Dogs: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
Morawek v. City of Bonney Lake 184 Wash. App. 487, 337 P.3d 1097 (2014) A woman filed a complaint with the Bonney Lake animal control authority after her neighbor’s dog killed her cat. The animal control officer served plaintiff with paperwork stating that his dog satisfied the definition of a dangerous dog under the Bonney Lake Municipal Code because the dog had killed a domestic animal without provocation while off his owner's property. Plaintiff appealed the designation to the police chief, the city hearing examiner, and the superior court; all of which affirmed the designation. The Washington Court of Appeals, however, held that the hearing examiner's finding that the owner's dog killed the neighbor's cat without provocation was not supported by substantial evidence, as required to uphold a dangerous dog designation, even though the “location” element of the dangerous dog designation was satisfied. The dangerous dog designation was therefore reversed.
Morehead v. Deitrich 932 N.E.2d 1272 (Ind.App.,2010)

Postal carrier sued landlord for negligence after tenant's dog bit her.  The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that landlord did not have a duty to keep dog from biting postal carrier absent control over the property.

Moreland v. Marion County, Miss. 2008 WL 4551443 (S.D.Miss.)

Plaintiff brought action against Marion County (“County”) and several animal control officers (“Officers”) in their official capacities, after the Officers crossed county lines and confiscated several dogs that appeared severely dehydrated and malnourished, and euthanized at least one dog.   On Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Hattiesburg Division held that since there was no evidence to indicate that Defendants’ actions were anything more than negligence not rising to the level of reckless disregard, Plaintiff’s state law claims against Defendants should be dismissed.   The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim, finding that the record did not support a finding of a pattern of inadequate training rising to the level of deliberate indifference to known or obvious consequence, and that the Officers’ actions could not be found to be a known or obvious result of the County’s training.   The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim with prejudice.  

Moreno v. Hughes 2016 WL 212932 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 19, 2016) This § 1983 action arises from the shooting of Plaintiffs' dog by Defendant Ronald Hughes, a Michigan Department of Corrections Absconder Recovery Unit Investigator. Defendant shot Plaintiffs' dog after entering her house by mistake to execute a fugitive warrant. This proceeding concerns a Motion in Limine filed by defendant seeking an order that plaintiffs are not entitled to noneconomic losses for the pain and suffering they sustained as a result of Defendant shooting their dog. Defendant contends that damage to personal property (including dogs) is limited to market value only. In rejecting Defendant's argument, this court found that it is "beyond dispute" that compensatory damages under § 1983 may include noneconomic injuries. A Plaintiff's interests in § 1983 actions contain different policy considerations than in traditional negligence claims. In fact, the court stated that, "[p]rohibiting recovery for emotional damages stemming from the loss of, or harm to, an animal caused by a constitutional violation would conflict with the compensatory and deterrence aims of § 1983." Additionally, applying Michigan law on the issue of emotional damages for injury to an animal would create inconsistency in civil rights actions since other states allow such damages. The court found that the determination of both compensatory and punitive damages must be left to the fact finder for each case, including this one. Defendant's Motion in Limine was denied.
Morgan v. Kroupa 702 A.2d 630 (Vt. 1997) Finder found Owner’s lost dog.   Finder posted signs in order to locate Owner.   More than a year later, the owner contacted Finder to take back the dog.   However, Finder was permitted to keep the dog, since she had cared for the dog and made good efforts to locate the true owner.
Morgan v. Marquis 50 A.3d 1 (Me., 2012)

After being bit in the face from a dog she was caring for, the plaintiff sued the dog's owner on the theories of strict liability, negligence and statutory, 7 M.R.S. § 3961(1), liability. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant on all claims rejecting plaintiff's claim that pit bull dogs are inherently abnormally dangerous dogs. Finding insufficient evidence that the defendant knew his dog was likely to bite someone, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine affirmed the lower court's decision on the strict liability claim. However, the court vacated the lower court's decision towards the negligence and statutory liability claim because genuine issues of material fact remained.

Morsillo v. Migliano 1985 CarswellOnt 786

The child plaintiff Morsillo was attacked and bitten by a neighbour's pet German Shepherd, which tended to 'bark savagely' at local children, had bitten once before, and was kept in a secure fenced yard and only taken out on a leash and choke-chain. The boy was playing cops and robbers with the owner's son on the owner's front lawn, while the owner's teenaged daughter was taking the leashed dog to the garage, when it escaped and attacked. No provocation of the dog was proven so the owners were found strictly liable under the Dog Owner's Liability Act (which abrogates scienter in that province) and also liable in negligence, with no contributory negligence by the plaintiff; the provincial Ontario Health Insurance Plan was entitled to recover the costs of the plaintiff's care from the defendants.

Motta v. Menendez 46 A.D.3d 685 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2007)

This New York case arose following an incident that occurred on December 13, 2003, in which the appellant's two pit bull terriers entered the petitioner's property, and one of appellant's dogs ("Duke") attacked and injured the petitioner's pet dog. Following a special proceeding, the lower court determined that appellant's pit bull terrier named “Duke” was a dangerous dog and directed that it be destroyed. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division found that the dangerous dog statute in effect on December 13, 2003, did not provide that one dog attacking another was conduct subject to the penalty of destruction (Agriculture and Markets Law former §§ 108, 121).

Mouton v. State 2008 WL 4709232 (Tex.App.-Texarkana)

Defendant was convicted of cruelty to an animal, and sentenced to one year in jail, based upon witness testimony and photographs depicting several dogs in varying states of distress.   On appeal, the Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana, found that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motions for a directed verdict or for a new trial to the extent that both motions challenged evidentiary sufficiency, and that ineffective assistance of counsel had not been shown, because the Court could imagine strategic reasons on Defendant’s counsel’s part for not calling a particular witness to testify on Defendant’s behalf, and for allowing Defendant to testify in narrative form during the punishment phase.  

Mouton v. State 513 S.W.3d 679 (Tex. App. 2016)

San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) responded to a call about 36 pit bull terriers that were chained, significantly underweight, and dehydrated. The dogs also had scarring consistent with fighting. Police obtained a search warrant and coordinated with ACS to seize the dogs. While the dogs were being secured, Appellant Terrence Mouton arrived at the residence. He told the officers that he had been living at the residence for a couple of weeks, but that he did not own all of the dogs and was holding them for someone else. Mouton was convicted in the County Court of cruelty to non livestock animals. On appeal, Mouton argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict because the Appellee, the State of Texas, failed to prove that the animals were in his custody. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The court held that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that Mouton was responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the dogs on his property and that the dogs were subject to his care and control, regardless of whether he was the actual owner of each animal. A reasonable jury could have also found that Mouton was “aware of, but consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that he failed to provide proper nutrition, water, or shelter for the dogs.

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.

Muela v. Gomez 343 S.W.3d 491 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 2011)

Defendant Samuel Muela appeals a judgment for damages in the amount of $30,279.45 after plaintiff was attacked by a pit bull. Samuel contends that the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that he owned or possessed the pit bull and thus had no knowledge of its vicious propensities. The court concluded that there is no evidence that Samuel lived at his parents' trailer or owned the pit bull. Additionally, while Samuel did visit his parents' house to feed their pet dog, there was no direct evidence that he had ever seen the pit bull or knew of it. The court reversed and rendered judgment that Gomez take nothing against Samuel.

Nava v. McMillan 176 Cal.Rptr. 473 (Cal.App.2.Dist.)

In a personal injury action brought by a pedestrian who was hit by an automobile when she stepped into a street, the trial court dismissed the complaint against occupiers of land who maintained fenced dogs, which plaintiff alleged frightened her, causing her to step into the street. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that the complaint failed to set forth facts giving rise to tortious liability on the part of the owners of fenced dogs, either on the theory of simple negligence or strict liability.

Nelson v. Lewis 344 N.E.2d 268 (Ill.App. 1976)

Toddler accidentally stepped on the tail of the owner's dog, and the dog responded by scratching her eye, causing permanent damage to the tear duct.  The toddler sought damages under Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 8, para. 366 (1973), arguing that her unintentional act did not constitute provocation.  The court held that provocation under the statute referred to both intentional or unintentional acts.  Because the dog was provoked by the unintentional act, he did not react viciously.

New Orleans Bulldog Soc'y v. Louisiana Soc'y for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 200 So. 3d 996 (La.App. 4 Cir. 9/7/16), writ granted, 2016-1809 (La. 1/9/17), 214 So. 3d 859, and aff'd, 2016-1809 (La. 5/3/17), 222 So. 3d 679 The Plaintiff, the Bulldog Rescue Mission, is a nonprofit dog welfare organization organized under Louisiana law to advocate for dog welfare in New Orleans. The plaintiff sought information under Louisiana’s Public Records Law related to the dogs euthanized by the Defendant, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LSPCA). LSPCA declared that they were not a public body and thus, not subject to the Public Records Law. The Bulldog Rescue Mission filed a petition for writ of mandamus in the district court, seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The trial court dismissed their petition and the plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit held that LSPCA was a quasi-public entity subject to Public Records Law because the organization performed municipal functions on behalf of the municipal government. The court found LSPCA receives an annual compensation of almost two million dollars for providing services for quasi-municipal functions such as enforcing code violations and taking and receiving animals. Thus, it cannot characterize the service as "voluntary" since it "clearly operates[s] under the color of City Authority." Bulldog rescue also claims error with the trial court ruling that, even if LSPCA is subject to public records laws, these obligations are met through its Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) reporting requirement. This court found that the CEA contractual agreement made between the city of Louisiana and LSPCA allowing the organization to provide mandated city services related to animal control could not be used to circumscribe Public Records Law compliance. In other words, the limited statistical reporting required under the CEA is not a valid substitute for a public record request that would show all governmental functions and duties performed. The judgment of the trial court was reversed where this court found the trial court clearly erred in dismissing the Bulldog Rescue petition for a writ of mandamus.
Newport v. Moran 721 P.2d 465 (Or.App.,1986)

In this Oregon case, an action was brought to recover damages for injuries after defendant's dog ran into plaintiff and knocked her down. The lower court entered a verdict against the defendant and she appealed. The Court of Appeals held that, after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff, there was find no evidence that would put defendant on notice that the dog had a potentially dangerous propensity to run into people. Further, without some reason to foresee that the dog was likely to run into people, there was no common-law duty to confine the dog. The evidence also did not warrant submission of the case to the jury on the theory of negligence per se for violation of the dog control ordinance because this risk was not one anticipated by the ordinance. Reversed.

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.

Nikolic v. Seidenberg 610 N.E.2d 177 (Ill. App. Ct. 1993)

When the pet owner adopted a dog, she signed a contract agreeing to have her dog spayed at the vet's facility and to return the dog to the vet if it was sick. For days after the surgery the dog was ill so the other vet performed exploratory surgery and repaired a cut in the dog's intestine. The pet owner filed an action to recover the medical expenses and the lower court granted the vet's motion to dismiss.  The reviewing court held that the language in the contract was not sufficiently clear and explicit to exculpate the vet from negligence because the vet was not a party to the contract and thus not a direct beneficiary of the contract.

Nuijens v. Novy 144 Misc.2d 453 (N.Y. 1989)

Plaintiff brought a New York Small Claims Court action seeking recovery of the sum of $254.63, after a licensed veterinarian determined that plaintiff's newly purchased dog was unfit according to Article 35-B of the General Business Law.  Specifically, plaintiff sought damages under two alternate theories: violation of the sale contract's five-day express warranty and violation of the implied warranty of merchantability.  Due to the vet's initial diagnosis, plaintiff did not return the dog.  The court held that plaintiff elected to forgo the express warranty by retaining the dog.  With regard to the implied warranty of merchantability, the court found defendant is not a "person who deals in goods of the kind" to fall within the definition of merchant under the statute.

Nutt v. Florio 914 N.E.2d 963 (Mass. Ct. App., 2009)

This Massachusetts case involves an appeal of a summary judgment in favor of the landlord-defendant concerning an unprovoked dog attack. The dog, described as a pit bull terrier, was kept by a tenant of Florio's. The court found that, while the defendants cannot be held strictly liable by virtue the dog's breed, "knowledge of that breed and its propensities may properly be a factor to be considered in determining whether the defendants were negligent under common-law principles." Reviewing the record de novo, the court held that this question and the defendant's knowledge of the dog's propensities, created a genuine issue of material fact. The order of summary judgment for defendant was reversed and the case was remanded.

Nuzzaci v. Nuzzaci 1995 WL 783006 (Del. Fam. Ct. Apr. 19, 1995) (unpublished opinion). The court refused to sign a stipulation and order (prepared by the parties and signed by each of them and their attorneys) concerning visitation of the divorcing couple’s dog.  The court held that a court can only award dog in its entirety to one party or the other.  The court advised the couple to come to their own private agreement instead, reasoning that the court has no jurisdiction in this matter and further no way to side with one party or the other in the event of a future dispute.
O'Keefe v. Stevenson Not Reported in N.E.3d, 2017 WL 3776595 (Mass. Land Ct. Aug. 22, 2017) In this case, the plaintiffs appealed a Zoning Board that granted their neighbor a special permit allowing four dogs to be kept at Ms. Sullivan's home. The dogs—pedigreed Eurasiers—are Ms. Sullivan's personal pets and live with Ms. Sullivan inside her house, have someone with them at all times, and spend most of their time indoors. When they are outside, they are confined to a chain-link fenced-in area behind the house. The permit has some conditions that must be met for the dogs to remain on the property, one of which is the dogs not become a nuisance. The court affirmed the grant of the special permit based on the testimony and exhibits admitted at trial after assessing the credibility, weight, and appropriate inferences to be drawn from that evidence. The Board's decision granting the special permit was AFFIRMED.
O'MALLEY, v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia 785 S.E.2d 221 (Va.,2016) The appellant, John Dixon O'Malley was not charged with or convicted of any crime. However, he was issued a summons to determine whether his dog was dangerous pursuant to Virginia Code § 3.2–6540(A) and (B). The jury found O’Malley's dog to be dangerous under the Virginia Code due to attacking and injuring the dog of Randall Powell. O’Malley appealed the trial court decision to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. The Court of Appeals concluded that they did not have jurisdiction over the appeal due to being a court of limited jurisdiction. The Court relied on Virginia Code § 17.1–406(A) which provides that the Court of Appeals' appellate jurisdiction was limited to appeals from final criminal convictions. The Court of Appeals reasoned that no language in Code § 3.2–6540 characterized as criminal the proceeding to identify a canine as a dangerous dog. Therefore, the finding at the trial level that O’Malley's dog was dangerous was civil in nature. Because the finding was civil in nature, the Court of Appeals lacked subject matter jurisdiction over O’Malley’s appeal and the case was transferred to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
O'Rourke v. American Kennels (Unpublished Disposition) 7 Misc.3d 1018(A) (N.Y. 2005)

In this highly entertaining Small Claims case, claimant seeks to recover the purchase price of her dog, Little Miss Muffet. The issue presented, in large part, concerns the dog's weight. Claimant contends that Muffet was supposed to be a "teacup dog." At eight pounds, she is well above the five pounds that is considered the weight limit for a "teacup" Maltese. Plaintiff paid an additional $1,000 above the standard $1,500 to purchase the smaller variety of Maltese. Plaintiff was awarded the differential in price, but not veterinary fees for a knee condition that developed after the warranty protections expired in the purchase agreement. 

Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch, L.L.C. v. Lange 326 S.W.3d 549 (Mo.App. E.D., 2010)

A Missouri statute places liability on a dog owner where such dog kills or maims a sheep or "other domestic animal" of another. On December 10, 2006, three dogs of Defendant Glendon Lange entered Oak Creek’s deer breeding farm and killed 21 of Oak Creek's "breeder deer." The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, disagreed with the trial court, finding that "domestic" should have been interpreted by the "plain meaning" of the word, which therefore includes Oak Creek’s breeder deer.

Oberschlake v. Veterinary Assoc. Animal Hosp. 785 N.E.2d 811 (Ohio App. 2 Dist.,2003)

This is the story of “Poopi,” a dog who tried to sue for emotional distress and failed. As the court observed, "Whether or not one agrees with the view that pets are more than personal property, it is clear that Ohio does not recognize noneconomic damages for injury to companion animals." While the court noted that one Ohio case has apparently left open the door for recover of distress damages, "the mental anguish in such situations must be ‘so serious and of a nature that no reasonable man could be expected to endure it.’ Even conceding the bond between many humans and their pets, the burden is one that would be very difficult to meet." Indeed, the court found that the burden was not met here.

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.
Ohio v. Hale 2005 WL 3642690 (Ohio App. 7 Dist.)

Defendant-Appellant, Norman Hale, appeals the decision of the Monroe County Court that found him guilty of multiple counts of cruelty to animals in violation of R.C. 959.13(A)(4). Hale argues that this statute is unconstitutionally vague, that his conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence, and that the trial court imposed improper sanctions upon him. The court disregard Hale's constitutional argument since he failed to provide legal argument in support of this claim. Hale's argument that his conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence also is meritless since the evidence in the record supports the trial court's decision that he recklessly failed to provide these dogs with wholesome exercise. Finally, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when imposing the sanctions since the conditions of his probation were related to the underlying offense and served the ends of rehabilitation. For these reasons, the trial court's decision was affirmed.

Ott v. Pittman 463 S.E.2d 101 (S.C.App.,1995)

In this South Carolina case, a dog owner brought a negligence action against a hog farmer who shot two of the owner's champion "Treeing Walker Coonhound" dogs. The farmer counterclaimed, alleging damages for the dogs' action and malicious prosecution. The lower court ordered judgment for the dogs' owner (Ott) in the amount of $19,800, finding Pittman 90% liable. On the farmer's appeal, this court upheld the $19,800 award, finding sufficient support based on expert testimony about the specific qualities of the breed.

Park Pet Shop, Inc. v. City of Chicago 872 F.3d 495 (7th Cir. 2017) Local pet stores and breeders brought an action against the validity of a city ordinance limiting the sources from which they may obtain dogs, cats, and rabbits for resale. They stake their claim on the grounds that the ordinance goes beyond Chicago’s home-rule powers under the Illinois Constitution and violates the implied limits on the state power imposed by the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. Petitioners appeal the district court’s dismissal of case for failure to state a claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Illinois Constitution allows Chicago to regulate animal control and welfare concurrently with the state so long as no state statute specifically limits the municipality. Further, the court reject the argument that the ordinance discriminates against interstate commerce. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit for failure to state a claim.
PARKER v. MISE 27 Ala. 480 (Ala., 1855)

In Parker v. Miser , 27 Ala. 480 (Ala. 1855), the court recognized that at common law, an action existed for the conversion or injury to property, and acknowledged dogs as property. The court went on to note that some amount of nominal damage existed for the wrongful killing of an animal, even in the absence of a precise amount. Where the killing of the animal was done in reckless disregard, a plaintiff could seek punitive damages.

Parker v. Parker 195 P.3d 428 (Or.App.,2008)

Plaintiff and his 12 year-old quarter horse were visiting defendant at defendant's property when defendant's dog rushed at the horse causing it to run into a steel fence. The horse suffered severe head trauma, which necessitated its later euthanization. Plaintiff filed suit for damages asserting liability under common law negligence and O.R.S. 609.140(1) - the statute that allows an owner to recover double damages where livestock is injured due to being injured, chased, or killed by another person's dog. The appellate court agreed with plaintiff that O.R.S. 609.140(1) creates an statutory cause of action independent from negligence. Further, the court found that plaintiff fell within the class of persons the statute aims to protect because the legislature did not intend to limit the statute's application to property owned by the livestock's owner.

People v Beam 624 N.W.2d 764 (Mich. 2000)

Defendant argues on appeal that his conviction under MCL 750.49, which punishes the owner of a dog trained or used for fighting that causes the death of a person, must be reversed because the statute is unconstitutionally vague; specifically, that the terms "trained or used for fighting," "without provocation," and "owner" are vague.  The court disagreed and held that the statute is sufficiently clear and gives the defendant fair notice of the offense.

People v. Johnson 889 N.W.2d 513 (2016), appeal denied, 500 Mich. 951, 891 N.W.2d 231 (2017) This case involves challenges to the courtroom procedure of allowing a witness to be accompanied on the witness stand by a support animal. Defendant Johnson appealed his convictions of criminal sexual assault after he was convicted of assaulting his six-year-old niece. During Defendant's trial, a black Labrador retriever was permitted, to accompany the six-year-old victim to the witness stand. On appeal, the Defendant first argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the use of a support animal because MCL 600.2163a(4) only allows a support person. The Court of Appeals of Michigan stated that the trial court had the inherent authority to utilize support animals. Secondly, the Defendant argued that trial counsel should have objected to the notice of a support person on the basis that allowing the witnesses to testify accompanied by the support animal violated his constitutional right to due process. The Court of Appeals stated that there is no indication that the support dog used was visible to the jury, or that he barked, growled, or otherwise interrupted the proceedings. Therefore, the objection was meritless. Next, the Defendant argued that his counsel was ineffective for failing to request various procedural protections if the support animal was used. The Court of Appeals stated that the use of a support dog did not implicate the Confrontation Clause; the presence of the dog did not affect the witnesses' competency to testify or affect the oath given to the witnesses; the witnesses were still subject to cross-examination; and the trier of fact was still afforded the unfettered opportunity to observe the witnesses' demeanor. Finally, the Defendant argued that a limiting instruction should have been provided to the jury when the support animal was utilized and this rendered his counsel ineffective. The Court of Appeals stated, that there are no Michigan jury instructions addressing the use of a support animal. Counsel was then not ineffective in failing to ask for an instruction that does not yet exist in Michigan. The Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant's convictions and sentence and remanded.
People v. Alvarado 2005 WL 120218 (Cal. 2005)

A man stabbed and killed his two dogs while drunk.  His girlfriend called the police after being informed of the situation by her brother.  The trial court convicted the man of violating an anti-cruelty statute (Sec. 597 of the Penal Code).  The Court of Appeals affirmed defendant's conviction, finding that Sec. 597 is a general intent crime and did not require a showing of specific intent to kill or harm the dog.

People v. Arroyo 777 N.Y.S.2d 836 (N.Y. 2004)

This case presents the court with a novel question: Does a pet owner commit an act of cruelty, for which he or she could be prosecuted criminally, by not providing an ill pet (in this case, terminally ill) with medical care?  Defendant charged with violation of New York's anticruelty statute and moved for dismissal.  In engaging in statutory interpretation, the Court held that:  (1) provision prohibiting the deprivation of "necessary sustenance" was vague when applied to defendant, and (2) that the provision prohibiting "unjustifiably" causing pain to an animal was also vague when applied to defendant.  Motion granted.

People v. Beam 244 Mich.App. 103 (2000)

Defendant was charged with owning a dog, trained or used for fighting, that caused the death of a person and  filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that M.C.L. § 750.49(10); MSA 28.244(10) was unconstitutionally vague.  The court granted defendant's motion, finding the terms "without provocation" and "owner" to be vague, and dismissed the case. The prosecutor appealed, and the Court of Appeals held that statute was not unconstitutionally vague. Reversed.

People v. Beauvil 2008 WL 2685893; 872 N.Y.S.2d 692 (Table), (N.Y.Just.Ct.,2008)

This New York case came before this Court after the District Attorney refused to prosecute the case. The complaintant alleged that on April 16, 2008, he was walking down a public sidewalk when a loose dog, later identified as belonging to the defendants, ran up to and bit the complainant on the hand. Police were contacted and a complaint was made to the Village of Westbury Attorney who then advised the complainant to file a formal complaint with the Nassau County District Attorney's office. The District Attorney's office declined to prosecute and instead suggested that the Village handle the matter. This Court held that it has no jurisdiction to hear the misdemeanor charge stemming from the violation of Agriculture & Markets Law § 121 (but then did list the other avenues available for the complaintant). This Court, sua sponte, also held that the Agriculture & Markets Law § 121, as applied to Nassau County Village Justice Courts, is unconstitutional. This was due to the fact that Village Courts have no jurisdiction (or ability, as pointed out by the court) to hear misdemeanors.

People v. Bergen 883 P.2d 532 (Col. Ct. App. Div. III 1994)

Defendant, a journalist, attempted to film a dogfight for an investigative story on dogfighting following the passage of a Denver ordinance forbidding the ownership of bull terriers (pitbulls).    Defendant videotaped two separate fights and dogs "training" by running on treadmills.  After the story aired, public outcry lead to a police investigation as to the source of the dogfighting footage, which lead to the arrest of the defendant and her cameramen for dogfighting and perjury.

People v. Berry 1 Cal. App. 4th 778 (1991)

In a prosecution arising out of the killing of a two-year-old child by a pit bulldog owned by a neighbor of the victim, the owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter (Pen. Code, §   192, subd. (b)), keeping a mischievous animal (Pen. Code, §   399), and keeping a fighting dog (Pen. Code, §   597.5, subd. (a)(1)). The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that an instruction that a minor under the age of five years is not required to take precautions, was proper. The court further held that the trial court erred in defining "mischievous" in the jury instruction, however, the erroneous definition was not prejudicial error under any standard of review. The court also held that the scope of defendant's duty owed toward the victim was not defined by Civ. Code, §   3342, the dog-bite statute; nothing in the statute suggests it creates a defense in a criminal action based on the victim's status as a trespasser and on the defendant's negligence.

People v. Brunette 124 Cal.Rptr.3d 521 (Cal.App. 6 Dist.)

Defendant was convicted of animal cruelty, and was ordered to pay restitution to the Animal Services Authority (“Authority”) that cared for the dogs. The appellate court held that the imposition of an interest charge on the restitution award was not authorized by the statutes. It also held that the Authority was an indirect victim, and was not entitled to direct victim restitution. The Court held that the trial court had discretion to decline to apply comparative fault principles to apportion defendant's liability for restitution and also acted within its discretion in declining to apply an offset for adoption fees the Authority might have collected against the restitution award.

People v. Chenault 227 Cal. App. 4th 1503, review filed (Aug. 25, 2014) Darrell Chenault was convicted on 13 counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age and sentenced to 75 years to life in prison. On appeal he contended that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing a support dog to be present during the testimony of two child witnesses without individualized showings of necessity, and that the presence of the dog was inherently prejudicial and violated his federal constitutional rights to a fair trial and to confront the witnesses against him. The appellate court concluded that a trial court has authority under Evidence Code section 765 to allow the presence of a therapy or support dog during a witness’s testimony.” The court did “not believe that the presence of a support dog is inherently more prejudicial than the presence of a support person,” citing the New York case of Tohom. Chinault argued that “individualized showings of necessity” should have been required for F. and C. before the support dog could be present in the courtroom. The appellate court concluded however that “a case-specific finding that an individual witness needs the presence of a support dog is not required by the federal Constitution,” for which Tohom was again cited. Based on the court's review of the record, the appellate court concluded that the trial court made implicit findings that the presence of Asta, the support dog, would assist or enable F. and C. to testify completely and truthfully without undue harassment or embarrassment. The court also took measures to reduce any possible prejudice to Chenault by setting forth logistics for the entry, positioning, and departure of the support dog, along with F. and C., during jury recesses so the dog was as unobtrusive and least disruptive as reasonably possible. The judgment was affirmed.
People v. Cumper 268 N.W.2d 696 (Mich. 1978)

Defendant was convicted under MCL 750.49 for being a spectator at a dog fight.  He argued on appeal that the statute was impermissibly vague and unconstitutionally overbroad, for punishing an individual for mere presence at a dog fight.  The court disagreed, finding that the statute was neither vague nor overbroad because it did not punish the mere witnessing of a dog fight, but attendance as a spectator to a legally prohibited dog fight.  For more, see Detailed Discussion

People v. Cumper 83 Mich. App. 490 (Mich. 1978)

Defendants were convicted of being spectators at a fight or baiting between dogs and appealed, charging that the "spectator" portion of the statute was impermissibly vague and unconstitutionally overbroad. The court found that the statute was constitutional because it punished attendance as a spectator at an event legitimately prohibited by law and defendants had fair notice of the conduct proscribed. The defendants also claimed that there was insufficient evidence however, the court found ample evidence upon which the jury rendered their decision.

People v. Curcio 874 N.Y.S.2d 723 (N.Y.City Crim.Ct.,2008)

In this New York case, Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint of Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals and Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance for Animals (Agriculture and Markets Law § 353), a class A misdemeanor. The charge resulted from allegedly refusing to provide medical care for his dog, Sophie, for a prominent mass protruding from her rear end. This Court held that the statute constitutional as applied, the complaint facially sufficient, and that the interests of justice do not warrant dismissal. Defendant argued that the Information charges Defendant with failure to provide medical care for a dog, and that A.M.L. § 353 should not be read to cover this situation. However, the Court found that the complaint raises an “omission or neglect” permitting unjustifiable pain or suffering, which is facially sufficient.

People v. Flores 2007 WL 1683610 (Cal. App. 4 Dist.)

Defendants were tried for allegedly invading an eighty-year-old woman's home and stealing, at gun point, and holding ransom eight seven-week-old puppies and two adult female Yorkshire terriers which she bred for the American Kennel Club for about $3,000 each.  The jury held the defendants responsible for 18 counts of various crimes, including robbery, grand theft dog, elder abuse, conspiracy and cruelty to animals, inter alia.  The appellate court reversed the counts of grand theft dog which were improperly based on the same conduct as the robbery conviction, reduced the sentence on the counts for abuse of an elder, and otherwise found no additional errors. 

People v. Flores 216 Cal. App. 4th 251, 156 Cal. Rptr. 3d 648 (Cal.App. 1 Dist.), review denied (Aug. 21, 2013)

Defendant Flores appeals his conviction under Penal Code section 399 for allowing a " mischievous animal" owned by him to cause serious injury to another person. In this case, defendant's pit bull dog, "Blue,"attacked defendant's almost 90-year old neighbor on his own property causing deep injuries to his leg. Blue had been previously involved in three other incidents where he either tried to attack other dogs or acted aggressively toward other humans. As a result of these incidents, Sonoma County officials issued defendant a issued a potentially dangerous animal warning. On appeal, defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence that he acted without ordinary care in keeping his dog and that the victim-neighbor did not suffer a serious injury as defined by statute. The court found both of these arguments without merit. While defendant suggested that he acted with "ordinary care" by keeping the dog tethered and chained outside on the day of the incident, the court found the evidence showed Blue had broken free in the past and had "massive strength." Further, even though the potentially dangerous dog designation by the county did not mandate that Blue be kept inside or in a secure enclosure, the ordinance language provides this requirement. Leaving a dog with a history of unprovoked attacks chained next to a public sidewalk in a residential neighborhood supported the jury's conclusion that defendant did not act as reasonably careful person would in the same situation. As to the serious bodily injury claim, the court noted that although the law does not define the term, there was substantial medical evidence to support the jury's determination. Affirmed.

People v. Iehl 299 N.W.2d 46 (Mich. 1980)

Defendant appealed his conviction for killing another person's dog.  On appeal, defendant contended that the term "beast" provided by the anti-cruelty statue did not encompass dogs.  The court disagreed, finding the statute at issue covered dogs despite its failure to explicitly list "dogs" as did a similar statute. 

People v. Jornov 65 A.D.3d 363, 881 N.Y.S.2d 776 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.,2009)

This New York case stems from an attack on Philip Mueller and his dog by Defendant-Appellant Jornov's "two pit bull-terrier mixed breed dogs.” During proceedings in City Court, the court determined that defendant's dogs were dangerous dogs and directed that they be euthanized. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed the finding that the dogs were dangerous under Agriculture and Markets Law § 121 and Agriculture and Markets Law § 350[5] because there was clear and convincing evidence that the dogs attacked a companion animal and behaved in a manner that a reasonable person would believe posed a serious and imminent threat of serious physical injury or death. However, under the amended version of the statute, a judge or justice may not automatically direct humane euthanasia or permanent confinement of a dangerous dog where none of the aggravating circumstances are present.

People v. Land 955 N.E.2d 538 (Ill.App. 1 Dist., 2011)

In 2009, Jenell Land was found guilty by jury of aggravated cruelty to a companion animal, a Class 4 felony under Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act. Specifically, Land placed a towing chain around the neck of her pit bull, which caused a large, gaping hole to form in the dog’s neck (the dog was later euthanized). The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the defendant’s conviction and, in so doing, rejected each of Land’s four substantive arguments on appeal. Among the arguments raised, the appellate court found that the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury that the State had to prove a specific intent by Land to injure her dog did not rise to the level of "plain error."

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