Anti-Cruelty: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
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 --- S.W.3d ---- , 2020 WL 1174185 (Tex. App. Mar. 11, 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.
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 (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.
State v. Acker 160 Conn. App. 734 (2015) Defendant, the director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut, Inc., was charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty for failing to give animals “proper care by exposing [them] to conditions that placed [them] at risk of hypothermia, dehydration, or to conditions injurious to [their] well-being....” Defendant was the director of a nonprofit animal rescue organization and housed rescued dogs in an uninsulated outdoor barn heated solely by space heaters. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of 15 counts and acquitted of the remaining 48 counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, the defendant claimed that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and (2)C.G.S.A. § 53-247(a) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case. The appellate court rejected defendant’s claims and affirmed the trial court’s decision.
State v. Agee --- N.E.3d ---- , 2019 WL 3504010 (Ohio App., 2019) The Humane Society brought this action in response to a complaint regarding a dog tangled in a tether. Three German Shepherds were discovered that belonged to the Defendant, Shawn Agee, Jr. The dogs were suffering from maltreatment. All three had been restrained without access to water or food and one of the dog’s tethers was wrapped so tightly that its leg had started to swell. Two of the dogs were suffering from fly strike. The State charged the Defendant with 12 criminal misdemeanors relating to the treatment of the three animals. The trial court acquitted the Defendant of 10 of those counts because of his unrebutted testimony that he had been out of town for the weekend and had left the dogs in the care of his mother. The Defendant was found guilty to two second-degree misdemeanors relating to the two dogs suffering from fly strike because those particular injuries were long time, very painful injuries that were not being treated and the Defendant was the dogs’ “confiner, custodian, or caretaker.” The Defendant was sentenced to community control, a fine of $100, a suspended jail sentence of 180 days, the surrender of the two dogs with fly strike, and the proviso that the remaining dog be provided with regular vet appointments and various other conditions. This appeal followed. The Defendant asserted that the Court erred by finding that he had in fact violated the statute that he was found guilty of and that his convictions were not supported by legally sufficient evidence. The Defendant argued that he did not qualify as the type or class of persons subject to criminal liability merely as an owner. The Court noted that the trial court did not impose liability due to his status as the dogs’ owner, but rather due to this having served as the two dogs’ confiner, custodian, or caretaker when they developed fly strike and should have been but were not properly treated. As for the second assignment of error, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to find that the Defendant had violated the statute. The Defendant had admitted that he knew that the two dogs had fly strike “two or three weeks before he left town for the weekend.” The dogs were not treated before he left town. The Court ultimately affirmed both convictions.
State v. Allison State v. Allison, 90 N.C. 733 (1884).

The defendant was indicted at spring term, 1883, for a violation of the act of assembly in reference to cruelty to animals. The indictment is substantially as follows: The jurors, &c., present that the defendant, with force and arms, &c., "did unlawfully and wilfully overdrive, torture, torment, cruelly beat and needlessly mutilate a certain cow, the property of, &c., by beating said cow and twisting off her tail," contrary, &c. The jury found the defendant guilty, and on his motion the judgment was arrested and the state appealed.  The Supreme Court reversed the lower court's descision to arrest the judgment.

State v. Amos 17 N.E.3d 9 (2017) After witnessing the 73 year old defendant-appellant emerge from area by the veterinary's dumpster holding an empty, wire cage animal trap, an employee of the clinic followed the defendant-appellant's car and obtained the vehicle's license plate number. Upon returning to the dumpster, the employee found a kitten with matted eyes that seemed unhealthy. The defendant-appellant was charged with one count of animal abandonment in violation of R.C. 959.01 and was found guilty. Defendant-appellant appealed her conviction and sentence on the grounds that the court erred in finding beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a keeper or, if she was a keeper, the court erred in determining that she abandoned the animal. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that once the defendant captured the animal in a cage, she assumed the responsibility that she would treat the animal humanely and could therefore be considered a “keeper.” Since Amos captured the animal and released it in another location without taking steps to make sure the animal would be found, the Ohio Court of Appeals also held that a reasonable person could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant-appellant had “abandoned” the animal. The judgment was therefore affirmed.
State v. Anello Not Reported in N.E.2d, 2007 WL 2713802 (Ohio App. 5 Dist.)

In this Ohio case, after police received a complaint about possible neglect of dogs located in a barn, an officer went to investigate and entered the barn through an unlocked door. The Humane Society then assisted the department in seizing forty-two dogs. Defendant-Anello was convicted by jury of two counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence: to wit, the dogs from the barn. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the barn was not included within the curtilage of the residence since it was leased by a different person than the owner of the house (who had moved out of state). Further, the plain view/exigent circumstances exceptions came into play where the officers heard barking, smelled "overwhelming" urine odors, and observed through a window seventeen animals confined in cages that were stacked three high while the temperature outside was eighty degrees with high humidity. 

State v. Archer --- So.3d ----, 2018 WL 6579053 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 14, 2018) This appeal concerns the lower court's granting of a motion to suppress evidence in an animal cruelty case. In April of 2017, a Ponce Inlet Police Department officer responded to defendant's residence after receiving a call about possible animal abuse. The caller described hearing sounds of a dog yelping and being beaten. Upon arrival, Officer Bines heard dog commands and the sounds of "striking flesh." He then knocked on defendant Archer's front door and began speaking with him on the front porch. Officer Bines told Archer that he was there to investigate a complaint of possible animal abuse to which Archer acknowledged that his dog bit him after he disciplined the dog for making a mess, so he "hit him a couple times." The officer then told Archer he had "probable cause" to enter the house or he could seek a warrant. Ultimately, Bines followed Archer to the backyard where Archer pointed to a dog in the corner that had its tongue out and was bloodied. Shortly thereafter, Bines determined the dog was dead. Archer was then cuffed and advised of his Miranda rights. After placing Archer in the police vehicle, Bines and other officers re-entered the home and yard to take pictures of the crime scene and to secure the canine's remains. After being charged with violating the cruelty to animals law (Section 828.12), Archer moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the warrantless entry of his home. The trial court granted and denied the motion in part, finding that while there were exigent circumstances to justify the warrantless entry, the exigency was over once it was determined that the dog was dead. The State of Florida appeals here. The appellate court first noted that while warrantless searches of homes are presumed illegal, an officer may enter when there are exigent circumstances including medical emergencies related to animals. Despite Archer's attempts to distinguish the instant facts from previous cases because there were no signs of blood or smells to indicate an emergency, the totality of the facts showed police received a call of animal cruelty in progress and the Officer Bines heard sounds of striking flesh. In addition, Archer advised Bines that he had struck the dog. Thus, the court found the officer "had reasonable grounds to believe that there was an urgent and immediate need to check on the safety and well-being of the dog and to connect the feared emergency to the house that they entered." As to suppression of the evidence found in plain view after entry onto the property, the appellate court also found the lower court erred in its decision. Under existing case law, once entry is allowed based on exigent circumstances, items found in plain view may be lawfully seized. The officer saw the dog in the corner before he knew the dog was dead, and thus, the exigency still existed. With respect to the photographs taken and the bodycam footage, the court held that re-entry into the home after Archer was in the patrol car did not require a warrant. Once an exigency that justified a warrantless search is over, law enforcement cannot go back and conduct further searches. However, in this case, the re-entry into Archer's house was a continuation of photographing evidence that was already found in plain view while the exigency existed (e.g., before the officers knew the dog was dead). The motion to suppress was affirmed in part and reversed in part.
State v. Avella --- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 2552529 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. June 21, 2019) The Defendant was charged with practicing veterinary medicine without a license and for cruelty to animals. The Defendant made a homemade device attempting to treat his dog for a problem because he did not have the money to take his dog to the vet. The home treatment ended up injuring the dog and he took the dog to a veterinarian for treatment. The veterinarian stated that the dog needed to be taken to an advanced care veterinary facility, however, the Defendant could not do so due to lack of funds. The trial court dismissed the charges brought against the Defendant and the State of Florida appealed. Florida law forbids a person from practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The Defendant was not a veterinarian. The Defendant relied upon statutory exemptions in Florida’s statue that permit a person to care for his or her own animals and claims that he was just trying to help his dog, Thor. The Defendant also argued that the purpose of the statute was to prevent unlicensed veterinary care provided to the public rather than to criminalize the care an owner provides to his or her animals. The Court held that the trial court did not err in dismissing Count I for unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine given the stated purpose of the statute and the statutory exemptions. As for Count II, animal cruelty, the State argued that the Defendant’s conduct in using a homemade tool to remove bone fragments from the dog’s rectum and then failing to take the dog to an advanced care clinic fits under the Florida animal cruelty statute. Although the Defendant argued that he had no intention of inflicting pain upon his dog and was only trying to help him, the Court agreed with the State’s argument that “the statute does not require a specific intent to cause pain but punishes an intentional act that results in the excessive infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.” Ultimately the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Count I, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Count II and remanded for further proceedings on the animal cruelty charge.
State v. Avery State v. Avery, 44 N.H. 392 (1862)

The Defedant was convicted of the charge of cruelty to animals for the beating of his own horse.  The Defendant appealed this descision to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire on two grounds.  First, the lower court failed to instructe the jury that intoxication was a defense to the charge.  Second, the lower court instructed the jury that the beating of an animal for training may at some point become malicious and illegal under that statute.  The Court held the lower court was not in error and affirmed the decision.

State v. Beekman State v. Beckman, 27 N.J.L. 124 (1858)

The defendant was convicted, in the Somerset Oyer and Terminer, of malicious mischief. The indictment charges that the defendant unlawfully, willfully, and maliciously did wound one cow, of the value of $ 50, of the goods and chattels of J. C. T.  The defendant appealed the conviction contending that the act charged in the indictment didn't constitute an indictable offence in this state.  The Court held that the facts charged in this indictment constitute no indictable offence, and the Court of Over and Terminer should be advised accordingly.

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.

State v. Branstetter 29 P.3d 1121 (Or. 2001)

In a state prosecution for animal neglect, the trial court ordered forfeiture of the animals to a humane agency. An appeal by the owner of the animals was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The Oregon Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and held that the statutes controlling appealable judgments allowed the animal owner to appeal the forfeiture of the animals.

State v. Browning State v. Browning, 50 S.E. 185 (S.C. 1905).

The defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals for the overworking of his mule.  The defendant appealed the desicision by the lower court to the circuit court.  The circuit court affirmed the lower court and the defendant agained appealed.  The Supreme Court of South Carolina held that jursidiction was proper against the defendant and the evidence supported a finding of ownership by the defendant.  Thus, the Court affirmed the lower court's decision.

State v. Bruner State v. Bruner 12 N.E. 103 (Ind. 1887).

The Defendant was charged with unlawfully and cruelly torturing, tormenting, and needlessly mutilating a goose under Ind. Rev. Stat. § 2101 (1881).  At issue was the ownership status of the goose.  The affidavit alleged that the goose was the property of an unknown person, and thus was the equivalent of an averment that the goose was a domestic fowl, as required by Ind. Rev. Stat. § 2101 (1881).  The court noted that whenever the ownership of the animal is charged, such ownership becomes a matter of description and must be proved as alleged.  Interestingly, the court in this case also observed that there is "a well defined difference between the offence of malicious or mischievous injury to property and that of cruelty to animals," with the latter only becoming an indictable offense within recent years.  The Supreme Court held that the motion to quash should have been overruled and reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings.

State v. Butler --- A.3d ----, 2022 WL 4488304 (N.H. Sept. 28, 2022) Defendant Kevin Butler was convicted of criminal negligence after he left his dog inside a parked vehicle for 45 minutes when the temperature was over 90 degrees outside. The charge came after a neighbor noticed a dog in the vehicle that was "scratching at the windows and the door" and appeared to be in distress. After calling the police, an animal control officer removed the animal from the unlocked car and transported the distressed dog to a local veterinary clinic. At trial, the defendant testified that he was out running errands on a "very hot" day, and asked his son to get the dog out of the car as Defendant's hands were full. An important phone call distracted him from following up on the dog's removal and only after the police knocked on his door did he realize the dog must still be in the car. On appeal here, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to establish the mens rea of criminal negligence for both charges. The State must prove that a defendant “fail[ed] to become aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conduct" and that this risk constitutes a gross deviation from conduct performed by a reasonable person. Here, the court found that the record supports the trial court's conclusion that the defendant failed to become aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the dog would overheat in the car and that his failure to perceive this risk constituted a gross deviation from reasonable care. The temperature was high that day, the car was parked in direct sunlight with all the windows up, and the dog was left for around an hour. The fact that Defendant relied upon his 8-year-old son to remove the dog under these circumstances constituted a gross deviation from reasonable care. This was not "mere inattention" as Defendant claimed. The conviction was affirmed.
State v. Chilinski 330 P.3d 1169 (Mont. 2014) After a call reporting the poor health of over 100 dogs at a large Malamute breeding operation and the recruitment of the Humane Society of the United States, including several volunteers, to help execute a warrant, defendant was charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and 91 counts of felony cruelty to animals pursuant to § 45–8–211, MCA. Defendant was convicted by a jury of 91 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for a total of 30 years with 25 years suspended. A prohibition from possessing any animals while on probation was also imposed on the defendant, as well as an order to forfeit every seized dog and all puppies born after the execution of the warrant. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Montana, defendant argued the District Court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search on Fourth Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court held, however, that the search warrant authorizing seizure of “any and all dogs” and “any and all records pertaining to dogs” was not impermissibly overbroad; that the participation by civilian volunteers and Humane Society personnel in execution the warrant was not prohibited by the Fourth Amendment or the Montana Constitution; and that the use of civilian volunteers to assist in execution of search did not violate defendant's right to privacy. The Supreme Court therefore held that the lower court did not err in denying the motion to suppress the evidence. Next, the defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion when it improperly determined that the results of an investigation of his kennels in 2009 were irrelevant pursuant to M.R. Evid. 403. The court, however, agreed with the District Court, despite defendant's claim that 2009 inspection would show that the poor conditions of the kennels and the dogs in 2011 were justified due to economic hardship and health issues. Finally, defendant argued that the District Court was not authorized to order forfeiture of the defendant’s dogs that were not identified as victims of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court, however, held that the statute authorizing forfeiture of “any animal affected” as part of sentence for animal cruelty did not limit forfeiture of defendant's dogs to only those that served as basis for underlying charges, nor did it implicate the defendant's right to jury trial under the Apprendi case. The Supreme Court therefore held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in requiring the defendant to forfeit all of his dogs. The lower court’s decision was affirmed.
State v. Claiborne State v. Claiborne, 505 P.2d 732 (Kan. 1973)

Animals -- Cruelty to Animals -- Cockfighting -- Gamecocks Not Animals -- No Statutory Prohibition Against Cockfights -- Statute Not Vague. In an action filed pursuant to K. S. A. 60-1701 in which the state seeks a construction of K. S. A. 1972 Supp. 21-4310 (cruelty to animals) making its provisions applicable to cockfighting, the record is examined and for reasons appearing in the opinion it is held: (1) Gamecocks are not animals within the meaning or contemplation of the statute. (2) There is no clear legislative intent that gamecocks be included within the category of animals protected by the statute. (3) The statute does not apply to or prohibit the conducting of cockfights. (4) As construed, the statute is not so vague, indefinite and uncertain as to violate the requirements of due process.

State v. Cleve 980 P.2d 23 (N.M. 1999)

Defendant was convicted of two counts of cruelty to animals, two counts of unlawful hunting, and negligent use of firearm. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that "any animal," within meaning of animal cruelty statute, applied only to domesticated animals and wild animals previously reduced to captivity, and thus, the animal cruelty statute did not apply to defendant's conduct in snaring two deer.  The court also held that even if the Legislature had intended to protect wild animals in Section 30-18-1, New Mexico's laws governing hunting and fishing preempt the application of Section 30-18-1 to the taking of deer by Cleve in this case.

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.

State v. Criswell 305 P.3d 760 (Mont.,2013)

Defendants were convicted of aggravated animal cruelty for subjecting ten or more animals (cats) to mistreatment or neglect by confining them in a cruel manner and/or failing to provide adequate food and water. On appeal, defendants raise two main issues: (1) whether the State presented sufficient evidence and (2) whether the District Court abused its discretion in denying their motions for mistrial. As to the sufficiency argument, the Supreme Court held that the testimony from veterinary experts as well as the individuals involved in the rescue of the 400-plus cats removed from the three travel trailers was sufficient. On the mistrial issue, the Supreme Court agreed with the District Court that the remarks were improper. However, there was no abuse of discretion by the trial court's ruling that the comments were not so egregious to render the jury incapable of weighing the evidence fairly.

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

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