Animal Fighting: Related Cases

Case namesort ascending Citation Summary
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Minter-Smith v. Florida 864 So. 2d 1141 (Fla. 2003)

Defendant was convicted of unlawfully owning, possessing, keeping or training a dog or dogs with intent that such dog engage in dogfighting and he appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that: (1) statute under which appellant was convicted was not unconstitutionally vague; (2) testimony of investigator was sufficient for jury to conclude that defendant was in violation of the statute that was not unconstitutional on ground that it was ex post facto as applied to defendant; (3) evidence as to poor conditions of dogs and their vicious propensities 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. Affirmed.

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.

McNeely v. U.S. 874 A.2d 371 (D.C. App. 2005) Defendant McNeely was convicted in a jury trial in the Superior Court of violating the Pit Bull and Rottweiler Dangerous Dog Designation Emergency Amendment Act.  On appeal, t he Court of Appeals, held that the Act did not deprive defendant of fair warning of the proscribed conduct, as the defendant here was required to know that he owned pit bulls in order to be convicted under the Act; and the prosecutor's improper comment was rendered harmless by the trial court's curative instructions.
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.

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.
Lee v. State 973 N.E.2d 1207 (Ind.App. 2012)

An attendant of a dog fight was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor under section 35-46-3-4 of the Indiana Code. On appeal, the defendant-appellant argued that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and that the statute invited arbitrary law enforcement, which violated the Due Process clause of the U.S. Constitution. Though the appeals court found the defendant-appellant had waived her constitutional claims by not filing a motion at the bench trial, the appeals court found her claims lacked merit. The defendant-appellant’s conviction was therefore upheld.

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.

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.

Hernandez-Gotay v. United States 985 F.3d 71 (1st Cir. Jan. 14, 2021) Plaintiffs filed suit to enjoin the enforcement and challenge the constitutionality of Section 12616 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“Section 12616”), which bans the “sponsor[ship]” and “exhibit[ion]” of cockfighting matches in Puerto Rico. The district court upheld Section 12616 as a valid exercise of Congress's Commerce Clause power. On appeal here, the court first determined whether the plaintiffs had sufficient standing to challenge the law. It concluded that plaintiff Ángel Manuel Ortiz-Díaz, the owner of two cockfighting venues and a breeder and owner of more than 200 gamecocks, has standing to challenge Section 12616. Ortiz faces a credible threat of prosecution under Section 12616 because he regularly sponsors and exhibits cockfighting matches. Finding standing, the court considered plaintiffs' claim that Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause in enacting Section 12616. The court found that cockfighting is an activity that substantially affects interstate commerce and Congress passing Section 12616 was a legitimate exercise of Commerce Clause power. Finally, plaintiffs contend that Section 12616 infringes on their First Amendment freedoms of speech and association. In rejecting this argument, the court held that plaintiffs failed to identify the necessary "expressive element" in cockfighting activities that would render it subject to First Amendment protections and, even if they made such a showing, Section 12616 is a permissible restraint on such speech. Finally, nothing in Section 12616 infringes on the associational right to assemble since it does not prevent individuals from gathering to express their views on cockfighting. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
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.

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.

Edmondson v. Oklahoma 91 P.3d 605 (Okla. 2004)

Petitioners sought relief from a temporary injunction for the Respondents, which prevented petitioners from enforcing the statute banning cockfighting.  The Supreme Court assumed original jurisdiction and held that the statute did not violate the Oklahoma State Constitution, and was not unconstitutionally overbroad.  Relief granted for petitioners.

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.
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.

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.

Commonwealth v. Baumgartner --- A.3d ----, 2019 WL 1010357 (Mar. 4, 2019) Appellant Charles Baumgartner was charged and convicted of animal fighting for amusement or gain as a result of an incident that occurred on March 9, 2017. Baumgartner brought his white pit pull named "Menace" to fight a pit bull that belonged to Adam Aviles. Police learned of the dog fight after being informed a video of the fight had been uploaded to social media. Baumgartner was ultimately charged with animal fighting and assaulting Mr. Aviles, but was convicted by jury only of animal fighting. On appeal, Baumgartner contends that his conviction should be set aside because the Commonwealth failed to present any evidence of amusement or gain as required by statute. As a matter of first impression, this Court considered the term "amusement or gain" as an element of the animal fighting, which is undefined in the anti-cruelty laws. The court found that no cases or other jurisdiction defines the term with respect to animal fighting, and thus, under principles of statutory interpretation, relies on the common usage and dictionary definitions. The court found that there was sufficient evidence admitted a trial for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Baumgartner allowed his dog to engage in animal fighting for amusement or gain, i.e., for “pleasurable diversion” or “advantage acquired or increased.” The Court concluded that Baumgartner facilitated the dog fight as a means of retribution against Aviles for a prior dog fighting incident. Therefore, his motive was personal gain. Accordingly, the Court affirmed Baumgartner’s conviction. Judge Pellegrini dissented stating that she does not believe that retribution is the type of amusement or gain within the meaning of the statute. She interprets the statute as outlawing animal fighting as a sport rather than all animal fights.
Club Gallistico de Puerto Rico Inc. v. United States --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2019 WL 5566322 (D.P.R. Oct. 28, 2019) Club Gallistico de Puerto Rico, Inc. (Club Gallistico) and the Asociacion Cultural y Deportiva del Gallo Fino de Pelea (Asociacion Cultural) both filed civil complaints against the United States Government. The complaints alleged that the Section 12616 amendments to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violated bedrock principles of federalism and rights protected under the United States Constitution. Both Club Gallistico and Asociacion Cultural are both non-profit organizations involved in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s cockfighting industry. The amendments to the AWA outlawed all animal fighting ventures in which animals were moved in interstate or foreign commerce in every United States jurisdiction. These amendments extended the ban to United States territories which the Plaintiffs argued the United States did not have the authority to do. Both cases were consolidated and heard by the District Court. The Court analyzed the amendments under the Federalism doctrine, the Commerce Clause, and the Territorial Clause. Extending the ban on live-bird fighting did not violate either of the three. Further, the amendments did not violate the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution or any other constitutional rights such as free speech or due process. The Court ultimately denied the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Granted Defendant United States’ Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.
Claddie Savage v. Prator 886 So.2d 523 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2004)

A Parish Sheriff informed game clubs the parish ordinance against cockfighting would be enforced, despite the fact that cockfighting tournaments had been held at the game clubs since 1991.  The game clubs filed for and received a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the parish ordinance.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision.  Reversed by Savage v. Prator , 921 So.2d 51 (La., 2006).

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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