Animal Fighting: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
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. Baniqued 101 Cal.Rptr.2d 835 (Cal.App.3 Dist.,2000).

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, California, ordering their conviction for cockfighting in violations of animal cruelty statutes.  The court held that roosters and other birds fall within the statutory definition of "every dumb creature" and thus qualify as an "animal" for purposes of the animal cruelty statutes.

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

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

People v. Williams 15 Cal. App. 5th 111 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017), reh'g denied (Sept. 20, 2017) In this case, defendants were convicted of felony dog fighting and felony animal cruelty. On appeal, defendants sought to suppress evidence and to quash and traverse the search warrant that led to their convictions. Police officers responding to a report of a thin, loose, horse near the defendants' home entered the property in order to make reasonable attempts to secure the loose horse and determine if there was a suitable corral on the property. The officers knew there had been prior calls to the property in response to reported concerns about the conditions of horses and pit bulls on the property. Further, one officer heard puppies barking inside the home when she knocked on the door trying to contact defendants, and another officer heard a dog whining from inside the garage. There were strong odors of excessive fecal matter reasonably associated with unhealthful housing conditions. Under those circumstances, it was reasonable for the officers to be concerned there was a dog in distress inside the garage and possibly in need of immediate aid, and the court found there was nothing unreasonable about one officer standing on the front driveway and simply looking through the broken window in the garage door to determine whether the dog he heard making a whining bark was in genuine distress. Nor was it unreasonable for the officers to then proceed to the back yard after having looked in the garage. As a result, the court ruled that the information the officers had justified the issuance of the search warrant, and thus the order denying the motion to suppress evidence and to quash and traverse the warrant was affirmed. The defendants' judgments of conviction were also affirmed.
People v. Richardson 155 A.D.3d 1595, 66 N.Y.S.3d 757 (N.Y. App. Div. 2017), leave to appeal denied, 30 N.Y.3d 1119 (2018) In this New York case, defendant appeals from a three-county felony animal fighting conviction. Defendant's dog fighting activities came to light when police were dispatched to defendant's residence after defendant's wife reported a burglary in progress. Upon entry by consent, police found, in plain view, a wounded dog in a cage, several modified treadmills for use by dogs, blood on a water heater, and apparent dogfighting paraphernalia. After seeking a search warrant, the items were photographed and other evidence (supplements, training sticks, etc.) was collected. On appeal, the court rejected defendant's argument that the trial court erred by refusing to suppress all of the physical evidence as fruit of the poisonous tree. The court noted that the dogfighting paraphernalia were observed in plain view by responding policy officers. Additionally, police officers remaining at the house after the protective sweep to prevent the destruction of evidence while the search warrant was issued did not render the search unlawful. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to establish that defendant intended to engage in dogfighting and that the dogs were deprived of medical treatment. In addition to the paraphernalia and collection of literature on dogfighting, defendant's dogs had extensive scarring and healing consistent with dogfighting and inconsistent with defendant's proffered "cat-scratch" and "broken window" explanations. Defendant's convictions and judgment of sentence were affirmed.
Carpenter v. State 18 N.E.3d 998 (Ind. 2014) After being convicted by a Superior Court bench trial and having the Superior Court’s judgment affirmed by the Court of Appeals, defendant appealed the admission of evidence recovered from his home after officers entered it without a warrant in pursuit of an aggressive and bloody dog. The Supreme Court of Indiana found that the entry was unreasonable under the Indiana Constitution and that the evidence obtained pursuant to a subsequent search warrant was inadmissible. The Superior Court's judgment was therefore reversed.
Maloney v. State 1975 OK CR 22 (Ok. App. 1975)

The State charged defendant with maliciously placing a dog in a pit with another dog and encouraging the dogs to fight, injure, maim, or kill one another. The trial court convicted defendant of cruelty to animals pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §   1685 (1971) and fined defendant. Defendant appealed. On appeal, the court held that Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §   1682 (1971) was constitutional as applied to the case but reversed and remanded the case because the court determined that the defendant had been improperly convicted under the anti-cruelty statute rather than the dogfighting statute.

State v. Weeks 1992 Ohio App. LEXIS 1090 Defendant was convicted of violating Ohio's animal fighting statute, and appealed. He challenged the conviction, arguing that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The court upheld the conviction. The court ruled that although a portion of the statute was overly vague and broad, that portion was severable from the remainder. The court also held that defendant did not demonstrate that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to him.
People v. Parker (Unpublished) 1999 WL 33435342 (Unpublished Mich. 1999)

Defendants-appellees, who were bound over on the charge of knowingly attending an animal fight and of knowingly organizing, promoting, or collecting money for the fighting of an animal, filed a motion to suppress evidence and motions to quash the information. The trial court granted the motions and dismissed the case. The prosecution appealed and the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact, and that evidence that had been obtained in violation of defendant Parker's Fourth Amendment rights was admissible against all defendants except Parker. Finally, as to the defendants' challenge that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, the court declared that it had already determined that the language was neither vague nor overbroad. Reversed and remanded for trial. 

State v. Scott 2001 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 561 The appellant pled guilty to one count of animal fighting, one count of cruelty to animals, and one count of keeping unvaccinated dogs, and asked for probation. The trial court denied the appellants request for probation and sentenced him to incarceration. The appellant challenged the trial court's ruling, and the appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision to deny probation, stating that the heinous nature of the crimes warranted incarceration.
State v. Woods 2001 WL 224519 (Ohio App. 10 Dist.) Defendant was indicted on three counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted aggravated murder, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of kidnapping in an incident following a dogfight. Following a jury trial, d efendant was found guilty of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. The court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court.
People v. McCree 2002 WL 276134 (Cal. 2002)

Defendant was convicted, after a jury trial, of eight counts of possession and training of a fighting dog and two counts of causing a dogfight for gain. Defendant appealed. The Court of Appeal, held that: (1) prosecutor's cross-examination of defense witness was proper; (2) prosecutor's closing arguments were proper; and (3) evidence supported the convictions.
Affirmed.

People v. Lee (Unpublished) 2004 WL 2914207 (Mich. App.) (Unpublished)

Known and suspected dogfighters, Roderick Lee, Shedrick Lee, and Demar Garvin were jointly tried before a single jury for drug-related offenses. The jury convicted each defendant of conspiracy to deliver or possess with intent to deliver 650 or more grams of a controlled substance. The trial court sentenced each defendant to a prison term of 30 to 60 years. Defendants appealed on equal protection grounds, on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, on grounds of insufficient evidence and of improper admission of prejudicial and/or irrelevant evidence, on grounds of improper jury instruction, and further argued that they were entitled to resentencing. The appellate court confirmed the convictions and sentences.

Slavin v. United States 2005 WL 742707 (8th Cir. 2005)

An Arkansas woman who raises gamefowl brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Welfare Act which prohibits the interstate transportation of birds for the purposes of fighting.  The trial court dismissed the woman's claim and the Court of Appeals affirmed holding the statute is not vague.

State v. Nelson 219 P.3d 100 (Wash.App. Div. 3, 2009)

Defendants in this Washington case appeal their convictions of animal fighting and operating an unlicensed private kennel. They contend on appeal that the trial judge abused her discretion by allowing an expert from the Humane Society to render an opinion on whether the evidence showed that the defendants intended to engage in dogfighting exhibitions. The Court of Appeals held that the judge did not abuse her discretion in admitting the expert's opinion. The opinions offered by the expert were based on the evidence and the expert's years of experience. The court found that the expert's opinion was a fair summary and reflected the significance of the other evidence offered by the prosecution. Further, the expert's opinion was proffered to rebut defendants' contention that the circumstantial evidence (the veterinary drugs, training equipment, tattoos, etc.) showed only defendants' intent to enter the dogs in legal weight-pulling contests. Defendants convictions for animal fighting and operating an unlicensed private kennel were affirmed.

Brackett v. State 236 S.E.2d 689 (Ga.App. 1977)

In this Georgia case, appellants were convicted of the offense of cruelty to animals upon evidence that they were spectators at a cockfight. The Court of Appeals agreed with the appellants that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction, and the judgment was reversed. The court found that the statute prohibiting cruelty to animals was meant to include fowls as animals and thus proscribed cruelty to a gamecock. However, the evidence that defendants were among the spectators at a cockfight was insufficient to sustain their convictions.

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.

Stephens v. State 247 Ga. App. 719 (2001)

Defendant was accused and convicted of 17 counts of cruelty to animals for harboring fighting dogs in deplorable conditions. Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and the probation terms. The appellate court found, in light of the evidence, any rational trier of fact could have found the elements of cruelty to animals beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, defendant failed to overcome the presumption that the probation the trial court imposed was correct.

Hargrove v. State 253 Ga. 450 (1984)

Defendants were convicted by the Mitchell Superior Court, Robert Culpepper, Jr., Senior Judge, of dogfighting and gambling and two of the defendants were convicted of commercial gambling, and they appealed. The Supreme Court, Clarke, J., held that: (1) the statute prohibiting dogfighting is not unconstitutionally vague, and does not violate equal protection; (2) penalty provided for violating the dogfighting statute does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment; (3) evidence was sufficient to support convictions; (4) dogfighting is not as a matter of law a lesser included offense of commercial gambling; and (5) dogfighting was not as a matter of fact a lesser included offense of commercial gambling.

Moody v. State 253 Ga. 456 (1984)

Fifty-nine defendants appealed a judgment, which overruled a motion quash an indictment charging defendants with violating the dogfighting statute, O.C.G.A. §   16-12-37 . The court ruled the statute was not unconstitutionally overbroad, and that it required knowing and consensual involvement in dogfighting, therefore intent. The court further ruled that the law prohibited participation by gambling on the act, and the statute did not infringe on constitutionally protected conduct.

Barton v. State 253 Ga. 478 (1984)

Four defendants were convicted of dog fighting in violation of O.C.G.A. §   16-12-37 and they were also convicted of gambling in violation of O.C.G.A. §   16-12-21(a)(1) . On appeal, the court rejected the constitutional attacks on §   16-12-37. The court affirmed the convictions only with respect to one defendant and reversed the convictions as to the remaining three defendants based upon the sufficiency of the evidence.

Zuniga v. San Mateo Dept. of Health Services (Peninsula Humane Soc.) 267 Cal.Rptr. 755 (1990)

In this California case, the owner of a dog that had been seized pending criminal dogfighting charges sought a writ of mandate challenging a county hearing officer's decision finding that puppies born to the dog while she was impounded were dangerous animals. The trial court denied the writ. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that there was insufficient evidence that the puppies were “dangerous animals." The evidence received by the hearing officer relates mainly to appellant's actions and his mistreatment of the parent animal, and the only evidence relevant to the puppies' “inherent nature” was the observed aggressive behavior toward each other while caged together and certain possible assumptions about their nature from the condition and use of their mother.

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

State v. Crosswhite 273 Or. App. 605 (2015) After being tipped off about a dog fight, authorities seized several dogs from a home. Defendant was charged with one count of second-degree animal abuse and four counts of second-degree animal neglect. After the presentation of the state's evidence in circuit court, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal on all counts, arguing, as to second-degree animal neglect, that the state had failed to present sufficient evidence from which a jury could conclude that defendant had custody or control over the dogs. Circuit court denied the motion and defendant was convicted on all counts. Defendant appealed the denial of the motion, again arguing that the state failed to prove that he had “custody or control” over the dogs. The appeals court concluded that the plain text and context of ORS 167.325(1), together with the legislature's use of the same term in a similar statute, demonstrated that the legislature intended the term “control” to include someone who had the authority to guide or manage an animal or who directed or restrained the animal, regardless if the person owned the animal. Given the facts of the case, the court concluded that based on that evidence, a reasonable juror could find that defendant had control over the dogs, and the trial court had not erred in denying defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal.
State v. Bonilla 28 A.3d 1005 (Conn.App.,2011)

The issue before the court in this case is whether defendant's felony conviction for being a spectator at a cockfight (contrary to General Statutes § 53–247(c)) violates defendant's constitutional rights to assemble and associate, and his equal protection rights. In rejecting defendant's arguments, the court noted first that the right to assemble does not encompass the right to assemble for an unlawful purpose. Further, the right to associate was not infringed because "[a]ttending a cockfight as a spectator is neither a form of 'intimate association' nor a form of 'expressive association' as recognized by our courts or the United States Supreme Court . . ." As to defendant's claim of violation of equal protection, the court found that the aim of § 53–247(c)(4), criminalizing being a spectator at a cockfighting event, is rationally related to the legislative goal of preventing such fights from being staged.

Ash v. State 290 Ark. 278 (1986)

Police raided defendant's home and found an area converted into an arena for dog fighting. Defendant was found guilty  of promoting or engaging in dog fighting or possessing a dog for that purpose. On appeal, the court found that the based on the evidence a jury could have reasonably concluded that defendant was aware that on property owned by her and her husband an arena had been built for the purpose of clandestine dog fighting and that she was aware it was so being used.

Slavin v. US 403 F.3d 522 (8th Cir. 2005)

Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of the Animal Welfare Act after it created a regulation that prohibited the interstate or foreign commerce transport of birds that would be used in fighting ventures.   She argued that the regulators did not consider whether fighting ventures were legal in the state where the birds were being transported to.   However, the regulation was considered constitutional since under terms of section 2156(b), only the foreign and interstate transport of the birds was prohibited.  

Commonwealth v. Gonzalez 403 Pa. Super. 157 (Pa. 1991) Appellant was convicted of cruelty to animals for cockfighting. On appeal, appellant claimed that the delegation of police power to animal welfare agents was unconstitutional. The court found that appellant was without standing to complain because he failed to show an injury. Appellant also argued that the animal fighting statute was preempted by a federal statute, 7 U.S.C.S. §   2156. The court disagreed. Finally, appellant asserted that §   5511 was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The court determined that appellant lacked standing to challenge the statute's overbreadth.
Jones v. State 473 So. 2d 1197 (Ala. App. 1985)

Defendant was convicted of unlawfully owning, possessing, keeping or training a dog or dogs with intent that such dog or dogs be engaged in an exhibition of fighting with another dog, and he appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that: (1) dogfighting statute was not unconstitutionally vague; (2) testimony of animal cruelty investigator was sufficient for jury to conclude that defendant owned dogs after effective date of antidog-fighting statute; (3) evidence as to poor conditions of dogs and their vicious propensities exhibited while lodged at animal shelter was relevant to issue of defendant's intent to fight the dogs; and (4) evidence gained by police officer pursuant to search warrant was not inadmissible.

State ex rel. Miller v. Claiborne 505 P.2d 732 (Kan. 1973)

The Kansas Attorney General had advised the cockfighter that cockfighting was illegal in Kansas under the provisions of § 21-4310 (Supp. 1972). The gamecock fighter believed the Attorney General was wrong and advised a county attorney that he intended to fight gamecocks on his farm so the State then sought a declaratory judgment.  On appeal, the court found that cockfighting did not fall within the prohibition of § 21-4310 as constituting cruelty to animals, as Kansas statutes proscribing cruelty to animals had traditionally been directed toward protection of the four-legged animal, especially beasts of the field and beasts of burden. 

Oregon Game Fowl Breeders Ass'n v. Smith 516 P.2d 499 (Or. 1973)

This is an appeal of an action by a fowl breeder's association to declare Oregon laws against cockfighting unconstitutional.  Game fowl breeders brought an action against a district attorney and State Attorney General seeking judgment that statutes prohibiting cruelty to animals were unconstitutional and seeking an injunction against enforcement of statutes against breeders for cockfighting. The Court of Appeals held that the practice of breeding birds suitable for cockfighting did not qualify as 'good livestock husbandry' and that cockfighting was prohibited by statute.

Louisiana v. Caillet, Jr. 518 So. 2d 1062 (La. App. 1987) Twenty- six people where charged with dog fighting in violation of La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §   14:102.5 for paying a fee to be spectators at a dog fight. They filed a motion to quash, urging that the indictments failed to charge a punishable offense; they were denied the motion. Thereafter, 11 defendants applied for supervisory writs, the appellate court granted the motion to quash, holding that §   14:102.5 did not proscribe paying a fee to be a spectator at a dog fight.
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.
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.

Peck v. Dunn 574 P.2d 367 (Utah 1978)

Subsequent to the game cockfighter's conviction for cruelty to animals, she sought a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was unconstitutional on the grounds: (1) that it was vague and uncertain in that innocent conduct of merely being a spectator could be included within its language; and (2) that presence at such a cockfight was proscribed, without requiring a culpable mental state. On review the court held that the board, in the exercise of its police power, had both the prerogative and the responsibility of enacting laws which would promote and conserve the good order, safety, health, morals and general welfare of society. The courts should defer to the legislative prerogative and should presume such enactments were valid and should not strike down legislation unless it clearly and persuasively appeared that the act was in conflict with a constitutional provision.

Hawaii v. Kaneakua 597 P.2d 590 (Haw. 1979)

Defendants stipulated that they were involved in cockfights and were prosecuted for numerous violations of § 1109(1)(d), part of Hawaii's cruelty to animals statute.  The reviewing court found that the statute was not vague, and was sufficiently definite to satisfy due process with regard to the charge against defendants; nor was the statute overly broad as applied to defendants.

White v. U.S. 601 F.3d 545 (C.A.6 (Ohio), 2010)

The Plaintiff-Appellants are citizens (show bird breeders, feed store owners, and game bird judges) who allege that the AWA amendments to § 2156 concerning animal fighting ventures have caused them various individual and collective injuries. The plaintiffs-appellants allege that these provisions are unconstitutional insofar as they constitute a bill of attainder; violate the principles of federalism contained in, inter alia, the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Amendments to the United States Constitution; and unduly impinge on the plaintiffs-appellants' First Amendment right of association, constitutional right to travel, and Fifth Amendment right to due process for deprivations of property and liberty. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of Article III standing. The Sixth Circuit held that while economic injuries may constitute an injury-in-fact for the purposes of Article III standing, the plaintiffs' alleged economic injuries due to restrictions on cockfighting are not traceable only to the AWA. Additionally, because the AWA does not impose any penalties without a judicial trial, it is not a bill of attainder. The decision of the district court was affirmed.

Humane Society of U.S. v. U.S. Postal Service 609 F.Supp.2d 85 (D.D.C.,2009)

The question in this case centers on whether a response from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) qualifies as a "final agency action" for purposes of judicial reviewability under the APA. At issue is the HSUS's petition to the USPS to declare a monthly periodical entitled The Feathered Warriror unmailable under the AWA. While the USPS has been broadly exempted from judicial review under the APA, there are exceptions, which include “proceedings concerning the mailability of matter." While the term "proceedings" is largely undefined in the Act, the Court held that it would not limit the term to the post hoc meaning ascribed by the USPS that limits it to only "formal" proceedings. Despite finding that the actions taken by the USPS were indeed judicially reviewable, the court remanded the matter because, after the Humane Society initiated this lawsuit, Congress amended § 2156 of the Animal Welfare Act again, further defining issue of nonmailable animal fighting material.

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.

Rego v. Madalinski 63 N.E.3d 190 (Ohio Ct. App., 2016) In this case, appellee's dog attacked appellant's dog while on appellee's property. Veterinary bills were over $10,000, and the municipal court capped compensatory damages at the fair market value of animal of $400, reasoning that animals are considered personal property. On appeal, this court discusses situations where veterinary costs are appropriate as damages, such as veterinary malpractice suits or where the animal had special characteristics like pedigree, training, or breeding income. Though this case does not fit into those categories, the court recognizes a ‘semi-property’ or 'companion property' classification of animals, and reverse the municipal court and remand for a damages hearing.
U.S. v. Hackman 630 F.3d 1078 (8th Cir. 2011) Defendants appealed sentences arising out of a Missouri-based dog-fighting conspiracy. Each man pleaded guilty to conspiring to engage in animal fighting ventures in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and one Defendant additionally pleaded guilty to engaging in animal fighting ventures in violation of 7 U.S.C. § 2156. When sentencing each defendant, the district court applied an upward departure provision found in the application notes to United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG or Guidelines). Each appellant argued that his relevant conduct was not sufficiently cruel to warrant the upward departure. The 8th Circuit found, however, that the district court had properly considered conduct that was legally relevant to Defendants' sentencing under the Guidelines. The court also found that Defendants' conduct amounted to more than just possessing fighting pit bulls. Defendants bred, raised, trained, sold, and fought them knowing that the dogs would be allowed, if not required, to fight until severely injured or dead. Thus, the ordinary cruelty inherent in dog fighting justifies base offense level, while the extraordinary cruelty of Defendants' crimes separately justified the upward departure. The district court's judgment was affirmed.
State v. Gaines 64 Ohio App. 3d 230 (Oh App. 1990)

Defendant, who pleaded guilty to 2 counts of dogfighting, challenged the constitutionality of the dogfighting statute and appealed a court-imposed forfeiture of cash and other seized items. The Court of Appeals ruled that: (1) dogfighting statute was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad; (2) statute did not violate equal protection or constitute cruel and unusual punishment on ground that violation constitutes fourth-degree felony while violation of statute prohibiting other animal fights is only a fourth-degree misdemeanor; and (3) despite guilty plea, forfeiture of cash and other items was erroneous absent establishment of direct connection with defendant's illegal dogfighting activities.

U.S. v. Gibert 677 F.3d 613 (4th Cir. 2012) The primary question in this appeal was whether Congress exceeded its power under the Commerce Clause in enacting a criminal prohibition against animal fighting. Defendants were indicted, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, for their roles in organizing, operating, and participating in “gamefowl derbies,” otherwise known as “cockfighting.” Upon the 4th Circuit’s review of the parties' arguments, it held that the animal fighting statute was a legitimate exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. It also held that the statute did not require the government to prove the defendants' knowledge regarding the particular venture's nexus to interstate commerce. Accordingly, the district court’s decision was affirmed.
U.S. v. Lawson 677 F.3d 629 (4th Cir., 2012) Defendants appealed their conviction of violating, and conspiring to violate, the animal fighting prohibition of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The Court of Appeals granted a new trial, but held, in part, that the AWA is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause, and that the provision of different elements of the crime in jurisdictions permitting animal fighting does not violate equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. 
Mejia v. State 681 S.W.2d 88 (Tex. App. 1984).

Rooster fighting case. Testimony from the defendant's witness, a sociologist that argued cockfighting is not generally thought of as an illegal activity, was irrelevant in cruelty to animals conviction. Statute is not unconstitutionally vague.

Phillip v. State 721 S.E.2d 214 (Ga.App., 2011)

Defendant was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment after entering a non-negotiated guilty plea to 14 counts of dogfighting and two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Upon motion, the Court of Appeals held that the sentence was illegal and void because all counts, which were to run concurrently, had the maximum prison sentence of five years.

Silver v. United States 726 A.2d 191 (D.C. App. 1999)

Appellants were each convicted of cruelty to animals, in violation of D.C. Code Ann. §   22-801 (1996), and of engaging in animal fighting, in violation of §   22-810. On appeal, both appellants contended that the evidence was insufficient to support convictions of animal cruelty, and of animal fighting. The appellate court found that the proof was sufficient. Each appellant also contended that his convictions merged because animal cruelty was a lesser-included offense of animal fighting. The appellate court found that each crime required proof of an element that the other did not. Appellants' convictions did not merge.

Rogers v. State 760 S.W.2d 669 (Tex. App. 1988).

Dog fighting case. Where the dog fighting area was in an open section of woods near the defendant's home, police officers were not required to obtain a search warrant before entering the defendant's property because of the "open fields" doctrine.

32 Pit Bulldogs and Other Property v. County of Prentiss 808 So.2d 971 (Miss. S.C. 2002) While a criminal trial regarding alleged dog-fighting was pending, the Circuit Court, Prentiss County, ordered the humane euthanization of 18 of 34 seized pit bulldogs. The alleged dog owner appealed. The Supreme Court held that allegations the dogs had been trained to fight, could not be rehabilitated as pets, and posed serious threat to other animals and people, related to the "physical condition" of the dogs, as statutory basis for humane euthanization. Affirmed.
Commonwealth v. Craven 817 A.2d 451 (Pa. 2003)

The issue before the Court in this consolidated appeal was whether the trial court properly determined that 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511(h.1)(6), which criminalizes an individual's attendance at an animal fight "as a spectator," is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.  Specifically, appellees contended that the statute criminalized "mere presence" at a dog fight.  The Supreme Court disagreed, finding the evidence showed appellees were active spectators at the fight (as seen in the videotape evidence).  The court concluded that the statute is constitutionally sound, thereby reversing the lower court's decision that the statute imposed strict liability on mere presence.

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