Dangerous Dog: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
Mercado v. Ovalle 973 N.Y.S.2d 171 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., 2013)

In this New York case, plaintiff appealed the lower court's order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment in a dog bite case. Defendants, a grocery store and its owner, asserted that they did not own the two pit bulls that attacked plaintiff. The only evidence plaintiff presented showing defendants' ownership and control over the dogs were hearsay statements from the mechanic who operated the lot that the dogs guarded. The court found this evidence that defendants occasionally walked and fed the dogs insufficient to show that they "harbored" the dogs. Affirmed.

People v. Smalling --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2019 WL 2400413 (Cal. App. Dep't Super. Ct. May 30, 2019) Defendant was cited for allowing a dog controlled or owned by her to cause injury or death to a service dog in violation of California’s Penal Code. The offense was an infraction. The defendant pled no contest and was fined $157. The service dog’s owner requested a restitution hearing, but the trial court denied the request stating that since the offense was an infraction, a restitution hearing was not permissible. The service dog owner appealed the decision of the trial court. The Court ultimately found that the trial court incorrectly stated that a victim of an infraction is not entitled to restitution. Both the California Constitution and the California Penal Code (the very statute that the Defendant was convicted of violating) entitle the victim to restitution. The California Constitution specifically states that restitution shall be ordered in every case regardless of the sentence or disposition of a crime in which a victim suffers a loss. The Court stated that an infraction is a crime, therefore, a restitution hearing is mandatory. The statute that the Defendant violated (section 600.2 of California’s Penal Code) also stated that a defendant shall be ordered to make restitution. The trial court abused its discretion in erroneously concluding that a crime victim is not entitled to restitution if the offense committed is an infraction and ultimately denying the victim restitution. The Defendant argued that an order for payment of restitution would be improper because she was never advised that victim restitution would be a consequence of her plea and that such an order would violate her plea agreement. She also argued that the trial court found, in good faith, that restitution was unnecessary. The Court, however, found the Defendant’s arguments unpersuasive. The Court reversed the order denying victim restitution and remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to conduct a restitution hearing.
Turner v. Ferguson --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 97526 (E.D. Wis. Jan. 7, 2020) On March 5, 2017 Lori turner was attacked by her neighbor’s (“Arndt”) dog which required her to receive 11 staples to close the wound on her scalp. She also suffered bites on her shoulder and wrist that would later require surgery. Pursuant to local regulations, the neighbor’s dog was quarantined for a ten-day period. Lori mentioned to officers that the City of Gelndale had recently enacted an ordinance that allowed for an officer to declare a dog vicious which then required the owner of the dog to adhere to certain requirements like securing the dog in a kennel when it was outdoors and maintaining liability insurance for dog bites. On March 14, 2017, Officer Ruppel issued a citation to Ardnt under a Glendale ordinance for damage caused by dogs, however, he did not declare the dog vicious under the vicious-dog ordinance. Officer Ruppel reasoned during deposition that he chose not to do so because he considered Ardnt grabbing the dog by the neck and Lori walking up and petting the dog (prior to Ardnt’s action) provocation. Lori filed suit against the officers she interacted with over the course of the next year claiming that the officers denied her equal protection of the law by refusing to declare Arndt’s dog vicious and by failing to protect her from loose dogs in the neighborhood. Lori had repeatedly contacted the police department over the course of a year about how she did not like the outcome of her dog bite case and about loose dogs in the neighborhood. Lori specifically alleged that the officers treated her with animus. The Court ultimately found that the evidence in the record did not support a class-of-one equal protection claim. Officer Ruppel’s decision to not declare Ardnt’s dog vicious was supported by a rational basis. Additionally, no evidence existed that suggested that the Glendale police department intentionally and irrationally treated Lori’s complaints about loose dogs in the neighborhood differently than it treated similar complaints by other citizens. The Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted.
Commonwealth v. Whitson --- N.E.3d ----, 97 Mass.App.Ct. 798, 2020 WL 3635941 (2020) This case involves an appeal of an animal cruelty conviction after defendant repeatedly stabbed a dog named Smokey, a three-year old pit bull. The incident in question occurred on a street outside of defendant's barber shop. Smokey was on-leash walking with his owner when an unleashed smaller dog ran at Smokey and began biting his ankles. Smokey responded playfully, not aggressively. The defendant responded to calls of assistance from the smaller dog's owner and helped separate the dogs. After this, the defendant returned briefly to his barbershop and came back with a knife that he used to repeatedly stab Smokey with while he restrained the dog with his other arm. The police eventually responded and defendant was taken to the hospital for a laceration on his hand where he yelled, "I'm glad I killed the [expletive] dog." Smokey survived the attack and defendant was charged and convicted. On appeal, defendant raised several arguments challenging the verdict. In particular, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, arguing that he stabbed Smokey repeatedly to release the dog from biting his hand. The appellate court found that no defense witnesses testified that Smokey bit defendant and the no medical records corroborated defendant's version of events. Defendant also argued that the judged erred in denying his motion in limine regarding Smokey prior and subsequent "bad acts," which, defendant claimed, were relevant to the issue of Smokey as the initial aggressor. This court found that the proffered evidence of bad acts was inadmissible hearsay and the acts subsequent to Smokey's stabbing occurred too remotely to have any probative value. Finally, the court found no substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice where the judge failed to give a sua sponte necessity defense. The judgment was affirmed.
City of Onida v. Brandt --- N.W.2d ----, 2021 WL 1681818 (S.D., 2021) The City of Onida (the City) filed a petition for declaratory judgment seeking authorization from the circuit court to euthanize two dogs owned by the Appellants as “vicious animals” under Onida ordinances or, alternatively, based upon a determination that the dogs were dangerous under state law (SDCL 7-12-29). The circuit court concluded the City could not require the dogs to be euthanized under the ordinance but found that the requirements of SDCL 7-12-29 were met. Appellants appeal the circuit court's order directing the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs pursuant under state law. In 2020, the appellants' dogs attacked a neighbor's smaller dog just outside of the neighbor's door to their home. The attack caused numerous bite wounds and internal injuries to the smaller dog who eventually died. Prior to this event, there were two other incidents where appellants' dog rushed up to a woman working outside her house barking aggressively and another incident involving the same neighbor's dog who was the victim in the instant case. The sheriff was summoned for the prior incidents, although no formal action was taken and appellants beefed up measures to keep the dogs in their yard. After the attack on the neighbor's dog, the sheriff formally declared the dogs "vicious animals" under the city's ordinance and obtained a TRO to remove the dogs to keep them at a nearby kennel until further disposition from the court. Ultimately, the City filed a petition for declaratory judgment requesting authorization for euthanasia of the dogs. Alternatively, the City sought a determination of dangerousness under SDCL 7-12-29 and requested an order allowing the sheriff to dispose of the dogs. The court found Appellants violated SDCL 40-34-2 by owning a “dog that chases, worries, injures, or kills any ... domestic animal ....” The court further found under the Ordinance that the dogs were improperly unleashed and running at large within city limits and that the dogs were “vicious animals.” However, the court determined the City could not require Appellants to euthanize the dogs under the Ordinance because no “vicious animal” notice had been given to Appellants prior to the fatal attack on the neighbors’ dog. However, the court found that Appellants’ dogs were dangerous under SDCL 7-12-29 and authorized the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs. The circuit court stayed the order pending this appeal. On appeal, the appellants challenge the City's authority to request that the Sheriff dispose of the dogs under SDCL 7-12-29 after the circuit court denied such relief under the Ordinance. Appellants also argue that the circuit court erred in determining the dogs were dangerous and authorizing the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs under SDCL 7-12-29 in absence of a showing that the Department of Health had been consulted. The Supreme Court held that presented on appeal is whether the circuit court could order the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs under SDCL 7-12-29. SDCL 7-12-29 allows a sheriff to take possession of any animal suspected of being dangerous, continue to hold the animal until a formal determination of dangerousness can be made, and dispose of the animal through humane means if it is determined to be dangerous. Appellants claim that the court improperly used a "hybrid" application of both state and local law. This Court disagreed, finding that appellants presented no authority that the sheriff could not act under state law as opposed to city law. Appellants’ second argument is that circuit court erred by entering an order to permit the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs under the statute without first requiring consultation with the Department of Health for the purpose of rabies control. The Court agreed that the text of SDCL 7-12-29 includes both public safety and public health considerations that requires a formal consultation. However, the Court found this error to be harmless and the failure to consult with the Department of Health had any effect on the court's decision, or that it harmed the substantial rights of the Appellants. In fact, it was stipulated that both dogs were vaccinated against rabies and no continuing public health risk existed since the dog victim died 12 months prior at the veterinarian. The Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ordering that “the Sheriff may now dispose of [Appellants’ two dogs] through humane euthanasia.”
State v. Wilson --- P.3d ----, 2019 WL 4955178 (Wash. Ct. App. Oct. 8, 2019) Defendant Robert Wilson appeals his conviction of first degree animal cruelty, which arose from an incident at an archery club when Wilson shot a large dog in the hindquarters (70lb. "Dozer") with an arrow after that dog attacked Wilson’s small dog ("Little Bit"). (Dozer recovered from his injuries.) Wilson argues that his action was lawful under RCW 16.08.020, which states that it is lawful for a person to kill a dog seen chasing, biting, or injuring a domestic animal on real property that person owns, leases, or controls. The trial court declined to give defendant's proposed jury instruction based on this statutory language, finding that it only applied to stock animals and not when a dog was injuring another dog. The court did, however, permit the common law defense that allows owners to take "reasonably necessary action" in defense of their animals, which the State must then disprove beyond a reasonable doubt. On appeal, this court noted that no Washington court has interpreted RCW 16.08.020 in a published case. Under common law cases that allow a person to kill an animal to defend his or her property, the court found those cases require the killing be "reasonably necessary." While the parties dispute whether the statute requires that the actions be "reasonably necessary," the appellate court first found Wilson was still not entitled to a dismissal of charges because he could not establish that the location where he shot the arrow at Dozer was land that he "owned, leased, or had control over" per the statute. As to the Wilson's next argument that the trial court erred in not giving his proposed instruction for RCW 16.08.020, the appellate court agreed. While the trial court found that the statute only applied to stock animals, the appellate court noted that the law does not define the term "domestic animal." Using the plain dictionary meaning for "domestic" - "belonging to or incumbent on the family" - and for "domestic animal," this court stated that "Little Bit certainly belonged to Wilson's family" and a dog fits the meaning of "domestic animal." Finally, the court found that the "reasonably necessary" requirement from the common law cases on shooting domestic animals cannot be grafted onto the statutory requirements of RCW 16.08.020. Thus, the trial court's refusal to give defendant's proposed instruction based on RCW 16.08.020 cannot be grounded in the reasonably necessary common law requirement. The trial court's refusal to give the proposed instruction was not harmless. As such, the appellate court reversed Wilson's conviction and remanded the action for further proceedings.
Saulsbury v. Wilson --- S.E.2d ----, 2019 WL 493695 (Ga. Ct. App. Feb. 8, 2019) This Georgia involves an interlocutory appeal arising from a dog bite lawsuit. In 2016, Plaintiff Saulsbury was walking her English Bulldog past Defendant Wilson's house when Wilson's pitbull dog escaped its crate in the open garage. A fight ensued between the dogs. Wilson then attempted to break up the fight and was allegedly bitten by Saulsbury's dog, suffering a broken arm in the process and necessitating a course of rabies shots. The Saulsburys then sued the Wilsons in magistrate court to recover hospital and veterinary expenses. Wilson counterclaimed for her injuries in excess $15,000, thus transferring the case to superior court. At this time, the Saulsburys moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals here reverses that denial. The court found that Wilson assumed the risk when she intervened in a dog fight with her bare hands. In particular, the court observed that assumption of risk serves as a complete defense to negligence. That finding was bolstered by the fact that Wilson had knowledge that her dog had previously bitten other persons and had admitted to breaking up previous dog fights with a stick. The court relied on previous case law showing that all animals, even domesticated animals, pose a risk as does the act of breaking up even human fights. The court was not persuaded by the fact that Saulsbury may have been in violation of various DeKalb County ordinances related to an owner's responsibility to control his or her animal. A plain reading of those ordinances does not impose a duty on the part of an owner to "dangerously insert herself into a dog fight." The court found the lower court erred in denying the Saulsbury's motion for summary judgment and reversed and remanded the case.
Strickland v. Pinellas Cty. --- So.3d ----, 2018 WL 6518761 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 12, 2018) Andy G. Strickland appealed an order dismissing with prejudice his complaint for declaratory relief against Pinellas County. The request stems from letters he received from Animal Services of Pinellas County about his dog. Strickland and a neighbor were involved in a dispute after their dogs attacked each other. The neighbor filed a complaint with Animal Services claiming that Strickland's dog was the "aggressor dog" and then sent a letter to the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners. The County then sent two letters to Strickland, the first informing him that his dog had exhibited dangerous propensities, and the second, from an assistant county attorney, informing him of the possible criminal ramifications for keeping a dangerous dog or being an "Irresponsible Pet Owner" under the county code. As a result of these letters, Strickland filed a complaint in circuit court saying that he was not afforded any opportunity to dispute those claims and that he is entitled to have the threat of criminal prosecution removed. The County moved to dismiss Strickland's complaint arguing that he failed to allege a justiciable controversy and a bona fide dispute between the County and him. The County claimed that there were no legal findings made with respect to Strickland's dog and that the letters were possible ramifications and explanations of law. The trial court agreed and granted the County's motion, finding the letters were not accusatory and the case presented no justiciable issue. On appeal here, this court upheld the lower court's order because Strickland's allegations did not present a bona fide dispute. Both letters emphasized that his dog had not been classified as dangerous and that no action was being taken by the county. A speculative fear by Strickland that he may be subject to future consequences does not warrant declaratory relief and does not show imminent danger of prosecution. Thus, the trial court correctly dismissed Strickland's complaint. Affirmed.
Estis v. Mills --- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 3807048 (La. App. 2 Cir. August 14, 2019) On September 11, 2017, Plaintiffs, Catherine Estis, Samuel Estis, and Thuy Estis brought this action against the Defendants, Clifton and Kimberly Mills, seeking damages for the shooting of the Plaintiff’s ten-month-old German Shepherd puppy, Bella. The Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants shot Bella, did not disclose to them that Bella had been shot, and dumped her body over ten miles away. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Defendants argued that they fell within the immunity afforded by a Louisiana statute that gives immunity to anyone who kills a dog that is not on the property of the owner and is harassing, wounding, or killing livestock. The Defendants alleged that Bella, the puppy, was harassing their horses. The Plaintiffs argued that the immunity afforded by the statute needed to be affirmatively pled by the Defendants and that the Defendants waived such immunity by failing to assert the affirmative defense in their original answer or any subsequent pleading. The Plaintiffs further argued that the motion for summary judgment would not have been granted if it were not for the immunity protections. The Court ultimately held that the Defendants failed to affirmatively plead the immunity statute and, therefore, it reversed and remanded the case to the lower court.
Estis v. Mills --- So.3d ----, 2021 WL 1396598 (La.App. 2 Cir. 4/14/21) The Estis' sued the Mills for the wrongful killing and disposal of the Appellants’ German Shepherd. On appeal, the Appellants argue that the district court erred in permitting the Appellees to amend their original answer to now include an affirmative defense of immunity pursuant to La. R.S. 3:2654, which would relieve the Appellees of liability. Further, the Appellants contend that the district court erred in granting the Appellees’ motion for summary judgment, asserting that there remain genuine issues of material fact, and notwithstanding liability for the death of the dog, the court erred in dismissing the Appellees’ claim for conversion. The parties were neighbors whose property was separated by an enclosed pasture where the Mills used to keep horses. Despite requests from Mills, the Estis' dogs would enter the pasture and harass the horses. In 2017, Mills discovered the dog yet again in the pasture with the horses, so Mr. Mills shot, killed, and disposed of the dog. Subsequently, the Estis family filed suit seeking damages for the intentional killing of the dog and disposing of the dog in a bayou approximately ten miles away. The lower court granted a motion in favor of the Mills agreeing that they had immunity from suit under La. R.S. 3:2654.1. On appeal to this court, the Estises argue that the Mills waived the immunity under the statute because they failed to affirmatively plead the defense in their answer to the pleadings. This court found that immunity had not been affirmative pled as required by statute. Consequently, the Mills received permission to amend their answer and plead the immunity provision. Following granting of the Mills' second motion for summary judgment based on the immunity statute, the Estises appeal that decision. As to Estis' argument that leave to amend the answer was erroneously granted, this court first noted that determination whether to allow pleadings to be amended is discretionary and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. The court found no evidence that there was bad faith in the decision to the amend the pleadings like delay. Further, there was no demonstration of prejudice from the granting of an amended answer. As to Estis' claim that summary judgment was erroneously granted, the court discussed a photograph that was submitted in evidence support showing a horse grazing with its back presented "indifferently" to the dog. The Mills countered with the evidence of an independent eyewitness to the incident who asserted that the dog harassed the horses. The court noted that issues of the credibility of evidence have no place in a summary judgment appeal. As a result, this court found that the lower court judge's statements that, in effect, weighed the credibility of the photograph versus the testimony of the witness were inappropriate. Thus, the lower court erred in granting the motion for summary judgment. Finally, the court evaluated Estis' conversion claims for the disposal of the dog's dead body. This court said that, [i]f the court finds that the killing of the dog falls under La. R.S. 3:2654, then the claim for conversion of the dog's body does not survive. However, if there were personal items on the dog at the time of the killing, such as a tracking collar or items of other value, then a conversion claim can be made for those items. If the court determines that the immunity statute does not apply, then the claim for conversion and any other applicable damages may apply." Thus, the trial court's judgment to allow the motion to amend the pleadings was affirmed, the granting of the summary judgment was reversed, and the dismissal of Estis' claims for conversion was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
People v. Berry 1 Cal. App. 4th 778 (1991)

In a prosecution arising out of the killing of a two-year-old child by a pit bulldog owned by a neighbor of the victim, the owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter (Pen. Code, §   192, subd. (b)), keeping a mischievous animal (Pen. Code, §   399), and keeping a fighting dog (Pen. Code, §   597.5, subd. (a)(1)). The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that an instruction that a minor under the age of five years is not required to take precautions, was proper. The court further held that the trial court erred in defining "mischievous" in the jury instruction, however, the erroneous definition was not prejudicial error under any standard of review. The court also held that the scope of defendant's duty owed toward the victim was not defined by Civ. Code, §   3342, the dog-bite statute; nothing in the statute suggests it creates a defense in a criminal action based on the victim's status as a trespasser and on the defendant's negligence.

Collier v. Zambito 1 N.Y.3d 444 (N.Y. 2004)

Infant child attacked and bit by dog when he was a guest in the owner's home.  After defenses motion for summary judgment was denied, the Appellate Court reversed, and this court affirms.

Yuzon v. Collins 10 Cal.Rptr.3d 18 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.,2004)

In this California case, a dog bite victim sued a landlord, alleging premises liability in landlord's failure to guard or warn against tenants' dangerous dog.  On appeal from an order of summary judgment in favor of the landlords, the Court of Appeal held that the landlord owed no duty of care, as he had no actual knowledge of dog's dangerous propensities and an expert witness's declaration that the landlord should have known of the dog's vicious propensities was insufficient to warrant reconsideration of summary judgment ruling.  The landlord's knowledge that tenants may have a dog because it is allowed through a provision in the lease is insufficient to impute liability where the landlord has no knowledge of any previous attacks or incidents.

Faraci v. Urban 101 A.D.3d 1753 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.)

In this New York case, the plaintiff sought damages for injuries his son sustained after the child was bitten by a dog in a house owned by defendant Urban, but occupied by Defendant Buil (the dog's owner). Defendant Urban appeals an order denying her motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Defendant Urban failed to demonstrate as a matter of law that the dog did not have vicious tendencies because defendant's own submissions showed that the dog had previously growled at people coming to the door. However, summary judgment was appropriate here because the evidence failed to show that defendant knew or should have known of the dog's alleged vicious propensities.

White v. Vermont Mutual Insurance Company 106 A.3d 1159 (N.H., 2014) This is an appeal brought by Susan and Peter White to a declaratory judgment that her son, Charles Matthews, was not covered under Susan's homeowner's insurance policy with the respondent.The incident that led to this case involved Matthews' dog causing injury to Susan while at the home covered by the policy. The policy covered the insurer and residents of their home who are relatives, so Susan attempted to collect from Vermont Mutual for the damage done by the dog. However, her claim was denied because Matthews was deemed to not be a resident of the home. This court affirms.
Frank v. Animal Haven, Inc. 107 A.D.3d 574 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,2013.)

Plaintiff was bitten by the dog that she adopted from Animal Haven, Inc. and sued that entity for personal injuries stemming from the bite. In affirming the decision to dismiss the complaint, this court noted that the adopting parties signed a contract a the time of adoption where they undertook a "lifetime commitment" for the responsible care of the dog. While the contract stipulated that Animal Haven had the right to have the dog returned if the plaintiff breached the contract, this did not reserve a right of ownership of the dog. Further, the contract also explicitly relieved Animal Haven of liability once the dog was in the possession of the adoptive parties.

BREEDLOVE v. HARDY 110 S.E. 358 (Va. 1922)

This Virginia case concerned the shooting of plaintiff's companion animal where defendant alleged that the dog was worrying his livestock. The court reversed judgment for defendant, finding that defendant’s act of killing dog while not engaged in the act of “worrying the livestock,” was not authorized within the statute.

Batra v. Clark 110 S.W.3d 126 (Tex.App.-Houston [1 Dist.],2003)

In this Texas case, the appellant-landlord appealed a verdict that found him negligent for injuries suffered by a child visiting a tenant's residence. The lower court found the tenant and landlord each 50% liable for the girl's injuries. The Court of Appeals, in an issue of first impression, if a landlord has actual knowledge of an animal's dangerous propensities and presence on the leased property, and has the ability to control the premises, he or she owes a duty of ordinary care to third parties who are injured by this animal. In the present facts, the court found that Bantra had no duty of care because there was no evidence showing that Batra either saw the dog and knew that it was a potentially vicious animal or identified the dog's bark as the bark of a potentially vicious animal. The judgment was reversed.

Smith v. Kopynec 119 So.3d 835 (La.App. 1 Cir.,2013)

The plaintiff appeals the lower court's dismissal of her claims against defendant-landowners and their insurers. The plaintiff was injured (for the second time) by the defendant-landowners' son's pitbull while walking past their home. While it was undisputed that the landowners did not own the dog, the issue was whether they had a duty to prevent the attack via "custodial liability." Here, the defendant-landowners asserted that they thought the son had gotten rid of the dog after it was confiscated and quarantined by animal control after it first attacked the plaintiff. Thus, this court found that defendant-landowners did not know of the dog's presence on their property and affirmed the trial court's order of summary judgment.

Lesher v. Reed 12 F.3d 148 (8th Cir. 1994)

Seizure of pet dog violated Fourth Amendment where police acted unreasonably in going to canine police officer's house to seize the dog after the dog bit a child.

Youngstown v. Traylor 123 Ohio St.3d 132, 914 N.E.2d 1026 (Ohio,2009) Defendant was charged with two misdemeanors after his unrestrained Italian Mastiff/Cane Corso dogs attacked a wire fox terrier and its owner.   Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that YCO 505.19(b) is unconstitutional and a violation of his procedural due process rights.   The Supreme Court of Ohio held that the Youngstown municipal ordinance was constitutional because it was “rationally related to the city's legitimate interest in protecting citizens from vicious dogs,” provided “the dog owner with a meaningful opportunity to be heard on the dog's classification,” and did not “label dogs as dangerous or vicious” solely based on their breed type.
Lawrence v. North Country Animal Control Center, Inc 126 A.D.3d 1078, 5 N.Y.S.3d 558 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015) Plaintiffs adopted a basset hound from animal control despite the fact that the dog had been turned over by a prior owner to be euthanized. The basset hound, who attacked the plaintiffs on three different occasions without injury, attacked plaintiffs' other dog. When one plaintiff tried to separate the dogs, the basset hound attacked him. Defendant removed the basset hound from the home that same day and refused to return the dog to the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking to recover damages for injuries, asserting causes of action for, among other things, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, products liability and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On appeal from the New York Supreme Court decision, the appellate court found that under the circumstances, issues of fact exist as to whether plaintiffs reasonably relied on defendants' misrepresentation and whether plaintiffs could have discovered the dog’s dangerous nature with due diligence. The appellate court also found that the contract clause at issue did not preclude plaintiffs from recovering for negligence because it did not “advise the signor that the waiver extended to claims that might arise from the defendant's own negligence.” The appellate court did, however, find that plaintiffs did not satisfy the “rigorous ... and difficult to satisfy requirements for a viable cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The court also found that sanctions were not warranted.
Mansour v. King County 128 P.3d 1241 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2006)

King County Animal Control issued an order requiring that Mansour to remove his dog from King County or give her up to be euthanized. On appeal, Mansour argued that the Board hearing violated his due process rights. The court of appeals agreed, finding that in order for Mansour, or any other pet owner, to effectively present his case and rebut the evidence against him, due process requires that he be able to subpoena witnesses and records.

Hamilton v. State 128 So.3d 872 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.)

In this Florida case, the 82-year-old defendant was convicted of a third-degree felony animal cruelty violation (section 828.12(2)) and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Defendant had his dog on leash and approached too close to a cat, whereupon the leashed dog began to attack the cat. In reversing the decision, the appellate court found that defendant's conduct did not rise to a criminal level, as it was "objectively unlikely" that a leashed dog walking with his owner would inflict such damage. Further, while the issue of sentencing was rendered moot by the reversal, the court found the consideration of a petition with approximately 3,000 signatures demanding the maximum sentence, "an affront to the very notion of due process of law . . ."

Jackson v. Georgalos 133 A.D.3d 719 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015) Plaintiff appealed an order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The personal injury action arises from an incident where defendants' dog, who was barking at the time, jumped on the screen door causing the door to open, whereupon the dog ran out of the house. When the plaintiff turned to get away from the dog, her ankle twisted, causing her to fall on the steps and become injured. To recover in New York on such an action, a plaintiff must prove that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner of the dog, or a person in control of the premises where the dog was, knew or should have known of such propensities. The court held that plaintiff did not raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendant was aware of the dog's alleged propensity to run out of the house and chase after people. Defendants' motion summary judgment and dismissal was affirmed.
White v Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y 138 A.D.3d 1470 (N.Y. App. Div. 2016) Plaintiff, Rosemary White brought action against the Defendant, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church seeking damages for injuries she sustained when she was bitten by a priests’ dog, at premises owned by the church. White brought the action claiming negligent supervision and retention of the priest who owned dog. The church moved to dismiss, and White moved for summary judgment. The New York Supreme Court, Erie County, granted the church's motion for dismissal, and denied White’s motion. White appealed and the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the church was not liable for negligent supervision or retention of the priest. The Appellate Division, reasoned that the Supreme Court, Erie County, properly granted the church’s motion to dismiss White’s complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Court stated that to the extent White alleged a theory of negligent supervision and retention of the priest in her bill of particulars, the “purpose of the bill of particulars is to amplify the pleadings . . . , and [it] may not be used to supply allegations essential to a cause of action that was not pleaded in the complaint.” Therefore, the order from the Supreme Court was affirmed.
Davis v. Gaschler 14 Cal.Rptr.2d 679 (Cal.App.3.Dist.)

In this California case, plaintiff noticed two women in the process of assisting an injured dog, which was owned by defendants, while driving down the road. Plaintiff, an experienced dog breeder and handler, assisted the women and was bitten by plaintiff's dog. The dog had not been vaccinated for rabies, and plaintiff was required to undergo antirabies treatment. Plaintiff sought appeal of the lower court's granting of summary judgment for the defendant. The Court of Appeal reversed. It held that defendants had the burden to establish that this was a case of primary assumption of the risk-where, by virtue of the nature of the activity and the parties' relationship to the activity, defendants owed no legal duty to plaintiff. The court held that the complaint alleged facts sufficient to impose a duty on the part of defendants, based on allegations that they owned and negligently controlled the dog that bit plaintiff.

Priebe v. Nelson 140 P.3d 848 (Cal. 2006)

A kennel worker who was bitten by a dog while the dog was in the care of the kennel sued the owner of the dog under a theory of strict liability under a statute and under the common law. The court found that the dog owner was not liable to the kennel worker because under the "veterinarian's rule," the kennel owner had assumed the risk of being bitten by the dog.

ELLIS v. OLIPHANT 141 N.W. 415 (1913)

Plaintiff's dog was killed by defendant after defendant set traps out on his farm to catch the dogs that had been injuring his sheep. There was no claim that plaintiff's dog was caught in the act of chasing or worrying sheep. There was testimony at trail that showed plaintiff's dog was a very valuable one, highly trained, and greatly efficient about the farm; some of the witnesses testifying that he was worth at least $200. The trial court instructed the jury that defendant had no right, under the circumstances shown, to trap and shoot the dog, and the case was submitted to the jury for it to find the value of the dog. This reviewing court found no error and affirmed the judgment for the value of the dog, which was above traditional market value.

Tighe v. North Shore Animal League 142 A.D.3d 607, 36 N.Y.S.3d 500 (N.Y. App. Div. 2016) In May 2012, Tighe adopted a dog from the North Shore Animal League after having been warned that the dog was possessive regarding food. After taking the dog home, Tighe noticed that the dog exhibited aggressive behavior, such as jumping at the backyard fence and growling at her when she attempted to feed the dog. In July of 2012, the dog bit Tighe’s hand when she tried to pick up a cookie off of the floor. As a result, Tighe spent three days in the hospital due to severe blood loss and swelling. Additionally, in September of 2012, the dog bit Tighe in the face causing severe injuries. After the incident in September, Tighe filed suit against the North Shore Animal League to recover damages for negligence, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court dismissed the claim of emotional distress but granted summary judgment in favor of Tighe with regard to the other claims of negligence. The North Shore Animal League appealed the lower court’s decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of New York overturned the lower court’s decision and granted summary judgment in favor of the North Shore Animal League on all claims. The court found that the North Shore Animal League was not a proximate cause to Tighe’s injuries for failing to adequately warn her about the dog’s aggreesive behavior because Tighe learned of the dog’s aggressive behavior three months prior to the incident that caused Tighe’s injuries. According to the court, once Tighe learned of the dog’s aggressive tendencies, she was in the best position to take “precautionary measures to prevent harm to herself.” So, even if the North Shore Animal League had failed to warn Tighe of the dog’s aggressive tendencies prior to the adoption, Tighe “independently” learned of the dog’s aggressive behavior prior to the incident which eliminated the North Shore Animal League as being a proximate cause of her injuries.
Savory v. Hensick 143 S.W.3d 712 (Mo. 2004)

Contractor brought a premises liability action against homeowners after falling over their dog.  Contractor was descending from a ladder while working on homeowners' premises and stepped on the dog at the base of the ladder.  The trial court held in favor of the contractor because the homeowners' dog made the yard foreseeably dangerous and the appellate court affirmed. 

Drake v. Dean 15 Cal. App. 4th 915 (Cal.App.3.Dist. 1993)

Plaintiff, engaged in religious solicitations, was knocked down by dog owner's pit bull on the defendant's driveway.  She argued that the superior court should have instructed on negligence in addition to strict liability.  The court agreed, finding that a negligence cause of action arises whenever there is insufficient control of a dog in a context in which it could be reasonably expected that injury could occur and injury did proximately result from the negligence.  Thus, the court reversed the decision for defendant dog owners.

Perkins v. Hattery 155 N.E.2d 73 (Ohio App. 1958)

This Ohio case examined the propriety of a county dog warden killing a dog that had killed a sheep nine hours before such seizure.  The Court of Appeals held that dog warden was not authorized to destroy or otherwise dispose of a duly licensed dog found and seized by such warden upon the premises of its owner following a complaint made to the warden by the owner of sheep that the dog had killed certain of his sheep approximately nine hours before such seizure.

Brown by Brown v. Southside Animal Shelter, Inc. 158 N.E.3d 401 (Ind. Ct. App., 2020) This case from Indiana explores whether an animal shelter had a duty to inform a dog adopter of a dog's vicious propensities. Plaintiffs (the Browns) appeal the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Southside Animal Shelter, Inc. (“Southside”). The case stems from the adoption of a dog from defendant animal shelter. In 2014, the dog was surrendered by its owner to a neighboring animal shelter because it did not get along with another dog. The dog was then adopted to another party where it attacked the family's two-year-old boy, causing significant injuries. The dog was then surrendered to the county animal shelter, who recorded the bite incident upon intake of the dog. After the mandated quarantine, the dog was eventually transferred to defendant animal shelter who was informed of the bite according to deposition testimony. However, during an 8-day aggression observation, the dog showed no signs of aggression. In late 2015, plaintiffs adopted the dog with a release that stated the history of the dog was unknown and the shelter was released from all liability resulting from illness or actions by the dog. Less than a month later, the dog attacked the Brown's six-year-old daughter causing injuries to her face. In the trial court action by the Browns against Southside, the court granted the defendant's motion of summary judgment based on the adoption release and dismissed the case. In this instant appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals, the court focused on whether Southside owed a duty to the Browns to establish liability for the dog bite. The court found factual disputes remain as to whether Southside knew or should have known of the dog's past aggression and whether the knowledge from the volunteer who did intake for the dog imputed knowledge to the animal shelter. Additionally, the court indicated there was a question of fact whether Southside exercised reasonable care in evaluating the dog's behavioral history prior to adoption. Ultimately, the Court found that Southside had a duty to the Browns to inform them of the dog's past bite history, and factual issues relating to that duty preclude the granting of summary judgment. The case was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
Salinas v. Martin 166 Cal.App.4th 404

Construction worker brought negligence action against homeowner for injuries sustained by another contractor's pit-bull dog, after homeowner had given the contractor permission to allow the dog to run loose on homeowner's property. The Court of Appeal, First District, Division 1, California, held that a landlord does not generally owe a duty to protect third parties from injuries by his or her tenant's dangerous dog without actual knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities and ability to prevent or control the harm. However, a homeowner, who maintains possession of and control over the premises, and thus is not acting as a landlord, is not required to have actual knowledge of a dog's dangerous propensities to owe a duty of care to his or her invitees.  

Miller v. Dep't of Agric. 168 Conn. App. 255, 145 A.3d 393 (2016) The Plaintiff, Kim Miller, argued “a severe deprivation” of her rights when the Superior Court dismissed her appeal to prevent her dogs from being euthanized. Miller owned two Rottweiler dogs that attacked the victim Cynthia Reed, causing injuries to Reed's head, the back of her neck, and her back. An animal control officer issued two disposal orders to euthanize Miller’s dogs. The Defendant, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, then affirmed the orders and Miller appealed. The Superior Court also dismissed the appeal, and Miller appealed further to the Appellate Court of Connecticut. Here, Miller argues, among other things, that her Sixth Amendment rights to confront witnesses were violated when witnesses were not available for cross-examination. Plaintiff Miller also claims that there were procedural violations in the initial hearing because of lack of written rules that applied to dog disposal orders and claimed error when the hearing officer acted acted arbitrarily and capriciously by “interject[ing] his opinion” while questioning a witness. The Appellate Court held that: (1) the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) did not preclude the admission of statements from the victim and an eyewitness, even though the victim and witness did not testify at the hearing. The court reasoned that in administrative proceedings under the UAPA, evidence is not inadmissible solely because it constitutes hearsay, as long as the evidence is reliable and probative. Additionally, a party to an administrative proceeding under the UAPA is not required to call any particular witness. (2) A dog owner's appeal of disposal orders for a biting animal is not a criminal prosecution that invokes Sixth Amendment protections. The court reasoned that the issuance of a disposal order does not, by itself, trigger the imposition of a fine or prison term on the owner. Rather, by obviating the threat that dangerous animals pose to the public, the provision is remedial and civil in nature. The judgment of the trial court dismissing the plaintiff's appeal was affirmed.
Nava v. McMillan 176 Cal.Rptr. 473 (Cal.App.2.Dist.)

In a personal injury action brought by a pedestrian who was hit by an automobile when she stepped into a street, the trial court dismissed the complaint against occupiers of land who maintained fenced dogs, which plaintiff alleged frightened her, causing her to step into the street. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that the complaint failed to set forth facts giving rise to tortious liability on the part of the owners of fenced dogs, either on the theory of simple negligence or strict liability.

Gorman v. Pierce County 176 Wash. App. 63, 307 P.3d 795 (2013) review denied, 179 Wash. 2d 1010, 316 P.3d 495 (2014)

After leaving a sliding glass door open for her service dog and her neighbor's dog, the plaintiff in this case was mauled by two pit bulls. Plaintiff sued the dogs' owners under a strict liability statute and the county for negligently responding to prior complaints about the dogs. At trial, a jury not only found all defendants guilty, but also found the plaintiff contributorily negligent.  Upon appeal, the court affirmed the judgment the lower court entered based on the jury verdict.  Chief Judge Worswick concurred in part and dissented in part.

Dog Federation of Wisconsin, Inc. v. City of South Milwaukee 178 Wis.2d 353, 504 N.W.2d 375 (Wis.App.,1993)

This appeal is by the Dog Federation of Wisconsin and others who contest a City of South Milwaukee ordinance that imposes restrictions on the ownership and keeping of “pit bulls.” The Federation claims that the “pit bull” aspects of the ordinance are facially invalid because:  the definition of “pit bull” is impermissibly vague; the ordinance is overbroad; and the ordinance violates their right to equal protection. The court found that reference to recognized breeds provides sufficient specifics to withstand a vagueness challenge. With regard to equal protection, the court held that the ordinance is founded on “substantial distinctions” between the breeds of dog covered by the ordinance and other breeds of dog. Moreover, the ordinance is “germane” to the underlying purpose of the ordinance to protect persons and animals from dangerous dogs. Finally, the ordinance applies equally to the affected class of persons owning or keeping pit bulls.

Roos v. Loeser 183 P. 204 (Cal.App.1.Dist.,1919)

This is an action for damages alleged to have been sustained by plaintiff by reason of the killing of her dog, of the variety known as Pomeranian, by an Airedale belonging to the defendant. In 1919, a California court determined damages to be limited to the veterinary expenses connected with the injury to the animal. In the opinion, the court lovingly discusses the value of the animal. Notwithstanding these words of praise for the small animal, the court decided that the value was limited to the fair market value and related expenses.

Morawek v. City of Bonney Lake 184 Wash. App. 487, 337 P.3d 1097 (2014) A woman filed a complaint with the Bonney Lake animal control authority after her neighbor’s dog killed her cat. The animal control officer served plaintiff with paperwork stating that his dog satisfied the definition of a dangerous dog under the Bonney Lake Municipal Code because the dog had killed a domestic animal without provocation while off his owner's property. Plaintiff appealed the designation to the police chief, the city hearing examiner, and the superior court; all of which affirmed the designation. The Washington Court of Appeals, however, held that the hearing examiner's finding that the owner's dog killed the neighbor's cat without provocation was not supported by substantial evidence, as required to uphold a dangerous dog designation, even though the “location” element of the dangerous dog designation was satisfied. The dangerous dog designation was therefore reversed.
Town of Ogden v. Lavilla 185 A.D.3d 1414, 126 N.Y.S.3d 832 (2020) This matter involves an appeal of an order for euthanasia of respondent's dog. The Justice Court of the Town of Ogden found respondent's dog to be dangerous under Agriculture and Markets Law § 123 and ordered the dog to be euthanized. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department agreed with respondent that the lower court misapprehended and misapplied the law. The court found the power to apply the most drastic measure (euthanasia) under Section 123 is reserved for aggravating circumstances, namely a serious disfigurement. The court noted that emotional trauma is not a factor in determining whether a victim has been disfigured. In addition, the language of the law is permissive, not mandatory; even with aggravating circumstances, a court may direct other measures to keep the dog contained. The court noted that the lower court repeatedly misstated the law, saying it only had two options, euthanasia or permanent confinement. As a result, this court modified the by vacating that part affirming the order of the Justice Court insofar as it directed that respondent's dog be euthanized, and remitting to the Justice Court for a determination whether petitioner established the existence of an aggravating circumstance and for the imposition of remedial measures as permitted by statute.
Carter v. Ide 188 S.E.2d 275 (Ga.App. 1972)
This Georgia case involves an action for injuries received by a boy after he was attacked by the defendant's dog. The lower court granted summary judgment to the defendant and the plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals held that where there was no showing that the dog ever so much as growled at a human being before the attack, the owner of dog was not liable for injuries. Evidence that the dog previously chased a cat and had engaged in a fight with another dog was insufficient to show the owner's knowledge of the dog's vicious tendencies toward humans to create liability for the owner.
Haggblom v. City of Dillingham 191 P.3d 991 (Alaska 2008) This is an owner's appeal of the city order which ordered her dog be euthanized or banished from city limits because the dog bit a person without provocation. The order had been affirmed by the superior court and is now in front of the state Supreme Court. Haggblom argues that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it does not provide meaningful process, and is too vague because it does not explicitly offer the alternative of banishment from city limits. This court found that due process was satisfied and that the ordinance is constitutionally clear, and thus affirms the order.
Volosen v. State 192 S.W.3d 597(Tex.App.-Fort Worth, 2006)

In this Texas case, the trial court found Appellant Mircea Volosen guilty of animal cruelty for killing a neighbor's dog. The sole issue on appeal is whether the State met its burden of presenting legally sufficient evidence that Volosen was "without legal authority" to kill the dog. By statute, a dog that "is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked ... fowls may be killed by ... any person witnessing the attack." The court found that no rational trier of fact could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the dog was not attacking or had not recently attacked chickens in a pen in Volosen's yard; thus, the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that Volosen killed the dog "without legal authority" as required to sustain a conviction for animal cruelty.  Judgment Reversed by Volosen v. State , 227 S.W.3d 77 (Tex.Crim.App., 2007).

Parker v. Parker 195 P.3d 428 (Or.App.,2008)

Plaintiff and his 12 year-old quarter horse were visiting defendant at defendant's property when defendant's dog rushed at the horse causing it to run into a steel fence. The horse suffered severe head trauma, which necessitated its later euthanization. Plaintiff filed suit for damages asserting liability under common law negligence and O.R.S. 609.140(1) - the statute that allows an owner to recover double damages where livestock is injured due to being injured, chased, or killed by another person's dog. The appellate court agreed with plaintiff that O.R.S. 609.140(1) creates an statutory cause of action independent from negligence. Further, the court found that plaintiff fell within the class of persons the statute aims to protect because the legislature did not intend to limit the statute's application to property owned by the livestock's owner.

Richard v. Hoban 1970CarswellNB126

The child plaintiff was attacked and bitten by a chained German Shepherd after she put her arm around the dog's neck to hug or play with it; she sustained scarring lacerations of her head, cheek and eyelid that required 5 days' hospitalization after plastic surgery. The trial judge earlier held that because the dog, had two months previously, bitten a young boy on the face and ear in an unprovoked attack, the owner had prior knowledge of the dog's propensity to bite children, yet he kept the dog regardless. The owner was thus strictly liable under the doctrine of scienter. The Court of Appeal reversed this holding, with two judges finding that the boy in the earlier attack had been injured accidentally by the dog's dew-claw, rather than being bitten, so that there was insufficient notice to the dog's owner of any vicious propensity; thus he was not strictly liable in scienter.

Whelen v. Barlow 1975 CarswellAlta 242

Plaintiff Whelen was drunken, threatening and disorderly in defendant Barlow's hotel bar, where he kept guard dogs for the purpose of preventing break-ins and keeping the peace. After the plaintiff and friends were asked to leave the premises and not return, he later returned, making threatening gestures and was bitten on the face and arm by one of the guard-dogs. The court held that the plaintiff was 2/3 contributorily liable for his injuries, since when he returned he was trespassing; the defendant was 1/3 contributorily liable since the court held that keeping volatile guard-dogs as bouncers was not reasonable.

Morsillo v. Migliano 1985 CarswellOnt 786

The child plaintiff Morsillo was attacked and bitten by a neighbour's pet German Shepherd, which tended to 'bark savagely' at local children, had bitten once before, and was kept in a secure fenced yard and only taken out on a leash and choke-chain. The boy was playing cops and robbers with the owner's son on the owner's front lawn, while the owner's teenaged daughter was taking the leashed dog to the garage, when it escaped and attacked. No provocation of the dog was proven so the owners were found strictly liable under the Dog Owner's Liability Act (which abrogates scienter in that province) and also liable in negligence, with no contributory negligence by the plaintiff; the provincial Ontario Health Insurance Plan was entitled to recover the costs of the plaintiff's care from the defendants.

Bates (Guardian of) v. Horkoff 1991 CarswellAlta 229

The child plaintiff was at her daycare under appropriate supervision while in the playground when she was bitten on the hand by a neighbouring German Shepherd. The dog squeezed through an unmended gap in the fence and bit the child while she was on the swings; daycare staff were not negligent in supervising the children. While the dog had no history of biting, it was excitable and barked aggressively towards strangers outside the yard; the fence was in poor repair, but the owner had not thought it necessary to use the secure dog run that existed on his property. he was found negligent for not better securing and supervising the dog.

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