Cats: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
Maldonado v. Fontanes 568 F.3d 263 (C.A.1 (Puerto Rico),2009)

At issue in this particular opinion is the interlocutory appeal of the Mayor of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico based on the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss on the basis of qualified immunity. This case was initially brought after two successive raids on public housing complexes, within ten days of the Municipality of Barceloneta assuming control of the public housing complexes from the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration on October 1, 2007. Prior to the raid, the residents, mostly Spanish-speakers, were given notice of the new "no pet policy," which were written in English. During the raids, plaintiffs' pets were seized and then killed by either being slammed against the side of a van or thrown off a 50-foot bridge. This First Circuit affirmed the denial of the Mayor's motion for qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claims. However, it reversed the denial of qualified immunity to the Mayor as to the plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claims and ordered those claims dismissed.

McElroy v. Carter Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2006 WL 2805141 (Tenn.Ct.App.)

In this Tennessee case, a man shot and wounded a cat owned by his neighbor as the animal exited from the bed of the man's prized pickup truck. The cat died from its wounds shortly thereafter. The neighbor sued for the veterinary bills she incurred for treatment of the cat's injuries. The truck owner counter-sued for the damage the cat allegedly caused to his truck by scratching the paint. After a bench trial, the court awarded the truck's owner $6,500 in damages, which it offset by a $372 award to the neighbor for her veterinary bills. The Court of Appeals reversed that decision finding that as a matter of law the cat's owner cannot be held liable for not keeping her cat confined when the damage the cat allegedly caused was not foreseeable.

Mills v. State 802 S.W.2d 400 (Tex. App. 1991).

In criminal conviction for cruelty to animals, statute requires that sentences arising out of same criminal offenses be prosecuted in single action and run concurrently.

Missouri Pet Breeders Association v. County of Cook --- F.Supp.3d ----2015 WL 2448332 (N.D. Ill., 2015) Cook County passed an ordinance that required a “pet shop operator” to only sell animals obtained from a breeder that (among other requirements) held a USDA class “A” license and owned or possessed no more than 5 female dogs, cats, or rabbits capable of reproduction in any 12-month period. Plaintiffs, a professional pet organization and three Cook County pet shops and their owners, sued Cook County government officials, alleging that the ordinance violated the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Defendants moved to dismiss the action. After concluding that plaintiffs had standing to pursue all of their claims, with the exception of the Foreign Commerce Claim, the Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss all claims, but gave Plaintiffs a chance to cure their complaint's defects by amendment.
Mostek v. Genesee County Animal Control Slip Copy, 2012 WL 683430 (E.D., Mich. 2012)

Defendant officer removed a gravely-ill cat that needed veterinary care from Plaintiff's backyard. Plaintiff sued alleging Fourth Amendment claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff disclaimed ownership of the cat, thus her property rights were not violated by the seizure. Officer was shielded by the doctrine of qualified immunity, because animal control officers may enter property and remove animals that appear to be in danger.

Peloquin v. Calcasieu Parish Police Jury 367 So.2d 1246 (La.,1979)

The finders of a stray cat were able to maintain a conversion suit against their neighbors who trapped the cat and brought it to a shelter where it was euthanized.

People v. Curtis 944 N.E.2d 806 (Ill.App. 2 Dist., 2011)

Defendant owned five cats and housed 82 feral cats in her home. One of her pet cats developed a respiratory infection and had to be euthanized as a result of unsanitary conditions. Defendant was convicted of violating the duties of an animal owner, and she appealed. The Appellate Court held that the statute requiring animal owners to provide humane care and treatment contained sufficiently definite standards for unbiased application, and that a person of ordinary intelligence would consider defendant's conduct toward her pet cat to be inhumane.

People v. Lewis 23 Misc.3d 49, 881 N.Y.S.2d 586 (N.Y.Sup.App.Term,2009) Defendants were charged in separate informations with multiple counts of injuring animals and failure to provide adequate sustenance.   Plaintiff, the People of the State of New York, appealed the lower court’s decision to grant Defendants’ motion to suppress evidence obtained when a special agent of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals approached one of the defendants at his home upon an anonymous tip and inquired about the condition of the animals and asked the defendant to bring the animals outside for inspection, while the incident was videotaped by a film crew for a cable television show.   The Supreme Court, Appellate Term, 2nd and 11th, 13 Judicial Districts reversed the lower court’s decision, finding that Plaintiff met its burden of establishing that the defendant voluntarily consented to the search based on the fact that the defendant was not in custody or under arrest at the time of the search, was not threatened by the special agent, and there was no misrepresentation, deception or trickery on the special agent’s part.
People v. Youngblood 109 Cal.Rptr.2d 776 (2001) Defendant was convicted of animal cruelty for keeping 92 cats in a single trailer, allowing less than one square foot of space for each cat.  The court found that the conviction could be sustained upon proof that defendant either deprived animals of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, or subjected them to needless suffering.  Further, the court found that the defense of necessity (she was keeping the cats to save them from euthanasia at animal control) was not available under circumstances of case.
Peoria County v. Capitelli 494 N.E.2d 155 (Ill.App. 3 Dist.,1986)

This Illinois case concerns the appeal of a conviction for allowing a cat to run at large in violation of an ordinance enacted by the plaintiff, Peoria County.  The defendant contends on appeal that the county as a non-home-rule unit of government lacked the authority to enact the ordinance.  The court disagreed, finding the counties were given the express power to establish animal pounds and to dispose of stray animals pursuant to the provisions of the Impounding and Disposition of Stray Animals Act which concerns pet dogs and cats, and the Illinois Animal Control Act, which deals with stray animal control, rabies protection, liability for animal bites and related topics.  More interesting is the dissent's position, which finds that the statute makes no mention of the power to regulate cats.  Moreover, there can be no logical implication of authority to regulate cats running-at-large from the delegation of authority to regulate dogs running-at-large. 

Perfect Puppy, Inc. v. City of East Providence --- F.Supp.3d ---- Due to public concern about puppy mills, City passed an ordinance banning pet stores located within its limits from selling dogs and cats unless those animals were owned by a city animal shelter or animal control agency, humane society, or non-profit rescue organization and the pet store maintained those animals for the purpose of public adoption. In its Amended Complaint, Plaintiff, a pet store, raised numerous challenges to the ordinance under the Constitutions of the United States and of Rhode Island, claiming that it violated the dormant Commerce Clause, the Contract Clause, the Takings Clause, and Plaintiff's equal protection and due process rights, and that it was preempted by state statute. Plaintiff and Defendant both sought summary judgment to all challenges. Plaintiff's motion was DENIED and Defendant's motion was GRANTED to all counts in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint except Count Three, the Takings claim, which was REMANDED to the Rhode Island Superior Court.
Pitts v. State 918 S.W.2d 4 (Tex. App. 1995).

Right of appeal is only available for orders that the animal be sold at public auction. The statutory language does not extend this right to seizure orders.

Raymond v. Lachmann 695 N.Y.S.2d 308 (N.Y. App. Div. 1999).

Trial court allowed visitation in property dispute over cat between roommates.  Later, that court determined it was not in the aged cat's best interests to be shuffled back and forth so revoked its decision, awarding it to the non-possessory roommate in a straight property analysis.  The appellate court determined that it would be best for the cat to remain with the possessory party because of his age and the amount of time he had already been living there.

Rehn v. Fischley No. C0-95-813, 1995 Minn. App. LEXIS 1539 (Minn. Ct. App. 1995).

The doctor was a veterinarian and a member of the board of directors for the humane society. The director of the humane society asked her for advice on how to clean cat cages, and the doctor gave advice and donated a bottle of formalin, whereupon the employee who used the formalin suffered permanent lung damage. The employee commenced an action against the doctor and humane society for damages.  The court held that although the doctor would not have advised using formalin if she was not a member of the board, this fact did not establish that giving the advice was within the scope of her responsibilities as a board member.

Rickrode v. Wistinghausen 340 N.W.2d 83 (Mich.App.,1983)

In this Michigan case, a mother sued as next friend for injuries suffered by her daughter after the daughter was attacked by defendant's domestic cat. The lower court directed a verdict in favor of the cat's owner and the mother then appealed. The Court of Appeals held that evidence warranted submission to the jury on questions of strict liability and negligence. If an owner has knowledge that her cat has bitten children before and that it was suffering from a disease that makes the cat extra sensitive, then a prima facie case has been made that the cat was dangerous, posing more than the normal risk of harm from cats.

Rossi v. Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Soc. Slip Copy, 2009 WL 960204 (N.D.N.Y.)

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

State v. Amos --- N.E.3d ----; 2014 WL 3511819 After witnessing the 73 year old defendant-appellant emerge from area by the veterinary's dumpster holding an empty, wire cage animal trap, an employee of the clinic followed the defendant-appellant's car and obtained the vehicle's license plate number. Upon returning to the dumpster, the employee found a kitten with matted eyes that seemed unhealthy. The defendant-appellant was charged with one count of animal abandonment in violation of R.C. 959.01 and was found guilty. Defendant-appellant appealed her conviction and sentence on the grounds that the court erred in finding beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a keeper or, if she was a keeper, the court erred in determining that she abandoned the animal. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that once the defendant captured the animal in a cage, she assumed the responsibility that she would treat the animal humanely and could therefore be considered a “keeper.” Since Amos captured the animal and released it in another location without taking steps to make sure the animal would be found, the Ohio Court of Appeals also held that a reasonable person could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant-appellant had “abandoned” the animal. The judgment was therefore affirmed.
State v. Criswell 305 P.3d 760 (Mont.,2013)

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.

State v. Fifteen Impounded Cats 785 N.W.2d 272 (S.D.,2010)

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.

State v. Gerard 832 N.W.2d 314 (Minn.App.,2013)

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.

State v. Griffin 684 P.2d 32 (Or. 1984)

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.

State v. McDonald 110 P.3d 149 (Ut. 2005)

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. 

State v. Mortensen 191 P.3d 1097 (Hawai'i App., 2008)

Defendant found guilty of Cruelty to Animals under a State statute after firing a pellet gun at/toward a cat which was later found with and died from a fatal wound.   On Defendant’s appeal, the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai’i affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that evidence that Defendant knowingly fired the pellet gun at a group of cats within the range of such a gun was sufficient to find that Defendant recklessly shot and killed the cat.   In making its decision, the Court of Appeals further found that the legislature clearly did not intend for a cat to be considered vermin or a pest for purposes of the relevant State anti-cruelty statute’s exception, and instead clearly intended for a cat to be considered a “pet animal.”  

State v. Peck 93 A.3d 256 (Me. 2014) Defendant appealed a judgment entered in the District Court after a bench trial found she committed the civil violation of cruelty to animals. Defendant contended that the court abused its discretion in quashing a subpoena that would have compelled one of her witnesses to testify; that the cruelty-to-animals statute is unconstitutionally vague; and that the record contains insufficient evidence to sustain a finding of cruelty to animals and to support the court's restitution order. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, however, disagreed and affirmed the lower court's judgment.
State v. Witham 876 A.2d 40 (Maine 2005)

A man ran over his girlfriend's cat after having a fight with his girlfriend.  The trial court found the man guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals.  The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the trial court, holding the aggravated cruelty to animals statute was not unconstitutionally vague.

Thurston v. Carter 92 A. 295 (Maine, 1914) This action of trespass is brought for the recovery of damages for the killing of the fox hound of plaintiff by defendant.  Defendant claimed that he shot and killed the plaintiff's dog while it was chasing and worrying a cat belonging to and upon the land of the defendant. After the introduction of all the evidence, the court ordered a verdict for defendant. To this direction, plaintiff filed his bill of exceptions in which it is stipulated that if a cat is a domestic animal, the ruling below is to stand, otherwise judgment is to be entered for plaintiff in the sum of $50.
Towers-Hammon v Burnett [2007] QDC 282

The respondent pleaded guilty to bashing several cats with an iron bar causing four deaths. The dead cats, along with one severely beaten but still alive kitten, were placed in a bag and disposed of in a charity clothing bin. On appeal, it was held that the trial judge failed to have sufficient regard to the callous nature of the respondent's actions and the respondent was sentenced to three months' imprisonment.

U.S. v. Kapp 419 F.3d 666 (2005, 7th Cir.(Ill.))

A jury convicted William Kapp for multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act connected with the killing of, and trafficking in, endangered tigers and leopards and their meat, hides, and other parts. On appeal, Kapp claims he is entitled to a new trial because the evidence at trial was insufficient to support the jury's verdict and the district court erroneously admitted certain evidence. Kapp also argues that the manner in which he was sentenced violated the Sixth Amendment. The court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict on all counts, and the district court did not err in its evidentiary ruling.  His conviction was, therefore, affirmed, but a limited remand was ordered to determine whether Kapp should be resentenced .

Veterinary Surgeons Investigating Committee v. Lloyd 2002 WL 31928523, 134 A Crim R 441

Appeal of agency determination of veterinarian malpractice for failure to detect ring worms in a cat. Long case with full discussion of process of administrative hearing and the standards by which to decide if an action is malpractice.

Whittier Terrace Associates v. Hampshire 532 N.E.2d 712 (Mass. 1989)

Defendant was a person with a psychiatric disability and living in public housing. Defendant claimed to have an emotional and psychological dependence on her cat. The court held that the housing authority discriminated against defendant under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for failure to waive the no pets policy as a reasonable accommodation for the mental disability. The court noted that there must be a narrow exception "to the rigid application of a no-pet rule, involving no untoward collateral consequences," because the handicapped person could fully receive the benefits of the program if provided the accommodation.

Womack v. Von Rardon 135 P.3d 542 (Wash. 2006)

In this Washington case, a cat owner sued a minor and his parents after the minor set her cat on fire.  While this Court found that the trial court correctly granted summary judgment with respect to Ms. Womack's private nuisance, tort outrage, and statutory waste claims, it held that the lower court incorrectly calculated the measure of damages.  Noting that the Division 2 Appellate Court left open the question of emotional distress damages where a pet has been maliciously injured in Pickford v. Masion , 124 Wash.App. 257, 262-63, 98 P.3d 1232 (2004), this Court held that the general allegations include sufficient facts to find both malicious conduct toward Ms. Womack's pet and her resulting emotional distress.  Thus, "[f]or the first time in Washington, we hold malicious injury to a pet can support a claim for, and be considered a factor in measuring a person's emotional distress damages."  

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