Cases

  • 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 Oregon case discusses whether 11 miniature horses, multiple cats, and a dog are separate victims for purposes of merger into one conviction. Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for 13 counts of unlawful possession of an animal by a person previously convicted of second-degree animal neglect. The facts are not at issue: Defendant was previously convicted of multiple counts of second-degree animal neglect involving dogs and miniature horses and was subsequently found to be in possession of those animals. On appeal, defendant's primary argument is that "the public is the single collective victim" for purposes of the violation, so the trial court erred in entering 13 separate convictions for unlawful possession of an animal. In support, defendant analogizes it to unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, where the public is deemed the collective victim for purposes of merger. The State counters with the fact animals are living beings, unlike firearms, and that living beings can be victims of crimes. Further, the State contends that the language of ORS 161.067(2) and legislative history demonstrate an intent to protect individual animal victims. The court found that the text of statute shows an intent to protect individual animals of the same genus as previous crimes rather than protection of the public, generally. The court was not persuaded by defendant's contention that established links between animal cruelty and domestic violence show that the legislature intended to protect the public rather than individual animals when it enacted ORS 167.332(1). Legislative testimony for amendments to ORS 167.332 from animal experts detailed how difficult it was for judges to impose bans on possession before the passage of the amendment due to the way the law was previously written. Thus, the court concluded that the principal purpose of ORS 167.332(1) was to protect individual animals from further abuse and neglect, and to deter animal abuse and neglect where those individuals convicted show "an identifiable threat to a particular genus of animal." Here, in defendant's case, the trial court did not err when it entered 13 separate convictions for unlawful possession of an animal. Affirmed.
  • 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.

  • This Oregon case considers, as an issue of first impression, whether the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement applies to animals in need of immediate assistance. Defendant appealed her conviction for second-degree animal neglect (ORS 167.325) based on the condition of her horse. The court found that the emergency aid exception extends to nonhuman animals when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals which are imminently threatened with suffering, serious physical injury or cruel death. Here, the deputy sheriff found that the horse was more emaciated than any other horse he had ever seen and there were signs of possible organ failure.

  • Under a statute that allowed an officer to impound animals without a warrant if exigent circumstances exist, fifteen unconfined cats, who were roaming around a vehicle, were impounded. At a hearing to ratify the impoundment, the court found a large number of unconfined cats that obstructed the defendant's view for driving constituted exigent circumstances under SDCL 40-1-5. After a motion was granted to transfer ownership of the cats to a local humane society for adoption, the defendant appealed. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

  • Defendant, who pleaded guilty to 2 counts of dogfighting, challenged the constitutionality of the dogfighting statute and appealed a court-imposed forfeiture of cash and other seized items. The Court of Appeals ruled that: (1) dogfighting statute was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad; (2) statute did not violate equal protection or constitute cruel and unusual punishment on ground that violation constitutes fourth-degree felony while violation of statute prohibiting other animal fights is only a fourth-degree misdemeanor; and (3) despite guilty plea, forfeiture of cash and other items was erroneous absent establishment of direct connection with defendant's illegal dogfighting activities.

  • This case considers whether the trial court erred when it dismissed the felony count of unjustifiably killing an animal based on lack of probable cause. The incident stems from the killing of the neighbors' cat with a shotgun by defendant-respondent. At trial, he filed a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause that was accompanied by a notarized affidavit of the responding police deputy stating the shooting of the cat was "justified." The trial court dismissed the complaint finding insufficient evidence that respondent had unjustifiably killed the cat. On appeal, the court found the district court's reliance on the deputy's lay opinion was improper. The court found it was within the jury's province to determine whether respondent's actions were justified or unjustified based on the evidence at trial.

  • After stabbing and slicing a dog to death, defendant was indicted for felonious cruelty to animals and conspiracy to commit felonious cruelty to animals. She was tried and found guilty of both counts before a jury. The trial court sentenced defendant to a term of 5 to 15 months for the felonious cruelty to animal conviction, and 4 to 14 months for the conspiracy conviction with both sentences suspended for a term of 18 months probation. Defendant appealed on the basis that the trial court erred on its instructions to the jury. After careful consideration, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that the trial court properly instructed the jury according to the North Carolina pattern jury instructions. Further, the trial court responded appropriately to the question posed by the jury regarding the jury instructions. Accordingly, the appeals court held that the defendant received a fair, error-free trial. Judge Ervin concurs in part and concurs in result in part by separate opinion.
  • The Appellant State of Oklahoma appeals the Grant County District Court's granting of defendant's motion to quash counts 2-13 of Cruelty to Animals violation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1685. Defendant was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty stemming from maltreatment of 13 dogs at his property. Evidence at the preliminary hearing showed that two of the dogs were chained to small, metal shelters, and 11 were individually penned, all in 100 degree heat. No dogs had adequate water and rotting carcasses were found within reach of the dogs. According to responding veterinarians, all dogs were extremely dehydrated and in need of immediate medical care and one dog had gone into shock (it later died). Most of the dogs were malnourished and poorly conditioned with parasite-infested wounds. At district court, defendant argued that he could only be charged with a single count of Cruelty to Animals because the dogs were found all in one location and had been abandoned for approximately the same time period. The district court acquiesced and granted defendant's motion to quash, finding no caselaw on point. On appeal, the Supreme Court found the district court's interpretation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1685 wrong as a matter of law. The section repeatedly use the phrase "any animal" to show that the intent to address acts of abuse against any particular animal. The Court observed that the state filed a count for each of the dogs at defendant's property because each dog needed to be separately fed and watered. "Gilchrist deprived all thirteen dogs of the food, water and shelter necessary to avoid the grotesque suffering observed at the scene." Thus, the Court found the district court abused its discretion in granting defendant's motion to quash.
  • This case involved an appeal from this conviction. The trial court found that the defendant rode the animal while it had a deep ulcerated cut on its back, and supplied it with insufficient food. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.

  • In this Ohio case, defendant Graves appeals his misdemeanor cruelty to animals conviction under R.C. 959.13(A)(3). The conviction stems from an incident in 2016 where Graves left his dog in locked and sealed van while he went into a grocery store. According to the facts, the van was turned off in an unshaded spot with windows closed on a 90+ degree day. Witnesses at the scene called police after they engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to get defendant to leave the store. In total, the dog spent about 40-45 minutes locked in the van. Graves was issued a citation for cruelty to animals and later convicted at a bench trial. On appeal, Graves first asserts that R.C. 959.13(A)(3) is unconstitutional because the statute is void for vagueness as applied to him and overbroad. This court found that the definition of cruelty was not so unclear that it could not be reasonably understood by Graves. The court was unconvinced by appellant's arguments that the statute provided insufficient guidance to citizens, and left open relevant question such as length of time a dog can be left unattended, exact weather conditions, and issues of the size of dogs left in vehicles. The court noted that most statutes deal with "unforeseen circumstances" and do not spell out details with "scientific precision." In fact, the court noted "[t]he danger of leaving an animal locked in a sealed vehicle in hot and humid conditions is well-known." Additionally, the court did not find the law to be overbroad, as defendant's right to travel was not infringed by the law. Finally, defendant contends that his conviction was against the manifest weight of the evidence. In rejecting this argument, the court found Graves acted recklessly under the law based on the hot and humid weather conditions and the fact that humans outside the van were experiencing the effects of extreme heat. Thus, the lower court's judgment was affirmed.
  • Appeal of a conviction in district court for cruelty to animals.  Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals after having been found to have recklessly caused and allowed his dog to kill two cats, and he appealed. The Court of Appeals held that forfeiture of defendant's dog was an impermissible condition of probation.

  • Defendant moved to suppress evidence after being charged with multiple counts of animal neglect. The Court of Appeals held that the warrant affidavit permitted reasonable inference that neglect continued to exist at time of warrant application. The warrant affiant stated her observations four months prior to the warrant application that horses appeared to be malnourished and severely underweight.

  • Defendant Hammond appeals his conviction for misdemeanor animal abuse in violation of § 578.012. The facts underlying the conviction stem from defendant’s conduct with a horse. In 2016, police were dispatched to a horse that was "down" on a road. The officer observed multiple injuries on the horse's hooves, fetlocks, and lower legs. Its hooves were severely abraded, which was confirmed by subsequent veterinary examination. Another officer observed markings on the road indicative of a "blood trail" from defendant's residence to the location of the horse. According to this officer, defendant told him that he had been "doing farrier stuff to his horses and this particular horse had broke away from them five times and broke a couple of lead lines, burned some people’s hands, and that he was going to teach the horse a lesson." Ultimately, the officers were able to get the horse to stand and loaded into a trailer. It later died at the animal clinic to where it was taken. Defendant was charged with felony animal abuse and a jury trial was held. The jury convicted defendant of the lesser-included misdemeanor animal abuse. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred by refusing to allow his counsel to read Missouri's right-to-farm amendment when it instructed the jury on the amendment. The court noted that, similar to a prior case evoking the right-to-farm amendment, the amendment itself was not intended to nullify or curtail longstanding laws. The prohibition against animal cruelty existed in some form in the Missouri code for 145 years. Further, the court disagreed with defendant's contention that his prosecution criminalized a legitimate farming practice. The jury convicted defendant based on a finding that, when he pulled the horse behind his truck, his conscious object was to cause injury or suffering to the horse. While defendant contends that his was employing a legitimate, established farming technique to "train" the horse, the jury rejected his claim. Defendant's claim on appeal that the animal abuse law could then be used to prosecute farmers for other legitimate farming activities (i.e., branding, castration, use of whips, etc.) was also rejected. The court found that the conscious object of such activities is not to inflect pain or suffering, but to achieve another goal. The pain is "incidental to the farmer's legitimate objectives." The jury found this not to be the case with defendant. Thus, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to allow Hammond to read the right-to-farm amendment to the jury, and when it refused to instruct the jury on the amendment’s terms. Affirmed.
  • Defendant's dogs were released by owner, resulting in their attack of a neighbor's dog and its subsequent death.  On appeal, the conviction was reversed for failure to show owner had knowledge of vicious propensity.

  • Defendant appealed a conviction for attempted involvement in animal fighting, arguing that the statutes at issue were unconstitutionally vague.  Since the defendant admitted he knowingly was among spectators at farm hosting a cockfighting event, the Court of Appeals held that a person of common intelligence could discern that defendant's conduct constituted a substantial step toward involvement in animal fighting.

  • A man was charged with failing to maintain a proper fence to contain his cattle.  Despite the man's efforts to fix the fence when notified his cattle had gone through it, the trial court found the man guilty on three counts of willfully permitting livestock to run at large.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's conviction.

  • Defendant Hearl was convicted of nineteen counts of animal cruelty by jury. The convictions stem from the care of his goat herd used for his goat cheese manufacturing business in Connecticut in 2014. Defendant and his business partner moved a herd from Massachusetts to Cornall, CT in May of 2014, where they rented an open air barn space (mainly used for dairy cows), but did not negotiate any boarding or care of the goats. Another farmer (Betti) rented the other half of the barn space for his dairy cows. Betti became concerned about defendant's goat herd in Fall 2014. As the condition of the goats deteriorated (to the point of death for some of the goats), Betti informed the state Dept. of Agriculture and this spurred the investigation which culminated in the seizure of defendant's remaining living goats in January 2015. On appeal of his conviction, defendant raises four main arguments: (1) the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to sustain his conviction, (2) the trial court did not provide the jury with a proper instruction on the required mental state; (3) § 53–247 (a) is unconstitutionally vague as applied to his conduct; and (4) his conviction and sentencing on nineteen separate counts of animal cruelty violates the constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy. As to defendant's first insufficiency of the evidence claim, defendant's argument centered on whether he had charge or custody of the goats necessary to impute responsibility to him. The court found that there was ample evidence before the jury to support the finding that the defendant confined, or had charge or custody of, the goats. Not only did the defendant play an active role in the management of the goats according to testimony, but.in converstations with officers, defendant “took the lead on telling me what was being done with the management of the goats” and that he “predominated the conversation” about the mortality rates in the herd. In fact, the court found compelling evidence of defendant's custody role where since he had authority to order the euthanization of the animals. Defendant's attempts to characterize his role as mere "ownership," with no role in the particulars of confinement, were unpersuasive. Ownership itself "can still be probative evidence that the defendant bore the responsibility of caring for the goats and authorizing their confinement." Equally unpersuasive was defendant's claim that his business partner was the was who alone confined the 20 plus goats in the open air barn. However, the court noted that there is "no authority limits liability under the statute to a single actor when the facts demonstrate that more than one person may have confined the goats or had charge or custody of them." The jury reasonably could have concluded that the defendant, having confined, or having charge or custody of, the goats, failed to give the goats proper care or food, water, and shelter. On defendant's second claim, the court concluded that the mens rea required for a conviction under the relevant portion of § 53–247 (a) is general intent and that the trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on criminal negligence. Defendant's third argument - that § 53–247 (a), was unconstitutionally vague - was also dispensed by the court. Even if the terms "charge" or "custody" are susceptible to some degree of interpretation, the record here shows that defendant had definite notice that his conduct violated the law. Further, the evidence at trial showed that he had notice from the state on things like heat lamps and shelter from the wind and failed to protect the animals by acting on those instructions. Finally, the court considered defendant's final double jeopardy argument and whether the legislature intended to authorize multiple convictions for cruelty for each goat or one conviction for the cruel treatment of the nineteen goats under § 53–247 (a). In looking at previous versions of the anti-cruelty law and other laws within the chapter, the court found that defendant's separate abuse and maltreatment of each goat supports the nineteen separate counts filed by the prosecutor. The judgment was affirmed.
  • In this Oregon case, defendant appeals his conviction of first-degree animal neglect. Specifically, defendant argues the denial of his motion to suppress evidence was erroneous. The evidence was obtained when the local sheriff (Glerup) entered defendant's property to administer emergency aid to defendant's cattle. During testimony in the motion to suppress, Glerup testified that he first received a call from defendant's neighbors who reported that the cattle appeared to be "starving." That neighbor even called defendant, who assured her that the cattle "were okay" and being cared for by a hired person. Sheriff Glerup called that individual who stated he had not been hired and defendant had been gone a week. The sheriff subsequently received a call that the cattle were in need of immediate aid and in poor condition. These conditions prompted the warrantless search. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress where the state failed to establish that the warrantless entry was justified under an exception to the warrant requirement. In doing so, defendant contends that the case establishing that the emergency aid doctrine applies to animals (Fessenden) was wrongly decided. This argument was dispensed by the court because it was not properly preserved at trial. Alternatively, defendant argues that the state failed to satisfy the requirements for the emergency aid exception. In reviewing defendant's claim, the court noted that in Fessenden, the emergency aid doctrine justifies warrantless activity, “when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief, based on articulable facts, that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals . . ." In this case, the court found that the officer's belief that immediate aid was necessary where the cattle appeared to be "near death" was reasonable. Thus, the trial court did not err when it denied defendant's motion to suppress; defendant's conviction was affirmed.
  • The defendant, Michael Jacobs, was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and corrupting another minor with drugs, receiving a prison sentence of four years. The victim testified with a “companion dog” at her feet. Among other assignments of error, Jacobs argued that he was denied his right to a fair trial because of the presence of the companion dog during the victim’s testimony. The child was under 15 at the time of the alleged abuse, but 17 years old when she testified. The Ohio appellate court concluded that the use of a companion dog in such a case was a matter of first impression in the state, though other comfort items, such as teddy bears had previously been used in similar situations in Ohio courts. To the defense’s objection that the witness was no longer under 15 at the time of her testimony, the appellate court stated that the defense had “failed to offer any authority to support the proposition that there is a certain age cut-off for the use of special procedures on behalf of alleged sexual abuse victims.” The court concluded that Ohio Evidence Rule 611(A), which provides that a trial court is to exercise “reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses…” and to “protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment,” was sufficiently flexible to allow the use of the dog during the trial. Having overruled all of Jacobs' assignments of error, the court affirmed the judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
  • Defendant was convicted of convicted of two counts of mistreatment of a livestock animal in violation of Neb.Rev.Stat. § 54–903(2) (Reissue 2010) and four counts of neglect of a livestock animal in violation of § 54–903(1). Defendant owned and maintained a herd of over 100 horses in Burt County, Nebraska. After receiving complaints, the local sheriff's office investigated the herd. An expert veterinarian witness at trial testified that approximately 30% of the herd scored very low on the scale measuring a horse's condition and there were several deceased horses found with the herd. On appeal, defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support several of his convictions. Specifically, defendant challenged whether the state proved causation and intent under the statute. The court found that the prosecution proved through testimony that defendant caused the death of the horses subject to two of the convictions. With regard to intent, the court found that the evidence showed it would have taken weeks or month for a horse to reach to the low levels on the scale. The court found that defendant was aware of the declining condition of the herd over a significant amount of time, and failed to adequately feed, water, or provide necessary care to his horses. The convictions were affirmed.
  • A defendant was convicted in district court of violating a city ordinance by keeping a vicious dog.  The Court of Appeals held that the word "trespasser" in the city ordinance was to be used in its ordinary context, that a child who rode his bicycle onto the defendant's driveway was a trespasser, that there were no issues of consent involved, and that the trespasser exception applied even to areas on the defendant's property where the dog was not under the owner's control.

  • In this Connecticut case, defendant, Delano Josephs appeals his judgment of conviction of a single violation of § 53–247(a). The incident stems from Defendant's shooting of his neighbor's cat with a BB gun. A witness heard the discharge of the BB gun, then saw a man he recognized as defendant walking with a BB gun in his hands in a "stalking" manner. Over a week later, defendant's neighbor noticed blood on her cat's shoulder and brought her cat to the veterinarian who found three or four metal objects that resembled BBs near the cat's spine. After receiving this diagnosis, the cat's owner reported to police that her neighbor was "shooting her cats." Animal control officers then interviewed defendant who admitted he has a BB gun and shoots at cats to scare them away, but "he had no means of hurting any cats." At the trial level, defendant raised the argument that § 53–247(a) requires specific intent to harm an animal. The trial court disagreed, finding the statute requires only a general intent to engage in the conduct. On appeal, defendant argues that since he was convicted under the "unjustifiably injures" portion of § 53–247(a), the trial court applied the wrong mens rea for the crime. In reviewing the statute, this court observed that the use of the term "unjustifiably" by the legislature is meant to distinguish that section from the section that says "intentionally." Thus, the legislature use of two different terms within the same subsection convinced the court that clause under which defendant was convicted is only a general intent crime. On defendant's void for vagueness challenge, the court found that this unpreserved error did not deprive him of a fair trial. A person of ordinary intelligence would understand that shooting a cat for trespassing is not a justifiable act. While the court agreed with defendant that "unjustifiably injures" is susceptible to other interpretations, in the instant case, defendant conduct in killing a companion animal is not permitted under this or other related laws. The judgment was affirmed.
  • Appeal from a district court decision relating to mental state requirements of an animal owner.  The Court of Appeals reversed a district court finding which required a higher mental state than negligence in violation of a statute which provides that the owner or custodian of an animal or livestock shall not "permit" animal to run at large. The Court of Appeals found that the offense does not require a culpable mental state.

  • After receiving a call to investigate a complaint of the smell of dead bodies, a health department specialist found defendant burying sixteen to twenty-one garbage bags filled with decaying cats in her backyard (later investigations showed there were about 200 dead cats total). Defendant also housed 35-38 cats in her home, some of whom suffered from serious illnesses. Because the humane officer concluded that defendant failed to provide proper shelter for the cats by commingling the healthy and the sick ones, he charged her with thirty-eight counts of animal cruelty, in violation of N.J.S.A. 4:22-17, one for each of the thirty-eight cats found in her home. While defendant claimed that she was housing the cats and attempting to nurse them back to health so they could be adopted out, the court found sufficient evidence that "commingling sick animals with healthy ones and depriving them of ventilation when it is particularly hot inside is failing both directly and indirectly to provide proper shelter."

  • A cruelty to animals case. The State alleged that the appellees tortured four dogs by leaving them without food and water, resulting in their deaths. Examining section 42.09 of the Texas Penal Code, Cruelty to Animals, the Court found that “torture” did not include failure to provide necessary food, care, or shelter. The Court held that the criminal act of failing provide food, care and shelter does not constitute the felony offense of torture.

  • Defendants Rory and Robby Kuenzi charged a herd of 30 to 40 deer with their snowmobiles, cruelly killing four by running them over, dragging them, and leaving one tied to a tree to die. The two men were charged with a Class I felony under Wisconsin § 951.02, which prohibits any person from “treat[ing] any animal ... in a cruel manner.” The Court concluded that the definition of “animal” included non-captive wild animals and rejected the defendants’ argument that they were engaged in “hunting.” The court reinstated the charges against the men.

  • A married couple owned a pet dog that had a history of injuring other dogs.  The married couple's dog injured a neighbors dog and, under a Nebraska Statute, was ordered to be destroyed.  The Supreme Court of Nebraska reversed the decision holding the penalty was unreasonable.

  • The trial court convicted defendant of first degree theft after he freed dolphins from a university laboratory. The court affirmed the conviction on appeal. It reasoned that the choice of evils defense was unavailable to defendant because the definition of "another" under Hawaii statute clearly did not include dolphins.

  • Defendant shot and killed two hunting dogs, estimated to be worth $5,000 to $8,000 each, who were chasing deer across his property. The defendant was later convicted by the jury under the first degree malicious mischief felony for “knowingly and maliciously ... [causing] physical damage to the property of another in an amount exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars.”  On appeal, the court upheld the jury’s conviction because the defendant had no right to kill the dogs chasing deer across his property and because the prosecution was allowed to charge under the first degree malicious mischief felony for “knowingly and maliciously ... [causing] physical damage to the property of another in an amount exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars.”

  • Appellant, Cheryl Mallis, appealed the judgment of the Youngstown Municipal Court convicting her on one count of failure to confine a vicious dog and one count of failure to confine a dog. She was originally charged with two counts of violating the vicious-dog statute, R.C. 955.22(D)(1), and she moved to have those charges dismissed prior to trial. The motion was overruled, and appellant now challenges that ruling on appeal. The Court of Appeals held that the state could not prosecute the dog owner for failure to confine a vicious dog under the vicious dog statute since the statute had previously been declared by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional on its face and had not been amended or modified thereafter.

  • Defendant was charged with a violation of Arkansas law when he hunted squirrels and took fish from a pond on his own land. The trial court found defendant not guilty. On appeal, the court held that the acquittal was justified. The court rejected the state's argument that it had a proprietary right to all of the wild life in the state. The court found that a property owner had a special property right to take fish and hunt wild game upon his own land, which inured to him by reason of his ownership of the soil. However, the court noted that such a right must yield to the state's ownership and title of the fish and game in the state, which it held for the purposes of regulation and preservation for the public use. The court found that those two rights did not conflict. Therefore, the court held that defendant should have had the same right to hunt and fish on his own land that resident owners of property in the state had to hunt and fish on their own lands. Since the Act differentiated between residents and nonresidents, the court held it was violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

  • Without defendant's consent or knowledge, a state animal inspector surveyed defendant's property on two occasions. Without prior notice to or consent of defendant, the State seized all of defendant's dogs. The court stated that warrantless searches and seizures had to be limited by order, statute, or regulation as to time, place, and scope in order to comport with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Because the Act and the order failed to so limit the search, the court concluded that it was unreasonable and unlawful.

  • In this North Carolina case, Defendant appealed her conviction for misdemeanor animal cruelty. Defendant primarily argued that the “evidence failed to establish that mere exposure to the living conditions constituted torment as defined by § 14-306(c).” The Court disagreed, finding that the stench of defendant's residence required the fire department to bring breathing apparatus for the animal control officers and urine and feces coated "everything" in the house, including the cats, was sufficient to support a conclusion by a reasonable jury that defendant “tormented” cat C142, causing it unjustifiable pain or suffering. The Court, however, vacated the order of restitution for $ 259.22 and remanded for a hearing on the matter because there was no evidence presented at trial supporting the award.

  • In this North Carolina case, defendant challenged her conviction for violating that city ordinance that limited the number of dogs greater than five months of age that can be kept on premises within the city limits to three. After conviction, defendant appealed the constitutionality of the ordinance, arguing that it was “arbitrary and without any justification” and “fails to stand upon a rational basis.” This Court disagreed. First noting that legislative enactments have a presumption of constitutionality, the Court held that the town of Nashville enacted the ordinance for the purpose of reducing noise and odor problems. These objectives are clearly legitimate public purposes, and the limitation on the number of dogs is directly related to those objectives.

  • A woman was convicted of fifty-eight counts of animal cruelty after animal control officers found fifty-eight diseased cats in her trailer.  The trial court sentenced the woman to ninety days of jail time for each count, but revised the sentence to include two days of jail time,  two years of formal probation, and twelve and a half years of informal probation.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, but found that fourteen and a half years probation exceeded the court's statutory authority. 

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