Dogs: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
Toledo v. Tellings - Reversed - 871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007) Slip Copy, 2006 WL 513946 (Ohio App. 6 Dist.), 2006-Ohio-975

Reversed - 871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007). In this Ohio case, defendant, who owned three pit bull type dogs, was convicted in the Municipal Court of violating city ordinance limiting ownership to only one pit bull per household, and of violating statute requiring owner of a "vicious dog" to provide liability insurance.  On appeal, the court held that the statute requiring an owner of a pit bull to provide liability insurance was unconstitutional.  Further, the statute, which provides that the ownership of a pit bull is prima facie evidence of the ownership of a vicious dog, was unconstitutional because after hearing evidence the trial court found that pit bulls as a breed are not inherently dangerous.  Thus, the court held that R.C. 955.11(A)(4)(a)(iii) is unconstitutional, since it has no real and substantial relationship to a legitimate state interest. 

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. West Slip Copy, 2007 WL 2963990 (Table) (Iowa App.)

In this Iowa case, the defendant, West, shot his neighbor's dogs after the dogs were seen running the perimeter of his deer-pen, agitating 15 of his deer in the process. Defendant was subsequently convicted of two counts of animal abuse charges and fifth degree criminal mischief.  On appeal, West argued that the section 351.27 (a provision that allows a person to kill a dog caught in the act of worrying livestock) provides an absolute defense to the charges of animal abuse and that he had the right under the facts and this statute to summarily kill Piatak's dogs because they were worrying and chasing his deer. He also contended that the statute has no additional “reasonableness” requirement, and the trial court was incorrect to graft the “reasonably acting” standard from the animal abuse law. The appellate court agreed, finding that section 351.27 provides an absolute defense to a charge of animal abuse under section 717B.2.

Stephens v. City of Spokane Slip Copy, 2007 WL 3146390 (E.D.Wash.)

Before the court here is defendant's motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's motion to certify a class. Plaintiffs claim is based on Spokane's "barking dog" ordinance" for which they were each issued an infraction by animal control officers. Plaintiffs contend the ordinance is void for vagueness. The court disagreed, finding that the ordinance has incorporated the reasonableness standard and is presumptively constitutional. In the ordinance, the citizen of average intellect need not guess at the prohibition of allowing an animal to unreasonably disturb persons by “habitually barking, howling, yelping, whining, or making other oral noises.”

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. 

Range v. Brubaker Slip Copy, 2008 WL 5248983 (N.D.Ind.)

Plaintiff brought a civil rights action against Defendants employed by the City of South Bend, Indiana (the “City”), part of the allegations being that Defendants unlawfully failed to interview Plaintiff for a position on the Animal Control Commission (the “Commission”).   During discovery, Defendants filed a, after Defendants had already disclosed the names of such individuals.   The United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division granted Defendants’ motion for a protective order to bar the disclosure of the home addresses of the Commission’s volunteer members, finding that Defendants provided “a particular and specific demonstration of fact” such that Plaintiff’s discover of the Commission members’ addresses should be barred, and that the relative lack of relevance of the discovery sought did not outweigh the potential harm caused by disclosure of the Commission members’ addresses.  

Rivero v. Humane Soc. of Fayette County Slip Copy, 2009 WL 18704 (W.D.Pa.) Plaintiffs brought action against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Defendants violated their First and Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution after Defendant dog control officers removed Plaintiffs’ dog from their home during an investigation into a report of a dead dog.   The United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania granted Defendant Township’s motion for partial summary judgment, finding that Plaintiffs’ allegations, standing alone, do not state a claim against Defendant-Township, and that Plaintiffs failed to provide any factual support for their state law claims.
Bassani v. Sutton Slip Copy, 2010 WL 1734857 (E.D.Wash.)

Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit in 2008 claiming money damages under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1988,and  alleging violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In 2004, plaintiffs two dogs were seized by Yakima County Animal Control after responding to a citizen's report that he had been menaced by dogs as he ran past plaintiff's house. Before the court here are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint. In granting the motions, the court held that the doctrine of res judicata did warrant a grant of summary judgment as defendants' failure to release plaintiff's dog. Further, the animal control officer was entitled to qualified immunity because he reasonably relied on the deputy prosecuting attorney's advice. Finally, there was no evidence of a pattern of behavior on the part of Yakima County sufficient to be a "moving force" behind a constitutional violation.

Tarquinio v. City of Lakewood, Ohio (unpublished) Slip Copy, 2011 WL 4458165 (N.D.Ohio)

Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment from the court that Lakewood City Ordinance (“LCO”) 506.01, which bans pit bull dogs or those dogs with "appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of such breeds," unconstitutional under the Ohio Constitution Home Rule provisions. In this motion, plaintiffs argue that LCO 506 conflicts with and impermissibly expands the provisions of Ohio Revised Code § 955.22. The court found that while § 955.22 outlines requirements that must be met by a person who houses vicious dogs, including all pit bulls, it does not explicitly permit pit bulls. The court found that the General Assembly intended to allow municipalities to regulate the possession of pit bulls.

U.S. v. Felts (unpublished) Slip Copy, 2012 WL 124390 (N.D.Iowa)

Defendant kennel operator was found to violate the AWA on multiple occasions when inspected by APHIS representatives. From 2005 to 2009, defendant repeatedly failed inspections where APHIS found that he provided inadequate veterinary care, did not maintain complete records on the dogs, and did not properly maintain the housing facilities for the dogs. The Administrator of APHIS filed and served on Defendant an administrative complaint for violations. Defendant never filed an answer, and so a Default Decision and Order was entered against Defendant. The Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in part because Defendant failed to file an answer to the administrative complaint, and so was deemed to have admitted the allegations in the complaint.

Frost v. City of Sioux City, Iowa Slip Copy, 2017 WL 4126986 (N.D. Iowa, 2017) In this case, the City of Sioux City had adopted a local ordinance that made it "unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport or sell within the City ... any pit bull." The ordinance goes on further to define pit bulls based on appearance and certain listed characteristics. Plaintiffs alleged that the ordinance is unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because it: (1) is unconstitutionally vague; (2) violates their rights under the equal protection clause; and (3) violates their rights under the due process clause, both in substance and procedure. Here, the district court found that the due process and equal protection claims survived the defendant's motion to dismiss, but found that the ordinance was not facially unconstitutionally vague. As a result, defendants' Motion to Dismiss was DENIED in part and GRANTED in part. Plaintiffs' claim that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague was DISMISSED, and plaintiffs may proceed with their remaining equal protection clause and due process clause claims.
Tuman v. VL GEM LLC Slip Copy, 2017 WL 781486 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 27, 2017)

In this case, Tuman sued the owners of her apartment complex, VL GEM LLC and GEM Management Partners LLC, after the apartment complex refused to allow her to keep an emotional support dog in her apartment to help her deal with her post-traumatic stress disorder. Truman argued that she was discriminated against after she requested a “reasonable accommodation” for her disability, in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The defendants argued that Truman failed to provide sufficient medical documentation of her need for the support dog and therefore were not liable for discrimination under the FHA. The court found that Truman was able to establish a disability under FHA by showing that her PTSD “causes her to have severe anxiety and difficulties with socialization.” The court held that this satisfied the requirement under the FHA that the disability must “substantially limit one or more major life activities.” Since Truman qualified as disabled under the FHA, the court turned to whether or not she had provided the apartment complex with sufficient documentation and notice. Ultimately, the court found that Truman had provided the apartment with sufficient documentation because she provided them with a note from her doctor stipulating that Truman needed an accommodation in order to cope with her disability. Lastly, the court found that the apartment complex knew of Truman’s disability and request for an accommodation and still refused to allow her to have a dog, which resulted in a violation under the FHA. As a result, the court found for Truman. 

United States v. Robinson Slip Copy, 2017 WL 806655 (D. Neb. Mar. 1, 2017)

In this case, defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder money after the defendant’s vehicle was searched by law enforcement during a traffic stop. During the stop, the police officer used a service dog while searching the vehicle. The defendants argued that any evidence gained by the police officer be suppressed on the grounds that the search of the vehicle was not constitutional. Specifically, the defendants argued that the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to use the service dog while searching the vehicle. Ultimately, the court found that the search by the police officer and his service dog did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights because the police officer had reasonable suspicion to search the vehicle. The court focused on the fact that the officer had legally stopped the vehicle and while talking to the driver and passengers he had established a reasonable suspicion that the defendants were transporting drugs. Once the police officer had a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle was transporting drugs, the police officer was legally allowed to use the service dog to search the vehicle. As a result, the court held that none of the evidence found during the search should be suppressed for violating the defendant’s constitutional rights. 

Goodwin v. Crawford Cty., Georgia Slip Copy, 2019 WL 2569626 (M.D. Ga. June 21, 2019) This instant action is a motion to dismiss by Defendant Sims in a § 1983 action and state law claims by plaintiff Goodwin against several Crawford County, Georgia officials. The case started with the shooting of plaintiff's dog, allegedly by Defendant Crawford County Officer Neesmith. After the dog was shot in his driveway, plaintiff alleges that Neesmith consulted another officer named Hollis who arrived on scene. Neesmith then called Defendant Sims, who was an employee of the Crawford County Health Department. Sims explained to Neesmith by phone that Plaintiff Goodwin could be liable for the cost of a rabies shot if the dog's head was not removed and that the cost of the shot was approximately $20,000. After this call, Hollis order plaintiff to cut off his own dog's head to be tested for rabies or face criminal charges and the cost of the rabies shot. In the presence of plaintiff's wife and children, the plaintiff relented and cut off the dog's head with a knife, but was too emotionally distraught to take the dog's head to the Crawford County Health Department (Plaintiff Dakon did so). As to only Defendant Sims' motion to dismiss, this court found that her economic coercion was not arbitrary and thus did not violate plaintiff's substantive due process rights. Further, the court found that Sims did not actually coerce or force plaintiff to do the decapitation. Regarding plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress against Sims, the court found that Sims' alleged use of "financial pressure" did not amount to extreme and outrageous conduct. Instead, the court said "she did her job," which was to communicate the rabies control procedures and did not actually require plaintiff to personally decapitate his dog. Accordingly, the Court granted Sims' Motion to Dismiss.
LaRosa v. River Quarry Apartments, LLC Slip Copy, 2019 WL 3538951 (D. Idaho Aug. 3, 2019) Plaintiffs, Robert and Iva LaRosa filed this action in August of 2018, alleging that the defendants violated their rights under the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"). The Court dismissed the complaint and the Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. The Plaintiffs had applied to live at River Quarry Apartments in August of 2017. They requested a reasonable accommodation to keep their dog at the apartment without paying a fee. The Plaintiffs provided a copy of a note from a nurse practitioner stating that the companion dog helps manage Mr. LaRosa’s post-traumatic stress disorder. The Plaintiffs were approved for the apartment but told that their reasonable accommodation request was still being processed and received forms to fill out regarding the reasonable accommodation. River Quarry required Mr. LaRose’s doctor to fill out a form verifying the need for an assistance animal. Rather than completing the form, the plaintiffs provided a letter from Mr. LaRosa’s primary care physician which stated that in the doctor’s opinion, an emotional support animal would help mitigate the symptoms that Mr. LaRose was experiencing. River Quarry insisted on speaking with Mr. LaRose’s doctor directly to verify the information that the plaintiffs had given. After Kirk Cullimore, an attorney on behalf of River Quarry, spoke with the doctor, River Quarry wrote a letter to the Plaintiffs denying their request for a reasonable accommodation stating that the doctor declined to verify that Mr. LaRosa met the two prong test that one must be handicapped and there must be a nexus between the handicap and the need for the animal. Soon after this, Mr. LaRosa saw his primary care physician and had the actual form completed by his doctor and turned it in to River Quarry. Kirk Cullimore believed that the doctor’s signature on the form was forged and called Mr. LaRose’s doctor to speak with him again. The doctor’s secretary informed Cullimore that the signature was genuine. Mr. and Mrs. LaRosa argued that they were injured by the discrimination of the Defendants in violation of the FHA. The Court denied the Plaintiffs claim under the FHA because they did not sufficiently allege that the Defendants refused to make the requested accommodation. River Quarry allowed the dog to stay in the apartment while their request for an accommodation was reviewed. The Court stated that housing providers are granted a meaningful opportunity to investigate a request for an accommodation. Housing providers do not have to immediately approve a request for an accommodation right away. River Quarry ended up approving the request within 45 days after the initial request. The Court held that this was not an unreasonable delay considering that River Quarry did not have sufficient information to make a determination until after Mr. LaRosa’s doctor completed the verification form. Prior to that the doctor’s letter and the phone call between Cullimore and the doctor did not reveal enough information for River Quarry to make a determination on the accommodation. The Plaintiffs, however, succeeded on their interference claim. The LaRosas were engaged in a protected activity when they applied for a reasonable accommodation and they sufficiently alleged that they were subjected to adverse action and that a causal link existed between the protected activity and the adverse action. The Defendants misrepresented the contents of Mr. Cullimore and Mr. LaRosa’s doctor’s conversation. The Court ultimately denied in part and granted in part the Defendant’s motion to dismiss and denied in part and granted in part the motion to dismiss claims against Kirk Cullimore and his law office.
Petconnect Rescue, Inc. v. Salinas Slip copy, 2021 WL 5178647 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 8, 2021) Plaintiffs are animal rescue organizations and an individual consumer alleging that the Defendants import non-rescue dogs into California and sell these dogs under the fraudulent misrepresentation that the dogs are rescued animals. Plaintiffs allege that the Rothman Defendants broker the sale of dogs bred for profit from “puppy mills” in the Midwest to pet stores in southern California which harms consumers by defrauding them and making them believe they are adopting a "rescue animal" (what the Plaintiffs have termed as "pet laundering"). In addition, plaintiffs alleged Lanham Act violations for trademark infringement. Before the court is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants. In denying the motion to dismiss, the court held that Plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts to state a claim that the Moving Defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme to sell non-rescue dogs as rescue dogs under the “Pet Connect Rescue” name.
Denise Venero v. Prince George's County Maryland Slip copy, 2024 WL 1285642 (D. Md. Mar. 26, 2024) Plaintiffs filed this putative class action to challenge the Prince George's County, Maryland Pit Bull Ordinance and enforcement of the ordinance. Plaintiffs assert multiple due process and equal protection claims in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as several violations of the Fair Housing Act. The ordinance bans the keeping of pit bull terriers in the county, and requires any pit bull owners at the time the ordinance was adopted to register the dog, pay a fee, maintain a secure kennel, and keep the dog secure at all times. The court in this case found that the plaintiffs lack standing, since they could not show an injury in fact relating to the county's enforcement of the ordinance, the county has returned seized dogs to the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs have been afforded due process through the county's administrative process.
Bermudez v Hanan Slip Copy, 44 Misc.3d 1207(A), 2013 WL 5496124 (Table) (N.Y.City Civ.Ct.),

This unpublished small claims court opinion concerns a dog bite. Claimant sought to recover monetary damages for medical bills and related expenses she incurred as a result of personal injuries suffered when Defendant's dog named "Chino" bit her on the face. At issue is whether Chino had vicious propensities and whether Defendant was aware of or had knowledge of those vicious propensities. The court found that Plaintiff did not raise an issue of fact as to the dog's vicious propensities. The court found compelling evidence that Chino was certified by the Good Dog Foundation to visit healthcare facilities as a therapy dog. As a result, the court dismissed the motion.

Texas Attorney General Letter Opinion 94-071 Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. LO 94-071

Texas Attorney General Opinion regarding the issue of whether staged fights between penned hogs and dogs constitutes a criminal offense. The Assistant Attorney General deemed these staged fights as violating the criminal cruelty laws.

Sentencia 10013-103027-2023-00229-00 (0327) - Simona - Colombia (2023) Tribunal Superior de Bogotá, Sala Mixta, Sentencia del 6 de octubre de 2023, Rad. 10013-103027-2023-00229-00 (0327) This is the case of “Simona,” the dog in a family that went through a divorce in 2021. The husband, acting as the plaintiff, filed a lawsuit in the third Family Court to establish a visitation arrangement for their beloved companion, “Simona,” who lived with his ex-wife. The plaintiff argued that Simona was an integral part of their family and that both Simona and him had been emotionally impacted since the separation, as the defendant contended that visitations were distressing for Simona. The plaintiff further contended that Simona used to sleep with him and watch movies, but since she could no longer do so, Simona had become depressed and refused to eat. The family court dismissed the case, stating that it fell under the civil court’s jurisdiction. The Superior Tribunal of Bogotá resolved the jurisdictional conflict between the third Family Court and the twenty-seventh Civil Circuit Court.
United States v. Gideon United States v. Gideon, 1 Minn. 292 (1856).

The Defendant was convicted in the District Court of Hennepin county for the unlawfully malice killing of a dog.  The Defendant appealed the descision to the Supreme Court of Minnesota to determine whether a dog has value and thus would be cover by the Minnesota cruelty to animal statute.  The Supreme Court of Minnesota found that a dog has no value and would not be covered by the statute.

In re Marriage of Piskalns Unpublished Disposition, 344 Mont. 555, 186 P.3d 877 (Table) (2008) The parties both appealed from the district court’s orders distributing the marital estate upon the parties’ divorce. Kara Pilskalns claimed that the court erred when it granted ownership of Maggie, the couple’s dog, to Andrew Pilskalns. This court affirms the decision, declining to use the best interest of the child standard for the distribution of pets as they are marital property.
Holland v Crisafulli [1998] QSC 199

A dog, on two separate occasions, entered residential premises, turned over a cage and killed a guinea pig. The applicant claimed that this was insufficient evidence for the dog to be declared 'dangerous'. The judge found that a dog's propensity to pursue one animal should not be distinguished from a propensity to pursue all animals and that the finding of the dog as 'dangerous' should stand.

Fleet v District Court of New South Wales [1999] NSWCA 363

The appellant's dog was removed by police officers and later euthanised. The dog was emaciated and suffering from numerous ailments. The appellant was charged and convicted with an animal cruelty offence and failure to state his name and address when asked. On appeal, it was found that the court had failed to address the elements of the animal cruelty offence and that the charge of failing to state name and address could not stand.

Joyce v Visser [2001] TASSC 116

The appellant was convicted of failing to provide food and water to dogs who were chained to a spot. Citing the extreme nature of the neglect and the need for general deterrence, the trial judge sentenced the appellant to three months' imprisonment. On appeal, the appellate judge found the sentence to be manifestly excessive and reduced the sentence.

Adams v Reahy [2007] NSWSC 1276

The first respondent claimed that despite their best efforts their dog was unable to gain weight and appeared emaciated. When proceedings were instituted, the first respondent was successful in being granted a permanent stay as the appellant, the RSPCA, failed to grant the first respondent access to the dog to determine its current state of health. On appeal, it was determined that a permanent stay was an inappropriate remedy and that the first respondent should be granted a temporary stay only until the dog could be examined.

City of Armidale v Kiraly [2009] WASC 199

The respondent, an owner of a brindle boxer dog, was charged with the dog attacking a person and for having the dog in a public place without a leash. The dog had escaped from the respondent's house and allegedly ran to and lunged at a lady delivering pamphlets. On appeal, the question of whether the dog's behaviour constituted an 'attack' for the purposes of the Dog Act 1976 (WA) s 33D(1) was a question of fact to be determined by the trial judge and, accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

Robertson v Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries [2010] QCA 147

An Inspector of the RSPCA entered premises occupied by the respondent and seized 104 dogs under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 which were then forfeited to the state. These actions were confirmed when the respondent sought an administrative review of the decisions and leave to appeal was refused. The respondent sought to raise numerous grounds of appeal against the prior refusal of leave to appeal, however, the appeal was struck out.

Dart v Singer [2010] QCA 75

The applicants pleaded guilty to a number of charges under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) following the seizure of 113 live dogs, one cat, 488 rats, 73 mice, 12 guinea pigs and 11 birds from their premises due to unsanitary and inappropriate living conditions. The applicants claimed that RSPCA officers were acting ultra vires and that a stay preventing the RSCPA from parting with the animals should be effected. The applicants' argument failed.

Webb v. Avon [2017] EWHC 3311 This case addressed the power of the court to make a contingent destruction order under Section 4B of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended). These orders allow dangerous dogs to be released and kept under strict conditions. The court held that the 19991 Act is not clear as to the breadth of who these conditions apply to, but considered that dangerous dogs may only be released to their owners or other persons properly identified as being in charge. The case was remitted to the Crown Court for further determination. The court also addressed other aspects of the 1991 Act along with the Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes (England and Wales) Order 2015.

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