Dogs: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort ascending Summary
Holcomb v. City and County of Denver 606 P.2d 858 (Colo., 1980)

In this Colorado case, the defendant was convicted in the county court of keeping dogs in a residential zone in violation of zoning ordinance.  The question before the court was whether section 2-3(3)(a) provides ascertainable standards which can be constitutionally enforced by the zoning administrator.  The court held that the ordinance is sufficiently specific to pass constitutional muster.  The Court also held that the zoning ordinance relating to accessory uses allowed in residential zones provided sufficient guidelines for it to be constitutionally enforced by the zoning administrator and that the municipality had not delegated to the zoning administrator the authority to determine by regulation the number of dogs which may be kept in a residential zone as an accessory use. 

Rule v. Fort Dodge Animal Health, Inc. 604 F.Supp.2d 288 (D.Mass.,2009)

The plaintiff brought this action against Defendants Fort Dodge Animal Health, Inc. and Wyeth Corporation, seeking economic damages suffered from the purchase and injection of her dog with ProHeart® 6 to prevent heartworm. The complaint alleged products liability/failure to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and violation of state deceptive business practices, among others. In 2004, defendants recalled ProHeart® 6 in response to a request by FDA due to reported adverse reactions. This Court found that Massachusetts law follows the traditional “economic loss rule,” where such losses are not recoverable in in tort and strict liability actions where there has been no personal injury or property damage. Here, the plaintiff was barred from recovering because she has not alleged any personal injury or property damage under her products liability claim. Further, plaintiff failed to show that defendants' deceptive act caused some injury and compsensable loss. Defendants' motion to dismiss was granted.

Scales v. State 601 S.W.3d 380 (Tex. App. 2020) Defendant, Jade Derrick Scales, was convicted of two counts of cruelty to non-livestock animals which constituted a state felony. Michelle Stopka had found two puppies in an alley and took them in. On February 8, 2015, Defendant confronted Stopka in her front yard holding a knife and wearing a mask and brass knuckles. Leonard Wiley, the man Stopka was residing with, confronted the Defendant and a brief confrontation ensued which resulted in both individuals sustaining a cut. Stopka soon discovered that both puppies had been sliced open and were bleeding. The puppies did not survive their injuries. Defendant’s sentence was enhanced to a second-degree felony based on the finding of use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the commission of, or during immediate flight following, the commission of the offense and the fact that the Defendant had a previous conviction for a second-degree-felony offense of burglary of a habitation. Defendant was sentenced to seven years and a fine of $2,000. The Defendant subsequently appealed. The first issue raised on appeal by the Defendant was the deadly weapon finding which the the Court found was appropriate. The second issue regarded a jury instruction error. The Defendant contended that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that a deadly-weapon finding is only appropriate when the weapon is used or exhibited against a human being. The Court found that although a deadly-weapon instruction should not have been given, the error was not egregious and therefore overruled the issue because a jury could have reasonably believed that the Defendant used the same knife to both inflict wounds upon the puppies and Leonard. The failure to provide such a jury instruction did not materially affect the jury’s deliberations or verdict. The third issue raised by the Defendant was that he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court overruled this issue as well. The Fourth issue raised by Defendant was that his prosecution was based on two identical indictments for the same conduct committed in one criminal episode which violated double jeopardy and due process principles. The Defendant did not preserve his claim of double jeopardy and the Court further found that two separate dogs were the object of the criminal act and each dog could have been prosecuted separately. No double jeopardy violation was found on the face of the record and, therefore, the Defendant did not qualify for an exception to the preservation rule. The fifth issue Defendant raised was that his sentence was illegal because the range of punishment for the offense for which he was convicted was illegally enhanced. The Court overruled this issue because his conviction was not illegally enhanced. The trial court’s judgment was ultimately affirmed.
Gibson v. Rezvanpour 601 S.E.2d 848 (Ga. 2004)

The prospective buyer of a home was bitten by the homeowner's dog.  The prospective buyer filed a claim against the homeowners, real estate agents, real estate brokers and the real estate agency.  The State Court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

Ranwez v. Roberts 601 S.E.2d 449 (Ga.App., 2004)

In this Georgia case, after sustaining severe injuries inflicted during a vicious attack by four pit bulls, Helene Ranwez sued her tenant neighbor and the owner of the rental property, Scott Roberts.  The crucial question in this case was whether an out-of-possession landlord has liability for a tenant's dog bite.  Roberts contended that because he had relinquished possession and control of the premises to his tenant, Glenn Forrest, he could not be held liable for Ranwez's injuries as a matter of law.  In affirming the trial court's decision, the appellate court held that an out-of-possession landlord's tort liability to third persons is subject only to the statutory provisions of OCGA § 44-7-14, which makes it clear that a landlord who relinquishes possession of the premises cannot be liable to third parties for damages arising from the negligence of the tenant.

Ranwez v. Roberts 601 S.E.2d 449 (Ga. 2004)

Plaintiff brought claims against her tenant neighbor and the property owner after she was viciously attacked by her tenant neighbor's four pit bulls.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the property owner.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision holding the property owner was an out-of -possession landlord.

Maupin v. Sidiropolis 600 S.E.2d 204 (W.V. 2004)

Dog owner appealed the decision of the State Racing Commission which found that the owner was not eligible for payments under the State Greyhound Breeding Development Fund.  The Circuit Court reversed, and the Commission appealed.  The Court of Appeals found that (1) any owner of a greyhound may participate in the fund as long as eligibility requirements are met; (2) that the inclusion of a nonresident joint tenant did not prevent the joint tenant from receiving money from the Fund; and (3) that a joint ownership interest in the dogs was created by the styling of the registration documents. 

Brent v. Kimball 60 Ill. 211 (1871)

This was an action of trespass, brought by appellant against appellee, for the alleged wrongful killing, by the latter, of appellant's dog. Plaintiff sought recovery for his dog that was shot and killed when it entered into defendant/neighbor’s backyard. The Court held that the plaintiff could recover at least nominal damages, regardless of the fact that the animal had no actual market value.

Connor v. Bogrett 596 P.2d 683 (Wyo., 1979)

This Wyoming case concerns the application of the sales provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in Wyoming (ss 34-21-201 through 34-21-299.5, W.S.1977) to a sale of a registered Black Labrador retriever which was intended for competition in field trials. More specifically the question is whether the continued physical ability of this retriever, as a matter of law, was precluded from becoming part of the basis for the bargain of the parties. The court agreed with the district court in this instance that, as a matter of law, the expressions of the seller relative to the potential of this retriever were only expressions of opinion or commendation and not an express warranty.

Zageris v. Whitehall 594 N.E.2d 129 (Ohio App. 10 Dist.,1991)

The single-family residence property owner and owner of dogs kept on property filed suit for declaratory judgment, petition for habeas corpus, and civil rights claims against city based on city's enforcement of ordinance prohibiting number of dogs on property.  He then appealed the ruling in favor for the city.  The Ohio Court of Appeals held that the local ordinance limiting number of dogs on single family property was a nuisance and not zoning measure and consequently a valid exercise of city's police power.

Johnson v. Wander 592 So. 2d. 1225 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992)

Petitioner pet owner alleged that respondent veterinarian took her dog to be spayed, and left the animal on heating pads, which resulted in serious burns, so petitioner filed a claim for damages on the basis of gross negligence, damage to property, and emotional distress. The trial court entered partial summary judgments on the claims for punitive damages and emotional distress and, on a subsequent motion, transferred the case to the county court as a claim for less than the circuit court jurisdictional amount.  The appellate court held that there remained a jury question on the issues of gross negligence and physical and mental pain and suffering as claimed by petitioner.

Pet Fair, Inc. v. Humane Society of Greater Miami 583 So.2d 407 (Fl. 1991) The owner of allegedly neglected or mistreated domestic animals that were seized by police could not be required to pay for costs of animals' care after it was determined that owner was in fact able to adequately provide for the animals, and after the owner declined to re-possess the animals. The Humane Society can require an owner to pay it costs associated with caring for an animal if the owner re-claims the animal, but not if the animal is adopted out to a third party.
Folkers v. City of Waterloo, Iowa 582 F.Supp.2d 1141 (N.D.Iowa,2008)

Plaintiff brought civil rights action against the City of Waterloo, Iowa (City) alleging procedural and substantive due process violations after Animal Control Officers seized Plaintiff’s dog and detained the dog for one hundred days while an appeal was pending.   On Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment, the United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division, found that the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause did not apply to Plaintiff’s claim, the Animal Control Officers were acting under color of state law, and that the one hundred day detention of Plaintiff’s dog was a meaningful interference with Plaintiff’s possessory interest in his dog.   The Court also found that Plaintiff’s right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment was satisfied by the post-deprivation hearing provided Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s claim that the decision to detain Plaintiff’s dog was unreasonable or arbitrary, implicated the “unreasonable seizure” provisions of the Fourth Amendment, rather than the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that even if the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment were otherwise applicable, Plaintiff would not have been entitled to relief under the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

COLUMBUS R. CO. v. WOOLFOLK 58 S.E. 152 (Ga.1907)
In this Georgia case, Woolfolk brought a suit to recover the value of a dog that he alleged was willfully and wantonly killed by the running of a street car on defendant's line of road. The defendant demurred specially to the paragraph that alleged the value of the dog to be $200. Defendant argued that the measure of damages could not be based on the value of the dog because dogs have no market value. The court disagreed, first noting that, by the common law a dog is property, for an injury to which an action will lie and the modern trend is to value dogs in the same way other domestic animals are valued. Further, the court found a "better rule" for ascertaining the measure of damages: “The 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. Judgment affirmed.
Commonwealth v. Waller 58 N.E.3d 1070 (Mass. App. Ct., 2016), review denied, 476 Mass. 1102, 63 N.E.3d 387 (2016) Tasha Waller was convicted of animal cruelty for starving her dog to death. As a result of this conviction, Waller was placed on probation which prohibited her from owning animals and allowed for random searches of her property. Waller appealed this decision for the following reasons: (1) the animal cruelty statute under which she was convicted was unconstitutionally vague; (2) the expert witness testimony was improper and insufficient to support her conviction; (3) she may not as a condition of her probation be prohibited from owning animals, and the condition of probation allowing suspicions searches should be modified. The court reviewed Waller’s arguments and determined the statute was not unconstitutionally vague because it is common for animal cruelty statutes to only refer to “animals” in general and not specifically mention dogs. The court noted that dogs are commonly understood to fall within the category of animals and therefore the statute was not vague. Also, the court held that the expert witness testimony from the veterinarian was not improper because the veterinarian was capable of examining the dog and making a determination as to how the dog had died. Lastly, the court held that it was not improper to prohibit Waller from owning animals, but did agree that the searches of her property should only be warranted if authorities have reasonable suspicion to search the property. Ultimately, the court upheld Waller’s conviction and probation but modified the terms in which authorities are able to search her property.
Westberry v. Blackwell 577 P.2d 75 (Or. 1978)

In this Oregon case, plaintiff filed this action to recover for personal injuries sustained when she was bitten by defendants' dog. The complaint alleged a cause of action for strict liability and another for negligence. The trial court granted a judgment of involuntary nonsuit on both causes of action. On appeal, this court found the previous biting, which had occurred only one hour before, could reasonably lead a jury to believe that the dog had dangerous propensities, and that the defendants had knowledge of them. Thus, the court found that the involuntary nonsuit on the strict liability cause was improperly granted. Further, the question of whether the owner, who knew the dog had bitten the guest while on her way into the owner's house, was negligent in failing to control or confine the dog, was for the jury. Reversed and remanded.

Daskalea v. Washington Humane Soc. 577 F.Supp.2d 82 (D.D.C., 2008)

In relevant part, the District of Columbia’s Freedom from Cruelty to Animal Protection Act allows any humane officer to take possession of any animal to protect the animal(s) from neglect or cruelty. Plaintiffs, all of whom had their dogs seized under the Act, brought a Motion for Partial Summary Disposition for a count alleging that the Act is unconstitutional on its face and as customarily enforced. The United States District Court, District of Columbia, denied Plaintiffs’ motion without prejudice, finding the parties’ briefs in connection to the motion insufficient to determine whether an issue exists as to the Act‘s constitutionality.

Muehlieb v. City of Philadelphia 574 A.2d 1208 (Pa.Cmwlth.,1990)

In this case, the city of Philadelphia filed a suit against a homeowner seeking to restrain her from violating the health, housing and zoning provisions of city code by owning more than ten dogs.  On appeal, the homeowner challenged the local ordinance as being preempted by the state Dog Law.  The Commonwealth Court held that the state Dog Law, which permitted holder of private kennel class I license to house up to 50 animals did not preempt city's animal control law which set limit of 12 dogs, and the homeowner's housing of 20 dogs was a public nuisance that the city could enjoin.

Altieri v. Nanavati 573 A.2d 359 (Conn. Super., 1990)

This is an action against a veterinarian for negligence, claiming that the defendant performed unwanted sterilization surgery on the plaintiff's dog, a Lhasa Apso.  The court held that there is also a question of fact regarding whether performing an unwanted operation on the dog is, under the circumstances, actionable as reckless conduct.  However, the court observed that, at the time of the trial it is unlikely that the plaintiffs will be able to recover, as an element of damages, any alleged emotional distress they may have experienced as a result of the surgery on their dog.

Commonwealth v. Craven 572 Pa. 431 (Pa. S.C. 2003)

Defendants who were charged with cruelty to animals and criminal conspiracy for their attendance at a dogfight as spectators challenged the constitutionality of the dogfighting statute. The trial court found that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that since the statute only creates criminal liability for a person's conscious decision to attend a dogfight, it is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.

Maldonado v. Fontanes 568 F.3d 263 (C.A.1 (Puerto Rico),2009)

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

Dias v. City and County of Denver 567 F.3d 1169 (C.A.10 (Colo.),2009)

The Tenth Circuit took up a challenge to Denver's breed-specific ban against pitbull dogs. The plaintiffs, former residents of Denver, contended the ban is unconstitutionally vague on its face and deprives them of substantive due process. The district court dismissed both claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) before plaintiffs presented evidence to support their claims. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the district court erred by prematurely dismissing the case at the 12(b)(6) stage. The Tenth Circuit agreed in part, finding that while the plaintiffs lack standing to seek prospective relief for either claim because they have not shown a credible threat of future prosecution, taking the factual allegations in the complaint as true the plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the pit bull ban is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.

Farrior v. Payton 562 P.2d 779 (Hawaii, 1977)

This Hawaii case involves a suit against owners of dog to recover for injuries sustained when the plaintiffs, in an attempt to avoid what was believed to be an imminent attack by dog, fell off a natural rock wall.  Defendants' property abutted this rock wall and defendants considered those people who used the rock wall "trespassers."  After defendant's motion for a directed verdict were granted, the plaintiffs appealed.  On appeal, the Supreme Court observed that, in an action against an owner or harborer of a dog for injury inflicted by such animal, defendant's scienter (i. e. actual or constructive knowledge) of the vicious or dangerous propensities of the dog is (except where removed by statute) an essential element of the cause of action and a necessary prerequisite to recovery.  The evidence in the record established the fact that the Payton family not only knew of their dog's propensity to run and bark at strangers utilizing the 'short-cut' via the human-made seawall and the natural rock wall, but also expected such activity from their German shepherd dog.  Indeed, it was predictable that Mrs. Farrior would become frightened and would retreat to a precarious position.

Palfreyman v. Gaconnet 561 S.W.3d 258 (Tex. App. Sept. 27, 2018) This Texas appeals presents the unique question of whether companion animals, specifically "pet dogs," can be considered "stock" for awarding attorney fees under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 38.001(6) in lawsuits concerning their injury or death. The facts stem from an incident at appellees' dog boarding business where Palfreyman's two dogs died. In Palfreyman's original petition, she sought damages based on claims of negligence and gross negligence. She additionally requested reasonable attorney fee's under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 38.001(6) for "killed or injured stock." Appellees countered that Palfreyman could not recover attorney fees because the dogs were not "stock" as used in the statute. At the conclusion of trial, the trial court refused to consider the award of attorney fees. On appeal, the Court of Appeals first notes that Texas law does not allow recovery of attorney fees unless they are authorized by statute or contract. Here, the court examined the word "stock" as used in the cited law. While there is no definition in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code and the word "stock" is rarely used in Texas statutes, the term "livestock" is defined in several instances. In particular, the Penal Code distinguishes "livestock" from "nonlivestock animals" that include domesticated dogs. Further, the ordinary dictionary definition for stock would not include pets like dogs. The court was not persuaded by Palfreyman's argument that the Code should be liberally construed to promote its underlying purpose as well as her other examples of definitions for "stock." Thus, the court concluded the term “stock” in section 38.001(6) does not include pet dogs and appellant was not entitled to attorney fees under Section 38.001(6).5. Finally, Palfreyman contended in her reply brief that attorney fees may be awarded in bailment actions. However, the court declined this argument because she did not raise this in her initial brief so the court is not required to consider this new argument. The trial court's judgment was affirmed.
Com v. Daly 56 N.E.3d 841 (Mass. App. 2016) The Defendant Patrick Daly was convicted in the District Court of Norfolk County, Massachusetts of animal cruelty involving a “snippy," eight-pound Chihuahua. The incident occurred when Daly flung the dog out of an open sliding door and onto the deck of his home after the dog bit Daly’s daughter, which led to the dog's death. On appeal, defendant raised several arguments. He first challenged the animal cruelty statute as vague and overbroad because it failed to define the terms "kill," "unnecessary cruelty," or "cruelly beat." The court disregarded his claim, finding the terms of the statute were "sufficiently defined" such that a person would know that he or she "may not throw a dog on its leash onto a deck with force enough to cause the animal to fall off the deck, twelve feet to its death . . ." Defendant also claimed that a photo of his daughter's hand showing the injury from the dog bite was improperly excluded. However, the court found the defendant was not prejudiced by the judge's failure to admit the photo. Under a claim that his conduct was warranted, defendant argues that the jury was improperly instructed on this point. It should not have been instructed on defense of another because that relates only to defending against human beings and, instead, the jury should have been instructed on a defense of attack by an animal. The court found while there is no precedent in Massachusetts for such a claim, the rationale is the same as the given instruction, and defendant cannot complain that the jury was improperly instructed where he invited the instruction with his claims that his actions were necessary to protect his daughter. His other claims were also disregarded by the court and his judgment was affirmed.
Holt v. City of Sauk Rapids 559 N.W.2d 444 Sauk Rapids, Minnesota passed a city ordinance limiting the number of dogs that could be kept in a residential home. The appellants were dog owners, breeders, and Ms. Holt, who also rescued Newfoundland dogs help find new homes for them. The lower court held that the ordinances were unconstitutional, but the city appealed and on appeal the court reversed the finding. Minnesota law granted the municipality the authority to regulate public and private property, including regulating the keeping of dogs on residential property. City Hall received many complaints concerning dogs, so the Sauk Rapids ordinance was introduced by the mayor to address issues with dog odor and noise. Because limiting the number of dogs can reduce odor and noise, the court found that there was a rational relationship between the ordinance and reducing the problems associated with the dogs. The dog owners failed to show that the ordinance was unreasonable. The constitutionality was upheld because the ordinance was rationally related to the health, safety, and general welfare of the community as affected by dogs.
Webber v. Patton 558 P.2d 130 (Kan. 1976)

Veterinary costs and consequential losses are also allowed in determining damages, according this Kansas case. It should be noted that the animal at issue here was a domestic pig versus a companion animal, and the award of damages was secured by a statute that allows recovery for all damages for attacks on domestic animals by dogs.

In re Kenna Homes Cooperative Corporation 557 S.E.2d 787 (W.V. 2001)

The owners of a cooperative unit kept a dog in their dwelling despite a no pets policy. There was, however, an exception in the policy for service animals, and the Jessups argued that the small dog they kept was necessary due to various medical problems they had, including arthritis and depression. The housing authority denied the request, stating that only animals certified for the particular disability qualify as a "service animal." The West Virginia Court of Appeals held that a housing authority may require that a service animal be properly trained without violating federal law.

Nichols v. Sukaro Kennels 555 N.W.2d 689 (Iowa, 1996)

During a stay at defendant kennel, the kennel owner's dog tore off plaintiff's dog's left front leg and shoulder blade.  Plaintiff's petition sought damages to compensate for the injuries and suffering the dog incurred and the loss of aesthetic intrinsic value of the dog.  In upholding the district court's denial of damages for emotional injury and mental suffering, the Court of Appeals rejected plaintiff's argument for damages based on the intrinsic value of a pet for the negligent injury to the dog.

Flint v. City of Milwaukee 552 F.Supp.2d 826 (E.D. Wis. 2008) In 2010, police obtained a warrant to search plaintiff’s residence for endangered species. While at the plaintiff’s residence, police shot and killed two Tibetan Mastiffs. Plaintiff was arrested and detained by police in an on the scene determination that she had violated Wisconsin's endangered species and mistreatment of animals law. These charges were later dropped. Plaintiff filed a section 1983 suit—asserting that defendants not only unlawfully searched her residence, seized and "slaughter[ed] ... her dogs," but that they also unlawfully detained her in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. After District Court denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on her unlawful detention claim, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration. District Court denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration because she had not cited any intervening change in the law, any erroneous application of the law, or any newly discovered evidence that would compel the Court to reconsider its decision. Additionally, the District Court found the court had reviewed the unlawful detention claim using the proper legal standard.
Settle v. Commonwealth 55 Va.App. 212, 685 S.E.2d 182 (Va.,2009)

The defendant-appellant, Charles E. Settle, Jr., was convicted of two counts of inadequate care by owner of companion animals and one count of dog at large under a county ordinance, after Fauquier County Sherriff's officers were dispatched to his home on multiple occasions over the course of one calendar year in response to animal noise and health and safety complaints from his neighbors.  Consequently, all of the affected dogs were seized from Settle and relocated to local animal shelters.  The trial court also declared three of the animals to be dangerous dogs pursuant to another county ordinance.  The Court of Appeals of Virginia held that: (1) because the forfeiture of dogs was a civil matter the Court of Appeals lacked subject matter jurisdiction and was not the proper forum to decide the case; (2) that Settle failed to join the County as an indispensible party in the notice of appeal from conviction for the county ordinance violation; and (3) that the evidence was sufficient to identify Settle as the owner of the neglected companion animals.

Ten Hopen v. Walker 55 N.W. 657 (Mich. 1893)

Defendant was convicted of wilfully and maliciously killing a dog.  On appeal, the court found the instructions proper and held that a plaintiff could recover exemplary damages in addition to market value as compensation, not as punitive damages.  The court also found that the killing of a dog is not justified by trespass because there are remedies for destruction of property by animals of another.

Armstrong v. Riggi 549 P.2d 753 (Nev. 1976)

Joe Riggi delivered his two unregistered Pomeranian dogs to the Armstrongs' Poodle Parlor to be bathed and groomed. The dogs died while in the care of the bailee. Riggi commenced this action to recover damages alleging that the dogs were worth more than $10,000. The issue on appeal was whether the trial court incorrectly interpreted the state court rule regarding attorney fees. Since the appellate court did in fact determine error, the case was remanded.

Viilo v. Eyre 547 F.3d 707 (C.A.7 (Wis.),2008)

Virginia Viilo sued the City of Milwaukee and two of its police officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after an officer shot and killed her dog 'Bubba.' The district court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity and the defendants took an interlocutory appeal challenging this denial. The court found that defendants' interjection of factual disputes deprived the court of jurisdiction. The court further held that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment for a police officer to shoot and kill a companion dog that poses no imminent danger while the dog’s owner is present and trying to assert custody over her pet.  

McGinnis v. State 541 S.W.2d 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).

In an animal cruelty prosecution, the trial court should first instruct the jury on the definition of torture of an animal. Then, the court can permit the jury to determine whether the acts and circumstances of the case showed the torture of an animal.

McCall v. State 540 S.W.2d 717 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).

Open fields doctrine; warrantless seizure. It was not unreasonable for humane society members to enter defendant's land and seize dogs where the dogs were kept in an open field clearly in view of neighbors and others, and where it was apparent that the dogs were emaciated and not properly cared for.

AKERS v. SELLERS 54 N.E.2d 779 (Ind.App.1944)
This Indiana case involves an action in replevin by John W. Akers against his former wife, Stella Sellers. The controversy at issue was ownership and possession of a Boston bull terrier dog. At the time of the divorce decree, the dog was not part of the property division and was instead left at the marriage domicile in custody of the former wife. Appellant-Akers claimed that legal title and the dog's best interests rested with him and unsuccessfully brought a suit in replevin in the lower court. On appeal, this Court held that there was no sufficient evidence to overturn the lower court's determination. The judgment was affirmed.
People v. Meadows 54 Misc. 3d 697, 46 N.Y.S.3d 843 (N.Y. City Ct. 2016), rev'd, No. 17-AP-002, 2017 WL 4367065 (N.Y. Co. Ct. Aug. 3, 2017)

Defendant Amber Meadows allegedly neglected to provide dogs Athena, Buddy, and Meeko, with air, food, and water, and confined them in a bedroom where feces was found on the floor and furniture. Meadows was prosecuted for three counts of the unclassified misdemeanor of failure to provide proper food and drink to an impounded animal in violation of § 356 of the Agriculture and Markets Law (AML). Meadows moved to dismiss the Information as facially insufficient and stated that the Supporting Deposition indicated that the dogs were “in good condition.” The People of the State of New York argued that the allegations in both the Information and Deposition, taken together, provide a sufficient basis to establish the elements of the crime. The Canandaigua City Court, Ontario County, held that: (1) “impounded” as stated in § 356 of the Agriculture and Markets Law does not apply to individual persons, and (2) even if the statute applied to individual persons, the allegations in the Information were not facially sufficient. The court reasoned § 356 does not apply to individual persons, but instead applies only to “pounds” operated by not-for-profit organizations, or kennels where animals are confined for hire. The court also stated that even if § 356 were to apply to individuals, under no construction of the facts here could the charge be sustained, as it appeared that the animals were properly cared for in the Defendant's apartment up to the point where she was forcibly detained. The conditions observed by law enforcement authorities on the date alleged in the Information were apparently several days after Meadow's incarceration and after which she was unsuccessful in securing assistance for the dogs while incarcerated. The Information was dismissed with prejudice, and the People's application for leave to file an amended or superseding Information was denied.

Christian v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores, Inc. 54 A.D.3d 707 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2008)

This New York case consists of an action to recover damages for personal injuries. The plaintiffs appeal the granting of the motion of the defendant for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him and the cross motion of the defendants Petco. The infant plaintiff allegedly sustained personal injuries when she was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant Kenneth Coughlin at a Petco store. The court held that the evidence submitted established that the defendants were not aware that this dog had ever bitten anyone or exhibited any aggressive behavior.

State v. Smith 54 A.3d 638 (Conn.App.)

A defendant was charged and convicted of one count of permitting a dog to roam at large. Upon appeal, the defendant argued the statute he was convicted under was unconstitutionally vague and that he was convicted under insufficient evidence. Defendant contended that simply having his dog off-leash did not mean that it was roaming at large and not under his control where the dog responded to verbal commands. The court rejected both of defendant's arguments, finding that the plain language of the statute clearly prohibits an owner allowing a dog to move freely on another's property unrestrained and not under the owner's direct influence.

Eastep v. Veterinary Medical Examining Bd. 539 P.2d 1144 (Or.App. 1975)

Petitioner-veterinarian sought judicial review of veterinary medical examining board's denial of his application for renewal of his license to practice, and the permanent revocation of his right to practice veterinary medicine in Oregon.  The Court held that there was ample evidence ample evidence to support board's finding that petitioner was guilty of unprofessional conduct for misrepresentation to dog owner of surgical services allegedly rendered, whether the standard adopted be that of 'clear and convincing evidence,' as petitioner urges, or that of 'reliable, probative and substantial evidence' (ORS 183.480(7)(d)), as urged by respondent.

Daughen v. Fox 539 A.2d 858 (Pa. Super. 1988)

Plaintiffs brought a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of companionship after defendant animal hospital performed unnecessary surgery based on a mix-up of x-rays.  The court denied the first claim, finding the defendant's conduct did not meet the "extreme and outrageous" conduct test.  With regard to plaintiff's claim for loss of a unique chattel and for loss of the dog's companionship and comfort, the court observed that, under Pennsylvania law, a dog is personal property, and, under no circumstances under the law of Pennsylvania, may there be recovery for loss of companionship due to the death of an animal.  

Boling v. Parrett 536 P.2d 1272 (Or. 1975)

This is an appeal from an action claiming conversion when police officers took animals into protective custody.  Where police officers acted in good faith and upon probable cause when a citation was issued to an animal owner for cruelty to animals by neglect, then took the animals into protective custody and transported them to an animal shelter, there was no conversion.

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.
U.S. v. Stevens 533 F.3d 218, 2008 WL 2779529 (C.A.3 (Pa.),2008) Note that certiorari was granted in 2009 by --- S.Ct. ----, 2009 WL 1034613 (U.S. Apr 20, 2009). In this case, the Third Circuit held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, the federal law that criminalizes depictions of animal cruelty, is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The defendant in this case was convicted after investigators arranged to buy three dogfighting videos from defendant in sting operation.  Because the statute addresses a content-based regulation on speech, the court considered whether the statute survived a strict scrutiny test. The majority was unwilling to extend the rationale of Ferber outside of child pornography without direction from the Supreme Court.  The majority found that the conduct at issue in § 48 does not give rise to a sufficient compelling interest.
Cardenas v. Swanson 531 P.3d 917 (Wyo., 2023) The Cardenas family (Appellants) owned three St. Bernard dogs. Appellants lived on a home adjacent to large tracts of state land, and would allow the dogs to roam the land unleashed, but the dogs would return each night. One afternoon, the dogs were let outside to run, but one dog did not return. Appellants found the dog caught in a snare, where it died from a broken neck. Appellants attempted to free the dog from the snare, and one of the Cardenas children was injured in the process. While appellants were attempting to free their dog from the snare, the other two dogs were also caught in snares, and died from their injuries. Appellants filed suit against the trapper who set the snares (Appellee), asserting claims of negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, violation of statutes, infliction of emotional distress, and civil rights violations. Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted and denied in part, finding that appellee’s conduct was not willful and wanton and that appellants could not recover emotional damages for the loss of the dogs. On appeal, the court considered: (1) whether the members of the Cardenas family can recover damages for emotional injuries for the loss of their dogs, and (2) whether this court should allow the recovery of emotional distress damages for the loss of a pet. The court held that (1) emotional injuries for the loss of property are not recoverable, under this court’s precedent emotional damages are only recoverable for certain limited situations. Dogs are considered personal property under state law, and damage to personal property is not one of the situations in which emotional damages are recoverable. Next, the court held that (2) it would not create a precedent to allow people to recover emotional distress damages when animate personal property is harmed, as that change would be best suited for the legislature to make. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court and dismissed the case.
McConnell v. Oklahoma Gas & Elec. Co. 530 P.2d 127 (Okl. 1974)

In this Oklahoma case, defendant gas company left the plaintiff's yard gate open through which the plaintiff's dog escaped and was then hit by a car. In finding that the gate being left open was the proximate cause of the injury, the court held that the allegations in plaintiffs' amended petition, stated a cause of action and that the trial court erred in sustaining defendant's general demurrer to the petition.

Hoesch v. Broward County 53 So.3d 1177 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 2011)

A Broward County, Florida ordinance defines a dangerous dog as “any dog that . . . [h]as killed or caused the death of a domestic animal in one incident.” Plaintiff Brian Hoesch’s dog escaped from Hoesch’s backyard and attacked and killed a neighbor’s cat. Prior to this incident, the dog had never been declared “dangerous” by any governmental authority. Hoesch requested a hearing after Broward’s animal control division notified Hoesch of its intent to destroy his dog. After a judgment in favor of Broward County, Hoesch contends that both county ordinances conflict with state law, section 767.11(1)(b), which defines a “dangerous dog” as any dog that “[h]as more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal . . . .” The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, concluded “that Broward County ordinance sections 4-2(k)(2) and 4-12(j)(2) are null and void insofar as they conflict with state law.” 

Commonwealth v. Szewczyk 53 N.E.3d 1286 (Mass.App.Ct.,2016) In this Massachusetts case, defendant was charged with animal cruelty after he shot a dog that had wandered onto his property with a pellet gun. The pellet was lodged in the dog’s leg and caused significant pain and discomfort to the dog. Following conviction, defendant appealed the District Court’s ruling arguing that the judge erred in denying three of his eleven requests for rulings of law.Specifically, defendant's principal argument was that he had a lawful purpose in shooting (to scare the dog off his property), his intent was justified (to insure his wife's safety on the property), and the pain inflicted by defendant shooting the dog does not fit the statutory meaning of "cruel." At the close of evidence, defendant submitted a written request for ruling under Mass. R.Crim. P.26 setting out these issues. The court held that the District Court judge correctly denied the three requests because they were clearly outside the scope of rule 26 because they called upon the judge as a fact finder to weigh the evidence presented at trial. Next, the court reviewed the facts of the case to determine whether or not a rational trier of fact could have found the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Ultimately, the court held that a rational trier of fact would have been able to find that defendant did commit animal cruelty by shooting the dog. The court focused on the fact that the defendant could have used other means to ensure that the dog did not enter the property again without causing pain and suffering to the dog by shooting the dog in the leg. The judgment was affirmed.
DeVaul v. Carvigo Inc. 526 N.Y.S.2d 483 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,1988)

This New York case involved a dog bite victim who brought an action against the owner to recover for personal injuries. The Supreme Court, Nassau County entered judgment in favor of owner. On appeal with the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, the court held that the viciousness of German shepherd dogs was not appropriate subject of judicial notice. The court found that there is no authority for the proposition that judicial notice should be taken "as to the ferocity of any particular type of domestic animal."

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