Anti-Cruelty: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
R. v. McConkey 2008 CarswellAlta 156

In this case, the defendants pleaded guilty to violations of the Animal Protection Act after a peace officer for the humane society found four dogs in distress due mainly to a lack of grooming. On appeal, the defendants did not contest the amount of the fines, but suggested that the court should consider the economic status of the defendants (both were on government assistance). The court found that the conduct of the defendant and the level of the distress experienced by the dogs over a long period of time was an aggravating factor in determining the fine. With regard to a Section 12(2) prohibition to restrain future animal ownership, the court was reluctant to inflict stress on the animals still residing at the home by removing them from their long-time home.

R. v. Senior [1899] 1 QB 283

Held: The word "wilfully", when used in the context of an offence prohibiting cruelty to children, "means that the act is done deliberately and intentionally, not by accident or inadvertence, but so that the mind of the person who does the act goes with it" ( per Lord Russell of Killowen C.J.). Note: the word "wilfully" is occasionally an element of animal welfare offences, such as that of wilfully, without any reasonable cause or excuse, administering a poisonous drug or substance to an animal (Protection of Animals Act 1911, s 1(1)(d)).

Re Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. and Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts [2004] AATA 1383

The Minister for the Environment approved plans for the 'harvesting' of Kangaroos in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. The Tribunal found that the killing of joeys, where the mother was also killed, was sanctioned by the Model Code relating to kangaroos and that any licences issued under the plans authorised those killings. The Tribunal found that the likelihood of compliance with the code, which stipulated the manner of killing of kangaroos, would be in the range of 95-99%. The Tribunal approved each of the plans but made a recommendation that future plans should involve a greater element of public consultation.

Reams v. Irvin 561 F.3d 1258 (C.A.11 (Ga.),2009)

On Plaintiff’s civil rights § 1983 action against Defendant, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, based on the impoundment of forty-six horses and three donkeys from Plaintiff’s property following an investigation into potential violations of the Georgia Humane Care for Equines Act (the “Act”), Plaintiff appealed the District Court’s decision to grant Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, arguing that Defendant is not entitled to qualified immunity because Defendant failed to provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to be heard prior to the seizure of her equines, adequate notice of Plaintiff’s right to and procedure for requesting a hearing, and adequate post-deprivation process. The United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that the risk of erroneous deprivation in this case was minimal in light of the State’s compliance with the standards and procedures for inspection and impoundment prescribed by the Act, that the statutory notice of the right to contest the impoundment was reasonably calculated to provide Plaintiff with notice of her right to a hearing, and that the Act provided adequate power to review and to remedy violations of due process.

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.
RECURSO DE NULIDAD RECHAZADO. VÍCTIMA EN EL DELITO DE MALTRATO ANIMAL Defendant was found guilty of animal cruelty for killing Donnkan y Káiser, two German Shepherds that were attacking a calf belonging to defendant's neighbor. The lower court sentenced him to 21 days of imprisonment and, suspension from public office during this time, and a fine of two monthly tax units. Defendant appealed but the appeal was rejected. However, he was granted a suspended sentence. This decision talks about the victims of animal cruelty . the court states that under the criminal code, victims are those offended by the crime. "Although it is true that it can be considered that much progress has been made in the legal protection of animals and, fundamentally, in the protection of those, it has not come to be considered that they have the quality of victims as such of a criminal act because they are not people, and continue to be controlled by human beings who, as their owner, is the one who can be considered the victim."
Republic v. Teischer Republica v. Teischer, 1 Dall. 335 (Penn. 1788)

The Defendant had been convicted in the county of Berks upon an indictment for maliciously, wilfully, and wickedly killing a Horse; and upon a motion in arrest of Judgment, it came on to be argued, whether the offence, so laid, was indictable? The court affirmed the trial court's conviction of defendant for killing a horse.

Resolución 063/2018 - Comisión Derechos Humanos del Estado de Guerrero, Mexico Resolución 063/2018 Resolution 063/2018 by the Human Rights Commission of Guerrero, Mexico addresses concerns raised by members of the civil association "Responsible Citizen" and a professor and students from the Master's in Law program at the Autonomous University of Guerrero against the Director of Zoochilpan Zoo. The complaint alleged violations to the state animal protection statute, the Rights of Nature (Recognized in the constitution since 2014), and the right to a healthy environment due to inadequate conditions for the animals. After an inspection, the commission noted various issues such as animals of diverse species living together, dirty water in a pond, and animals in small enclosures. The zoo also failed to meet the standards of the Association of zoos, breeders, and aquariums "AZCARM," leading to recommendations for improvement. Resulting from these inspections, the commission found that the animals were housed inadequately, violating the state anti-cruelty law. They also highlighted potential impacts on the human right to a healthy environment for visitors and zoo staff. The Commission's recommendations include advising the Secretary of the Environment to implement recommendations for the welfare of exhibited animals, suggesting ongoing training for zoo staff to ensure dignified treatment, and advising the Zoo Director to implement legal and administrative measures for the animals' well-being, including budget allocation for necessary infrastructure and optimal conditions.
Robertson v Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries [2010] QCA 147

An Inspector of the RSPCA entered premises occupied by the respondent and seized 104 dogs under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 which were then forfeited to the state. These actions were confirmed when the respondent sought an administrative review of the decisions and leave to appeal was refused. The respondent sought to raise numerous grounds of appeal against the prior refusal of leave to appeal, however, the appeal was struck out.

Robledo, Leandro Nicolás y otros s/ resistencia o desobediencia a la autoridad Id SAIJ: FA21370027 Coco was a 6-year-old male howler monkey (an endangered species) that was found in the defendant's house in a neglected condition. He had bone deformities, was malnourished, and had restricted mobility as his limbs were not moving properly. His canines were extracted to keep him from injuring humans, he had no light or ventilation, and no visible access to food or water. His health was so deteriorated that the veterinarians recommended that he was not reinserted as he would not have the ability to survive in the wild. The judge, in this case, held that the defendants had taken Coco from his natural habitat without a proper permit or authorization, causing Coco unnecessary suffering. In the same line as other courts in Argentina, the judge also held that Coco was a non-human animal, subject of rights based on "Ley 14.346" which grants animals the status of victims. The judge ordered his "total and absolute freedom," ordering Coco’s relocation to a facility specializing in treatment and rehabilitation, “Proyecto Carayá.” regarding standing, the judge stated that “as animals cannot file a lawsuit by themselves and therefore, it is the duty of human beings to represent them in court when their rights are violated.” The court found in this particular case the prosecutor to be the right person to reestablish Coco’s rights.
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.

Rohrer v. Humane Soc'y of Washington Cty. 163 A.3d 146 (Md., 2017) In this Maryland appeal, appellant Rohrer questions the authority of the Humane Society to act under CR § 10–615 (the law that allows an officer of a humane society to take possession of an animal from its owner). Rohrer also challenges the legal ownership of the animals in state custody. The seizure of Rohrer's animals began in 2014, when an anonymous tip led humane investigators to Rohrer's farm. Field officers and a local veterinarian observed cattle that were "extremely thin" on Rohrer's farm. These concerns led to a search warrant of appellant's property. Due to the presence of dead animal bodies intermingled with the living, high piles of animal feces, and goats with hooves so overgrown they could not walk, the Humane Society (HS) and Sheriff's office seized all the animals under the warrant. The actual "seizure" resulted in a transfer of some animals to foster farms and an agreement between HS and Rohrer to adequately care for remaining animals on the property. Rohrer was charged with 318 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, eventually being found guilty on only 5 counts and sentenced to supervised probation. During the initial proceedings, Rohrer filed a "petition for return of seized animals" under CR § 10–615(d)(2). When the District Court gave conclusions on the petition, it lamented on the "lack of guidance" in the statute and noted that that the "statute really doesn't say" whether Rohrer would lose ownership of the animals. After the criminal trial, Rohrer again sought return of the animals after negotiations with the HS failed. The Circuit Court upheld the District Court's denial of the Petition for Return, finding the ruling was not clearly erroneous and it was not in the best interests of the animals to return to Rohrer. On a writ of certiorari to this court, Rohrer raises three issues: (1) can the HS seize an animal already in state custody from a search warrant; (2) must the seizure by the HS be justified by the conditions at the time of seizure or may it be based on previously observed conditions; and (3) how does a denial of a petition to return the animals affect the owner's property rights in the animals? In looking at prior codifications of the law as well as surrounding legislative history, the court first held that a HS officer may notify the owner of animal seized by the state in connection with a criminal warrant of its intent to take possession of the animal upon its release from state custody. Secondly, a HS officer may rely on previously-observed conditions to justify seizure under Section 10-615. The court noted that, similar to a search warrant, the factors justifying seizure can become weaker with time. So, when an owner files a petition for return, the HS has the burden of showing the court the seizure was necessary under the statute. In Rohrer's case, this Court found the District and Circuit Courts did not reach the question of whether the necessity supporting HS' possession of the animals continued. Since the animals were released after the criminal trial concluded, this Court stated that the District Court may now consider this question. Finally, the Court weighed in on whether the denial of a Petition for Return affects ownership interests. This Court declined to adopt the standard of "best interests" of the animals. Instead, the Court found that the function of the Petition for Return is to determine who has the right to temporarily possess an animal in question and this does not vest ownership rights in the animal if the petition is denied. This case was remanded to Circuit Court so that court can determine whether the final disposition of the criminal case and subsequent release of the animals held under the search warrant affects the disposition of Rohrer's Petition for Return of this animals.
ROL:293-15 “La arrastrada de Freirina” RIT No. 323-2014 This is the case of a pregnant dog dragged by a truck. The defendants also assaulted and threatened two people that witnessed the event and attempted to stop it. The court found the three defendants guilty of animal cruelty and sentenced them to 61 days in jail and a fine of 2 UTM for these charges. Additional jail time and penalties were given on the charges of assault, threatening, and damage to property.
Roose v. State of Indiana 610 N.E.2d 256 (1993)

Defendant was charged with criminal mischief and cruelty to an animal after dragging it with his car. The court concluded that, although some of the photos admitted were gruesome, the municipal court validly admitted the photos of the dog that defendant injured into evidence because the photos clearly aided the jury in understanding the nature of those injuries and the veterinarian's testimony as to the medical attention that the dog received.

Rossi v. Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Soc. Slip Copy, 2009 WL 960204 (N.D.N.Y.)

Petitioner-Debtor challenged the Bankruptcy Court’s denial of Petitioner’s application for a Temporary Restraining Order and for a stay pending appeal after the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society seized 23 cats from Petitioner’s prior home for failure to provide proper sustenance/cruelty to animals and subsequently obtained a bond against Petitioner for the cost of providing animal care.   The United States District Court, N.D. New York denied Petitioner’s motion for leave to appeal requesting relief identical to that which was denied by the Bankruptcy Court, finding that the exhibits submitted show that Petitioner was currently charged with four misdemeanors, and that the commencement of the criminal charges against Petitioner and the posting of security pending the disposition of such criminal charges fall within the exception to the automatic stay under federal law.  

Rowley v. Murphy [1964] 2 QB 43

A deer being hunted with a pack of hounds jumped onto a road and fell under a stationery vehicle. Members of the hunt dragged the deer from under the vehicle to a nearby enclosure, where the Master of the hunt slit the deer's throat and killed it. The Divisional Court held that the Master could not be convicted of an offence of cruelty under the 1911 Act because, for the purposes of that Act, which protects only captive and domestic animals, a mere temporary inability to escape did not amount to a state of captivity.

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Western Australia Inc v Hammarquist (2003) 138 A Crim R 329

The respondents were charged with nine counts of inflicting unnecessary suffering on an animal, a cow, and one count of of subjecting 50 cows to unnecessary suffering. The trial judge found the respondents wrongly charged and dismissed the charges without the prosecution clearly articulating its case. The trial judge was incorrect to dismiss the charges for want of particulars. The trial magistrate was also incorrect to dismiss the tenth charge for duplicity. In some circumstances it is possible to include multiple offences in the same charge where the matters of complaint are substantially the same.

RSPCA v Harrison (1999) 204 LSJS 345

The respondent was the owner of a dog which was found with skin ulcerations, larval infestations and saturated in urine. On appeal, it was found that the trial judge failed to give proper weight to cumulative circumstantial evidence as to the respondent's awareness of the dog's condition. It was also found that 'illness' was intended to cover a wide field of unhealthy conditions and included the larval infestation. The respondent was convicted and fined.

RSPCA v O'Loughlan [2007] SASC 113

The appellant, the RSPCA, relied on the fact that a horse, once in RSPCA care, had a significantly improved condition in comparison to that described as 'emaciated' while in the respondent's care. The respondent claimed that the horse's condition fluctuated depending on the presence of mares in heat during summer and that she had tried several changes to the feed to counter a loss in weight. On appeal, the appellate judge did not disturb the trial judge's finding and confirmed that the respondent's conduct was reasonable in the circumstances.

RSPCA v. Stojcevski 2002 WL 228890, 134 A Crim R 441

Appeal against the order of the Magistrate dismissing a complaint - prevention of cruelty to animals - respondent charged with ill treating an animal in that failed to take reasonable steps to alleviate any pain suffered by the animal who had a fractured leg bone contrary to sec 13(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1985. Dismissal was upheld and court found that defendant did not understand dog was in pain and had and was going to take reasonable steps.

Salzer v. King Kong Zoo 773 S.E.2d 548 (N.C. Ct. App. July 7, 2015) The Plaintiffs appeal from an order granting dismissal of their complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In 2014, Plaintiffs filed a civil suit under North Carolina's anti-cruelty "citizen suit" provision, N.C. Gen.Stat. § 19A–1, against King Kong Zoo. Plaintiffs contended that the zoo kept animals in "grossly substandard" conditions. King Kong Zoo is an Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) licensed exhibitor of wild and domestic animals. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the applicable law here is the AWA and “N.C. Gen.Stat. § 19A–1 ... has no application to licensed zoo operations.” On appeal, this Court found in a matter of first impression that the AWA does not expressly preempt claims under N.C. Gen.Stat. § 19A. Instead, the AWA "empowers Section 19A to work in conjunction with the AWA." The Court also found no conflict of law that would preclude bringing the action. The matter was reversed and remanded to the Cherokee County District Court for determination consistent with this opinion.
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.

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.

Scales v. State 601 S.W.3d 380 (Tex. App. 2020) Defendant, Jade Derrick Scales, was convicted of two counts of cruelty to non-livestock animals which constituted a state felony. Michelle Stopka had found two puppies in an alley and took them in. On February 8, 2015, Defendant confronted Stopka in her front yard holding a knife and wearing a mask and brass knuckles. Leonard Wiley, the man Stopka was residing with, confronted the Defendant and a brief confrontation ensued which resulted in both individuals sustaining a cut. Stopka soon discovered that both puppies had been sliced open and were bleeding. The puppies did not survive their injuries. Defendant’s sentence was enhanced to a second-degree felony based on the finding of use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the commission of, or during immediate flight following, the commission of the offense and the fact that the Defendant had a previous conviction for a second-degree-felony offense of burglary of a habitation. Defendant was sentenced to seven years and a fine of $2,000. The Defendant subsequently appealed. The first issue raised on appeal by the Defendant was the deadly weapon finding which the the Court found was appropriate. The second issue regarded a jury instruction error. The Defendant contended that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that a deadly-weapon finding is only appropriate when the weapon is used or exhibited against a human being. The Court found that although a deadly-weapon instruction should not have been given, the error was not egregious and therefore overruled the issue because a jury could have reasonably believed that the Defendant used the same knife to both inflict wounds upon the puppies and Leonard. The failure to provide such a jury instruction did not materially affect the jury’s deliberations or verdict. The third issue raised by the Defendant was that he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court overruled this issue as well. The Fourth issue raised by Defendant was that his prosecution was based on two identical indictments for the same conduct committed in one criminal episode which violated double jeopardy and due process principles. The Defendant did not preserve his claim of double jeopardy and the Court further found that two separate dogs were the object of the criminal act and each dog could have been prosecuted separately. No double jeopardy violation was found on the face of the record and, therefore, the Defendant did not qualify for an exception to the preservation rule. The fifth issue Defendant raised was that his sentence was illegal because the range of punishment for the offense for which he was convicted was illegally enhanced. The Court overruled this issue because his conviction was not illegally enhanced. The trial court’s judgment was ultimately affirmed.
Scott v. Jackson County 403 F.Supp.2d 999 (D.Or.,2005)

On July 22, 2003, plaintiff filed suit alleging violations of her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, various state common law claims, and violation of the Oregon Property Protection Act (plaintiff's neighbor complained to animal control in May 2001 after hearing the rabbits "screaming and dying"). Plaintiff's claims arise from the seizure of over 400 rabbits from her property, and the subsequent adoption and/or euthanasia of these rabbits. Defendants move for summary judgment on grounds of qualified immunity, failure to allege the proper defendant, and failure to provide notice under the Oregon Tort Claims Act. In granting defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court found that even if the officers' entry and seizure of plaintiff's property was unlawful, they reasonably believed their actions to be lawful, therefore affording them qualified immunity protection. Further, the court found no taking occurred where the rabbits were euthanized and/or adopted out as part of a initial criminal forfeiture action.

Sebek v. City of Seattle 290 P.3d 159 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2012)

Two Seattle taxpayers filed a taxpayer action lawsuit against the city of Seattle for violating Washington’s animal cruelty statute and Seattle’s animal cruelty ordinance with regard to a zoo’s elephant exhibit. After the lawsuit was dismissed by the King County Superior Court for lack of taxpayer standing, plaintiffs appealed the court’s decision. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision because the plaintiffs’ complaint alleged the zoological society, not the city, acted illegally and because the operating agreement between the city and the zoological society made it clear that the zoological society, not the city, had exclusive control over the operations of the elephant exhibit. Significantly, the appeals court found that a city’s contractual funding obligations to a zoological society that  cares and owns an animal exhibit at a zoo is not enough to allege a city violated animal cruelty laws.

Sentencia C-041, 2017 Sentencia C-041, 2017 Sentencia C-041 is one of the most important court decisions on bullfighting. On this occasion, the court held unconstitutional Article 5 of Ley 1774 of 2016 that referred to the Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection. Article 7 contains the seven activities that involve animals for entertainment that are exempted from the duty of animal protection. The practices permitted correspond to rejoneo, coleo, bullfighting, novilladas, corralejas, becerradas and tientas (all variations of bullfighting), cockfighting and all the related practices. Even though the court held that the legislature had fallen into a lack of constitutional protection towards animals, and stated that bullfighting was cruel and inhumane, it deferred the effects of its sentence and gave Congress a two-year period to decide whether bullfighting and the other exception established in Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection will continue to be legally allowed. If after this period, the Congress has not legislated on the matter, decision C-041, 2017 will take full effect and bullfighting along with all the practices established in Article 7 will be considered illegal.
Sentencia C-148, 2022 Sentencia C-148, 2022 In this opportunity, the Colombian Constitutional Court deemed national recreational fishing regulations unconstitutional three years after banning recreational hunting. Specifically, the Court determined that provisions pertaining to this matter, contained in the Code of Natural Renewable Resources, the General Statute of Animal Protection, and the Fishing Statute, violated the government's constitutional obligation to protect the environment, the right to environmental education, and the prohibition of animal cruelty. The Court recognized constitutional limitations on the prohibition of animal cruelty that were based on religious freedom, eating habits, medical research and experimentation, and deeply rooted cultural manifestations. Consequently, the Court held that fishing for recreational purposes was a cruel practice that did not fall within any of these exceptions.
Sentencia caso elefante Ramba Sentencia caso elefante Ramba Ramba was known as the last circus elephant in Chile. She was an Asian elephant that spent 40 years of her life alone, being forced to perform. Her owner was found guilty of animal mistreatment and was sentenced to 100 days in jail and to pay a fine of 10 monthly tax units (UTM). Ramba was forced to perform difficult tricks and was not provided medical care. In addition, she was kept chained in a small enclosure without adequate space, temperature, or enrichment. Ramba was officially “confiscated” in 1997 due to abuse and neglect. However, she remained with the circus but was not allowed to perform. She was removed from the circus and temporarily relocated to "Parque Safari in Rancagua" in 2011. In 2019, Ramba was relocated to Global Sanctuary for Elephants in Brazil. Unfortunately, Ramba died a few months later after arriving at the sanctuary due to kidney disease.
Settle v. Commonwealth 55 Va.App. 212, 685 S.E.2d 182 (Va.,2009)

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

Shotts v. City of Madison 170 So. 3d 554 (Miss. Ct. App. 2014) Defendant was charged with animal cruelty after burning his girlfriend's dog while giving it a bath. He said it was an accident. There were no other witnesses, and the attending veterinarian testified that the dog's injuries were consistent with defendant's account. Defendant was nevertheless convicted after the county court suggested he could be guilty of animal cruelty if he had “carelessly” hurt the dog. Instead, the appeals court found the lower court applied the wrong legal standard. The 2011 animal cruelty statute, since repealed, that applied in this case required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant acted maliciously. Since the prosecution failed to meet that burden, the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered the defendant's conviction. Justice James dissents finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction.
Sickel v. State 363 P.3d 115 (Alaska Ct. App. 2015) Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals under AS 11.61.140(a) after one of her horses was found starving, without shelter, and frozen to the ground (it later had to be euthanized). On appeal, defendant claims that she did not act with the requisite "criminal negligence" under the statute unless she had a duty of care to prevent the specified harm. The court noted that while the statute does not specify the exact nature of this duty to care for particular animals, common law fills the gap. In looking to similar laws and cases from other states, the court found that AS 11.61.140(a)(2) applies only to people who have assumed responsibility for the care of an animal, either as an owner or otherwise. The jury instructions taken as a whole and the prosecutor's argument and rebuttal demonstrated that Sickel assumed the duty of care with regard to the horses and was the person tending the horses in the last three days before the now-deceased horse collapsed. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
Siegel v. State 635 S.W.3d 313 (Ark., 2021), reh'g denied (Jan. 13, 2022) Defendant Karen Siegel was convicted of 31 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty based on 31 breeding dogs that were seized from her home. At issue here on appeal by defendant is whether the underlying statutes that allows seizure of the animals, Arkansas Code Annotated sections 5-62-106 and 5-62-111, are constitutional. In addition, defendant argues that by not ordering return of the seized dogs to defendant and compensating defendant for her loss of property was error. The first circuit court criminal case was dismissed on speedy-trial grounds and that ruling was upheld in later appeal. The issues on the instant appeal relate to the status of the seized dogs. Siegel argues that the circuit court erred by not ordering the return of her seized property and also not assigning a value for the property that was destroyed or damaged. The court here looked at the language of the seizure statute and found that Siegel failed to post a bond to care for the dog as is contemplated by the statute. The statute provides no award of damages to a defendant and the county that seized the dog is not a party in the criminal action brought by the state. Thus, the lower court was correct in stating that Siegel's remedy was a separate civil action. As to Siegel's challenges to the constitutionality of those statutes, this court found the argument moot since review of the issue would have no practical legal effect upon a then-existing controversy. The case was affirmed in part and dismissed as moot in part.
Silver v. State 23 A.3d 867 (Md. App., 2011)

Defendants were sentenced by the District Court after pleading guilty to one count of animal cruelty. After defendants were convicted in the Circuit Court, they petitioned for a writ of certiorari. The Court of Appeals held that the Circuit Court could order that defendants pay restitution for the euthanasia cost for the deceased horse, but it was beyond the court’s authority to order defendants pay restitution for costs of caring for the two surviving horses because defendants had not been convicted in those cases. The court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to strike officer's testimony for prosecutor's failure to provide the officer's written report prior to trial. Finally, photos and testimony regarding the surviving horses were “crime scene” evidence and not inadmissible “other crimes” evidence because the neglect of the surviving horses was part of the same criminal episode.

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.

Simons v. State 217 So. 3d 16 (Ala. Crim. App. 2016) In this case, defendant was convicted of a Class C felony of cruelty to a dog or cat and was sentenced to twenty years in prison (the conviction stems from the beating a kitten to death with his bare fists). The lower court applied the Habitual Felony Offender Act (HFOA) which allowed the court to sentence defendant beyond the maximum penalty (defendant had 16 prior felony convictions). Defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that HFOA did not apply to his Class C felony of cruelty to a dog or cat. Ultimately, the court held that HFOA did not apply to the Class C felony here. The court maintained that the animal cruelty statue was plainly written and explicitly stated that a first degree conviction of animal cruelty would not be considered a felony under HFOA. As a result, defendant's conviction was upheld but remanded for new sentencing.
SIRMANS v. THE STATE 244 Ga. App. 252 (2000)

Criminal defendant was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty and one count of simple assault. The motion to suppress was properly denied, because the search was authorized under the "plain view" doctrine and any objections regarding photographs were subsequently waived when they were tendered into evidence without objection. The trial court did not have authority to deprive defendant of animals which the State failed to demonstrate were neglected or abused, because such animals were not contraband or evidence of a crime.

Smith v. Com. Not Reported in S.E.2d, 2013 WL 321896 (Va.App.,2013)

The defendant was charged for violation of Virginia’s Code § 3.2–6570(F) after he shot the family dog; he was later convicted by a jury.  Upon appeal, the defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his proffered self-defense jury instructions. The appeals court agreed, reasoning that more than a scintilla of evidence supported giving the proffered self-defense instructions, that determining whether this evidence was credible and actually supported a conclusion that the defendant acted in self-defense or defense of others was the responsibility of the jury, not that of the trial court, and that the proffered jury instructions properly stated the law. The case was thus reversed and remanded.

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.  

Song v Coddington (2003) 59 NSWLR 180

The appellant was charged and convicted of being a person in charge and authorising the carriage of a number of goats in cages which did not allow those goats to stand upright. The appellant was a veterinary doctor employed by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service and authorised under the Export Control (Animals) Orders 1987 to certify animals for export. On appeal, it was determined that for the purposes of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (General) Regulation 1996, the appellant was not a person in charge of the goats.

Stanton v. State 395 S.W.3d 676 (Tenn. 2013)

The defendant, a self-employed oil distributor, was charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty for intentionally or knowingly failing to provide food and care for his horses. After being denied a petition for pretrial division and a petition for a writ of certiorari, the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee, who granted the defendant permission to appeal, but affirmed the lower court's decision that the assistant district attorney general did not abuse his discretion and that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant's petition for writ of certiorari.

State ex rel Del Monto v. Woodmansee State ex rel Del Monto v. Woodmansee, 72 N.E.2d 789 (Ohio 1946).

In an action in mandamus, relator property owner sought a writ ordering respondent building commissioner of the City of Euclid to issue a building permit for the construction of a store building.  The store building would be used for the slaughter of chicken.  The state tired to oppose the building by stating the use would be against Ohio's cruelty to animal statute.  The Court ruled that the term "animals" as thus used meant a quadruped, not a bird or fowl.  Thus, the court ruled in favor of the property owner in his mandamus action against the commissioner.  

State ex rel. Griffin v. Thirteen Horses Not Reported in A.2d, 2006 WL 1828459 (Conn.Super.)

Defendant's horses were seized on December 14, 2005 pursuant to a search and seizure warrant signed by the court. The warrant was sought, in part, on affidavits that alleged possible violations of the Cruelty to Animals statutory provisions. Defendant Rowley filed the instant motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction because the state has failed to comply with the provisions of § 22-329a and because the search and seizure warrant is invalid. Specifically, defendant maintains that the phrase in subsection (a) authorizing the chief animal control officer to "lawfully take charge of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated" merely allows the officer to enter the owner's property to care for the animal, but does not authorize seizure of the animal without a prior judicial determination. This court rejected Rowley's interpretation of the phrase "lawfully take charge." The court found that, as a practical matter, it is inconceivable that animal control officers, having found animals that are neglected or cruelly treated, would then leave them at the property.

State ex rel. William Montgomery v. Brain 422 P.3d 1065 (Ariz. Ct. App., 2018) The special action considers whether a person who uses a dangerous instrument in committing an animal cruelty offense may be sentenced as a dangerous offender. The facts in the underlying case are as follows. A witness in an apartment complex heard a dog crying and observed Shundog Hu using a rod to hit a dog that was inside a pet enclosure. Hu was charged with both intentionally or knowingly subjecting an animal to cruel mistreatment, a felony, and under the "dangerous offense" laws because the animal cruelty "involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a pole and/or rod, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, in violation of A.R.S. §§ 13-105 and 13-704." Hu moved to dismiss the dangerous offense allegation stating that, as a matter of law, "a dangerous offense cannot be committed against an animal." Hu contended that the legislature's inclusion of the phrase "on another person" in the statutory definition for "dangerous offense" evinces this intent. The State, on the other hand, argued that sentencing enhancement is based on the use of the dangerous instrument rather than the target of the instrument. The superior court granted Hu's motion and the State petitioned for this special action. This court accepted jurisdiction because " the State has no adequate remedy on appeal and the petition presents a legal issue of statewide importance." This court first examined the statutory definition for a "dangerous" felony offense: "an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.” The State's contention is that the "or" in the definition is disjunctive and, thus, the phrase "on another person" only applies to the second independent clause. Hu counters that such an interpretation would cover harm to anything and lead to absurd results. This court first noted that the statutory definitions are silent as to whether they only apply to humans. Applying principles of secondary interpretation and sensible construction, the court held that legislature's purpose in drafting the dangerous offense definition and the related statutes was to enhance crimes to “dangerous offenses” to protect human life. The State cannot charge a crime as a dangerous offense unless the target is against another person. In reaching this conclusion, the court contemplated extreme examples involving felony damage to vegetation as well as comparison to a recent decision in Texas where a deadly weapon finding was limited to human victims only.
State ex rel. Zobel v. Burrell 167 S.W.3d 688 (Mo. 2005)

After a judge granted two humane societies permission to dispose of nearly 120 severely emaciated and malnourished horses, the horses' owner, instead of posting a bond or security, filed for a writ of mandamus with the court of appeals. The appeals court issued a stop order and transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. Here, the horses’ owner argued two points, but the Missouri Supreme Court found that (1) the spoliation of evidence doctrine does not apply at this juncture and that (2) the statute was not unconstitutionally vague, nor does the owner allege that the statute discriminates based upon classification or that the statute discriminates in its application so as to violate the equal protection clause. The stop order was therefore dissolved and the petition for the writ of mandamus was denied.

State ex rel. Zobel v. Burrell 167 S.W.3d 688 (Mo., 2005)

Police seized 120 neglected horses pursuant to a search warrant and a Circuit Court Judge allowed humane societies to dispose of the horses.  The owner of the horses sought a writ of mandamus against the Circuit Court Judge.  The Missouri Supreme Court held the Circuit Court Judge had jurisdiction to permit the seized horses to be disposed of and the impoundment statute was not unconstitutionally vague.

State ex rel. Zobel v. Burrell 2005 WL 957908 (Mo. App. S.D. 2005)

A trial court granted a local humane society permission to humanely dispose of horses placed in their custody by the Sheriff.  A man filed petition for a writ of mandamus against the the trial judge and humane society to challenge the judge's order.  The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court holding the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the Humane Society of Missouri. Opinion transferred to State ex rel. Zobel v. Burrell , 167 S.W.3d 688 (Mo., 2005).

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 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.

State v. Abdi-Issa 504 P.3d 223 (2022) The Washington Supreme Court examined whether the trial court correctly considered whether animal cruelty may be designated as a crime of domestic violence. The incident stems from an evening after defendant insisted on taking his girlfriend's dog, a small Chihuahua and Dachshund mix, for a walk. The girlfriend testified that defendant had a history of disliking the dog and had previously threatened to kill both her and her dog. On that evening, two witnesses heard "a sound of great distress" and saw defendant making "brutal stabbing" motions toward the dog and then saw him kick the dog so hard that she flew into the air. After the witnesses called the police, the witnesses found the dog, still alive, in the bushes. Officers then transported the dog to a veterinary clinic where the dog subsequently died. One of the two witnesses had a panic attack at the scene and testified later that she continued to have panic attacks thereafter with flashbacks of the experience. Defendant was charged with first degree animal cruelty with a domestic violence designation and also two sentencing aggravators. The jury found defendant guilty of animal cruelty. The jury also found that Abdi-Issa and Fairbanks were in a domestic relationship prior to the crime, which allowed for a domestic violence designation. The jury returned mixed verdicts on the sentencing aggravators, finding that the crime involved a destructive and foreseeable impact on persons other than the victim, but they did not find that it manifested deliberate cruelty or intimidation of the victim. The court then imposed the maximum 12-month sentence for the crime of animal cruelty and an additional 6-month sentence for the aggravator. On appeal, the Court of Appeals vacated the domestic violence designation and the impact on others sentence aggravator. On appeal here, the Supreme Court found that animal cruelty could be designated a crime of domestic violence. The statute defining domestic violence has a non-exhaustive list of what crimes can constitute domestic violence. While animal cruelty is not listed, the court found that testimony of defendant's prior controlling behavior coupled with research showing how abusers use violence toward their victims' pets to manipulate and terrorize victims was sufficient. As to the sentencing aggravator, the court found that defendant's actions had a destructive and foreseeable impact on the witnesses who saw the animal cruelty. Thus, under these facts, the Court ruled that animal cruelty can be designated a crime of domestic violence and that the jury was properly instructed that it could find the impact on others sentencing aggravator. The judgment of Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.

Pages