Dogs: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
Smith v. Com. Not Reported in S.E.2d, 2013 WL 321896 (Va.App.,2013)

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.

Smith v. Kopynec 119 So.3d 835 (La.App. 1 Cir.,2013)

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.

Smith v. Meyring Cattle Co., L.L.C. 921 N.W.2d 820 (Neb., 2019) Harley Smith worked for Meyring Cattle Company. Smith was injured when a herd dog allegedly nipped at the hoof of one of the cows and the cow charged forward trampling Smith. Smith sustained substantive injuries. Smith sued Meyring under negligence theories and under strict liability as set forth under Nebraska law. The district court found for Meyring. Smith appealed asserting that the district court erred by finding as a matter of law that strict liability did not apply to the facts of the case and for granting Meyring’s motion for partial directed verdict. as matter of first impression, the Supreme Court of Nebraska stated that the element that a dog be vicious or have dangerous propensities is implicitly part of the strict liability statute. The Court concluded that there was no evidence that the herd dog bit, worried, or chased Smith. There was also no evidence that the herd dog’s actions were directed toward Smith. The language of the strict liability statute was never understood as encompassing bodily hurt to a person by way of a dog worrying or chasing “any sheep or other domestic animals” that collided with that person. The Court affirmed the judgment of the district court.
Smith v. State 491 S.W.3d 864 (Tex. App. 2016), petition for discretionary review refused (Aug. 24, 2016) 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.
Smith v. Wisconsin Mut. Ins. Co. 880 N.W.2d 183 (Wis. Ct. App., 2016) (unpublished) This case concerns the measure of damages for injury to companion animals in Wisconsin. It arises from the incident between the plaintiff’s 11-year-old dog and the neighbor's dog. Plaintiff’s dog sustained severe injuries that resulted in veterinary bills and related expenses for the amount of $12,235. Plaintiffs argued that they were entitled to recover all veterinary and related expenses. Additionally, the plaintiffs contended that their damages were entitled to doubling under § 174.02(1)(b) as there were records that showed that the dog’s owner had knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities. Defendants’ insurer sought declaratory ruling arguing that under Wisconsin law, plaintiffs’ maximum recovery was the lesser amount between the dog's "cost of repair" and the dog's pre-injury fair market value, as it was the measure for personal property damage. The circuit court limited damages to $2,695, which was the amount conceded by the parties to be the replacement cost of plaintiff’s dog. In addition, that amount was doubled pursuant to § 174.02(1)(b). The court of appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court and declined to extend Wisconsin's "keepsakes" rule to pets to provide different damages for pets that only have value to the owner. The court found there were “significant differences between an unrepairable and lost forever keepsake and an injured but "repairable" pet.” The court was also not persuaded by other states' precedent about allowing or denying veterinary treatment as part of damage awards and decided to continue to treat dogs the same as other personal property. On the additional expenses allegations, the court found them to be “expenses incurred by the Smiths to facilitate "repairing" their dog” that were subject to property damage limitations.
Soucek v. Banham 524 N.W.2d 478 (Minn. App., 1994)

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. 

Spangler v. Stark County Dog Warden 999 N.E.2d 1247 (Ohio App. 5 Dist.,2013)

The appellant Robert T. Spangler appealed the decision of the Canton Municipal Court, Stark County that affirmed a dog warden's classification of his dog as "dangerous" under R.C. 955.11. While there are no cases on point that interpret this specific procedure on appeal, the court found the record did not reveal an abuse of discretion that would create a manifest miscarriage of justice. Even where there was potentially conflicting testimony whether appellant's dog actually bit the other dog's owner or whether it was caused by his own dog, the statute only requires a demonstration that the dog in question "caused injury" without provocation. Appellant's dog leaving the property lead to a "chain of events resulting in some sort of puncture injury" to the other dog owner's leg.

Spray v. Ammerman 66 Ill. 309 (1872)

This was an action brought by appellant, before a justice of the peace, against appellee, to recover damages for killing a dog owned by appellant. The court here reversed the judgment, and remanded the case to determine recovery of damages based on the qualities, traits, consequential losses, and the market price of the animal at issue. 

ST. LOUIS, I. M. & S. RY. CO. v. PHILPOT 77 S.W. 901 (Ark. 1903)

In this Arkansas case, the plaintiff was the owner of a "valuable bloodhound bitch." In April of 1900, she was killed by a passenger train of the defendant. Plaintiff sued the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Company for the damages he suffered by reason of the killing of his dog. He alleged in his complaint that the defendant carelessly and negligently ran one of its trains over and killed his bloodhound bitch, with a value of $250. The court found that the testimony of Miller, a man who bred bloodhounds, furnished the jury with information which was reasonably calculated to afford them assistance in arriving at a fair valuation of the dog. The evidence was sufficient to sustain the verdict, according to the court.

State ex rel. Humane Society of Missouri v. Beetem 317 S.W.3d 669 (Mo.App. W.D.,2010)

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

State of Florida v. Peters 534 So.2d 760 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1988). This is an appeal from an order of the county court invalidating a City of North Miami ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bull dogs.  The ordinance in question, City of North Miami Ordinance No. 422.5, regulates the ownership of pit bulls by requiring their owners to carry insurance or furnish other evidence of financial responsibility, register their pit bulls with the City, and confine the dogs indoors or in a locked pen.  The court dismissed defendants claims that the ordinance violates equal protection and due process, and that the ordinance's definition of a pit bull is on its face unconstitutionally vague.
State of Ohio v. Jane Smith 83 N.E.3d 302 (Ohio Ct. App., 2017)

Jane Smith was charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty after 47 dogs and other animals were seized from her property where she operated a private dog rescue. Smith was ultimately sentenced to jail time and required to compensate the Humane Society for the money that was spent to care for the 47 dogs that were seized from Smith’s property. Smith appealed her sentence, arguing that the lower court had made five errors in coming to its decision. The Court of Appeals only addressed four of the five arguments made by Smith. First, the Smith argued that the court erred in not suppressing evidence on the basis that her 4th Amendment rights had been violated. The Court of Appeals dismissed this argument, holding that Smith’s 4th Amendment rights had not been violated because the information that led to the seizure of Smith’s dogs was provided by a private citizen and therefore not applicable to the 4th Amendment protections. Secondly, Smith argued that the court violated her due process rights when it made multiple, erroneous evidentiary rulings that deprived her of her ability to meaningfully defend herself at trial. The Court of Appeals found that Smith had not provided enough evidence to establish that her due process rights had been violated, so the Court of Appeals dismissed the argument. Thirdly, Smith made a number of arguments related to constitutional violations but the Court of Appeals found that there was not evidence to support these arguments and dismissed the claim. Lastly, Smith argued that she had made a pre-indictment, non-prosecution agreement that was not followed by the court. The Court of Appeals also dismissed this argument for a lack of evidence. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision and sentencing. 

State v. Acker 160 Conn. App. 734 (2015) Defendant, the director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut, Inc., was charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty for failing to give animals “proper care by exposing [them] to conditions that placed [them] at risk of hypothermia, dehydration, or to conditions injurious to [their] well-being....” Defendant was the director of a nonprofit animal rescue organization and housed rescued dogs in an uninsulated outdoor barn heated solely by space heaters. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of 15 counts and acquitted of the remaining 48 counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, the defendant claimed that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and (2)C.G.S.A. § 53-247(a) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case. The appellate court rejected defendant’s claims and affirmed the trial court’s decision.
State v. Agee --- N.E.3d ---- , 2019 WL 3504010 (Ohio App., 2019) The Humane Society brought this action in response to a complaint regarding a dog tangled in a tether. Three German Shepherds were discovered that belonged to the Defendant, Shawn Agee, Jr. The dogs were suffering from maltreatment. All three had been restrained without access to water or food and one of the dog’s tethers was wrapped so tightly that its leg had started to swell. Two of the dogs were suffering from fly strike. The State charged the Defendant with 12 criminal misdemeanors relating to the treatment of the three animals. The trial court acquitted the Defendant of 10 of those counts because of his unrebutted testimony that he had been out of town for the weekend and had left the dogs in the care of his mother. The Defendant was found guilty to two second-degree misdemeanors relating to the two dogs suffering from fly strike because those particular injuries were long time, very painful injuries that were not being treated and the Defendant was the dogs’ “confiner, custodian, or caretaker.” The Defendant was sentenced to community control, a fine of $100, a suspended jail sentence of 180 days, the surrender of the two dogs with fly strike, and the proviso that the remaining dog be provided with regular vet appointments and various other conditions. This appeal followed. The Defendant asserted that the Court erred by finding that he had in fact violated the statute that he was found guilty of and that his convictions were not supported by legally sufficient evidence. The Defendant argued that he did not qualify as the type or class of persons subject to criminal liability merely as an owner. The Court noted that the trial court did not impose liability due to his status as the dogs’ owner, but rather due to this having served as the two dogs’ confiner, custodian, or caretaker when they developed fly strike and should have been but were not properly treated. As for the second assignment of error, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to find that the Defendant had violated the statute. The Defendant had admitted that he knew that the two dogs had fly strike “two or three weeks before he left town for the weekend.” The dogs were not treated before he left town. The Court ultimately affirmed both convictions.
State v. Ancona 991 A.2d 663 (Conn.App.,2010)

Defendant Michael Ancona appealed his conviction of permitting a dog to roam at large in violation of General Statutes § 22-364(a). The defendant claims that (1) the court improperly held him responsible as a keeper of a dog when the owner was present and known to the authorities, and (2) the state adduced insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. The plain language of the statute § 22-364(a) states that an “owner or keeper” is prohibited from allowing a dog to roam on a public highway. Either the owner or keeper or both can be held liable for a violation of the statute. The court also found sufficient evidence that defendant was the keeper of the pit bull: the dog stayed at his house, he initially responded to the incident and tried to pull the dog away, and defendant yelled at the Officer Rogers that she was not to take "his dog."

State v. Anello Not Reported in N.E.2d, 2007 WL 2713802 (Ohio App. 5 Dist.)

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

State v. Arnold 147 N.C. App. 670 (N.C. App. 2001)

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

State v. Avella --- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 2552529 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. June 21, 2019) The Defendant was charged with practicing veterinary medicine without a license and for cruelty to animals. The Defendant made a homemade device attempting to treat his dog for a problem because he did not have the money to take his dog to the vet. The home treatment ended up injuring the dog and he took the dog to a veterinarian for treatment. The veterinarian stated that the dog needed to be taken to an advanced care veterinary facility, however, the Defendant could not do so due to lack of funds. The trial court dismissed the charges brought against the Defendant and the State of Florida appealed. Florida law forbids a person from practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The Defendant was not a veterinarian. The Defendant relied upon statutory exemptions in Florida’s statue that permit a person to care for his or her own animals and claims that he was just trying to help his dog, Thor. The Defendant also argued that the purpose of the statute was to prevent unlicensed veterinary care provided to the public rather than to criminalize the care an owner provides to his or her animals. The Court held that the trial court did not err in dismissing Count I for unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine given the stated purpose of the statute and the statutory exemptions. As for Count II, animal cruelty, the State argued that the Defendant’s conduct in using a homemade tool to remove bone fragments from the dog’s rectum and then failing to take the dog to an advanced care clinic fits under the Florida animal cruelty statute. Although the Defendant argued that he had no intention of inflicting pain upon his dog and was only trying to help him, the Court agreed with the State’s argument that “the statute does not require a specific intent to cause pain but punishes an intentional act that results in the excessive infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.” Ultimately the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Count I, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Count II and remanded for further proceedings on the animal cruelty charge.
State v. Beckert 61 A.2d 213 (N.J. 1948)

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

State v. Blatt 235 W. Va. 489 (2015) The Circuit Court of Wayne County ordered that Tinkerbell, a female pit bull terrier, be destroyed pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute, after she injured a neighbor child who was playing in the dog’s yard. The circuit court's decision ordering that Tinkerbell be destroyed relied on a presumption that pit bull dog breeds are inherently vicious. Because extensive debate exists over whether scientific evidence and social concerns justify breed-specific presumptions, the court concluded that courts may not, upon judicial notice, rely solely upon a breed-specific presumption in ordering the destruction of a dog pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute. The adoption of breed-specific presumptions with regard to this statute is the prerogative of the Legislature, not the judiciary, the court stated. In the absence of a breed-specific presumption, the court determined that neither the remaining findings of fact in the circuit court's destruction order nor the facts presented in the record provided satisfactory proof that Tinkerbell must be euthanized. Consequently, the court reversed the circuit court's destruction order.
State v. Brown 771 N.W.2d 267 (N.D.,2009)

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

State v. Chilinski 330 P.3d 1169 (Mont. 2014) After a call reporting the poor health of over 100 dogs at a large Malamute breeding operation and the recruitment of the Humane Society of the United States, including several volunteers, to help execute a warrant, defendant was charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and 91 counts of felony cruelty to animals pursuant to § 45–8–211, MCA. Defendant was convicted by a jury of 91 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for a total of 30 years with 25 years suspended. A prohibition from possessing any animals while on probation was also imposed on the defendant, as well as an order to forfeit every seized dog and all puppies born after the execution of the warrant. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Montana, defendant argued the District Court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search on Fourth Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court held, however, that the search warrant authorizing seizure of “any and all dogs” and “any and all records pertaining to dogs” was not impermissibly overbroad; that the participation by civilian volunteers and Humane Society personnel in execution the warrant was not prohibited by the Fourth Amendment or the Montana Constitution; and that the use of civilian volunteers to assist in execution of search did not violate defendant's right to privacy. The Supreme Court therefore held that the lower court did not err in denying the motion to suppress the evidence. Next, the defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion when it improperly determined that the results of an investigation of his kennels in 2009 were irrelevant pursuant to M.R. Evid. 403. The court, however, agreed with the District Court, despite defendant's claim that 2009 inspection would show that the poor conditions of the kennels and the dogs in 2011 were justified due to economic hardship and health issues. Finally, defendant argued that the District Court was not authorized to order forfeiture of the defendant’s dogs that were not identified as victims of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court, however, held that the statute authorizing forfeiture of “any animal affected” as part of sentence for animal cruelty did not limit forfeiture of defendant's dogs to only those that served as basis for underlying charges, nor did it implicate the defendant's right to jury trial under the Apprendi case. The Supreme Court therefore held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in requiring the defendant to forfeit all of his dogs. The lower court’s decision was affirmed.
State v. Cochran 365 S.W.3d 628 (Mo.App. W.D., 2012)

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.

State v. Conte Slip Copy, 2007 WL 3257378 (Ohio App. 10 Dist.), 2007 -Ohio- 5924

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. 

State v. Cowan 814 N.E.2d 846 (Ohio 2004)

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.

State v. Crew 281 N.C. App. 437, 868 S.E.2d 351, review denied, 890 S.E.2d 915 (N.C. 2023) Defendant Daniel Crew appealed his convictions for dogfighting, felony cruelty to animals, misdemeanor cruelty to animals, and restraining dogs in a cruel manner. Crew also challenges the trial court's restitution orders totaling $70,000, which the trial court immediately converted to civil judgments. The arrest and conviction of defendant stemmed from an investigation at defendant's residence, where 30 pit bulls were recovered with injuries "similar to injuries a dog would sustain through dogfighting." In addition, publications and notes on preparing for a fight were found, as well as dogfighting training equipment such as a "jenny," staging area for fights, and weight scales for weighing dogs. The State charged Crew with fifteen counts of engaging in dogfighting, one count of allowing property to be used for dogfighting, five counts of felony cruelty to animals, twenty-five counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals, and sixteen counts of restraining dogs in a cruel manner. Ultimately, Crew was convicted by the jury of eleven counts of dogfighting, three counts of felony cruelty to animals, fourteen counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals, and two counts of restraining dogs in a cruel manner. The trial court imposed six consecutive active sentences of 10 to 21 months each along with several suspended sentences. The trial court also ordered Crew to pay Orange County Animal Services $10,000 in seven separate restitution orders that were then entered as civil judgments, totaling $70,000 in restitution (testimony at trial indicated that the cost to house the dogs alone was a "a littler over $80,000"). Defendant appealed his criminal judgment and petitioned for a writ of certiorari for the award of restitution entered as civil judgments. On appeal, this court rejected defendant's claim that there was insufficient evidence of dogfighting. The police found training equipment, medication commonly used in dogfighting operations, and a dogfighting "pit" or training area as well as the notes preparing dogs to fight. A reasonable juror could have concluded that Crew intended to engage in dogfighting. However, as to the restitution order converted to civil judgments, the court found that the trial court lacked the statutory authority to immediately convert those restitution orders into civil judgments. The court found no error concerning the criminal convictions, but vacated the conversion of the restitution to civil judgments against defendant.
State v. Crosswhite 273 Or. App. 605 (2015) 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.
State v. Dan 20 P.3d 829 (Or. 2001)

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.

State v. Davidson Slip Copy, 2006 WL 763082 (Ohio App. 11 Dist.), 2006-Ohio-1458

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.

State v. DeMarco 5 A.3d 527 (Conn.App., 2010)

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.

State v. Devon D. 90 A.3d 383 (Conn.App, 2014) 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.
State v. Doherty --- S.E.2d ---- 2024 WL 2002922 (N.C. Ct. App. May 7, 2024) In this North Carolina case, the defendant appeals from his conviction of felony cruelty to animals and suspended sentence of imprisonment. The conviction stems from Defendant's kicking of his neighbor's dog. According to testimony of the dog's owner, Defendant would activate sprinklers in his yard anytime someone with a dog walked by his home. In November of 2019, the dog's owner was walking her fourteen-year-old dachshund-beagle mix, Davis, in front of Defendant's house when she stepped out of the roadway onto Defendant's lawn to avoid a passing car. The occupants of the car then stopped to talk with the dog's owner briefly, whereupon Defendant emerged from his home and proceeded to kick Davis in the stomach. The dog's owner called the police and the dog was transported to an emergency veterinarian because he was "lifeless" and "limp." Defendant was ultimately charged, indicted, and convicted of felonious cruelty to animals. On appeal, Defendant argues (1) that the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the charge of felonious cruelty to animals because a single kick was insufficient to show that Defendant "cruelly beat" the dog; and (2) that the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of misdemeanor cruelty to animals. This court first addressed whether a single kick to a dog was sufficient to meet the definition of "cruelly beat." Looking first at the standard dictionary definition of "beat," the court found that the words, “cruelly beat” can apply to any act that causes the unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death to an animal, even if it is just one single act. In fact, the court stated, "[t]o hold otherwise would allow a person to kick a dog so hard they suffer life-threatening injuries—such as the case here—but not be subject to felonious cruelty to animals because it was 'just' one kick." Thus, the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to dismiss. As to the lesser included offense instruction, this court found that there was no evidence of error, let alone plain error, since the jury would have likely found Defendant guilty of felonious animal cruelty based on the evidence presented. No reversible error occurred and Defendant's conviction was affirmed.
State v. Dye 283 P.3d 1130 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2012)

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.

State v. Fay 248 A.3d 1191 (N.H. Dec. 2, 2020) In this New Hampshire case, Christina Fay appeals her convictions on seventeen counts of cruelty to animals. In 2017, a search warrant executed at her residence resulted in the seizure of over 70 Great Danes. Police learned of the conditions at defendant's residence from defendant's prior employees, who gave accounts of floors covered in layers of feces, dogs being fed maggot-infested raw chicken, and dogs present with injuries/illness. After conducting an investigation, the investigating Wolfeboro's police officer (Strauch) partnered with HSUS because the department did not have the resources to handle a large-scale animal law seizure. Strauch did not include in his affidavit supporting the search warrant's issuance that HSUS would be assisting the police, and the warrant itself did not explicitly state that HSUS was permitted to assist in its execution. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress by violating two of her constitutional rights: her right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and her right to privacy. As to the right to privacy argument, the court first noted that defendant grounded her argument in a recently enacted amendment to the state constitution. However, this new amendment, which states that an individual's right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent, did not apply retroactively to defendant. As to defendant's second argument that she had a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the court noted that it has not previously considered the extent to which it is constitutionally reasonable for the police to involve civilians when executing search warrants. The defendant argues that Strauch's failure to obtain express authorization for HSUS's aid from the magistrate who issued the search warrant was constitutionally unreasonable. The court found no instance in which a court has held that the failure to obtain express judicial authorization for citizen aid prior to the execution of a warrant rendered the subsequent search unconstitutional. While other courts have opined that is might be a "better practice" to disclose this matter when applying to the magistrate for a search warrant, failure to do so does not itself violate the Fourth Amendment. The pertinent inquiry is whether the search was reasonable in its execution, and any citizen involvement would be held to that scrutiny. The court concluded that the state did not violate the constitution by failing to obtain authorization for HSUS's involvement prior to the warrant's execution. Affirmed.
State v. Gaines 64 Ohio App. 3d 230 (Oh App. 1990)

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.

State v. Gerberding 767 S.E.2d 334 (N.C. Ct. App. 2014) 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.
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. Hackett 502 P.3d 228 (2021) Defendant was convicted of second-degree animal abuse, among other crimes. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for judgment of acquittal (MJOA) and imposed fines (in addition to incarceration) without first determining his ability to pay. The conviction was supported by testimony at trial from two witnesses, a mother and her daughter. The daughter was visiting her mother and heard a dog "yike" in pain outside while she was at her mother's house. She thought a dog may have been hit by a car, so she went outside where she observed defendant and his dog Bosco. The dog was whimpering and laying in submission as the defendant hit the dog. Then, after going inside briefly to call police, the witness returned outside to see defendant was "just going to town and beating the dog" and throwing rocks at the dog to the point where the witness was concerned for the dog's life. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred on the second-degree animal abuse charge because the evidence did not permit a rational inference that Bosco experienced "substantial pain" as required by the statute. The court, in a matter of first impression, examined whether Bosco experienced substantial pain. Both the state and defendant acknowledged that appellate courts have not yet interpreted the meaning of "substantial pain" for animal victims, so both parties rely on cases involving human victims. Defendant suggests that Bosco did not experience a significant duration of pain to permit a finding of substantial pain. The court disagreed, analogizing with cases where a human victim could not testify concerning the pain. Thus, the court concluded that the evidence supported a reasonable inference that Bosco's pain was not "fleeting" or "momentary." Not only did the witnesses see the defendant kick and pelt the dog with rocks, but one witness left to phone police and returned to find the defendant still abusing the dog. As to the fines, the court found that the trial court did err in ordering payment of fines within 30-days without making an assessment of defendant's ability to pay. Thus, the the trial court did not err in denying defendant's MJOA, but the matter was remanded for entry of judgment that omitted the "due in 30 days" for the fines.
State v. Hanson 89 P.3d 544 (Kansas, 2004)

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.

State v. Johnson 628 P.2d 789 (Or. 1981)

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.

State v. Kingsbury 29 S.W.3d 202 (Texas 2004)

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.

State v. Lesoing-Dittoe 693 N.W.2d 261 (Neb. 2005)

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.

State v. Long 991 P.2d 102 (Wash.App. Div. 2,2000)

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.”

State v. Mallis 964 N.E.2d 1096 (Ohio App. 7 Dist.,2011)

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.

State v. McIntosh 682 S.W.3d 449 (Mo. Ct. App. 2024) This case is an appeal following the defendant's conviction of animal abuse and assault in the fourth degree. Defendant claimed that the trial court erred in convicting him of animal abuse due to insufficient evidence showing that he purposely caused suffering to the dog he allegedly abused. The event that led to defendant's conviction was witnessed by a neighbor, who saw the defendant in his backyard swinging a small dog through the air by its leash and collar. The neighbor also saw defendant climb on top of the dog to choke it and slam its head into the ground. The neighbor testified at trial about these events, and the trial court found defendant guilty of animal abuse and assault in the fourth degree. The court of appeals held that there was sufficient evidence, consisting of the neighbor's testimony, and affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
State v. Meerdink 837 N.W.2d 681 (Table) (Iowa Ct. App. 2013)

After defendant/appellant took a baseball to the head of and consequently killed a 7-month-old puppy, the Iowa District Court of Scott County found defendant/appellant guilty of animal torture under Iowa Code section 717B.3A (1). Defendant/appellant appealed the district court's decision, arguing that the evidence shown was insufficient to support a finding he acted “with a depraved or sadistic intent,” as stated by Iowa statute. The appeals court agreed and reversed and remanded the case back to district court for dismissal. Judge Vaitheswaran authored a dissenting opinion.

State v. Milewski 194 So. 3d 376 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016), reh'g denied (June 3, 2016), review denied, No. SC16-1187, 2016 WL 6722865 (Fla. Nov. 15, 2016) This Florida case involves the appeal of defendant's motion to suppress evidence in an animal cruelty case. Specifically, defendant Milewski challenged the evidence obtained during the necropsy of his puppy, alleging that he did not abandon his property interest in the body of the deceased dog because he thought the puppy's remains would be returned to him in the form of ashes. The necropsy showed that the puppy suffered a severe brain hemorrhage, extensive body bruises, and a separated spinal column that were consistent with severe physical abuse (which was later corroborated by Milewski's confession that he had thrown the dog). The trial court granted the motion to suppress and further found that law enforcement infringed on defendant's rights as the "patient's owner" when they interviewed the veterinarian and obtained veterinary records without consent or a subpoena, contrary to Florida law. On appeal, this court found that the Fourth Amendment does not extend to abandoned property. When Milewski abandoned his puppy's remains for the less-expensive "group cremation" at the vet's office, he gave up his expectation of privacy. As such, the court found that he was not deprived of his property without consent or due process when animal services seized the puppy's remains without a warrant. Further, this court found that there was no basis to suppress the veterinarian's voluntary statements about the puppy's condition or the necropsy report. The motion to suppress was reversed as to the doctor's statements/testimony and the evidence from the necropsy. The trial court's suppression of the hospital's medical records obtained without a subpoena was affirmed.
State v. Mita 245 P.3d 458 (Hawai', 2010)

Defendant, an owner of two dogs, both boxers, was charged with animal nuisance in violation of Revised Ordinances of Honolulu section 7-2.3. Mita’s counsel objected to the oral charge at trial, arguing "that the arraignment is [not] specific enough to put the defendant specifically on notice of what part of the . . . ordinance she’s being charged with." The district court denied Mita’s motion for judgment of acquittal and sentenced her to pay a $50 fine. Mita appealed. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the district court. On certiorari, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and remanded the case, finding that the definition of animal nuisance in section 7-2.2 does not create an additional essential element of the offense; and, second, the definition of "animal nuisance" is consistent with its commonly understood meaning.

State v. Moore 2014 WL 1917289 (Wash.App. Div. 2) Duane Moore appealed his conviction and sentence for second degree assault, domestic violence, after choking his wife during an argument. He argued that (1) the prosecutor committed misconduct during voir dire and closing argument when he argued facts not in evidence, made improper statements about witness credibility, and shifted the burden of proof; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed a witness to testify with a service dog; and (3) the prosecutor improperly testified at the sentencing hearing. With regard to the testimony dog issue, the court found that defendant failed to raise the issue at trial and thus failed to preserve this issue for appeal. Further, defendant failed to prove that any alleged errors were manifest. There is no evidence in the record that the dog's presence made Ms. Moore appear traumatized or victimized, and thereby violated Mr. Moore's due process rights, or acted as a comment on the evidence. The court rejected defendant's argument and affirmed the trial court.
State v. Morival 75 So.3d 810 (Fla.App. 2 Dist., 2011)

Defendant moved to dismiss charges of two felony counts of animal cruelty. The District Court of Appeal held that systematically depriving his dogs of nourishment was properly charged as felony animal cruelty rather than misdemeanor.  Defendant fed his dogs so little that they suffered malnutrition over an extended period of time. This amounted to repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.

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