the activity. In a new approach, the court held that the Atrato river is subject to rights that imply its protection, conservation and maintenance and instructs the national government to be the guardian and to exercise the river’s legal representation through the president or whichever he appointed, along with the ethnic communities that inhabit the basin of the river. Thus, it guarantees the Atrato river is represented by a member of these communities and a delegate of the Colombian government.

  • The Plaintiff brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary created for the purpose of protection of fundamental rights) against Corporación Autónoma Regional de Caldas ‘CORPOCALDAS’, arguing that ‘CORPOCALDAS’ had violated the fundamental rights to health, personal integrity, life and human integrity of the Plaintiff’s wife, who became severely depressed when the Defendant confiscated an amazonian parrot she kept as her pet. The Plaintiff argued that the parrot was the only company the Plaintiff’s wife had for over five years, and that the confiscation of their parrot, was a violation of the Plaintiff's wife's fundamental rights. Furthermore, the Plaintiff argued that his wife was 65 years old, had raised the parrot that was never abused or neglected and who was allowed to move freely as her wings were never trimmed. The Plaintiff sought the the return of the parrot by the environmental authority ‘CORPOCALDAS’ to his wife, as well as the granting of the parrot’s title to her. The Court was able to find that the Plaintiff’s wife’s health was indeed diminished after the confiscation of the bird and the she had to undergo treatment as a result of it. However, the court found that the Plaintiffs were unable to provide evidence tending to prove that they had acquired the animal in a legal manner, as no permit, hunting license, or evidence that the parrot was obtained from a legal breeder were provided. The court determined that CORPOCALDAS did not overstep its responsibilities, as it is its duty to protect the wild fauna of the nation. Touching on the issue of whether the the fundamental rights of the plaintiff had been violated, the court concluded there was not such violation, as the environmental authority’s action was legal, reasonable, necessary and legitimate, and the Plaintiff did not obtained the parrot in accordance with the requirements legally established. In this case, the collective right to a healthy environment prevailed over the personal interest of the Plaintiff. The Constitutional Court affirmed the judgment of the ‘Juzgado Segundo Laboral del Circuito de Manizales’.
  • The defendant-appellant, Charles E. Settle, Jr., was convicted of two counts of inadequate care by owner of companion animals and one count of dog at large under a county ordinance, after Fauquier County Sherriff's officers were dispatched to his home on multiple occasions over the course of one calendar year in response to animal noise and health and safety complaints from his neighbors.  Consequently, all of the affected dogs were seized from Settle and relocated to local animal shelters.  The trial court also declared three of the animals to be dangerous dogs pursuant to another county ordinance.  The Court of Appeals of Virginia held that: (1) because the forfeiture of dogs was a civil matter the Court of Appeals lacked subject matter jurisdiction and was not the proper forum to decide the case; (2) that Settle failed to join the County as an indispensible party in the notice of appeal from conviction for the county ordinance violation; and (3) that the evidence was sufficient to identify Settle as the owner of the neglected companion animals.

  • In this Washington case, Valeri Sexton and Corey Recla sued Kenny Brown, DVM, for damages arising from the death of their dog. Plaintiffs alleged a number of causes of action including negligence, breach of bailment, conversion, and trespass to chattels. The incident occurred after plaintiff's dog ran away while plaintiff was camping Marblemount area. Another party found the Yorkshire terrier and took it to defendant-veterinarian's office, the Pet Emergency Center (PEC). After being examined first by a one veterinarian, defendant-veterinarian Brown took over care and determined that the dog suffered from a life threatening condition; he then told the finders that if they did not want to pay for further care, they could have the dog euthanized. This court affirmed the trial court's decision that the medical malpractice act does not apply to veterinarians. It also affirmed the dismissal of Sexton's breach of bailment claim, finding that Brown was not a finder under relevant Washington law. The court did find that there were material issues of fact about the measure of damages, and reversed the decision to limit damages to the fair market or replacement value of the dog. Further, the court found genuine issues of material fact about whether Brown's actions were justified when viewed under the requirements of Washington's veterinary practice laws.

  • Both plaintiff (appellant) Shelvey and the defendant (respondent) dog owners were guests of an unnamed third party at that party's beach cabin, where the defendants left their Rottweiler unrestrained on the cabin's deck overnight. The friendly dog jumped over the deck railing to follow the plaintiff to the beach where she was walking; the large, energetic dog bumped her legs while playfully chasing a seagull, knocking her down and leaving her unconscious. The dog had previously knocked its owner and a child down at one time due to its large size and weight. A trial judge earlier found that the defendant owners were not liable to the plaintiff in negligence as the freak accident was not reasonably foreseeable; the Court of Appeal concurred, finding no negligence. Scienter was not argued or discussed at either level.

  • After an animal hospital caused the death of a dog due to an improperly placed feeding tube, the dog owners sued for veterinary malpractice under the Tort Claims Act. The Court of Appeals held that the replacement value of the dog was the appropriate measure of damages, and not the intrinsic value. Owners’ emotional bond with the dog was not compensable under North Carolina law.

  • A dog owner sued a veterinarian and a veterinary hospital after her dog died. The Court of Appeals held that the medical malpractice act did not apply to veterinarians, and thus, did not bar claims for breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, conversion, trespass to chattels, and breach of bailment contract; the three-part analysis in McCurdy controlled the measure of damages and the burden of proof for damages; genuine issues of material fact about the market value of the dog, whether it could be replaced, and whether owner was entitled to present evidence of the dog’s intrinsic value, precluded summary judgment limiting owner's damages; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in striking expert’s testimony about the loss of the human-animal bond because owner was not entitled to emotional distress damages; and defendants were not entitled to attorney fees under the small claims statute.

  • This California case concerned a personal injury action arising from a collision between the plaintiff's car and defendant's black Angus bull, which was lying on the highway at night. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. In reversing this decision, the Court of Appeal held that the open range law does not itself define the duty owners of cattle owe nor does it exempt them from the duty of ordinary care.

  • Defendant was charged with animal cruelty after burning his girlfriend's dog while giving it a bath. He said it was an accident. There were no other witnesses, and the attending veterinarian testified that the dog's injuries were consistent with defendant's account. Defendant was nevertheless convicted after the county court suggested he could be guilty of animal cruelty if he had “carelessly” hurt the dog. Instead, the appeals court found the lower court applied the wrong legal standard. The 2011 animal cruelty statute, since repealed, that applied in this case required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant acted maliciously. Since the prosecution failed to meet that burden, the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered the defendant's conviction. Justice James dissents finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction.
  • Plaintiff Shumate was barred from bringing a dog that she was training, into the classroom and to another school event. Shumate worked as a service dog trainer, while she was a student at Drake University Law School, the Defendant in this case. In 2011, Shumate filed a lawsuit alleging that Drake University discriminated against her as a service dog trainer in violation of Iowa Code chapter 216C. She alleged that chapter 216C, implicitly provided service dog trainers with a private right to sue. The Supreme Court of Iowa held that the statute does not provide service dog trainers with a private right to sue, nor did it include them under the coverage of chapter 216. The Court reasoned that although Shumate trained dogs to assist the disabled, she was not covered because she is not a person with a disability. The Court stated that closely related statutes expressly created private enforcement actions to aid the disabled while chapter 216C does not. Because an implied right of action would circumvent the procedures of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the Iowa legislature purposely omitted a private right to sue from chapter 216C. The court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court's judgment dismissing Shumate's petition with prejudice.
  • Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals under AS 11.61.140(a) after one of her horses was found starving, without shelter, and frozen to the ground (it later had to be euthanized). On appeal, defendant claims that she did not act with the requisite "criminal negligence" under the statute unless she had a duty of care to prevent the specified harm. The court noted that while the statute does not specify the exact nature of this duty to care for particular animals, common law fills the gap. In looking to similar laws and cases from other states, the court found that AS 11.61.140(a)(2) applies only to people who have assumed responsibility for the care of an animal, either as an owner or otherwise. The jury instructions taken as a whole and the prosecutor's argument and rebuttal demonstrated that Sickel assumed the duty of care with regard to the horses and was the person tending the horses in the last three days before the now-deceased horse collapsed. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
  • An individual appealed County Court’s decision to approve the location of a dog breeding kennel in a zone where such kennels were not permitted. The county interpreted the code that was in effect at the time the kennel began operating to allow dog breeding as animal husbandry, and thus permissible farm use. The Court of Appeals found the county's interpretation to be plausible.

  • The Sierra Club and the Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA) brought suit against the California American Water Company (CAW), a water and wastewater utility, seeking injunctive relief and alleging that the company was wrongfully diverting water from the Carmel River and causing harm to the South Central California Coast Steelhead fish (steelhead), an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).   CAW moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the Court must dismiss the action under the Younger abstention doctrine because hearing the Plaintiffs' claim would interfere with ongoing state judicial proceedings.   At the time that the Sierra Club and CRSA brought suit, CAW was involved in ongoing proceedings with the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), which maintains original jurisdiction over the appropriation of surface waters within the state.   The Court found that the Younger abstention applied and dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.  

  • The Government issued regulations which allowed for the sport hunting of the Eastern Timber Wolf  (otherwise known as the gray wolf) in Minnesota, where the wolf was listed as threatened.  The court held that such regulations were invalid because the Endangered Species Act, Section 4(d) required that such regulations must be "for the conservation" of the wolf, which means for the best interest of the wolf.  The court found that the hunting of the wolf in this manner did not have the motive of the best interest of the wolf in mind.

  • The Petitioner, the Sierra Club, brought this action for a declaratory judgment and an injunction to restrain federal officials from approving an extensive skiing development in the Mineral King Valley in the Sequoia National Forest. The Sierra Club did not allege that the challenged development would affect the club or its members in their activities, but rather argued that the project would adversely change the area's aesthetics and ecology. The District Court granted a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the club lacked standing and had not shown irreparable injury. On grant of certiorari, the Supreme Court held that the Sierra Club, which asserted a only special interest in conservation of natural game refuges and forests, lacked standing under Administrative Procedure Act to maintain the action because it could not demonstrate that its members would be affected in any of their activities or pastimes by the proposed project.

  • Using the Administrative Procedures Act, the Sierra Club filed a suit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) due to the USFWS's response to the Sierra Club's petition to revise critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle; the Sierra Club also charged the USFWS with unlawfully delaying the designation of the Northeastern Ecological Corridor of Puerto Rico as critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle. While both sides filed a motion for summary judgment, the District Court only granted the USFWS motion for summary judgment because the USFWS's 12–month determination was unreviewable under the Administrative Procedures Act.

  • Defendants were sentenced by the District Court after pleading guilty to one count of animal cruelty. After defendants were convicted in the Circuit Court, they petitioned for a writ of certiorari. The Court of Appeals held that the Circuit Court could order that defendants pay restitution for the euthanasia cost for the deceased horse, but it was beyond the court’s authority to order defendants pay restitution for costs of caring for the two surviving horses because defendants had not been convicted in those cases. The court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to strike officer's testimony for prosecutor's failure to provide the officer's written report prior to trial. Finally, photos and testimony regarding the surviving horses were “crime scene” evidence and not inadmissible “other crimes” evidence because the neglect of the surviving horses was part of the same criminal episode.

  • Appellants were each convicted of cruelty to animals, in violation of D.C. Code Ann. §   22-801 (1996), and of engaging in animal fighting, in violation of §   22-810. On appeal, both appellants contended that the evidence was insufficient to support convictions of animal cruelty, and of animal fighting. The appellate court found that the proof was sufficient. Each appellant also contended that his convictions merged because animal cruelty was a lesser-included offense of animal fighting. The appellate court found that each crime required proof of an element that the other did not. Appellants' convictions did not merge.

  • In this case, defendant was convicted of a Class C felony of cruelty to a dog or cat and was sentenced to twenty years in prison (the conviction stems from the beating a kitten to death with his bare fists). The lower court applied the Habitual Felony Offender Act (HFOA) which allowed the court to sentence defendant beyond the maximum penalty (defendant had 16 prior felony convictions). Defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that HFOA did not apply to his Class C felony of cruelty to a dog or cat. Ultimately, the court held that HFOA did not apply to the Class C felony here. The court maintained that the animal cruelty statue was plainly written and explicitly stated that a first degree conviction of animal cruelty would not be considered a felony under HFOA. As a result, defendant's conviction was upheld but remanded for new sentencing.
  • Game ranch owners sought a declaratory ruling from the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) as to whether their animals were property of the state. DFW ruled that the state had only a regulatory interest in the game animals. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the State's property interest in the animals was not proprietary or possessory. The State's interest was regulatory, based on a state statute and a regulation adopted by the State Fish and Wildlife Commission. It also  held that the State's interest in wild game is that of a sovereign.

  • Defendants are able to present a genuine question of fact regarding whether they were on notice of their dog's vicious propensity given their characterization of the four prior biting incidents as "behavioral responses common to all dogs."  Defendants' expert concluded that each time, Anchor's responses were "natural" or instinctive.  Plaintiffs offer no evidence, through expert testimony or otherwise, to refute the opinion of defendants' expert. 

  • Criminal defendant was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty and one count of simple assault. The motion to suppress was properly denied, because the search was authorized under the "plain view" doctrine and any objections regarding photographs were subsequently waived when they were tendered into evidence without objection. The trial court did not have authority to deprive defendant of animals which the State failed to demonstrate were neglected or abused, because such animals were not contraband or evidence of a crime.

  • Plaintiff dog rescue received a shipment of dogs from a North Carolina animal shelter. Joseph Loughlin, a warden from the Pennsylvania Dog Law Enforcement Bureau, and officials from the Pennsylvania SPCA (“PSPCA”) seized the dogs. Plaintiff filed suit seeking a court order for the return of the dogs. Loughlin mailed to Plaintiff’s counsel a citation for violating the Pennsylvania Dog Law. Plaintiff filed this action, alleging malicious prosecution, abuse of process, a claim that both §§ 459-209(b) and 459-603(c) are unconstitutional, and damages for defamation and “derogatory publication.” The court dismissed all claims except for those relating to the Pennsylvania Dog Law, The court held that the as-applied dormant Commerce Clause challenges to §§ 459-209(b) and 459-603(c) were not ripe and moot, respectively. The First Amendment challenge to § 459-603(c) failed because the statute was not unconstitutionally vague.

  • Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue rescued three dogs from North Carolina and had them delivered to Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement seized them and turned them over to Appellants PSPCA. The District Court ordered Appellants to return the dogs to Sixth Angel based on a state law conversion claim. The motion was affirmed because PSPCA deprived Sixth Angel of its unique property. Returning the dogs to their owner served the public interest by settling property rights and allowing Sixth Angel to fulfill its mission of finding homes for the dogs.

  • An Arkansas woman who raises gamefowl brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Welfare Act which prohibits the interstate transportation of birds for the purposes of fighting.  The trial court dismissed the woman's claim and the Court of Appeals affirmed holding the statute is not vague.

  • Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of the Animal Welfare Act after it created a regulation that prohibited the interstate or foreign commerce transport of birds that would be used in fighting ventures.   She argued that the regulators did not consider whether fighting ventures were legal in the state where the birds were being transported to.   However, the regulation was considered constitutional since under terms of section 2156(b), only the foreign and interstate transport of the birds was prohibited.  

  • A slaughterhouse owner violated a Mississippi statute by failing to provide E. coli swab samples from hog carcasses for three weeks.  The Circuit Court found in favor of the Mississippi Department of Commerce and the Court of appeals affirmed the decision.

  • In this Washington case, plaintiff Sligar was bitten on the finger by the Odells' dog after Sligar's finger protruded through a hole in the six-foot high chain link fence that separated their two properties. The court found the dispositive question was whether, pursuant to RCW 16.08.040 and .050 (a law that defines when entry onto the property of the dog owner is for a lawful purpose) Sligar's finger was “lawfully in or on ... the property of the” Odells at the time of the dog bite. The court found that the statute provides that consent may not be presumed where the property is fenced. Concerning the common law negligence claim, Sligar contends that the Odells were negligent in failing to protect her from harm because they failed to erect a solid fence on the property boundary until after the bite occurred. However, the court had previously found that it is not unreasonable to keep a dog in a fenced backyard where the dog has not shown any dangerous propensities.

  • Plaintiff Steven Smegal appeals a judgment that found him 50% at fault in a dog bite case. The incident occurred after the dog owned by Smegal's neighbor (Gettys) ran into the street and was hit by a school bus. Smegal approached the injured dog too closely and was bitten on his ankle. The Court of Appeal, First Circuit affirmed the lower court's finding. The court held that Smegal's actions did not constitute provocation where the dog's owners were also approaching the injured dog in an "equally provocative" manner. As to allocation of fault, the court found that while it was Gettys' failure to restrain the dog that was the ultimate cause of the accident, Smegal chose to approach the injured dog despite his training and knowledge as a police officer. Thus, this set of facts supported the trial court's allocation of comparative fault.

  • [Reversed and Remanded by Smith v. City of Detroit, Michigan, 751 F. App'x 691 (6th Cir. 2018)] This case stems from the killing of three dogs by Detroit Police Officers in 2016. Plaintiff-dog owners brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action based on unlawful seizure their dogs in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In addition, plaintiffs raised Monell municipal liability claims and state laws claims for conversion and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). Before this court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. The shooting of the dogs occurred during a drug raid pursuant to a search warrant (the marijuana charges were eventually dismissed due to the failure of police officers to appear at trial). One of the dogs escaped his barricade in the basement and was shot after allegedly charging the officers. The other dog "opened and closed the bathroom door by himself" according to testimony of the officers in their depositions, information that was absent from initial police reports according to the court. The last dog was shot as she began "charging" up the basement stairs while officers were at the top of the stairs. Depositions statements also reveal that none of the officers received any specific training on handling animal encounters during raids and one of the officers indicated he had shot at least 69 animals and another had shot 39. In analyzing the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment interests in their dogs, the court held that because plaintiffs failed to properly license their dogs under Michigan law, they did not have a "legitimate possessory interest protected by the Fourth Amendment." Thus, plaintiffs' claims based on the Fourth Amendment were dismissed. Specifically, the court stated, "in the eyes of the law it is no different than owning any other type of illegal property or contraband." As to the violation of a clearly established constitutional right for the seizure of the dogs under the Fourth Amendment against the police department, the court found the Detroit Police Department's plan did not violate the Fourth Amendment, especially where the informant said there was only a "small dog" present at the residence. The individual officers' actions were also found to be reasonable based on the "imminent threat" of the dogs. As to the Monell claim, plaintiffs failed to establish a pattern of violations showing deliberate indifference that is sufficient to establish municipal liability. Finally, on the IIED claim, the court relied on the fact that there is no precedent in Michigan to permit recovery for damage to property (to wit, a dog). Similarly, plaintiffs' conversion claim also failed where the court found the unlicensed status removed any "legitimate interest" in the dogs. The court subsequently granted defendants' motion for summary judgment.
  • This New York appeal reversed the lower court's judgment finding Officer Smith strictly liable for dog-bite injuries sustained by infant plaintiffs. The court found that, in the limited time the officer spent with the dog, the dog acted friendly, playful, and "rambunctious." He did not see the dog growl or lunge at the plaintiff and her family, who were sitting in the precinct house. The testimony adduced at trial did not establish that Officer Smith knew or should have known of the dog's vicious propensities. Further, the court found the evidence was insufficient to show that Officer Smith owned the dog. Rather, he took temporary custody of the abandoned dog with the intention to transport him to the ASPCA, and the dog was in his possession for, at most, a few hours.

  • The defendant was charged for violation of Virginia’s Code § 3.2–6570(F) after he shot the family dog; he was later convicted by a jury.  Upon appeal, the defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his proffered self-defense jury instructions. The appeals court agreed, reasoning that more than a scintilla of evidence supported giving the proffered self-defense instructions, that determining whether this evidence was credible and actually supported a conclusion that the defendant acted in self-defense or defense of others was the responsibility of the jury, not that of the trial court, and that the proffered jury instructions properly stated the law. The case was thus reversed and remanded.

  • The plaintiff appeals the lower court's dismissal of her claims against defendant-landowners and their insurers. The plaintiff was injured (for the second time) by the defendant-landowners' son's pitbull while walking past their home. While it was undisputed that the landowners did not own the dog, the issue was whether they had a duty to prevent the attack via "custodial liability." Here, the defendant-landowners asserted that they thought the son had gotten rid of the dog after it was confiscated and quarantined by animal control after it first attacked the plaintiff. Thus, this court found that defendant-landowners did not know of the dog's presence on their property and affirmed the trial court's order of summary judgment.

  • In this Illinois case, the passenger of horse-drawn carriage brought action in negligence and strict liability against driver of carriage and owner of horse and carriage for injuries passenger received when carriage went off road and overturned. The lower court dismissed all of passenger's counts.  On appeal, the Appellate Court held that, as matter of first impression, the passenger was not subject to provisions of EALA, and the alleged facts sufficient to state cause of action under state Animal Control Act.

  • Defendant Jonas Smith was convicted of aggravated assault and appealed. He argued that the trial court (1) erred by denying his motion to suppress his warrantless arrest; (2) abused its discretion by failing to grant a mistrial after the Plaintiff referenced the Defendant’s previous incarceration; and (3) abused its discretion by allowing a child witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog. The Court of Appeal of Texas, Houston (14th Dist.)., held that: 1. The police officer had probable cause to believe that the defendant committed an act of family violence, which justified his warrantless arrest; 2. any prejudice resulting from the Plaintiff’s reference to Defendant's prior incarceration was cured by prompt jury instruction to disregard reference; 3. allowing the child witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog was not likely to prejudice the jury in evaluating the child's testimony; and 4.any error in allowing the witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog was harmless. The Court of Appeals reasoned that the defendant did not present any argument during the trial about the jury being prejudiced by the presence of the service dog. Therefore, there was nothing present for review at the appellate level. Also, the Defendant did not identify any harm from the use of a service dog. The Defendant’s conviction was affirmed.
  • The Court struck down an Iowa law that banned certain producers from owning or controlling livestock in Iowa based on the Dormant Commerce Clause.

  • This Pennsylvania case involves cross-appeals following a jury trial in which defendant SPCA, was found liable for euthanizing the dogs belonging to plaintiff Snead, who was awarded damages in the amount of $154,926.37, including $100,000 in punitive damages. The facts stemmed from a seizure several dogs at a seemingly abandoned property owned by Snead where Snead was arrested on dog fighting charges, which were then dropped the next day. However, Snead was not aware that the charges were dropped and that the dogs were therefore available to be reclaimed. The dogs were ultimately euthanized after Snead went to reclaim them. On appeal, this court first held that the SPCA does not operate as a branch of the Commonwealth and therefore, does not enjoy the protection of sovereign immunity or protection under the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act. The court held that there was sufficient evidence presented for Snead's Sec. 1983 to go to the jury that found the SPCA has inadequate procedures/policies in place to safeguard Snead's property interest in the dogs. As to damages, the court found the there was no evidence to impute to the SPCA evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of Snead sufficient for an award of punitive damages.  

  • Plaintiffs sought damages after having to slaughter dairy cows that were injured by defendant’s defective machine. The Court held that plaintiffs could recover 1) the fair market value less salvage value of the cows, 2) the loss of profit during the period after the incident when cows of comparable quality became available on the market, and 3) the calculable loss in milk production caused by the incident's negative impact on the milk production level of the remaining cows.

  • Fourth Amendment protections apply regardless of the specific reasons for why a seizure may have occurred.

  • The appellant was charged and convicted of being a person in charge and authorising the carriage of a number of goats in cages which did not allow those goats to stand upright. The appellant was a veterinary doctor employed by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service and authorised under the Export Control (Animals) Orders 1987 to certify animals for export. On appeal, it was determined that for the purposes of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (General) Regulation 1996, the appellant was not a person in charge of the goats.

  • Dog owner brought action for damages against city and police officers that shot his dog, seeking punitive damages.  The court observed that under Minnesota law dogs are personal property, and thus, the proper measure of compensatory damages for destroying an animal is the fair market value of the animal.  The court further held Soucek cannot recover punitive damages for the loss of his pet because he only suffered property damage. Compensatory damages for the loss of Soucek's pet are limited to the fair market value of the animal. 

  • This case resulted from the alleged negligent transport of a horse that resulted in a drastic change in the horse's temperament (to a "killer horse"), which ultimately led to its destruction by its owner.  Before trial, defendant demurred to plaintiff's petition on the ground that the action was barred under R.C. s 2305.11, the act being 'malpractice' and therefore required to be brought within one year after the termination of treatment.  The Court of Appeals held that the trial court's decision overruling the demurrer to plaintiff's petition was correct, 'the petitioner is based on negligence for the transporting rather than malpractice.'  Further, the Court held that until the Supreme Court speaks, veterinarians are not included in the definition of malpractice (reversed and remanded - See , 293 N.E.2d 891 (Ohio, Mun.,1972).

  • This action was brought by plaintiff as owner of a 3 year old thoroughbred race horse, named Pribal, against defendant, a veterinarian, charging defendant so mishandled the horse that it sustained physical injuries and emotional trauma; that the emotional stability of the horse worsened until finally it was exterminated. The court held that the evidence failed to show any proximate cause between the surgery that was performed on the horse and the subsequent care and transport of the horse by the veterinarian. 

    As the court stated, what caused Pribal to become mean and a "killer" is speculative; the O.S.U. Veterinary Clinic records in evidence did not indicate any causal relationship between the handling of Pribal by the defendant and the subsequent personality change resulting in Pribal becoming a "killer horse."

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