Anti-Cruelty: Related Cases
|State v. Newcomb||359 Or 756 (2016)||In this case, the Supreme Court of Oregon reviewed a case in which defendant accused the State of violating her constitutional rights by taking a blood sample of her dog without a warrant to do so. Ultimately, the court held that the defendant did not have a protected privacy interest in the dog’s blood and therefore the state did not violate defendant’s constitutional rights. Defendant’s dog, Juno, was seized by the Humane Society after a worker made a visit to plaintiff’s home and had probable cause to believe that Juno was emaciated from not receiving food from plaintiff. After Juno was seized and taken into custody for care, the veterinarian took a blood sample from Juno to confirm that there was no other medical reason as to why Juno was emaciated. Defendant argued that this blood test was a violation of her constitutional rights because the veterinarian did not have a warrant to perform the test. The court dismissed this argument and held that once Juno was taken into custody, defendant had “lost her rights of dominion and control over Juno, at least on a temporary basis.” Finally, the court held that because Juno was lawfully seized and Juno’s blood was “not ‘information’ that defendant placed in Juno for safekeeping or to conceal from view,” defendant’s constitutional rights had not been violated.|
|People v Arcidicono||360 N.Y.S.2d 156 (1974)||
The defendant was properly convicted of cruelty when a horse in his custody and care had to be destroyed due to malnutrition. The defendant was in charge of feeding the gelding, and was aware of his loss of weight. He knew the diet was inadequate but failed to provide more food. The defendant was guilty of violating Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 for failing to provide proper sustenance to the horse.
|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.|
|State v. Cochran||365 S.W.3d 628 (Mo.App. W.D., 2012)||
Prompted by a phone call to make a return visit to the defendant's house, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Animal Control were asked, by the defendant, to wait at the door. After waiting by the door for some time, the officers discovered the defendant in the backyard, where she housed at least eleven dogs, trying to remove dog excrement from a pen and trying to remove ice from dog bowls. After further investigation, the defendant was charged with one count of animal abuse and with one count of violating a city ordinance for failure to vaccinate. At the trial, the defendant was convicted on both accounts. On appeal, however, the defendant was found guilty of animal abuse, but was cleared from the ordinance violation.
|City of Garland v. White||368 S.W.2d 12 (Tex. Civ. App. 1963).||
Police officers were trespassers and could be held civilly liable for damages when they entered a dog owner's property with the intent to unlawfully kill the dog. Reports had been made that the dog was attacking other animals but because the attacks were not imminent, in progress, or recent, the killing of the dog was not lawful.
|State v. Hershey||370 Or. 200, 515 P.3d 899 (2022)||Defendant's animals (22 dogs, three horses, and seven chickens) were impounded in 2017 after he was charged with second-degree animal neglect. The district attorney asked the court for immediate forfeiture of the animals or for defendant to post a bond for care within 72 hours of a hearing on the matter. In response, defendant filed a motion for jury trial. The lower court denied defendant's motion and the court of appeals affirmed the ruling. Here, the Oregon Supreme court considers whether a special statutory proceeding brought under ORS 167.347 provides a right to a jury trial in accordance with Article I, section 17, of the Oregon Constitution. The Court first looked at the nature of the relief in the statute insofar as whether such relief is equitable or legal. The Court found the purpose of the statute is mainly to provide unjust enrichment of the owner when the owner does not pay for the costs of their animals' care. As such, the court found the relief was equitable in nature. This was supported by examining the legislative history, which revealed the law was enacted in the wake of one county incurring approximately $100,000 in a large animal abuse case. In addition, the Court found the instant statute similar in nature to laws related to costs care of institutionalized humans in the early 20th Century. Those proceedings to enforce payment of the legal obligation to care for someone under government care were determined not to require jury trials. The court rejected defendant's reliance on two cases dealing with in rem civil forfeiture in a criminal proceeding as the purpose of those actions are to impose consequences for past conduct rather than prevent inequitable shifting of costs of care. The purpose of ORS 167.347 is to equitably share costs between the county and the defendant and to protect against unjust enrichment of defendant. The decision of the Court of Appeals and the order of the circuit court were affirmed.|
|Jones v. Beame||380 N.E.2d 277 (N.Y. 1978)||
In this New York case, the plaintiffs, organizations concerned with the treatment of animals in the New York City zoos, sought injunctive and declaratory relief against city officials who were charged with operating the zoos. Due to a citywide fiscal crisis, the City had to make “Draconian” choices with its human and animal charges, according to the court. In granting a motion to dismiss, this court declined to accept the responsibility for matters that it found to be administrative in nature.
|State v. Silver||391 P.3d 962 (2017)||
In this case, the defendant was found guilty on multiple counts of animal abuse after failing to provide minimally adequate care for his herd of alpacas. The defendant was charged with a felony count (Count 1) and a misdemeanor count (Count 6) of first-degree animal abuse. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred by not merging the multiple guilty verdicts into a single conviction. The state agreed that the trial court did err in its decision not to merge the verdicts; however, the state argued that the mistake should not require resentencing. The defendant argued that the court should follow its previous decisions and order a remand for resentencing. Ultimately, the court remanded the case for resentencing under ORS 138.222(5)(b). The state argued that language of ORS 138.222(5)(b) should be interpreted not to include merger errors. The court disagreed with this argument and relied on its decision in previous cases that interpreted the language of the statute more broadly. Additionally, the court held that if the state’s disapproval of the ORS 138.222(5)(b) is something that should be dealt with by the legislature and not the court.
|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 v. Betts||397 S.W.3d 198 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013)||
This Texas case represents the State's discretionary petition for review after the lower court and Waco Court of Appeals granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The evidence at issue involved the seizure of defendant's 13 dogs from his aunt's backyard property, which then led to his indictment on felony cruelty to animals. As to the first issue, this court found that defendant has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his aunt's backyard despite the fact he did not have an ownership interest. Secondly, the court found that the officers were not authorized by the plain view doctrine to make a warrantless entry into the backyard to seize the dogs. Finally, the court found that the community caretaking doctrine was not argued by the State at trial or at the court of appeals; thus, the State was barred from advancing that argument in this appeal.
|Gaetjens v. City of Loves Park||4 F.4th 487 (7th Cir. 2021), reh'g denied (Aug. 12, 2021)||Plaintiff Gaetjens filed a § 1983 action against city, county, and various local government officials alleging that her Fourth Amendment rights were violated after officials entered and condemned her home and seized her 37 cats. Plaintiff was in the hospital at the time. Gaetjens lived in Loves Park, Illinois and bred cats in her home. On December 4, 2014, she visited her doctor and was told to go to the hospital because of high blood pressure. Later that day, the doctor could not locate Gaetjens, so she phoned Rosalie Eads (Gaetjens' neighbor who was listed as her emergency contact) to ask for help finding her. Eads called Gaetjens and knocked on her front door but got no response. The next day the neighbor could still not locate Gaetjens so Eads phoned the police from concern that Gaetjens might be experiencing a medical emergency. When police arrived, they asked Eads for Gaetjens key and entered the house. Intense odors of feces, urine, and a possibly decomposing body forced police back out of the home. The police called the fire department so that the home could be entered with breathing devices. While police did not find Gaetjens, they did find 37 cats. The house was ultimately condemned and animal control were able to impound the cats (except for four that died during or after impoundment). As it turns out, Gaetjens was at the hospital during this whole process. After learning of the impoundment, Gaetjens filed the instant action. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. On appeal here, the Seventh Circuit considered whether the warrantless entry into Gaetjens home was reasonable based on exigent circumstances. Relying on a recent SCOTUS case that found absence from regular church service or a repeated failure to answer a phone call supported an emergency exception for a warrant, the Court noted that the "litany of concerning circumstances" in the case at bar "more than provided" a reasonable basis for entry. As to Plaintiff's challenge to the condemnation, the court also found it too was supported by the expertise of officials at the scene. As to the confiscation of the cats, the court noted that previous cases support the warrantless seizure of animals when officials reasonably believe the animals to be in imminent danger. The court found the imminent danger to be plain due to condemnation order on the house from noxious fumes. While the use of the "cat grabber" did lead to an unfortunate death of one cat, the overall seizure tactics were necessary and reasonable. Thus, the Court affirmed the judgment of the district court.|
|Wilkerson v. State||401 So. 2d 1110 (Fla. 1981)||
Appellant was charged with violating Florida's Cruelty to Animals statute, Fla. Stat. ch. 828.12 (1979). He pleaded nolo contendere, reserving his right to appeal the trial court's order, which denied his motion to dismiss and upheld the constitutionality of the statute. The supreme court affirmed. Appellant argued that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad because the statute failed to provide guidance as to what animals were included and what acts were unnecessary. The supreme court concluded that people of common intelligence would have been able to discern what were and were not animals under the statute and that the legislature clearly intended that a raccoon be included. Additionally, just because the statute did not enumerate every instance in which conduct against an animal was unnecessary or excessive did not render the statute void for vagueness. The conduct prohibited was described in general language. Finally, because appellant's conduct was clearly proscribed by the statute, he did not have standing to make an overbreadth attack.
|McClendon v. Story County Sheriff's Office||403 F.3d 510 (8th Cir. 2005)||
A farmer was neglecting her horses and the entire herd confiscated by animal control officers. The farmer brought a section 1983 claim against the animal control officers for acting outside of the scope of their warrant by removing more than just the sick horses. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in part, holding the animal control officers were entitled to qualified immunity and seizure of all the horses was not unreasonable or outside the scope of the warrant.
|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.
|State v. Gilchrist||418 P.3d 689 (Okla., 2017)||The Appellant State of Oklahoma appeals the Grant County District Court's granting of defendant's motion to quash counts 2-13 of Cruelty to Animals violation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1685. Defendant was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty stemming from maltreatment of 13 dogs at his property. Evidence at the preliminary hearing showed that two of the dogs were chained to small, metal shelters, and 11 were individually penned, all in 100 degree heat. No dogs had adequate water and rotting carcasses were found within reach of the dogs. According to responding veterinarians, all dogs were extremely dehydrated and in need of immediate medical care and one dog had gone into shock (it later died). Most of the dogs were malnourished and poorly conditioned with parasite-infested wounds. At district court, defendant argued that he could only be charged with a single count of Cruelty to Animals because the dogs were found all in one location and had been abandoned for approximately the same time period. The district court acquiesced and granted defendant's motion to quash, finding no caselaw on point. On appeal, the Supreme Court found the district court's interpretation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1685 wrong as a matter of law. The section repeatedly use the phrase "any animal" to show that the intent to address acts of abuse against any particular animal. The Court observed that the state filed a count for each of the dogs at defendant's property because each dog needed to be separately fed and watered. "Gilchrist deprived all thirteen dogs of the food, water and shelter necessary to avoid the grotesque suffering observed at the scene." Thus, the Court found the district court abused its discretion in granting defendant's motion to quash.|
|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.|
|Knox v. Massachusetts Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals||425 N.E.2d 393 (Mass.App., 1981)||
In this Massachusetts case, the plaintiff, a concessionaire at the Brockton Fair intended to award goldfish as a prize in a game of chance. The defendant, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), asserted that such conduct would violate G.L. c. 272, s 80F. In the action for declaratory relief, the court considered whether the term "animal" in the statute includes goldfish. The court concluded in the affirmative that, "in interpreting this humane statute designed to protect animals subject to possible neglect by prizewinners," former G.L. c. 272, s 80F applies to goldfish.
|Com. v. Barnes||427 Pa.Super. 326, 629 A.2d 123 (Pa.Super.,1993)||
In this case, the defendants argued that the police powers granted to a private entity, the Erie Humane Society, was an improper delegation of government authority. On appeal, the defendants’ asserted several arguments including a claim that Pennsylvania’s delegation of government authority is in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution The appeals court rejected each of defendants’ four arguments. Specifically, the court rejected defendants' assertion that the Erie Humane Society operates as "vigilantes," finding that the Society's actions are regulated by the Rules of Criminal Procedure with requirements of probable cause and the constraints of case law.
|State v. Crow||429 P.3d 1053 (2018)||This Oregon case discusses whether 11 miniature horses, multiple cats, and a dog are separate victims for purposes of merger into one conviction. Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for 13 counts of unlawful possession of an animal by a person previously convicted of second-degree animal neglect. The facts are not at issue: Defendant was previously convicted of multiple counts of second-degree animal neglect involving dogs and miniature horses and was subsequently found to be in possession of those animals. On appeal, defendant's primary argument is that "the public is the single collective victim" for purposes of the violation, so the trial court erred in entering 13 separate convictions for unlawful possession of an animal. In support, defendant analogizes it to unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, where the public is deemed the collective victim for purposes of merger. The State counters with the fact animals are living beings, unlike firearms, and that living beings can be victims of crimes. Further, the State contends that the language of ORS 161.067(2) and legislative history demonstrate an intent to protect individual animal victims. The court found that the text of statute shows an intent to protect individual animals of the same genus as previous crimes rather than protection of the public, generally. The court was not persuaded by defendant's contention that established links between animal cruelty and domestic violence show that the legislature intended to protect the public rather than individual animals when it enacted ORS 167.332(1). Legislative testimony for amendments to ORS 167.332 from animal experts detailed how difficult it was for judges to impose bans on possession before the passage of the amendment due to the way the law was previously written. Thus, the court concluded that the principal purpose of ORS 167.332(1) was to protect individual animals from further abuse and neglect, and to deter animal abuse and neglect where those individuals convicted show "an identifiable threat to a particular genus of animal." Here, in defendant's case, the trial court did not err when it entered 13 separate convictions for unlawful possession of an animal. Affirmed.|
|Chase v. State||448 S.W.3d 6 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014)||Appellant and his wife were walking their two dogs when two neighbor dogs attacked the group. After the attack, appellant slashed the attacking dog's throat with a knife, which resulted in the dog's death. Appellant was then charged with and convicted of cruelty to non-livestock animals under Texas law. The appellant appealed to the Texas Court of Appeals and the case was reversed and remanded. The State filed a petition for discretionary review with the Court of Criminal Appeals. The issue before that court was whether § 822.013(a) of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a non-penal code, provided a defense to criminal prosecution. The court held that § 822.013(a)—which allows an attacked animal's owner or a person witnessing an attack to kill a dog that is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked a domestic animal—is a defense against cruelty to non-livestock animals. The judgment of the Court of Appeals was therefore affirmed. The dissenting opinion disagreed. The dissent argued the goal of this statute was to protect farmers and ranchers against the loss of their livelihood by allowing them to protect their livestock from attacking dogs without fear of liability to the dog's owner, not to allow individuals in residential neighborhoods to kill a neighbor's dog after an attack with criminal impunity.|
|Dixon v. State||455 S.W.3d 669 (Tex. App. 2014), petition for discretionary review refused (Apr. 29, 2015)||An owner of a non-profit cat sanctuary, which housed over 200 cats taken care of by one employee, was convicted by a jury of four counts of non-livestock animal cruelty. The trial court placed the owner under community supervision for five years' on each charge, to be served concurrently. In her first issue on appeal, the owner contended the evidence was legally insufficient to support her convictions. Based on evidence that the owner only had one employee to take care of the cats, however, the Texas court of appeals overruled this issue. In her second issue on appeal, the owner contended that the trial court erred by overruling her motion to dismiss the indictments where the State alleged a felony by commission of elements defined as a misdemeanor under the animal cruelty statute. On this issue, the court stated that it was true that the State had to prove that appellant failed to provide food, water, or care to the cats, but it also had to prove death or serious bodily injury to the cat that was committed in a cruel manner, i.e., by causing unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering. In other words, the failure to provide food, water, or care is the manner and means by which appellant killed the cats, causing them unjustified pain or suffering, which raised the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. The second issue was therefore affirmed. The appeals court also overruled the owner’s other issues and thereby affirmed the lower court’s ruling.|
|State v. Wilson||464 So.2d 667 (Fla.App. 2 Dist.,1985)||
In this Florida case, the state appeals a county court order that granted appellee's motion to dismiss two counts of an information and which also declared a state statute to be unconstitutional. Defendant-appellee was arrested for having approximately seventy-seven poodles in cages in the back of a van without food, water and sufficient air. In her motion to dismiss, defendant-appellee alleged that the phrases “sufficient quantity of good and wholesome food and water” and “[k]eeps any animals in any enclosure without wholesome exercise and change of air” as contained in sections 828.13(2)(a) and (b) were void for vagueness. In reversing the lower court, this court held that the prohibitions against depriving an animal of sufficient food, water, air and exercise, when measured by common understanding and practice, are not unconstitutionally vague.
|Swilley v. State||465 S.W.3d 789 (Tex. App. 2015)||In the indictment, the State alleged Appellant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortured or in a cruel manner killed or caused serious bodily injury to an animal by shooting a dog with a crossbow, a state jail felony. The dog in question was a stray, which fell within the statutory definition of an “animal.” After a jury found Appellant guilty, the trial court assessed his punishment at two years' confinement in a state jail. On appeal, Appellant contended that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after the jury heard evidence of an extraneous offense also involving cruelty to animals. Since the video that mentioned the extraneous offense was admitted without objection, the court held the Appellant waived the error and the trial court did not err by denying Appellant's motion for mistrial or by giving the instruction to disregard and overrule Appellant's first issue. Appellant further asserted the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. The court, however, held the evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Appellant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortured or in a cruel manner killed or caused serious bodily injury to an animal by shooting it with a crossbow. The trial court's judgment was therefore affirmed.|
|Commonwealth v. J.A.||478 Mass. 385, 85 N.E.3d 684 (2017)||In this Massachusetts case, testimony alleged that a juvenile brutally attacked her friend's dog causing serious internal injuries. The Commonwealth elected to proceed against the juvenile under the state's youthful offender statute. The grand jury returned two youthful offender indictments for cruelty to animals and bestiality. The juvenile contends that the youthful offender indictments are not supported because "serious bodily harm" described in the law only relates to human beings and not animals. The juvenile court judge granted the juvenile's motion to dismiss and the Commonwealth appealed. On appeal, this court first examined the phrase "serious bodily harm" by looking at its plain meaning and other related statutes. In doing so, the court held that Legislature did not intend "serious bodily harm" language of the youthful offender law to apply to animal victims. When looking at the legislative history, the court found that the inclusion of the language reflected a growing concern about juveniles committing violent crimes (specifically, murder) and did not touch upon animals. The court noted while the crime here raises "grave concerns about the juvenile's mental health," the juvenile's conduct toward an animal did not meet the statutory requirements. The order granting the motion to dismiss was affirmed.|
|Amos v. State||478 S.W.3d 764 (Tex. App. 2015), petition for discretionary review refused (Nov. 18, 2015)||A jury found appellant guilty of the offense of cruelty to a nonlivestock animal after he beat a Shih Tzu to death with a broom. After finding an enhancement paragraph true, the jury assessed Appellant's punishment at thirty-one months’ confinement. Appellant asserted five issues on this appeal: (1) the admission of a State's witness's recorded statement to the police, which the court overruled because the evidence was received without objection; (2) the denial of his motion to quash the indictment for failing to allege an offense, which the court overruled because the indictment tracked the statutory language; (3) the denial of six of his challenges for cause, which the court overruled because the venire members gave the defense counsel contradictory answers meaning the trial court could not abuse its discretion in refusing to excuse a juror; (4) the denial of his objection to the charge, which the court overruled because the jury charge tracked the statute’s language; and (5) the denial of his motion to suppress the dog’s necropsy, which the court overruled because the appellant had no intention of reclaiming the dog's body or her ashes and thereby relinquished his interest in them such that he could no longer retain a reasonable expectation of privacy and lacked standing to contest the reasonableness of any search. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.|
|Martinez v. State||48 S.W.3d 273 (Tex. App. 2001).||
A jury may infer a culpable mental state ("intentionally and knowingly") from the circumstances surrounding the offense of cruelty to animals.
|Allen v. Pennsylvania Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals||488 F.Supp.2d 450 (M.D.Pa., 2007)||
This is a § 1983 civil rights action brought by Robert Lee Allen against certain state actors arising from their search of his property, seizure of his farm animals, and prosecution of him for purported violations of Pennsylvania's cruelty-to-animals statute. The animals Allen typically acquires for his rehabilitation farm are underweight, in poor physical condition, and suffer from long-standing medical issues. After receiving a telephone complaint regarding the condition of the horses and other livestock on Allen's farm, humane officers visited Allen's property to investigate allegations. Subsequently, a warrant to seize eight horses, four goats, and two pigs was executed on a day when the officers knew Allen would be away from his farm with "twenty five assorted and unnecessary individuals." The court held that the farmer's allegations that state and county humane societies had a custom, policy or practice of failing to train and supervise their employees stated § 1983 claims against humane societies. Further, the defendants were acting under color of state law when they searched and seized farmer's property.
|State v. DeMarco||5 A.3d 527 (Conn.App., 2010)||
Defendant appeals his conviction of two counts of cruelty to animals—specifically, cruelty to several dogs found within his home. Evidence supporting the conviction came from a warrantless entry into defendant's home after police found it necessary to do a "welfare check" based on an overflowing mailbox, 10-day notices on the door, and a "horrible odor" emanating from the home. In reversing the convictions, the appellate court determined that the facts did not suggest that defendant or the dogs were in immediate danger supporting the emergency exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.
|State v. Abdi-Issa||504 P.3d 223 (Wash. 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.|
|Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah||508 U.S. 520 (1993)||
Local ordinance prohibiting animal sacrifices under the guise of an anti-cruelty concern was an unconstitutional infringement on church's First Amendment rights because (1) ordinances were not neutral; (2) ordinances were not of general applicability; and (3) governmental interest assertedly advanced by the ordinances did not justify the targeting of religious activity.
|Com. v. Trefry||51 N.E.3d 502 (Mass. App. Ct., 2016), review denied, 475 Mass. 1104, 60 N.E.3d 1173 (2016)||The Defendant Trefry, left her two sheepdogs, Zach and Kenji, alone on the property of her condemned home. An animal control officer noticed that Kenji was limping badly and took him to a veterinarian. Both dogs were removed from the property three days later. The Defendant was convicted of two counts of violating statute G.L. c. 140, § 174E(f ), which protects dogs from cruel conditions and inhumane chaining or tethering. The Defendant appealed. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Barnstable held that: (1) neither outside confinement nor confinement in general is an element of subjecting dogs to cruel conditions as prohibited by statute; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support finding that the defendant subjected her dogs to cruel conditions. The Appeals Court reasoned that the defendant subjected her dogs to cruel conditions in violation of the statute because by the time they were removed, the dogs were “incredibly tick-infested” and “matted,” and Kenji had contracted Lyme disease and sustained a soft shoulder injury to his leg. An animal control officer also testified that the defendant's home was cluttered on the inside and overgrown on the outside. The yard also contained items that posed a danger to the animals. There was also sufficient evidence to infer that, while the dogs could move in and out of the condemned house, the dogs were confined to the house and fenced-in yard. The area to which the dogs were confined presented with every factor listed in § 174E(f)(1) as constituting “filthy and dirty” conditions. Also, "Zach's and Kenji's emotional health was further compromised by being left alone virtually all day every day" according to the court. Therefore the Defendant’s conviction was affirmed.|
|Mahan v. State||51 P.3d 962, 963 (Alaska Ct. App. 2002)||Mahan had over 130 animals on her property. Alaska Equine Rescue went to check on the condition of the animals at the request of her family members. The animals were in poor health and were removed by Alaska State Troopers and the Rescue. The animals were then placed in foster homes. The defendant's attorney requested a writ of assistance to require law enforcement to assist and force the foster families to answer a questionnaire. The appellate court held that the families were under no legal obligation to answer the questionnaire unless the court were to issue a deposition order and the families were to be properly subpoenaed. The district court's denial of the writ was upheld. Mahan's attorney also asked for a change of venue due to the publicity the case garnered. The court held the defendant was not entitled to a change of venue when 15 jurors had been excused and there was no reason to doubt the impartiality of the jurors who were left after the selection process. There was no indication that the jurors were unable to judge the case fairly. Mahan's attorney also filed a motion to suppress a majority of the evidence, claiming that the Rescue and law enforcement unlawfully entered the property. The judge stated he would rule on the motion if it was appropriate to do so. The judge never ruled on the motion. To preserve an issue for appeal, the appellant must obtain an adverse ruling, thus it constituted a waiver of the claim. Mahan was also prohibited from owning more than one animal. She offered no reason why this condition of probation was an abuse of the judge's discretion, therefore it was a waiver of this claim. Lastly, although the Rescue received donations from the public to help care for the animals, that did not entitle Mahan to an offset. Restitution is meant to make the victims whole again and also to make the defendant pay for the expense caused by their criminal conduct.|
|Mouton v. State||513 S.W.3d 679 (Tex. App. 2016)||
San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) responded to a call about 36 pit bull terriers that were chained, significantly underweight, and dehydrated. The dogs also had scarring consistent with fighting. Police obtained a search warrant and coordinated with ACS to seize the dogs. While the dogs were being secured, Appellant Terrence Mouton arrived at the residence. He told the officers that he had been living at the residence for a couple of weeks, but that he did not own all of the dogs and was holding them for someone else. Mouton was convicted in the County Court of cruelty to non livestock animals. On appeal, Mouton argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict because the Appellee, the State of Texas, failed to prove that the animals were in his custody. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The court held that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that Mouton was responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the dogs on his property and that the dogs were subject to his care and control, regardless of whether he was the actual owner of each animal. A reasonable jury could have also found that Mouton was “aware of, but consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that he failed to provide proper nutrition, water, or shelter for the dogs.
|Commonwealth v. Szewczyk||53 N.E.3d 1286 (Mass.App.Ct.,2016)||In this Massachusetts case, defendant was charged with animal cruelty after he shot a dog that had wandered onto his property with a pellet gun. The pellet was lodged in the dog’s leg and caused significant pain and discomfort to the dog. Following conviction, defendant appealed the District Court’s ruling arguing that the judge erred in denying three of his eleven requests for rulings of law.Specifically, defendant's principal argument was that he had a lawful purpose in shooting (to scare the dog off his property), his intent was justified (to insure his wife's safety on the property), and the pain inflicted by defendant shooting the dog does not fit the statutory meaning of "cruel." At the close of evidence, defendant submitted a written request for ruling under Mass. R.Crim. P.26 setting out these issues. The court held that the District Court judge correctly denied the three requests because they were clearly outside the scope of rule 26 because they called upon the judge as a fact finder to weigh the evidence presented at trial. Next, the court reviewed the facts of the case to determine whether or not a rational trier of fact could have found the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Ultimately, the court held that a rational trier of fact would have been able to find that defendant did commit animal cruelty by shooting the dog. The court focused on the fact that the defendant could have used other means to ensure that the dog did not enter the property again without causing pain and suffering to the dog by shooting the dog in the leg. The judgment was affirmed.|
|Justice v. State||532 S.W.3d 862 (Tex. App. 2017)||In this Texas appeal, defendant Brent Justice contends that his conviction for a single count of cruelty to a nonlivestock animal was based on insufficient evidence. The incident stemmed from defendant's filming of his co-defendant, Ashley Richards, torturing and killing of a newly-weaned puppy. Justice and Richards ran an escort business named "Bad Gurls Entertainment" that focused on the production and distribution of animal "crush" videos (fetish videos involving the stomping, torturing, and killing of various kinds of animals in a prolonged manner). The evidence that supported the conviction involved the confessions of both perpetrators and the video of the puppy being tortured and ultimately killed. On appeal, defendant argues that he cannot be found guilty since was not the principal involved in the offense. This court was unconvinced, finding that the evidence was sufficient to support a state jail felony since "[t]here is no shortage of evidence that appellant aided Richards in her cruelty," including handing Richards the knife and filming the killing. The one issue in defendant's "hybrid" pro se and represented brief on appeal that the court granted was related to a finding that defendant used a "deadly weapon." After the filing of initial briefs, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Prichard v. State, No. PD-0712-16, --- S.W.3d ---, 2017 WL 2791524 (Tex. Crim. App. June 28, 2017), held that “a deadly weapon finding is disallowed when the recipient or victim is nonhuman.” Thus, in the case at hand, the court deleted the deadly weapon finding since it was directed at the puppy rather than a human. The case was remanded for a new hearing on punishment only since the conviction was affirmed for a state jail felony.|
|U.S. v. Stevens||533 F.3d 218, 2008 WL 2779529 (C.A.3 (Pa.),2008)||Note that certiorari was granted in 2009 by --- S.Ct. ----, 2009 WL 1034613 (U.S. Apr 20, 2009). In this case, the Third Circuit held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, the federal law that criminalizes depictions of animal cruelty, is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The defendant in this case was convicted after investigators arranged to buy three dogfighting videos from defendant in sting operation. Because the statute addresses a content-based regulation on speech, the court considered whether the statute survived a strict scrutiny test. The majority was unwilling to extend the rationale of Ferber outside of child pornography without direction from the Supreme Court. The majority found that the conduct at issue in § 48 does not give rise to a sufficient compelling interest.|
|I.B. Sirmans v. State||534 S.E.2d 862(Ga.App.,2000)||
Defendant was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty and one count of simple assault. The portion of the sentence depriving defendant of animals which the State failed to demonstrate were abused vacated and case remanded; judgment affirmed in all other respects because the motion to suppress was properly denied, and defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court's refusal to sever the trial.
|Boling v. Parrett||536 P.2d 1272 (Or. 1975)||
This is an appeal from an action claiming conversion when police officers took animals into protective custody. Where police officers acted in good faith and upon probable cause when a citation was issued to an animal owner for cruelty to animals by neglect, then took the animals into protective custody and transported them to an animal shelter, there was no conversion.
|People v. Meadows||54 Misc. 3d 697, 46 N.Y.S.3d 843 (N.Y. City Ct. 2016), rev'd, No. 17-AP-002, 2017 WL 4367065 (N.Y. Co. Ct. Aug. 3, 2017)||
Defendant Amber Meadows allegedly neglected to provide dogs Athena, Buddy, and Meeko, with air, food, and water, and confined them in a bedroom where feces was found on the floor and furniture. Meadows was prosecuted for three counts of the unclassified misdemeanor of failure to provide proper food and drink to an impounded animal in violation of § 356 of the Agriculture and Markets Law (AML). Meadows moved to dismiss the Information as facially insufficient and stated that the Supporting Deposition indicated that the dogs were “in good condition.” The People of the State of New York argued that the allegations in both the Information and Deposition, taken together, provide a sufficient basis to establish the elements of the crime. The Canandaigua City Court, Ontario County, held that: (1) “impounded” as stated in § 356 of the Agriculture and Markets Law does not apply to individual persons, and (2) even if the statute applied to individual persons, the allegations in the Information were not facially sufficient. The court reasoned § 356 does not apply to individual persons, but instead applies only to “pounds” operated by not-for-profit organizations, or kennels where animals are confined for hire. The court also stated that even if § 356 were to apply to individuals, under no construction of the facts here could the charge be sustained, as it appeared that the animals were properly cared for in the Defendant's apartment up to the point where she was forcibly detained. The conditions observed by law enforcement authorities on the date alleged in the Information were apparently several days after Meadow's incarceration and after which she was unsuccessful in securing assistance for the dogs while incarcerated. The Information was dismissed with prejudice, and the People's application for leave to file an amended or superseding Information was denied.
|McCall v. State||540 S.W.2d 717 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).||
Open fields doctrine; warrantless seizure. It was not unreasonable for humane society members to enter defendant's land and seize dogs where the dogs were kept in an open field clearly in view of neighbors and others, and where it was apparent that the dogs were emaciated and not properly cared for.
|McGinnis v. State||541 S.W.2d 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).||
In an animal cruelty prosecution, the trial court should first instruct the jury on the definition of torture of an animal. Then, the court can permit the jury to determine whether the acts and circumstances of the case showed the torture of an animal.
|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.
|In re Clinton Cty.||56 Misc. 3d 1155, 57 N.Y.S.3d 367 (N.Y. Sur. 2017)||Synopsis from the court: County filed notice of claim, directed toward estate of cattle farmer who had passed away after he was charged with animal cruelty, seeking reimbursement for costs incurred in connection with care of seized cattle. The Surrogate's Court, Clinton County, Timothy J. Lawliss, J., held that: (1 ) county failed to establish that it was entitled to any relief based upon a theory of quantum meruit, and (2) even assuming that service providers, and thus county upon payment of service providers' bills, enriched farmer, county was not entitled to recover based upon a theory of unjust enrichment because criminal charges against farmer were dismissed upon his death. Notice of claim denied and dismissed.|
|Com v. Daly||56 N.E.3d 841 (Mass. App. 2016)||The Defendant Patrick Daly was convicted in the District Court of Norfolk County, Massachusetts of animal cruelty involving a “snippy," eight-pound Chihuahua. The incident occurred when Daly flung the dog out of an open sliding door and onto the deck of his home after the dog bit Daly’s daughter, which led to the dog's death. On appeal, defendant raised several arguments. He first challenged the animal cruelty statute as vague and overbroad because it failed to define the terms "kill," "unnecessary cruelty," or "cruelly beat." The court disregarded his claim, finding the terms of the statute were "sufficiently defined" such that a person would know that he or she "may not throw a dog on its leash onto a deck with force enough to cause the animal to fall off the deck, twelve feet to its death . . ." Defendant also claimed that a photo of his daughter's hand showing the injury from the dog bite was improperly excluded. However, the court found the defendant was not prejudiced by the judge's failure to admit the photo. Under a claim that his conduct was warranted, defendant argues that the jury was improperly instructed on this point. It should not have been instructed on defense of another because that relates only to defending against human beings and, instead, the jury should have been instructed on a defense of attack by an animal. The court found while there is no precedent in Massachusetts for such a claim, the rationale is the same as the given instruction, and defendant cannot complain that the jury was improperly instructed where he invited the instruction with his claims that his actions were necessary to protect his daughter. His other claims were also disregarded by the court and his judgment was affirmed.|
|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.
|Matter of Ricco v Corbisiero||565 N.Y.S.2d 82 (1991)||
Petitioner harness race-horse driver was suspended by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, Harness Racing Division for 15 days for failing to drive his horse to the finish. The driver argued that whipping the horse had not improved his performance. Considering that the horse had equaled his best time, and had lost by only two feet, and that it would have been a violation of the New York anti-cruelty law (Agriculture and Markets Law ( § 353) to overdrive the horse, the court overturned the suspension.
|State v. Hammond||569 S.W.3d 21 (Mo. Ct. App. Nov. 13, 2018)||Defendant Hammond appeals his conviction for misdemeanor animal abuse in violation of § 578.012. The facts underlying the conviction stem from defendant’s conduct with a horse. In 2016, police were dispatched to a horse that was "down" on a road. The officer observed multiple injuries on the horse's hooves, fetlocks, and lower legs. Its hooves were severely abraded, which was confirmed by subsequent veterinary examination. Another officer observed markings on the road indicative of a "blood trail" from defendant's residence to the location of the horse. According to this officer, defendant told him that he had been "doing farrier stuff to his horses and this particular horse had broke away from them five times and broke a couple of lead lines, burned some people’s hands, and that he was going to teach the horse a lesson." Ultimately, the officers were able to get the horse to stand and loaded into a trailer. It later died at the animal clinic to where it was taken. Defendant was charged with felony animal abuse and a jury trial was held. The jury convicted defendant of the lesser-included misdemeanor animal abuse. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred by refusing to allow his counsel to read Missouri's right-to-farm amendment when it instructed the jury on the amendment. The court noted that, similar to a prior case evoking the right-to-farm amendment, the amendment itself was not intended to nullify or curtail longstanding laws. The prohibition against animal cruelty existed in some form in the Missouri code for 145 years. Further, the court disagreed with defendant's contention that his prosecution criminalized a legitimate farming practice. The jury convicted defendant based on a finding that, when he pulled the horse behind his truck, his conscious object was to cause injury or suffering to the horse. While defendant contends that his was employing a legitimate, established farming technique to "train" the horse, the jury rejected his claim. Defendant's claim on appeal that the animal abuse law could then be used to prosecute farmers for other legitimate farming activities (i.e., branding, castration, use of whips, etc.) was also rejected. The court found that the conscious object of such activities is not to inflect pain or suffering, but to achieve another goal. The pain is "incidental to the farmer's legitimate objectives." The jury found this not to be the case with defendant. Thus, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to allow Hammond to read the right-to-farm amendment to the jury, and when it refused to instruct the jury on the amendment’s terms. Affirmed.|
|Peck v. Dunn||574 P.2d 367 (Utah 1978)||
Subsequent to the game cockfighter's conviction for cruelty to animals, she sought a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was unconstitutional on the grounds: (1) that it was vague and uncertain in that innocent conduct of merely being a spectator could be included within its language; and (2) that presence at such a cockfight was proscribed, without requiring a culpable mental state. On review the court held that the board, in the exercise of its police power, had both the prerogative and the responsibility of enacting laws which would promote and conserve the good order, safety, health, morals and general welfare of society. The courts should defer to the legislative prerogative and should presume such enactments were valid and should not strike down legislation unless it clearly and persuasively appeared that the act was in conflict with a constitutional provision.
|Commonwealth v. Waller||58 N.E.3d 1070 (Mass. App. Ct., 2016), review denied, 476 Mass. 1102, 63 N.E.3d 387 (2016)||Tasha Waller was convicted of animal cruelty for starving her dog to death. As a result of this conviction, Waller was placed on probation which prohibited her from owning animals and allowed for random searches of her property. Waller appealed this decision for the following reasons: (1) the animal cruelty statute under which she was convicted was unconstitutionally vague; (2) the expert witness testimony was improper and insufficient to support her conviction; (3) she may not as a condition of her probation be prohibited from owning animals, and the condition of probation allowing suspicions searches should be modified. The court reviewed Waller’s arguments and determined the statute was not unconstitutionally vague because it is common for animal cruelty statutes to only refer to “animals” in general and not specifically mention dogs. The court noted that dogs are commonly understood to fall within the category of animals and therefore the statute was not vague. Also, the court held that the expert witness testimony from the veterinarian was not improper because the veterinarian was capable of examining the dog and making a determination as to how the dog had died. Lastly, the court held that it was not improper to prohibit Waller from owning animals, but did agree that the searches of her property should only be warranted if authorities have reasonable suspicion to search the property. Ultimately, the court upheld Waller’s conviction and probation but modified the terms in which authorities are able to search her property.|
|Pet Fair, Inc. v. Humane Society of Greater Miami||583 So.2d 407 (Fl. 1991)||
The owner of allegedly neglected or mistreated domestic animals that were seized by police could not be required to pay for costs of animals' care after it was determined that owner was in fact able to adequately provide for the animals, and after the owner declined to re-possess the animals. The Humane Society can require an owner to pay it costs associated with caring for an animal if the owner re-claims the animal, but not if the animal is adopted out to a third party.