Dogs: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort ascending Summary
In re Marriage of Berger and Ognibene-Berger (Decisions Without Published Opinions) 834 N.W.2d 82 (Table) (2013) Joe Berger appeals from the provisions of the decree of divorce from Cira Berger, including the court’s grant of Max, the family golden retriever, to Cira. He argues that it would be more equitable to grant him ownership of Max because Cira already owns another dog, Sophie, and the parties’ son, who lives with Joe, is very attached to Max. The district court made their decision based on which party would be more available to care for the dog. This court affirms that decision, citing evidence that Max is licensed to Cira, only Cira’s name is in the dog’s ‘GEO tracker’ device, and Cira got Max medical attention even when Max was in Joe’s care. The court specified that they need not determine a pet's best interests when deciding custody.
RSPCA v Harrison (1999) 204 LSJS 345

The respondent was the owner of a dog which was found with skin ulcerations, larval infestations and saturated in urine. On appeal, it was found that the trial judge failed to give proper weight to cumulative circumstantial evidence as to the respondent's awareness of the dog's condition. It was also found that 'illness' was intended to cover a wide field of unhealthy conditions and included the larval infestation. The respondent was convicted and fined.

PRIETO, GERMÁN LUIS C/ COLONNA LUCIANA ANDREA – ORDINARIO – EXPTE. N° 450237 "PRIETO, GERMÁN LUIS C/ COLONNA LUCIANA ANDREA – ORDINARIO – EX Sentencia número 86 de la Cámara de Apelaciones de lo Civil y Comercial y en lo Contencioso Administrativo, de la ciudad de Río Cuarto de 26 de octubre de 2012 Este caso involucra una disputa entre German Luis Prieto (demandante) y Luciana Andrea Colonna (demandada) sobre la propiedad de bienes muebles. El demandante alega haberlos adquirido durante su convivencia con la demandada y busca su restitución. La demandada argumenta que los bienes son parte de un patrimonio común debido a su relación de convivencia y sociedad de hecho, y niega la obligación de devolverlos. El tribunal, luego de analizar los argumentos, determina que el demandante tiene derecho a la restitución de los bienes, excepto en el caso del perro "Bauty", al considerar que este último ha desarrollado un vínculo emocional significativo con la demandada, y que su entrega podría causar un sufrimiento innecesario. En consecuencia, se revoca parcialmente la sentencia inicial, se ordena la restitución de los bienes y se le permite a la demanda quedarse con el canino.
Travis v. Murray 977 N.Y.S.2d 621 (Sup. Ct. 2013)

A short, childless marriage ended in a custody battle over a dachshund after one spouse allegedly took the dog while the other spouse was away on a business trip. After reviewing the progression of the law in New York and in other states, the court decided to apply a “best for all concerned” standard and to give the parties a full, one-day hearing. The plaintiff’s motion to order the defendant to return the couple's dog and to be awarded “sole residential custody” of the dog was therefore granted.

Stevens v. Hollywood Towers and Condominium Ass'n 836 F.Supp.2d 800 (N.D. Ill. 2011) Plaintiffs brought the instant suit contending that their Condo Board's refusal to accommodate the need for an emotional support animal forced them to sell their condo. The Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted. After finding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to unrestricted access for their dog despite a no pet waiver and after needing more facts to determine whether Defendants restrictions on Plaintiffs’ access to the building were reasonable, the District Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims under the Federal Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). The District Court also found Plaintiffs' interference or intimidation allegations sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. However, the District Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ nuisance claim because Plaintiffs had not contended that Defendants unreasonably used their own property to interfere in Plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of their home, but rather, contended that Defendants made rules that interfered with the Plaintiff's ability to use the common areas of the property as they wished. Plaintiffs’ intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was also dismissed because Plaintiffs had not sufficiently alleged that Defendants' conduct was extreme or outrageous. Finally, the constructive eviction claim was dismissed because more than a year had past between the owners’ accommodation request and the sale of their condominium. In sum, Counts I, II, and III went forward, but the remainder of the complaint was dismissed. Additionally, Defendant Sudler Building Services was dismissed from the complaint.
Fair Housing of the Dakotas, Inc. v. Goldmark Property Management, Inc. 78 F.Supp.2d 1028 (D.N.D. 2011) Plaintiffs bring this action against Goldmark Property Management alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The alleged discriminatory policy is a mandatory application fee, non-refundable deposit, and monthly charge that Goldmark imposes on tenants with disabilities who reside with a non-specially trained assistance animal (i.e. a companion pet). These same fees are waived for tenants with disabilities who reside with a trained assistance animal (i.e. a seeing eye dog). The FHA encompasses all types of assistance animals regardless of training; therefore, Goldmark's policy implicates the FHA. Further, Plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a prima face case of discrimination and have presented sufficient evidence to create genuine issues for trial on the questions of the necessity and reasonableness of the requested accommodation and whether Goldmark's alleged objective for the policy is permissible under the FHA and not pretextual. Therefore, Goldmark's motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. It is granted as to Plaintiffs' claim of disparate treatment because no proof was offered of a discriminatory intent. It is denied as to Plaintiffs' claims of disparate impact and failure to make a reasonable accommodation.
Leigh v. State 58 So. 3d 396 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011) Philip Leigh (Defendant) appeals from an order summarily denying his motion for postconviction relief. Following a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic. Defendant claimed his trial counsel was ineffective for allowing him to appear in a leg restraint and for failing to object to the presence of a dog. Apparently, the dog became disruptive on more than one occasion and was visible to the judge and jury. The Florida appellate court reversed and remanded, with a provision that the trial court could attach portions of the record that would refute the possibility that defense counsel’s failure to object to the dog’s presence indicated ineffective assistance of counsel. Since there was apparently no evidence of the dog’s presence in the record at all, the trial court was presumably obligated to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the matter.
Warren v. Delvista Towers Condominium Ass'n, Inc. 49 F.Supp.3d 1082 (S.D. Fla. 2014) In its motion for summary judgment, Defendant argues Plaintiff’s accommodation request under the Federal Fair Housing Act (the “FHA”) to modify Defendant's “no pet” policy was unreasonable because Plaintiff's emotional support animal was a pit bull and pit bulls were banned by county ordinance. In denying the Defendant’s motion, the District Court found that changing a no pets policy for an emotional support animal was a reasonable accommodation under the FHA. The court also found that enforcing the county ordinance would violate the FHA by permitting a discriminatory housing practice. However, in line with US Department of Housing and Urban Development notices, the court found genuine issues of material fact remained as to whether the dog posed a direct threat to members of the condominium association, and whether that threat could be reduced by other reasonable accommodations.
BARKING HOUND VILLAGE, LLC., et al. v. MONYAK, et al. 299 Ga. 144, 787 S.E.2d 191 (Ga., 2016) In 2012, Plaintiffs Robert and Elizabeth Monyaks took their dogs Lola and Callie, for ten days to a kennel owned by Defendants Barking Hound Village, LLC (“BHV”) and managed by William Furman. Callie, had been prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis pain. However, three days after picking up their dogs from BHV, Lola was diagnosed with acute renal failure and died in March 2013.The Monyaks sued BHV and Furman for damages alleging that while at the kennel Lola was administered toxic doses of the arthritis medication prescribed for Callie. BHV and Furman moved for summary judgment on all the Monyaks' claims asserting that the measure of damages for the death of a dog was capped at the dog's fair market value and the Monyaks failed to prove that Lola had any market value. The Court of Appeals concluded that the proper measure of damages for the loss of a pet is the actual value of the dog to its owners rather than the dog’s fair market value. The court stated that the actual value of the animal could be demonstrated by reasonable veterinary and other expenses incurred by its owners in treating injuries, as well as by other economic factors. However, evidence of non-economic factors demonstrating the dog's intrinsic value to its owners would not be admissible. The Supreme Court of Georgia reversed in part and held that the damages recoverable by the owners of an animal negligently killed by another includes both the animal's fair market value at the time of the loss plus interest, and, in addition, any medical and other expenses reasonably incurred in treating the animal. The Supreme Court reasoned that “[t]he value of [a] dog may be proved, as that of any other property, by evidence that he was of a particular breed, and had certain qualities, and by witnesses who knew the market value of such animal, if any market value be shown.” The Supreme Court also affirmed the Court of Appeals in part and found no error in the court's determination that Georgia precedent does not allow for the recovery of damages based on the sentimental value of personal property to its owner.
Ohio v. George 2014-Ohio-5781 (App. Ct, 2014) Clayton George was convicted of raping two children of his girlfriend, age six and eight at the time of the crime. Among assignments of error on appeal was that the trial court had abused its discretion in allowing Avery, a facility dog, to accompany the two children during their testimony without a showing of necessity. On appeal, the defense argued that (1) unlike the facility dogs in Tohom, Spence, and Dye, Avery was “recognizable on the record while he was in court,” (2) the prosecution failed to show necessity for having Avery at trial, and (3) the standards set in Tohom, Spence, and Dye should have applied to determine whether Avery was permitted at trial. The appellate court noted that the defense had not objected to the presence of the dog during the trial nor had he made these three points at trial, meaning that the appellate court did not need to consider them for the first time on appeal under Ohio appellate law. The assignments of error were all overruled and the judgement of the trial court was affirmed.
Lyman v. Lanser --- N.E.3d ----, 2024 WL 970217 (Mass. App. Ct. Mar. 7, 2024) This case is an appeal concerning an agreement to share possession of a dog between a couple that had ended their relationship. The lower court granted the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, the court of appeals vacated the order, then this appeal followed. The parties purchased the dog together while they were still a couple, and agreed to share the dog if they broke up. After the relationship eventually ended, the couple shared the dog on a two week alternating basis. Eventually, one party maintained custody of the dog and denied the other party access to the dog, so plaintiff filed this action for conversion and breach of contract, seeking specific performance of the custody agreement for the dog. The court here found that the dog is jointly owned property, the lack of a written contract does not bar the plaintiff from specific performance, and that the judge's order of specific performance was a suitable remedy since monetary damages would not allow plaintiff access to his shared property. Therefore, the court reversed the order vacating the preliminary injunction and denied the defendant's petition for relief from the preliminary injunction.
Horton v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 559 Fed.Appx. 527 (6th Cir. 2014) Petitioner sold dogs and puppies without an Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) dealer license. An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found the Petitioner violated the AWA and issued a cease and desist order to prevent further violations of the Act and ordered Petitioner to pay $14,430 in civil penalties. Both Petitioner and Respondent, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), appealed the ALJ's decision to a judicial officer (“JO”), acting for the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, who increased the civil penalties amount from $14,430 to $191,200. Petitioner appealed this decision, alleging that (1) the ALJ and JO erred by failing to determine the willfulness of his actions, and (2) the JO improperly applied the Department's criteria for assessing civil penalties. The 6th Circuit found that since the AWA did not contain a willfulness requirement, the JO's failure to make a willfulness determination was not an abuse of discretion. Further, the 6th Circuit held that the JO's factual findings regarding Petitioner's dog sales were supported by substantial evidence. Lastly, the 6th Circuit held the size of the civil penalty assessed against Petitioner was warranted by law. The court denied the petition for review and affirmed the Secretary's Decision and Order.

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