Anti-Cruelty: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
Mills v. State 802 S.W.2d 400 (Tex. App. 1991).

In criminal conviction for cruelty to animals, statute requires that sentences arising out of same criminal offenses be prosecuted in single action and run concurrently.

Hammer v. American Kennel Club 803 N.E.2d 766 (N.Y., 2003)

Plaintiff sought both declaratory and injunctive relief against the American Kennel Club (AKC) for use of standards in dog show competitions for Brittany Spaniel dogs that require the docking of their tails.  The issue in this appeal is whether Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 grants plaintiff, who wishes to enter his dog and compete without penalty in breed contests, a private right of action to preclude defendants from using a standard that encourages him to "dock" his Brittany Spaniel's tail.  The Court of Appeals concluded that it would be inconsistent with the applicable legislative scheme to imply a private right of action in plaintiff's favor because the statute does not, either expressly or impliedly, incorporate a method for private citizens to obtain civil relief.  In light of the comprehensive statutory enforcement scheme, recognition of a private civil right of action is incompatible with the mechanisms chosen by the Legislature.

Geary v. Sullivan County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. 815 N.Y.S.2d 833 (N.Y., 2006)

In this New York case, plaintiffs surrendered their maltreated horse to defendant Sullivan County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. on March 4, 2005. Shortly thereafter, they commenced this action seeking return of the horse and damages, including punitive damages. Defendants' answer failed to respond to all paragraphs of the 38-paragraph complaint, which included six causes of action, prompting plaintiffs to move for summary judgment on the ground that defendants admitted "all" essential and material facts. At oral argument before this Court, plaintiffs' counsel consented to defendants filing an amended answer. The court found that since this amended pleading will presumably contain denials to all contested allegations in the complaint, plaintiffs' request for summary judgment on the procedural ground that defendants' failed to deny certain facts must fail. Moreover, as correctly noted by Supreme Court, conflicting evidence precludes summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor.

Bramblett v. Habersham Cty. 816 S.E.2d 446 (Ga. Ct. App., 2018) Defendants appeal from an order granting a petition for recoupment of costs filed by Habersham County pursuant to OCGA § 4-11-9.8, and a separate order directing the defendants to pay $69,282.85 into the court registry in connection with the boarding, treatment, and care of 29 dogs that the Brambletts refused to surrender after the County seized over 400 animals from their property. In April 2017, over 400 animals were removed from the Bramblett's property and they were charged with over 340 counts of cruelty to animals under Georgia law. There were 29 animals that were not surrendered and were running loose on the property. The current petition for recoupment of costs here refers to the care for those 29 animals, which were later impounded. The Brambletts appealed that order, arguing that the trial court erred in granting the County's petition without providing notice under OCGA § 4-11-9.4. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the procedure in OCGA § 4-11-9.8 applied because the notice provisions of OCGA §§ 4-11-9.4 and 4-11-9.5 only apply when the animal has been impounded “under” or “pursuant to this article” of the Georgia Animal Protection Act. Here, the animals were seized under as part of an investigation of violations of OCGA § 16-12-4 so the notice provisions did not apply. As to defendants contention that the court erred by not considering the "actual predicted costs" of caring for 29 dogs and instead relying on a "formulaic calculation," the court also found no error. The judgment was affirmed.
State of Washington v. Zawistowski 82 P.3d 698 (Wash. 2004)

Defendants were convicted of animal cruelty with regard to underweight and malnourished horses.  The Superior Court reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a jury finding, and the State appealed.  Held:  reversed.

Warren v. Commonwealth 822 S.E.2d 395 (Va. Ct. App., 2019) Warren, the defendant in this case, videotaped on his cell phone sexual encounters he had with K.H. and her dog. The videos showed the dog's tongue penetrating K.H.'s vagina while K.H. performed oral sex on Warren. In March of 2017, Deputy Sheriff Adam Reynolds spoke to Warren about an unrelated matter. Warren asked if "bestiality type stuff" was "legal or illegal," described the cellphone videos, and offered to show them to Reynolds. Reynolds contacted Investigator Janet Sergeant and they obtained a search warrant and removed the videos from Warren's cellphone. Warren was indicted and moved to dismiss the indictment arguing that Code § 18.2-361(A), which criminalizes soliciting another person to "carnally know a brute animal or to submit to carnal knowledge with a brute animal," is facially unconstitutional and unconstitutional as applied to him. "He argued that the conduct depicted in the videos could not be subject to criminal sanction because it amounted to nothing more than consensual conduct involving adults." The trial court denied Warren's motion to dismiss. The trial court convicted Warren of the charged offense. Warren appealed again challenging the constitutionality of the offense and that it violated his due process rights. Warren relied on a Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, which held that two adults engaging in consensual homosexual sexual practices was protected by the due process clause. He argued that the reasoning of Lawrence applies with equal force to his case. The Court of Appeals reasoned that although Code § 18.2-361(A) cannot criminalize sodomy between consenting adults, it can continue to regulate other forms of sodomy, like bestiality. "If Lawrence, which involved a prohibition on same-sex sodomy, did not facially invalidate the anti-sodomy provision of then Code § 18.2-361(A), it defies logic that it facially invalidates the bestiality portion of the statute that existed before the 2014 amendment and is all that remains after that amendment." Even though Warren claims his right as "the right of adults to engage in consensual private conduct without intervention of the government," the court concluded that the right he is actually asserting is the right to engage in bestiality. Code § 18.2-361(A) "does not place any limitation on the rights of consenting adults to engage in private, consensual, noncommercial, sexual acts with each other." The only act it prohibits is sexual conduct with a brute animal. Therefore, the only right the statute could possibly infringe on wold be the right to engage in bestiality. The Commonwealth has a legitimate interest in banning sex with animals. The Court of Appeals held that the General Assembly's prohibition of bestiality does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. The Court rejected Warren's challenge to the constitutionality of the statute and affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
Long v. The State of Texas 823 S.W.2d 259 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991)

Appellant, who was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, raised 35 points of error in a direct appeal in which he challenged the trial court's voir dire rulings and its evidentiary rulings. The court held that the admission into evidence of photographs was within the discretion of the lower court, which properly determined that the photographs served a proper purpose in enlightening the jury.

People v. O'Rourke 83 Misc.2d 175 (N.Y.City Crim.Ct. 1975)

The owner of a horse was guilty of cruelty to animals for continuing to work a horse he knew was limping. The court found that defendant owner was aware that the horse was unfit for labor, and was thus guilty of violating N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 353 for continuing to work her.

State of Ohio v. Jane Smith 83 N.E.3d 302 (Ohio Ct. App., 2017)

Jane Smith was charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty after 47 dogs and other animals were seized from her property where she operated a private dog rescue. Smith was ultimately sentenced to jail time and required to compensate the Humane Society for the money that was spent to care for the 47 dogs that were seized from Smith’s property. Smith appealed her sentence, arguing that the lower court had made five errors in coming to its decision. The Court of Appeals only addressed four of the five arguments made by Smith. First, the Smith argued that the court erred in not suppressing evidence on the basis that her 4th Amendment rights had been violated. The Court of Appeals dismissed this argument, holding that Smith’s 4th Amendment rights had not been violated because the information that led to the seizure of Smith’s dogs was provided by a private citizen and therefore not applicable to the 4th Amendment protections. Secondly, Smith argued that the court violated her due process rights when it made multiple, erroneous evidentiary rulings that deprived her of her ability to meaningfully defend herself at trial. The Court of Appeals found that Smith had not provided enough evidence to establish that her due process rights had been violated, so the Court of Appeals dismissed the argument. Thirdly, Smith made a number of arguments related to constitutional violations but the Court of Appeals found that there was not evidence to support these arguments and dismissed the claim. Lastly, Smith argued that she had made a pre-indictment, non-prosecution agreement that was not followed by the court. The Court of Appeals also dismissed this argument for a lack of evidence. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision and sentencing. 

State v. Gerard 832 N.W.2d 314 (Minn.App.,2013)

This case considers whether the trial court erred when it dismissed the felony count of unjustifiably killing an animal based on lack of probable cause. The incident stems from the killing of the neighbors' cat with a shotgun by defendant-respondent. At trial, he filed a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause that was accompanied by a notarized affidavit of the responding police deputy stating the shooting of the cat was "justified." The trial court dismissed the complaint finding insufficient evidence that respondent had unjustifiably killed the cat. On appeal, the court found the district court's reliance on the deputy's lay opinion was improper. The court found it was within the jury's province to determine whether respondent's actions were justified or unjustified based on the evidence at trial.

Com. v. Hackenberger 836 A.2d 2 (Pa.2003)
Defendant was convicted and sentenced to 6 months to 2 years jail following a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas of cruelty to animals resulting from his shooting of a loose dog more than five times. On appeal, appellant contends that the use of a deadly weapon sentencing enhancement provision does not apply to a conviction for cruelty to animals since the purpose is to punish only those offenses where the defendant has used a deadly weapon against persons. The Commonwealth countered that the purpose behind the provision is immaterial because the plain language applies to any offense where the defendant has used a deadly weapon to commit the crime, save for those listed crimes where possession is an element of the offense. This Court agreed with the Commonwealth and held that the trial court was not prohibited from applying the deadly weapon sentencing enhancement to defendant's conviction for cruelty to animals.
State v. Meerdink 837 N.W.2d 681 (Table) (Iowa Ct. App. 2013)

After defendant/appellant took a baseball to the head of and consequently killed a 7-month-old puppy, the Iowa District Court of Scott County found defendant/appellant guilty of animal torture under Iowa Code section 717B.3A (1). Defendant/appellant appealed the district court's decision, arguing that the evidence shown was insufficient to support a finding he acted “with a depraved or sadistic intent,” as stated by Iowa statute. The appeals court agreed and reversed and remanded the case back to district court for dismissal. Judge Vaitheswaran authored a dissenting opinion.

State v. Walker 841 N.E.2d 376 (Ohio 2005)

A dog owner was placed on probation which limited him from having any animals on his property for five years.  While on probation, bears on the owner's property were confiscated after getting loose.  The trial court ordered the dog owner to pay restitution for the upkeep of the confiscated bears, but the Court of Appeals reversed holding the trial court did not the authority to require the dog owner to pay restitution for the upkeep of the bears because the forfeiture of animals penalty did not apply to conviction for failure to confine or restrain a dog.

Trimble v. State 848 N.E.2d 278 (Ind., 2006)

In this Indiana case, the defendant was convicted after a bench trial of cruelty to an animal and harboring a non-immunized dog. On rehearing, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to show that defendant abandoned or neglected dog left in his care, so as to support conviction for cruelty to an animal. The court held that the evidence of Butchie's starved appearance, injured leg, and frost bitten extremities was sufficient to allow the trial judge to discount Trimble's testimony and infer that Trimble was responsible for feeding and caring for Butchie, and that he failed to do so.

Mills v. State 848 S.W.2d 878 (Tex. App. 1993).

In an animal cruelty conviction, the law requires that sentences arising out of same criminal offenses be prosecuted in single action and run concurrently.

People v. Gordon 85 N.Y.S.3d 725, (N.Y.Crim.Ct. Oct. 4, 2018) This New York case reflects Defendant's motion to dismiss the "accusatory instrument" in the interests of justice (essentially asking the complaint to be dismissed) for violating Agricultural and Markets Law (AML) § 353, Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals or Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance for Animals. Defendant's primary argument is that she is not the owner of the dog nor is she responsible for care of the dog. The dog belongs to her "abusive and estranged" husband. The husband left the dog in the care of their daughter, who lives on the second floor above defendant. When the husband left for Florida, he placed the dog in the backyard attached to his and defendant's ground floor apartment. The dog did not have proper food, water, or shelter, and slowly began to starve resulting in emaciation. While defendant asserts she has been a victim of domestic violence who has no criminal record, the People counter that defendant was aware of the dog's presence at her residence and allowed the dog to needlessly suffer. This court noted that defendant's motion is time-barred and must be denied. Further, despite the time bar, defendant did not meet her burden to dismiss in the interests of justice. The court noted that, even viewing animals as property, failure to provide sustenance of the dog caused it to suffer needlessly. In fact, the court quoted from in Matter of Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery (in which denied a writ of habeas corpus for two chimpanzees) where the court said "there is not doubt that [a chimpanzee] is not merely a thing." This buttressed the court's decision with regard to the dog here because "he Court finds that their protection from abuse and neglect are very important considerations in the present case." Defendant's motion to dismiss in the interest of justice was denied.
Wolff v. State 87 N.E.3d 528 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017) This Indiana case addresses the status of animals seized in conjunction with a criminal animal cruelty case. Specifically, the appeal addresses whether the trial court erred in granting a local animal rescue the authority to determine disposition of the seized animals. The animals were seized after county authorities received complaints of animal cruelty and neglect on defendant's property in late 2016. As a result of the charges, five horses, two mules, and two miniature donkeys were impounded and placed with a local animal rescue. Following this, the state filed a notice with the court that estimated costs of continuing care for the impounded animals. About a month later, the state filed an Amended Motion to Determine Forfeiture/Disposition of Animals, requesting the trial court issue an order terminating defendant's ownership rights in the animals. Alternatively, the state requested that defendant could seek to have his posted bond money apportioned to cover the costs associated with the animals' care. The court ultimately entered an order that allowed the rescue agency full authority to determine disposition of the animals after defendant failed to respond. In his current appeal of this order, defendant first claims that the trial court erred in giving the animal rescue such authority because defendant paid $20,000 in bail. The appellate court found that this money was used to secure defendant's release from jail and he did not request that the jail bond be used for the care of the animals. The court found that the legislature clearly intended the bail and bond funds are used for "separate and distinct purposes," so there was no way for the trial court to automatically apply this money to the animal care costs. Defendant had to affirmatively exercise his rights concerning the disposition of the animals pending trial, which he failed to do. As to defendant's other issue concerning an investigation and report by a state veterinarian, the appellate court found defendant waived this issue prior to appeal. The decision was affirmed.
Gerofsky v. Passaic County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 870 A.2d 704 (N.J. 2005)

The President of the New Jersey SPCA brought an action to have several county SPCA certificates of authority revoked.  The county SPCAs brought a counterclaim alleging the revocation was beyond the state SPCA's statutory authority.  The trial court revoked one county's certificate of authority, but the Court of Appeals held the revocation was an abuse of discretion.

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.
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.

State v. Witham 876 A.2d 40 (Maine 2005)

A man ran over his girlfriend's cat after having a fight with his girlfriend.  The trial court found the man guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals.  The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the trial court, holding the aggravated cruelty to animals statute was not unconstitutionally vague.

Anderson v. State (Unpublished) 877 N.E.2d 1250 (Ind. App. 2007)

After shooting a pet dog to prevent harm to Defendant's own dog, Defendant challenges his animal cruelty conviction.  Defendant argues that since he was attempting to kill the dog, he did not intend to torture or mutilate the dog within the meaning of the statute.  The court affirms his conviction, reasoning that the evidentiary record below supported his conviction.

City of Boston v. Erickson 877 N.E.2d 542 (Mass.2007)

This very short case concerns the disposition of defendant Heidi Erickson's six animals (four living and two dead) that were seized in connection with an animal cruelty case against her. After Erickson was convicted, the city withdrew its challenge to the return of the living animals and proceeded only as to the deceased ones. A single justice denied the city's petition for relief, on the condition that Erickson demonstrate “that she has made arrangements for [t]he prompt and proper disposal [of the deceased animals], which disposal also is in compliance with health codes.” Erickson challenged this order, arguing that it interfered with her property rights by requiring her to discard or destroy the deceased animals. However, this court found no abuse of discretion, where it interpreted the justice's order to mean that she must comply with all applicable health codes rather than forfeit her deceased animals.

People v. Larson 885 N.E.2d 363 (Ill.App. 2008) In December 2005, defendant Alan J. Larson was found guilty of possession of a firearm without a firearm owner's identification card and committing aggravated cruelty to an animal when he shot and killed the Larsons’ family dog Sinai in October 2004. Evidence included conflicting testimony among family members as to the disposition of the dog and whether he had a history of biting people, and a veterinarian who concluded that a gunshot to the brain was a conditionally acceptable method of euthanasia. Defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds that the aggravated-cruelty-to-an-animal statute was unconstitutionally vague because it fails to address how an owner could legally euthanize their own animal. The appellate court rejected this argument and affirmed defendant’s conviction.
Bueckner v. Hamel 886 S.W.2d 368 (Tex. App. 1994).

Texas law allows persons to kill without liability dogs that are attacking domestic animals. However, the attack must be in progress, imminent, or recent. This defense does not apply to the killing of dogs that were chasing deer or non-domestic animals.

Recchia v. City of Los Angeles Dep't of Animal Servs. 889 F.3d 553 (9th Cir. 2018) Petitioner Recchia sued the City of Los Angeles and animal control officers for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment and claims for state law tort violations. The claims arise from the 2011 warrantless seizure of Recchia's 20 birds (18 pigeons, one crow, and one seagull) kept in boxes and cages on the sidewalk where he lived (Recchia was homeless at the time). Animal control officers investigated Recchia after a complaint that a homeless man had birds at his campsite. Officers found cramped and dirty cages with several birds in "dire physical condition," although there is evidence the birds were in that condition before Recchia possessed them. After officers impounded the birds, a city veterinarian decided that all the pigeons needed to be euthanized due to concerns of pathogen transmission. Recchia discovered that the birds had been euthanized at his post-seizure hearing that was four days after impounded of the animals. At that hearing, the magistrate found the seizure was justified under the operative anti-neglect law (California Penal Code § 597.1(a)(1)). This § 1983 and state claim action followed. The district court adopted the magistrate judge's report and granted summary judgment for the defendants. On appeal, this court first examined whether the seizure of the healthy-looking birds was justified. The court held that hold that there was a genuine factual dispute about whether the healthy-looking birds posed any meaningful risk to other birds or humans at the time they were seized (it affirmed the dismissal as to the seizure of the birds that outwardly appeared sick/diseased). With regard to seizure of the birds without a pre-seizure hearing, the court applied the Matthews test to determine whether Recchia's rights were violated. Looking at the statute under which the birds were seized (Section 597.1), the court found that the law does afford adequate due process for Fourteenth Amendment purposes. As to other claims, the court granted Recchia permission to amend his complaint to challenge the city policy of not requiring a blood test before euthanizing the birds. The court also agreed with the lower court that the officers had discretionary immunity to state tort law claims of in seizing the animals. The district court's summary judgment was affirmed on Fourteenth Amendment and state tort claims against the officers, but vacated summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claims against the animal control officers and constitutional claims against the city.
Pine v. State 889 S.W.2d 625 (Tex. App. 1994).

Mens rea in cruelty conviction may be inferred from circumstances. With regard to warrantless seizure, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit seizure when there is a need to act immediately to protect and preserve life (i.e. "emergency doctrine").

Tilbury v. State 890 S.W.2d 219 (Tex. App. 1994).

Cruelty conviction of defendant who shot and killed two domesticated dogs. Defendant knew dogs were domesticated because they lived nearby, had demeanor of pets, both wore collars, and had been previously seen by defendant.

Com. v. Erickson 905 N.E.2d 127 (Mass.App.Ct.,2009)

In this Massachusetts case, the defendant was found guilty of six counts of animal cruelty involving one dog and five cats after a bench trial. On appeal, defendant challenged the warrantless entry into her apartment and argued that the judge erred when he failed to grant her motion to suppress the evidence gathered in the search. The Court of Appeals found no error where the search was justified under the "emergency exception" to the warrant requirement. The court found that the officer was justified to enter where the smell emanating from the apartment led him to believe that someone might be dead inside. The court was not persuaded by defendant's argument that, once the officer saw the dog feces covering the apartment that was the source of the smell, it was then objectively unreasonable for him to conclude the smell was caused by a dead body. "The argument ignores the reality that there were in fact dead bodies in the apartment, not merely dog feces, to say nothing of the additional odor caused by the blood, cat urine, and cat feces that were also found."

Com. v. Zalesky 906 N.E.2d 349, (Mass.App.Ct.,2009)
In this Massachusetts case, the defendant was convicted of cruelty to an animal, in violation of G.L. c. 272, § 77. On appeal, the defendant contended that the evidence was insufficient to establish his guilt; specifically, that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that his actions exceeded what was necessary and appropriate to train the dog. A witness in this case saw defendant beat his dog with a plastic "whiffle" bat on the head about 10 times. The defendant told the officer who arrived on the scene that he had used the bat on previous occasions, and did so to “put the fear of God in [the] dog.” At trial, a veterinarian testified that the dog suffered no trauma from the bat, but probably experienced pain if struck repeatedly in that manner. The court found that defendant's behavior fell under the ambit of the statutes because his actions were cruel, regardless of whether defendant viewed them as such. Judgment affirmed.
People v. Romano 908 N.Y.S.2d 520 (N.Y.Sup.App.Term,2010)

Defendant appealed a conviction of animal cruelty under Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 for failing to groom the dog for a prolonged period of time and failing to seek medical care for it. Defendant argued that the term “unjustifiably injures” in the statute was unconstitutionally vague, but the Court held the term was not because a person could readily comprehend that he or she must refrain from causing unjustifiable injury to a domestic pet by failing to groom it for several months and seeking medical care when clear, objective signs are present that the animal needs such care.

Erie County Society ex rel. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Hoskins 91 A.D.3d 1354 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.,2012)

In this action, plaintiff animal society appeals from an order to return 40 horses to defendant after they were seized pursuant to a warrant. The issue of whether the Court has the authority to order return of animals to the original owner was raised for the first time on appeal. Despite the  procedural impropriety, the Court found plaintiff's contention without merit. The Court held that the return of the horses is based on principles of due process, not statutory authority.

Price v. State 911 N.E.2d 716 (Ind.App.,2009)

In this Indiana case, appellant-defendant appealed his conviction for misdemeanor Cruelty to an Animal for beating his 8 month-old dog with a belt. Price contended that the statute is unconstitutionally vague because the statute's exemption of “reasonable” training and discipline can be interpreted to have different meanings. The court held that a person of ordinary intelligence would also know that these actions are not “reasonable” acts of discipline or training. Affirmed.

Celinski v. State 911 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. App. 1995).

Criminal conviction of defendant who tortured cats by poisoning them and burning them in microwave oven. Conviction was sustained by circumstantial evidence of cruelty and torture.

Pitts v. State 918 S.W.2d 4 (Tex. App. 1995).

Right of appeal is only available for orders that the animal be sold at public auction. The statutory language does not extend this right to seizure orders.

People v. Hock 919 N.Y.S.2d 835 (N.Y.City Crim.Ct., 2011)

Defendant was denied his motion to set aside convictions under New York animal cruelty statute.  The Criminal Court, City of New York, held that the 90 day period for prosecuting a Class A misdemeanor had not been exceeded. It also held that the jury was properly instructed on the criminal statute that made it a misdemeanor to not provide an animal with a sufficient supply of good and wholesome air, food, shelter, or water. It would be contrary to the purpose of the law and not promote justice to require that all four necessities be withheld for a conviction.

Savage v. Prator 921 So.2d 51 (La. 2006)

After being informed by the Caddo Sheriff's Office that a 1987 Parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting would be enforced, two organizations, who had held cockfighting tournaments since the late 1990s and the early 2000s, filed a petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. After the trial court granted the organizations' request for a preliminary injunction, the Parish commission appealed and the court of appeals affirmed. Upon granting writ of certiorari and relying on the home rule charter, the Supreme Court of Louisiana found that local governments may authorize or prohibit the conduct of cockfighting tournaments within municipal boundaries. The case was therefore reversed and remanded to the district court with the injunction being vacated.

Savage v. Prator 921 So.2d 51 (La., 2006)

Two Louisiana "game clubs" filed an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against parish commission and parish sheriff's office after being informed by the sheriff that an existing parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting would be enforced. The clubs contended that the ordinance was violative of the police power reserved explicitly to the state (the state anti-cruelty provision is silent with regard to cockfighting).  The First Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo granted the clubs' request for a preliminary injunction.  The Supreme Court reversed the injunction and remanded the matter, finding that the parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting did not violate general law or infringe upon State's police powers in violation of Constitution.

Snead v. Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Pennsylvania 929 A.2d 1169 (Pa.Super., 2007)

This Pennsylvania case involves cross-appeals following a jury trial in which defendant SPCA, was found liable for euthanizing the dogs belonging to plaintiff Snead, who was awarded damages in the amount of $154,926.37, including $100,000 in punitive damages. The facts stemmed from a seizure several dogs at a seemingly abandoned property owned by Snead where Snead was arrested on dog fighting charges, which were then dropped the next day. However, Snead was not aware that the charges were dropped and that the dogs were therefore available to be reclaimed. The dogs were ultimately euthanized after Snead went to reclaim them. On appeal, this court first held that the SPCA does not operate as a branch of the Commonwealth and therefore, does not enjoy the protection of sovereign immunity or protection under the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act. The court held that there was sufficient evidence presented for Snead's Sec. 1983 to go to the jury that found the SPCA has inadequate procedures/policies in place to safeguard Snead's property interest in the dogs. As to damages, the court found the there was no evidence to impute to the SPCA evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of Snead sufficient for an award of punitive damages.  

Bartlett v. State 929 So.2d 1125, (Fla.App. 4 Dist.,2006)

In this Florida case, the court held that the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for felony cruelty to animals after the defendant shot an opossum "countless" times with a BB gun after the animal had left defendant's home. As a result, the animal had to be euthanized. The court wrote separately to observe that the felony cruelty section (828.12) as written creates a potential tension between conduct criminalized by the statute and the lawful pursuit of hunting. The commission of an act that causes a "cruel death" in Section 828.12 applies to even the unintended consequence of a lawful act like hunting.

State v. Peck 93 A.3d 256 (Me. 2014) Defendant appealed a judgment entered in the District Court after a bench trial found she committed the civil violation of cruelty to animals. Defendant contended that the court abused its discretion in quashing a subpoena that would have compelled one of her witnesses to testify; that the cruelty-to-animals statute is unconstitutionally vague; and that the record contains insufficient evidence to sustain a finding of cruelty to animals and to support the court's restitution order. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, however, disagreed and affirmed the lower court's judgment.
Porter v. DiBlasio 93 F.3d 301 (Wis.,1996)

Nine horses were seized by a humane society due to neglect of a care taker without giving the owner, who lived in another state, notice or an opportunity for a hearing. The owner filed a section 1983 suit against the humane society, the county, a humane officer and the district attorney that alleged violations of substantive and procedural due process, conspiracy, and conversion. The district court dismissed the claims for failure to state a viable claim. On appeal, the court found that the owner had two viable due process claims, but upheld the dismissal for the others.

Granger v. Folk 931 S.W.2d 390 (Tex. App. 1996).

The State allows for two methods of protecting animals from cruelty: through criminal prosecution under the Penal Code or through civil remedy under the Health & Safety Code.

Swartz v. Heartland Equine Rescue 940 F.3d 387 (7th Cir., 2019) The Plaintiff, Jamie and Sandra Swartz, acquired several horses, goats, and a donkey to keep on their farm in Indiana. In April of 2013, the county’s animal control officer, Randy Lee, called a veterinarian to help evaluate a thin horse that had been observed on the Swartzes’ property. Lee and the veterinarian visited the Swartzes’ on multiple occasions. The veterinarian became worried on its final visit that the Swartzes’ were not properly caring for the animals. Lee used the veterinarian’s Animal Case Welfare Reports to support a finding of probable cause to seize the animals. Subsequently, the Superior Court of Indiana entered an order to seize the animals. On June 20, 2014, the state of Indiana filed three counts of animal cruelty charges against the Swartzes. However, the state deferred prosecuting the Swartzes due to a pretrial diversion agreement. The Swartzes filed this federal lawsuit alleging that the defendants acted in concert to cause their livestock to be seized without probable cause and distributed the animals to a sanctuary and equine rescue based on false information contrary to the 4th and 14th amendments. The district court dismissed the Swartzes' claims to which, they appealed. The Court of Appeals focused on whether the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the Swartzes’ claims. The Court applied the Rooker-Feldman doctrine which prevents lower federal courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases brought by those who lose in state court challenging state court judgments. Due to the fact that the Swartzes’ alleged injury was directly caused by the state court’s orders, Rooker-Feldman barred federal review. The Swartzes also must have had a reasonable opportunity to litigate their claims in state court for the bar to apply. The Court, after reviewing the record, showed that the Swartzes had multiple opportunities to litigate whether the animals should have been seized, thus Rooker-Feldman applied. The case should have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine at the outset. The Court vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded with instructions to dismiss the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
People v. Curtis 944 N.E.2d 806 (Ill.App. 2 Dist., 2011)

Defendant owned five cats and housed 82 feral cats in her home. One of her pet cats developed a respiratory infection and had to be euthanized as a result of unsanitary conditions. Defendant was convicted of violating the duties of an animal owner, and she appealed. The Appellate Court held that the statute requiring animal owners to provide humane care and treatment contained sufficiently definite standards for unbiased application, and that a person of ordinary intelligence would consider defendant's conduct toward her pet cat to be inhumane.

Chambers v. Justice Court Precinct One 95 S.W.3d 874 (Tex.App.-Dallas, 2006)

In this Texas case, a justice court divested an animal owner of over 100 animals and ordered that the animals be given to a nonprofit organization. The owner sought review of the forfeiture in district court. The district court subsequently dismissed appellant's suit for lack of jurisdiction. Under the Texas Code, an owner may only appeal if the justice court orders the animal to be sold at a public auction. Thus, the Court of Appeals held that the statute limiting right of appeal in animal forfeiture cases precluded animal owner from appealing the justice court order.

Commonwealth v. Epifania 951 N.E.2d 723 (Mass.App.Ct.,2011)

Defendant appealed his conviction of arson for setting fire to a dwelling house, and wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person. The Appeals Court held that testimony that the cat belonged to the victim was sufficient to support a conviction of wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person.

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."

Com. v. Linhares 957 N.E.2d 243 (Mass.App.Ct., 2011)

Defendant intentionally hit a duck with his car and was convicted of cruelty to animals. The conviction was upheld by the Appeals Court because all that must be shown is that the defendant intentionally and knowingly did acts which were plainly of a nature to inflict unnecessary pain. Specific intent to cause harm is not required to support a conviction of cruelty to animals.

People v. Robards 97 N.E.3d 600 (Ill. App. Ct. Mar. 12, 2018) This case is an appeal from an animal cruelty conviction against defendant Ms. Regina Robards. She seeks appeal on the grounds that the State failed to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Robards was charged with aggravated animal cruelty when her two dogs, Walker and Sparky, were discovered in her previous home emaciated, dehydrated, and dead. She had moved out of the home and into Ms. Joachim’s home in July 2014, telling Joachim that she was arranging for the dogs to be taken care of. However, when Joachim went over to the prior home in November 2014, she discovered Walker’s emaciated body on the living room floor. She called the police, who discovered Sparky’s body in a garbage bag in the bedroom. Robards’ conviction required that it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she intentionally committed an act that caused serious injury or death to her two dogs, and failing to seek adequate medical care for them. On appeal, Robards concedes that the dogs both died from dehydration and starvation, and that she was the only person responsible for the dogs’ care. However, she argues that for her conviction to stand, the prosecutor must prove that she intended to cause serious injury or death to the dogs. The court disagrees, stating that for conviction only the act need be intentional, and that the act caused the death or serious injury of an animal. Notably, the court observed that "defendant is very fortunate to have only received a sentence of 12 months' probation for these heinous crimes," and criticized the circuit court for its "unjustly and inexplicably lenient" sentence simply because defendant only caused harm to an animal and not a human being.

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