Municipal Ordinances: Related Cases
|Zageris v. Whitehall||594 N.E.2d 129 (Ohio App. 10 Dist.,1991)||
The single-family residence property owner and owner of dogs kept on property filed suit for declaratory judgment, petition for habeas corpus, and civil rights claims against city based on city's enforcement of ordinance prohibiting number of dogs on property. He then appealed the ruling in favor for the city. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that the local ordinance limiting number of dogs on single family property was a nuisance and not zoning measure and consequently a valid exercise of city's police power.
|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.|
|Wilson v. City of Eagan||297 N.W.2d 146 (Minn., 1980)||
At issue is an Eagan, Minnesota ordinance that provides an impounded animal must be held for five days before being destroyed. In direct contravention of the ordinance and statute, Eagan animal warden Cary Larson and police officer Robert O'Brien, in performance of their duties, intentionally killed Timothy Wilson's pet cat on the same day it was properly impounded. By first finding that punitive damages were not precluded by statute against municipal employees, the court then examined whether punitive damages were appropriate in this case. While the court did not find that Larson acted with malice, it did find that his conduct in violating the statute showed a willful disregard for property rights.
|Webb v. Amtower||2008 WL 713728 (KS,2008 (not reported))||
The court applied the forum's traditional lex loci conflict-of-laws rule to determine what jurisdiction's law governed for both damages and recovery of possession. The "place of injury" for the tort/damages issue was Kansas since that's where the contract was signed. The court remanded the case to determine the law of the place where the dog was found to determine the right-to-possession since that was a personal property issue.
|Village of Carpentersville v. Fiala||425 N.E.2d 33 (Ill.App., 1981)||
In this Illinois case, the defendant, Joseph R. Fiala, appealed a violation of the Village Code of Carpentersville, which prohibited the ownership of more than two adult dogs at his single-family residence. In a hearing, one of defendant's neighbor's testified that the defendant was maintaining 15 large red dogs (Irish setters). The Illinois Appellate Court held that the village had statutory authority to enact any ordinance necessary for the promotion of health, safety and welfare of the community and that a municipality may also pass ordinances that "define, prevent, and abate nuisances." Further, the court also held that the village ordinance is not unconstitutional as violative of equal protection based on a classification between single-family residences and single-family units within multiple housing buildings, where such considerations of indoor and outdoor space, density, and proximity to others, noise levels, and structural differences, are rationally related to the object of the ordinance.
|Vanater v. Village of South Point||717 F. Supp. 1236 (D. Ohio 1989)||
Village criminal ordinance, which prohibited the owning or harboring of pit bull terriers or other vicious dogs within village limits, was not overbroad, even though identification of a "pit bull" may be difficult in some situations, as there are methods to determine with sufficient certainty whether dog is a "pit bull.".
|Toledo v. Tellings||871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007)||
In this Ohio case, the defendant, who owned three pit bull type dogs, was convicted in the Municipal Court, Lucas County, of violating the Toledo city ordinance that limited ownership to only one pit bull per household. On appeal by the City, the Supreme Court found the state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens against unsafe conditions caused by pit bulls. The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that pit bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens. The statutes and the city ordinance are rationally related to serve the legitimate interests of protecting Ohio and Toledo citizens.
|Texas Attorney General Opinion No. JC-0048||Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. JC-0048||
Texas Attorney General Opinion regarding the issue of whether city ordinances are preempted by statutes that govern the treatment of animals. Specifically, the opinion discusses pigeon shoots. The opinion emphasizes that organized pigeon shoots are prohibited under Texas cruelty laws but that present wildlife laws allow the killing of feral pigeons.
|Tarquinio v. City of Lakewood, Ohio (unpublished)||Slip Copy, 2011 WL 4458165 (N.D.Ohio)||
Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment from the court that Lakewood City Ordinance (“LCO”) 506.01, which bans pit bull dogs or those dogs with "appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of such breeds," unconstitutional under the Ohio Constitution Home Rule provisions. In this motion, plaintiffs argue that LCO 506 conflicts with and impermissibly expands the provisions of Ohio Revised Code § 955.22. The court found that while § 955.22 outlines requirements that must be met by a person who houses vicious dogs, including all pit bulls, it does not explicitly permit pit bulls. The court found that the General Assembly intended to allow municipalities to regulate the possession of pit bulls.
|Stephens v. City of Spokane||Slip Copy, 2007 WL 3146390 (E.D.Wash.)||
Before the court here is defendant's motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's motion to certify a class. Plaintiffs claim is based on Spokane's "barking dog" ordinance" for which they were each issued an infraction by animal control officers. Plaintiffs contend the ordinance is void for vagueness. The court disagreed, finding that the ordinance has incorporated the reasonableness standard and is presumptively constitutional. In the ordinance, the citizen of average intellect need not guess at the prohibition of allowing an animal to unreasonably disturb persons by “habitually barking, howling, yelping, whining, or making other oral noises.”
|State v. Taffet (unpublished)||Not Reported in A.2d, 2010 WL 771954 (N.J.Super.A.D.)||
The State of New Jersey, through the Borough of Haddonfield, appeals from the final judgment of the Law Division, which reversed the finding of the municipal court that defendant's dog is a potentially dangerous dog pursuant to N.J.S.A. 4:19-23(a) as well as the imposition of certain measures to mitigate any future attacks. Defendant, a resident of Haddonfield, owns, breeds, and shows four Rhodesian Ridgebacks kept at his home in a residential neighborhood. The Superior Court concluded that the Law Division's did not properly defer to the trial court's credibility determinations and were not supported by sufficient credible evidence. The court found that the dog's dual attacks causing bodily injury to two individuals were undisputed, and along with evidence of more recent intimidating activity in the neighborhood, the municipal court could have reasonably concluded that the dog posed a more serious threat to cause bodily injury to another.
|State v. Mortensen||191 P.3d 1097 (Hawai'i App., 2008)||
Defendant found guilty of Cruelty to Animals under a State statute after firing a pellet gun at/toward a cat which was later found with and died from a fatal wound. On Defendant’s appeal, the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai’i affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that evidence that Defendant knowingly fired the pellet gun at a group of cats within the range of such a gun was sufficient to find that Defendant recklessly shot and killed the cat. In making its decision, the Court of Appeals further found that the legislature clearly did not intend for a cat to be considered vermin or a pest for purposes of the relevant State anti-cruelty statute’s exception, and instead clearly intended for a cat to be considered a “pet animal.”
|State v. Mita||245 P.3d 458 (Hawai', 2010)||
Defendant, an owner of two dogs, both boxers, was charged with animal nuisance in violation of Revised Ordinances of Honolulu section 7-2.3. Mita’s counsel objected to the oral charge at trial, arguing "that the arraignment is [not] specific enough to put the defendant specifically on notice of what part of the . . . ordinance she’s being charged with." The district court denied Mita’s motion for judgment of acquittal and sentenced her to pay a $50 fine. Mita appealed. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the district court. On certiorari, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and remanded the case, finding that the definition of animal nuisance in section 7-2.2 does not create an additional essential element of the offense; and, second, the definition of "animal nuisance" is consistent with its commonly understood meaning.
|State v. Maynard||673 S.E.2d 877 (N.C.App.,2009)||
In this North Carolina case, defendant challenged her conviction for violating that city ordinance that limited the number of dogs greater than five months of age that can be kept on premises within the city limits to three. After conviction, defendant appealed the constitutionality of the ordinance, arguing that it was “arbitrary and without any justification” and “fails to stand upon a rational basis.” This Court disagreed. First noting that legislative enactments have a presumption of constitutionality, the Court held that the town of Nashville enacted the ordinance for the purpose of reducing noise and odor problems. These objectives are clearly legitimate public purposes, and the limitation on the number of dogs is directly related to those objectives.
|State v. Johnson||628 P.2d 789 (Or. 1981)||
A defendant was convicted in district court of violating a city ordinance by keeping a vicious dog. The Court of Appeals held that the word "trespasser" in the city ordinance was to be used in its ordinary context, that a child who rode his bicycle onto the defendant's driveway was a trespasser, that there were no issues of consent involved, and that the trespasser exception applied even to areas on the defendant's property where the dog was not under the owner's control.
|State v. Brown||771 N.W.2d 267 (N.D.,2009)||
In this North Dakota case, the defendant appeals from a criminal judgment finding she violated the Cass County Animal Control Ordinance after her neighbors reported her barking dogs. In her first appeal ground, Brown contended that the Ordinance constituted an unconstitutional delegation of power. The court disagreed, finding that Cass County adopted a home rule charter and thus had the power to create criminal penalties for violations of ordinances. Brown next argued that the legislature “has statutorily prohibited the county from attempting to regulate dogs as public nuisances.” Since the state has defined certain “dog activities” that constitute a public nuisance, the county is precluded from declaring any other dog-related activity a public nuisance according to defendant. The court found that this broad interpretation would preclude action by the county if the state has exercised any authority and would virtually eliminate the county's authority granted by home-rule authority. The court also rejected Brown’s argument that the Ordinance is unconstitutionally vague. The Ordinance provides that an animal that “barks ... in an excessive or continuous manner” is a public nuisance. The court held that its holding in Kilkenny, 2007 ND 44, ¶¶ 20-25, 729 N.W.2d 120, is controlling here, where the words excessive, continuous, or untimely have a common understanding and are not vague.
|State v. Beckert||61 A.2d 213 (N.J. 1948)||
This New Jersey case involved an appeal of a borough ordinance that limited ownership to three licensed dogs. The prosecutrix was found to have been keeping 39 dogs. The court found that she presented no evidence that she was operating a kennel, nor was the ordinance unreasonable in its restriction.
|State of Florida v. Peters||534 So.2d 760 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1988).||This is an appeal from an order of the county court invalidating a City of North Miami ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bull dogs. The ordinance in question, City of North Miami Ordinance No. 422.5, regulates the ownership of pit bulls by requiring their owners to carry insurance or furnish other evidence of financial responsibility, register their pit bulls with the City, and confine the dogs indoors or in a locked pen. The court dismissed defendants claims that the ordinance violates equal protection and due process, and that the ordinance's definition of a pit bull is on its face unconstitutionally vague.|
|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.
|Sawh v. City of Lino Lakes||800 N.W.2d 663 (Minn.App.,2011)||
The city council ordered the destruction of a dog after finding it to be a dangerous animal and the owner appealed. The Court of Appeals held that procedural due process required that the owner should have been given a meaningful opportunity to contest the declaration of the dog as a “potentially dangerous animal” before it was declared a “dangerous animal” under the city ordinance.
|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.
|Rosenfeld v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Mendon||940 N.E.2d 891 (Ma. App., 2011)||
A zoning board granted landowner’s application for a special permit, and neighbor property owners appealed. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts held that defendant’s proposed use of land for horse stables fit within the agricultural use exception of the zoning ordinance and by-laws, and that plaintiffs had standing to enforce a deed restriction on defendant’s property.
|Robinson v. City of Bluefield||--- S.E.2d ----2014 WL 5032602 (W. Va. Oct. 2, 2014)||An Animal Control Officer responded to a complaint about two dogs at defendant's residence. While investigating the complaint at defendant's residence, the animal control officer was attacked by one of defendant's dogs. The officer sought medical treatment following the incident. The City of Bluefield subsequently brought charges against defendant in its municipal court, charging her with having a dangerous animal in violation of city ordinances. The municipal court ordered the dog killed. On appeal, the Circuit Court of Mercer County affirmed the municipal court's decision. Defendant then appealed the Circuit Court's decision arguing that that Circuit Court erred in concluding that the municipal court had the authority to order the destruction of her dog. After review, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia agreed with defendant and found that under the plain language of W.Va.Code § 19–20–20, the City of Bluefield was required to set forth satisfactory proof that defendant’s dog was “vicious, dangerous, or in the habit of biting or attacking other persons” before a circuit court or a magistrate, not a municipal court. The court therefore found that ordinance was void to the extent that it allowed a municipal court to order the destruction of the dog. The circuit court's order affirming the municipal court's order to kill Ms. Robinson's dog was therefore reversed. Justice Loughry dissents.|
|Rhoades v. City of Battle Ground||63 P.3d 142 (Wash. 2002)||
Exotic pet owners challenged on equal protection grounds an ordinance that banned exotic pets, yet allowed dangerous dogs under certain conditions. The court, in upholding the ordinance, found a rational relationship between the regulation and the public interest in preventing exotic pet attacks.
|Pray v. Whiteskunk||801 N.W.2d 451 (S.D., 2011)||
In this South Dakota case, the plaintiff suffered a broken knee after Defendant's Rottweiler brook loose from its owner and ran toward the street, causing plaintiff to fall. Plaintiff brought an action for damages against both the dog owner and the city, specifically alleging the the city knew the dog was dangerous and failed to enforce its vicious animal ordinance. On appeal of the granting of summary judgment for the city, this court found that plaintiff failed to establish that the action taken by the city caused the harm to Pray or exposed her to greater risks, thereby leaving her in a worse position than she was in before the city took action. While this Court found that the city had actual knowledge of the dog's dangerousness, this alone is insufficient.
|Pless v. State||633 S.E.2d 340 (Ga. App., 2006)||In this Georgia case, the defendant was convicted by a jury in the trial court of two counts of failure to keep an animal under restraint and one count of allowing an animal to become a public nuisance. Defendant appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. The appellate court found that the evidence showed that in the months prior to the July 14 and August 1 incidents, Pless's dogs were repeatedly found loose in neighbors' yards and garages. Accordingly, evidence supported the conviction on the charge of allowing an animal to become a public nuisance under § 3-4-7(5). ("Public nuisance" is defined, among other things, as any animal which "[i]s found repeatedly at large."). On certiorari review, the Georgia Supreme Court in State v. Pless, 646 S.E.2d 202 (Ga. 2007) reversed judgment of Pless v. State, 633 S.E.2d 340 (Ga. App. 2006), and the case was then sent to Pless v. State, 648 S.E.2d 752 (Ga. App. 2007) on remand.|
|Perfect Puppy, Inc. v. City of East Providence||--- F.Supp.3d ----||Due to public concern about puppy mills, City passed an ordinance banning pet stores located within its limits from selling dogs and cats unless those animals were owned by a city animal shelter or animal control agency, humane society, or non-profit rescue organization and the pet store maintained those animals for the purpose of public adoption. In its Amended Complaint, Plaintiff, a pet store, raised numerous challenges to the ordinance under the Constitutions of the United States and of Rhode Island, claiming that it violated the dormant Commerce Clause, the Contract Clause, the Takings Clause, and Plaintiff's equal protection and due process rights, and that it was preempted by state statute. Plaintiff and Defendant both sought summary judgment to all challenges. Plaintiff's motion was DENIED and Defendant's motion was GRANTED to all counts in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint except Count Three, the Takings claim, which was REMANDED to the Rhode Island Superior Court.|
|Peoria County v. Capitelli||494 N.E.2d 155 (Ill.App. 3 Dist.,1986)||
This Illinois case concerns the appeal of a conviction for allowing a cat to run at large in violation of an ordinance enacted by the plaintiff, Peoria County. The defendant contends on appeal that the county as a non-home-rule unit of government lacked the authority to enact the ordinance. The court disagreed, finding the counties were given the express power to establish animal pounds and to dispose of stray animals pursuant to the provisions of the Impounding and Disposition of Stray Animals Act which concerns pet dogs and cats, and the Illinois Animal Control Act, which deals with stray animal control, rabies protection, liability for animal bites and related topics. More interesting is the dissent's position, which finds that the statute makes no mention of the power to regulate cats. Moreover, there can be no logical implication of authority to regulate cats running-at-large from the delegation of authority to regulate dogs running-at-large.
|People v. Strobridge||339 N.W.2d 531 (Mich.App.,1983)||
In this Michigan case, the defendant appealed his conviction of keeping more than three dogs on his premises without a kennel license in violation of Grandville ordinances, § 21, No. 159-A. On appeal, defendant asserted that the trial court improperly denied his “nonconforming use” defense; that is, he claimed the ordinance at issue was a zoning ordinance rather than a regulatory ordinance. Relying on a case that held that prior nonconforming use (where a person has been using property in a nonconforming way prior to the adoption of the zoning ordinance), the court found that indeed defendant was entitled to present such a defense, as he owned the dogs on the property prior to adoption of the ordinance. Defendant next argued that the trial court erred in ruling that the ordinance was a constitutional exercise of the city's police power. While the court observed that criminal ordinances are to be more strictly construed than ordinances involving a civil penalty, it still found that the ordinance at issue was a valid exercise of police power, especially considering that a previous case had upheld a similar ordinance that limited ownership to only two dogs.
|Palila v. Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources||Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2013 WL 1442485 (D.Hawai'i)||
Fearing potential prosecution under a county ordinance and a state statute for carrying out a Stipulated Order that protects an endangered species (the Palila), defendants, joined substantially by the plaintiffs, sought a motion for declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court granted the defendants’ motion because federal law, the Stipulated Order, preempted both state and county law. The court therefore stated that so long as defendants, or their duly-appointed agents, were acting to enforce the specific terms of the Stipulated Order, they may conduct an aerial sighting over the Palila's critical habitat and shoot any ungulates sighted in that area without fear of violating (1) Hawaii County Code §§ 14–111, –112, & 1–10(a); or (2) HRS § 263–10.
|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.|
|Missouri Pet Breeders Association v. County of Cook||--- F.Supp.3d ----2015 WL 2448332 (N.D. Ill., 2015)||Cook County passed an ordinance that required a “pet shop operator” to only sell animals obtained from a breeder that (among other requirements) held a USDA class “A” license and owned or possessed no more than 5 female dogs, cats, or rabbits capable of reproduction in any 12-month period. Plaintiffs, a professional pet organization and three Cook County pet shops and their owners, sued Cook County government officials, alleging that the ordinance violated the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Defendants moved to dismiss the action. After concluding that plaintiffs had standing to pursue all of their claims, with the exception of the Foreign Commerce Claim, the Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss all claims, but gave Plaintiffs a chance to cure their complaint's defects by amendment.|
|Merced v. Kasson||577 F.3d 578 (C.A.5 (Tex.),2009)||
Plaintiff José Merced, a Santeria Oba Oriate, or priest, brought action against the City of Euless alleging that city ordinances prohibiting the keeping of animals for slaughter and the slaughtering of animals prevented him from performing animal sacrifices essential to Santeria religious practice. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in favor of the city, but denied its request for attorney fees. The Court of Appeals reversed the decision in favor of the city and affirmed the denial of attorney fees. The court found that the city did not prove that the burden it placed on the plaintiff advanced a compelling interest and was the least restrictive means of doing so. In fact, the Court noted that prior to the ban, Merced had performed these sacrifices for sixteen years without creating health hazards or unduly harming any animals. The City's purported interest was further undermined by the fact that hunters are allowed to butcher dead animals at their homes. Thus, Euless failed to assert a compelling governmental interest in support of its ordinances that burden Merced's religious conduct.
|Luper v. City of Wasilla||215 P.3d 342 (Alaska,2009)||
Plaintiff appealed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Wasilla, Alaska's enforcement action over zoning ordinances. The facts stem from the City's denial of plaintiff's application for a use permit in 2005 to run an eighteen-dog kennel. Plaintiff argued on appeal that Wasilla's former three-dog limit infringed on her property rights in both her land and her dog. This court agreed with the lower court that the provision here bore a "fair and substantial relationship" the government purposes of controlling dog noise, reducing dog odor and pollution, and preventing loose dogs. Further, the court found that it was not reasonable for the plaintiff to rely on the city clerk's statement that she only needed a kennel license to operate a hobby kennel.
|Kanab City v. Popowich||194 P.3d 198, (Utah App.,2008)||
In this Utah case, the defendant appeals the decision of the district court finding him guilty on four counts of failing to maintain a city dog license and one count of running an illegal kennel. In December 2005, a Kanab City animal control officer responded to numerous complaints of barking dogs at Defendant's residence. This officer observed four dogs over the age of three months on the premises during two separate visits to Defendant's home that month and on subsequent random visits in the following months. On appeal, defendant argued that the city ordinance on which his conviction for operating an illegal kennel is based is unconstitutionally vague. This court disagreed, finding that an ordinary person reading the ordinance would understand that, in order to keep more than two dogs over the age of three months in the same residence, a citizen must register for a kennel permit.
|Jefferson v. Mirando||719 N.E.2d 1074 (Ohio Co.,1999)||
In this Ohio case, the defendant was charged with violating ordinance setting maximum number of dogs or cats that a person could "harbor" per family dwelling unit. The court first observed that the village of Jefferson's ordinance benefits from a strong presumption of constitutionality, and defendant Mirando bears the burden of demonstrating unconstitutionality of this ordinance beyond any remaining fair debate on the issue. The court held that ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague and did not conflict with state statutes regulating kennels.
|Idaho Dairymen's Ass'n, Inc. v. Gooding County||227 P.3d 907 (Idaho 2010)||
After Gooding County adopted an ordinance regulating confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), cattle ranching and dairy associations brought suit challenging the constitutionality and validity of provisions within the ordinance and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the county, and the associations appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's findings.
|Humane Society-Western Region v. Snohomish County||2007 WL 2404619 (W.D. Wash)||
Plaintiff Humane Society Western Region (d/b/a "Happy Paws Farm") filed this lawsuit against Snohomish County alleging provisions of the county code regulating barking are unconstitutionally vague in violation of the state and federal constitutions, and that the SCC provision governing the temporary housing of animals in shelters violates its federal constitutional right to substantive due process. Plaintiff argued that the noise ordinances invite subjective evaluation resulting in arbitrary enforcement because the code contains no reference to identifiable levels of noise, only to noises that are repetitive. The absence of identifiable levels of noise, or decibel levels, does not render the noise ordinances unconstitutionally vague. Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that this method is not easily understood by individuals of ordinary intelligence or that it fails to protect against arbitrary enforcement. This opinion was Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part by Humane Society Western Region v. Snohomish County, 357 Fed.Appx. 144 (9th Cir., 2009).
|Hood River County v. Mazzara||89 P.3d1195 (Or. 2004)||
In this Oregon case, the defendant appealed a conviction for violating Hood River County Ordinances (HRCO) under which the owner of a dog may not allow it "to become a public nuisance * * * " by "[d]isturb[ing] any person by frequent or prolonged noises[.]" (Her dog was reported to have barked for six straight hours.) The defendant argued that the ordinances are invalid as applied to her because ORS 30.935 immunizes farm practices from the application of local government ordinances. The defendant operated a farm with a herd of 60 cashmere and angora goats on land that bordered a national forest and used her dogs to keep predators at bay. The Court of Appeals noted that once defendant raised the defense of the right to farm practice, the county had the burden of disproving it, which it failed to do. Further, the trial court erred by disregarding uncontested facts that established defendant's immunity.
|Hoesch v. Broward County||53 So.3d 1177 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 2011)||
A Broward County, Florida ordinance defines a dangerous dog as “any dog that . . . [h]as killed or caused the death of a domestic animal in one incident.” Plaintiff Brian Hoesch’s dog escaped from Hoesch’s backyard and attacked and killed a neighbor’s cat. Prior to this incident, the dog had never been declared “dangerous” by any governmental authority. Hoesch requested a hearing after Broward’s animal control division notified Hoesch of its intent to destroy his dog. After a judgment in favor of Broward County, Hoesch contends that both county ordinances conflict with state law, section 767.11(1)(b), which defines a “dangerous dog” as any dog that “[h]as more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal . . . .” The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, concluded “that Broward County ordinance sections 4-2(k)(2) and 4-12(j)(2) are null and void insofar as they conflict with state law.”
|Hendricks v. Barlow||656 N.E.2d 481 (Ind. 1995)||
Landowners were held in violation of a zoning regulation, established under a Hendricks County ordinance, which forbade having wild animals residing on residential property. The trial court held that the county could not pass such a law, since it would be preempted by state and federal law. However, on appeal, this Court found that federal (the AWA) and state law did not preempt the County from passing such ordinances. The trial court erroneously attempted to interpret the law when it was not ambiguous, and, thus, preemption by state and federal law should not have been found. Thus, the zoning regulation was permitted.
|Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue, Inc. v. Lira||447 S.W.3d 365 (Tex. App. 2014), reh'g overruled (Oct. 16, 2014)||A German Shepherd dog owned by the appellees escaped through an open garage door of the appellees' home. Animal control impounded the dog for violations of city ordinances. When the appellees did not redeem the dog, instead of being euthanized, animal control turned the dog over to a rescue society for adoption. The dog was then sterilized and micro chipped. After learning what happened, appellees made a request to transfer the dog to them. When they were refused, the appellees filed suit. The trial court ruled in favor of the appellees on their conversion cause of action and their requests for declaratory and injunctive relief, which ordered appellant to turn the dog over to the appellees. On appeal, the court held that since the appellees did not redeem the dog in compliance with city ordinances, they did not have an entitlement to the dog, which was required to establish a conversion claim. Further, since the rescue organization was a recognized city rescue partner, animal control could lawfully transfer the dog to the rescue organization. The court also held the ordinance setting forth an additional 30-day redemption period did not apply to owners. The appeals court therefore reversed the judgment of the trial court, rendered judgment that appellees take nothing, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, including an appropriate order restoring possession of the dog to appellant.|
|Goodell v. Humboldt County||575 N.W.29 486 (Iowa 1998)||
The issue of county versus local control over livestock regulations came to a head when the Iowa Supreme Court invalidated a series of ordinances that had been enacted by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to add additional regulations to the livestock industry and to address problems created by confined animal feeding operations in the county. The court ruled that the ordinances were inconsistent with state law and invalid under the doctrine of implied preemption.
|Garza v. State||2007 Tex. App. LEXIS 8953||Carrollton, Texas municipal code prohibited the keeping of more than three pets on property within the city limits. Yvette Garza, a member of an animal rescue organization, challenged the determination that she had violated the city code by keeping more than three dogs. She argued that the code was unconstitutionally vague and that her actions were necessary. The court held that although the term "keep" was not defined in the statute, a person of ordinary intelligence would understand the law because "keep" has a common sense meaning. Garza also failed to produce evidence proving when the scheduled euthanasia of the dogs was going to occur, she therefore failed to establish the elements of her necessity defense.|
|Francis v. City of Indianapolis||958 N.E.2d 816 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011, table, unpublished)||A dog rescue organization was cited with a violation of the city code for having a dog at large. One rescue dog escaped and lunged at a neighbor. Francis argued that the trial court erred in applying strict liability, challenged the sufficiency of the evidence, and challenged the constitutionality of the municipal ordinance. The trial court also found that a violation of the ordinance also imposed restrictions on Francis; she could no longer operate the animal rescue shelter and could only own or keep two dogs. The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.|
|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.
|Dehart v. Town of Austin||39 F.3d 718 (7th Cir. 1994)||
The breeder was in the business of buying, breeding, raising, and selling of exotic and wild animals. The town passed an ordinance making it unlawful to keep certain wild animals, and the breeder filed suit challenging the constitutionality of a local ordinance. On appeal, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the town because: (1) the ordinance was not preempted by the Animal Welfare Act; (2) the ordinance was not an impermissible attempt to regulate interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause; and (3) the town did not deprive him of his property interest in his federal and state licenses without due process.
|Davis v. Animal ControlCity of Evansville||948 N.E.2d 1161 (Ind., 2011)||
Dog attack victim sued city and its animal control department, seeking damages for injuries he sustained from a dog attack in his neighborhood. The victim claimed that the city failed to enforce its animal control ordinance. The Supreme Court held that city and its animal control department had law enforcement immunity because the Tort Claims Act provided immunity to governmental entities for any loss due to failure to enforce a law.
|Cottongame v. State||2014 WL 3536801 (Tex. App. 2014), unpublished||Despite an ordinance restricting the number of cats a person can own to three unless a permit was obtained, an officer decided not to enforce the ordinance against the appellant because she was helping with the feral-cat problem in the city and because “she was ... attempting to bring into compliance [her] animal rescue.” When the officer left his job, however, a neighbor complained and an investigation took place. The investigating officer noted everything in the house was covered in cat litter, there was no carpet in the home, and cat urine was on the living-room floor. The smell of cat urine and feces also sickened the officer to the point that he had to leave the house to get fresh air. The State filed a complaint alleging Appellant's violation of the ordinance. A jury found Appellant guilty of the offense as alleged in the complaint and assessed her punishment at $75 plus court costs. Appellant appealed from her conviction for violating a city ordinance regarding the number of animals that may be kept without a permit. In her first issue, the appellant asserted that her conviction violated the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the city “selectively enforced its purported ordinance that prohibits any person from having possession of more than three cats without a permit.” The court, however, found that there was no evidence before the trial court indicating that appellant was singled out for enforcement or that her selection for enforcement was based on anything other than a valid citizen complaint. In her second issue, the appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. The court, however, found that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that the appellant was in violation of the ordinance. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.|
|Concerned Dog Owners of California v. City of Los Angeles||123 Cal.Rptr.3d 774 (Cal.App.2 Dist., 2011)||
Dog owners mounted a constitutional challenge to a Los Angeles municipal ordinance that required all dogs and cats within the city to be sterilized. The Court of Appeal held that the ordinance did not violate the owners’ freedom of association rights, free speech rights. or equal protection rights. The court held that it was not unconstitutionally vague, was not outside of the city's police powers, did not vest unfettered discretion in city officials, did not constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint or an unconstitutional taking. Finally, the law did not violate individual liberties under the California Constitution.