Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
U.S. v. One Bell Jet Ranger II Helicopter 943 F.2d 1121 (9th Cir. 1991)

Sam Jaksick, Michael Boyce, and Chris Christensen were charged with conspiring to violate both the Airborne Hunting Act (AHA), 16 U.S.C. 742j-1 and the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981.  They were also charged with knowingly using a helicopter to harass bighorn sheep in violation of the AHA.  After a  jury acquitted of the last two charges, the government, still convinced that the bighorn sheep had been harassed by the hunters, then brought this forfeiture action.  While the court denied the forfeiture based for the most part on actions by the government in the case, it did hold that defendants' use of the helicopter to get as close as possible to identify the best trophy ram constituted sufficient intent for harassment under the Airborne Hunting Act. 

People v. Curtis 944 N.E.2d 806 (Ill.App. 2 Dist., 2011)

Defendant owned five cats and housed 82 feral cats in her home. One of her pet cats developed a respiratory infection and had to be euthanized as a result of unsanitary conditions. Defendant was convicted of violating the duties of an animal owner, and she appealed. The Appellate Court held that the statute requiring animal owners to provide humane care and treatment contained sufficiently definite standards for unbiased application, and that a person of ordinary intelligence would consider defendant's conduct toward her pet cat to be inhumane.

Cohen v. Clark 945 N.W.2d 792 (Iowa 2020) Karen Cohen possessed a severe allergy to pet dander which was medically documented. Cohen was even more severely allergic when exposed to cat dander which required her to carry an EpiPen with her. Initially her allergy to cats was the same as her allergy to dogs, however, with repeated exposure, her allergy to cats became worse. Cohen feared that her allergy to dogs would similarly progress if she were repeatedly exposed to dogs. As a result, Cohen entered into a lease agreement with 2800-1 LLC to rent an apartment relying on the fact that the apartment complex had a no pet policy. Two months into her lease, David Clark entered into a lease agreement with 2800-1 LLC to rent an apartment down the hall from Cohen. Shortly after moving in, Clark presented 2800-1 LLC with a letter from his psychiatrist explaining that due to Clark’s chronic mental illness a dog would benefit his mental health. Clark request a reasonable accommodation to have an emotional support animal (“ESA”) on the apartment premises. Jeffrey Clark, the leasing and property manager, notified the other tenants in the building of the request to accommodate the ESA and asked if any tenants had allergies to dogs. Cohen responded to Jeffrey detailing the allergies that she had to dogs and cats. Jeffrey subsequently contacted the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (“ICRC”) and requested a review or a formal agency determination. A staff member of the ICRC informed Jeffrey that he had to reasonably accommodate both Cohen’s allergies and Clark’s ESA request. There was no formal finding that this would constitute a reasonable accommodation. 2800-1 LLC allowed Clark to have a dog as his ESA while at the same time trying to mitigate Cohen’s allergies by having Cohen and Clark use separate stairwells and purchasing an air purifier for Cohen’s apartment. Despite the attempts to accommodate both tenants, Cohen still suffered allergic reactions and she had to limit the amount of time she spent in her apartment building. On September 27, 2017, Cohen brought a small claims action against 2800-1 LLC seeking one month’s rent as damages and alleging that 2800-1 LLC breached the express covenant of her lease that provided for no pets. Cohen also alleged that both Clark and 2800-1 LLC breached her implied warranty of quiet enjoyment. The small claims court dismissed Cohen’s claims. Cohen filed a notice of appeal three days later to the district court. The District Court concluded that 2800-1 LLC made sufficient efforts that would have justified denying Clark’s request for accommodation or asking him to move to another apartment building, however, because Iowa law was not sufficiently clear, they also dismissed the claims against 2800-1 LLC and Clark. Cohen filed an application for discretionary review to which 2800-1 LLC consented. The Supreme Court of Iowa granted the parties’ request for discretionary review. The Supreme Court noted that there is no law in Iowa or any other jurisdiction that clearly establishes how landlords should handle reasonable accommodation questions with ESAs. The Court ultimately found that Clark’s ESA was not a reasonable accommodation and that the 2800-1 LLC breached its promise to Cohen that the apartment would have no pets other than reasonable accommodations. 2800-1 LLC had other apartments available in other buildings that allowed pets. Cohen also had priority in time since she signed her lease first. The Court ultimately reversed and remanded the district court’s dismissal of Cohen’s case.
State v. Spreitz 945 P.2d 1260 (1997)

The court held that admission of photographs of the victim was harmless because based on the overwhelming evidence against defendant, the jury would have found him guilty without the photographs.

Lunon v. Botsford 946 F.3d 425 (8th Cir. 2019) Lunon had a German Shephard as a breed dog, named Bibi, which had gotten loose and was turned into the local animal shelter. The animal control officer failed to scan the dog for a microchip. After five days at the animal shelter, Bibi was sterilized and adopted out. Lunon was able to recover his dog through a replevin action, however, Lunon claimed that his fourteenth amendment right to procedural due process was violated when Bibi was spayed and adopted out without providing pre-deprivation notice and an opportunity for Lunon to be heard. Lunon filed suit against the animal control officer, two directors of the animal shelter in Pulaski County, the city of North Little Rock, Pulaski County, the Pulaski County Animal Shelter, and the North Little Rock Animal Shelter. The defendants removed the case to federal court and sought summary judgment. The district court did not grant summary judgment and the defendants appealed. The Court found that the animal control officer picking up Bibi and delivering her to the animal shelter did not deprive Lunon of a protected property interest. There is no constitutional duty for an animal control officer to scan a stray dog for a microchip. Therefore, the animal control officer was not liable. The public officials that participated in this action were all protected under governmental immunity because Lunon failed to demonstrate that each individual defendant violated his constitutional right to due process. The Court ultimately reversed the order of the district court and remanded with directions to enter judgment dismissing those claims with prejudice.
Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y et. al. v. USDA et. al. 946 F.3d 615 (D.C. Cir. 2020) Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) in 1966 to insure that animals intended for use in research facilities, for exhibition purposes, or for use as pets were provided humane care and treatment. Initially the definition of the word “animal” excluded birds according to the USDA. In 2002, Congress amended the AWA to make it known that birds were to be protected as well. The USDA promised to publish a proposed rule for public comment once it determined how to best regulate birds and adopt appropriate standards. Eighteen years later, the USDA has yet to issue any standards regarding birds. The American Anti-Vivisection Society and the Avian Welfare Coalition sued to compel the USDA to either issue bird-specific standards or to apply its general standards to birds. These animal-rights groups argued that the USDA’s utter failure to promulgate any bird specific standards amounted to arbitrary and capricious agency action. Their second argument was that USDA unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed action. The district court dismissed their complaint for failure to state a claim to which the animal-rights groups appealed. The Court of Appeals found that the AWA, when it was amended in 2002, required the USDA to issue standards governing the humane treatment, not of animals generally, but of animals as a defined category of creatures including birds not bred for use in research. The USDA failed to take “discrete action” issuing standards to protect birds that the AWA requires it to take. The Court ultimately affirmed the district court as to the arbitrary and capricious claim but reversed and remanded as to the unreasonable delay claim to determine whether the issuance of bird-specific standards has been unreasonably delayed.
Alvarez v. Clasen 946 So.2d 181 (La.,2006)

Plaintiff sued neighbors who trapped cat outside and brought it to an animal shelter where it was euthanized. This court held that private parties trapping a stray cat were not liable for conversion because local ordinances permitted animal shelters to hold stray cats. 

Mann v. Regan 948 A.2d 1075 (Conn.App.2008)

The plaintiff (Mann) brought this action to recover damages for injuries she sustained to her face when she was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant (Regan). The incident occurred when the defendant’s dog was being cared for by the plaintiff at her house while the defendant traveled out of state. With regard to defendant's tacit admission challenge, this court found that defendant’s silence in response to her daughter’s statement, “Well, mom, you know he bit you,” was within the trial court’s discretion to admit as a hearsay exception. As to the jury instructions, this court was not persuaded that there is a meaningful distinction between the words “vicious” and “dangerous” as used in the context of an action stemming from a dog bite.

Davis v. Animal Control–City 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.

Kindel v. Tennis 949 N.E.2d 1119 (Ill.App. 5 Dist., 2011)

Plaintiff was an employee of a dairy farm owned by defendants. In 2007, he was injured by a bull owned and controlled by defendants while working on the defendants' farm . The Appellate Court disagreed with the lower court, finding that the employee's allegations were sufficient to support a claim against the farm owners under the Animal Control Act. The court found it was a question of fact whether it was plaintiff's job to care for the bull, and whether that animal was in the care and/or custody of plaintiff at the time of the injury.

Roach v. Jackson County 949 P.2d 1227 (Or. 1997)

This is an appeal of a county board and circuit court decision ordering destruction of a dog for chasing livestock.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision and held that the dog must be killed in a humane manner.

Ware v. State 949 So. 2d 169 (Ala. Crim. App. 2006)

In this Alabama case, defendant Walter Tyrone Ware was indicted on six counts of owning, possessing, keeping, and/or training a dog for fighting purposes, and one count of possessing a controlled substance.  Police were dispatched to defendant's residence after receiving an anonymous tip about alleged dogfighting.  Upon arriving, police found a bleeding dog on the ground next to an SUV, a puppy in the SUV, and 22 more pit bull dogs in the backyard.  Most of the dogs were very thin or emaciated, and at least two dogs had fresh cuts or puncture wounds.  On appeal, defendant claimed that there was no evidence that he had attended a dog fight or hosted one.  However, the court observed that Alabama's dogfighting statute does not require such direct evidence; rather, a case was made based on evidence of training equipment, injured dogs, and the dogs' aggressive behavior exhibited at the animal shelter after seizure. 

Ruffin v. Wood 95 A.D.3d 1290 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.)

While the plaintiff was tending her garden, the defendant's dog jumped on a chain-linked fence that separated the plaintiff's and defendant's property. Startled, the plaintiff fell and injured herself. As a result of the incident, the plaintiff brought a personal injury suit against the defendant. Finding the dog had no vicious propensities, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant; the plaintiff then appealed and lost.

Chambers v. Justice Court Precinct One 95 S.W.3d 874 (Tex.App.-Dallas, 2006)

In this Texas case, a justice court divested an animal owner of over 100 animals and ordered that the animals be given to a nonprofit organization. The owner sought review of the forfeiture in district court. The district court subsequently dismissed appellant's suit for lack of jurisdiction. Under the Texas Code, an owner may only appeal if the justice court orders the animal to be sold at a public auction. Thus, the Court of Appeals held that the statute limiting right of appeal in animal forfeiture cases precluded animal owner from appealing the justice court order.

Wilhelm v. Flores 95 S.W.3d 96 (Tex. 2006)

In this Texas case, a deceased worker's estate and his four adult children brought a negligence action against the beekeeper and others, after the worker died from anaphylactic shock caused by bee stings.  On petition for review, the Supreme Court held that beekeeper did not owe worker, a commercial buyer's employee, any duty to warn him of dangers associated with bee stings or to protect worker from being stung.

Weigel v. Maryland 950 F.Supp.2d 811 (D.Md 2013)
Following the Tracey v. Solesky opinion, a nonprofit, nonstock cooperative housing corporation issued a rule that banned pit bulls on its premises.  Members and leaseholders who owned dogs believed to be pit bulls sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the corporation and the state of Maryland in an amended complaint. Although the district court found the plaintiffs had adequately demonstrated standing and ripeness in their claims, the court also found that some of the leaseholders and members' charges were barred by 11th Amendment immunity and by absolute judicial immunity. Additionally, the district court found that the leaseholders and members' amended complaint failed to plead plausible void-for-vagueness, substantive due process and takings claims. The district court, therefore, granted the state's motion to dismiss and held all other motions pending before the court to be denied as moot.
Commonwealth v. Epifania 951 N.E.2d 723 (Mass.App.Ct.,2011)

Defendant appealed his conviction of arson for setting fire to a dwelling house, and wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person. The Appeals Court held that testimony that the cat belonged to the victim was sufficient to support a conviction of wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person.

New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau , et. al. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, et. al. 952 F.3d 1216 (10th Cir. 2020) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") designated 764,207 acres in New Mexico and Arizona as critical habitat for the jaguar pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. The area was divided into six individual units. Units 5 and 6 were the ones at issue. Plaintiffs filed suit contending that the Service’s designation of Units 5 and 6 as critical habitat was arbitrary and capricious. The district court ruled in favor of the Service and this appeal followed. There was no concrete evidence that jaguars were present in Units 5 and 6 at any time before 1995. The Service’s reliance on sightings in 1995, 1996, and 2006 to support a conclusion of occupation in 1972 was not based on expert opinion. It was purely speculative. The Court agreed with the Plaintiffs that the Service’s designation of Units 5 and 6 as occupied critical habitat was arbitrary and capricious. The Court further found that in order for an unoccupied area to be designated as a critical habitat, the Service must first find that the designation of the occupied areas is inadequate to ensure conservation of the species. The Service addressed all units together, finding that to the extent they were occupied, they were essential for the conservation of the species. The Court ultimately found that the Service did not follow its own regulations or give a rational explanation for failing to do so and as a result, its designation of Units 5 an 6 as critical habitat was arbitrary and capricious. The decision of the district court was reversed and remanded.
Zeid v. Pearce 953 S.W.2d 368 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 1997)

Richard and Susan Zeid appeal from the trial court's order dismissing their lawsuit against Dr. William Pearce, d/b/a Coronado Animal Clinic, for veterinary malpractice after the dog suffered from allergic reactions resulting from alleged negligent vaccinations.  The court observed that, in Texas, the recovery for the death of a dog is the dog's market value, if any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner that may be ascertained by reference to the dog's usefulness or services.  Consequently, the court found this longstanding Texas rule to be inconsistent with the Zeids' claim for pain and suffering and mental anguish.  Because the Zeids did not plead for damages for the loss of their dog that are recoverable in Texas, the trial court did not err in sustaining Dr. Pearce's special exception and dismissing their cause of action.

Hoffa v. Bimes 954 A.2d 1241 (Pa.Super.,2008)

This case arises from the treatment of plaintiff's horse by the defendant-veterinarian. This appeal arises from plaintiff's claim that the trial court erred in granting a compulsory non-suit in favor of defendant finding that the Veterinary Immunity Act bars claims against veterinarians except those based upon gross negligence. This court agreed with the lower court that defendant was confronted with an emergency medical condition such as to fall under the protections of the Act. Further, this court held that the trial court committed no error in concluding that plaintiff's consent was not required before the veterinarian performed the abdominal tap because that procedure was rendered under an 'emergency situation.'

New Jersey Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. New Jersey Dept. of Agriculture 955 A.2d 886 (N.J.,2008)

The issue in the case was whether the regulations promulgated by the NJDA pursuant to this authority were invalid for failing to comply with the “humane” standards requirement. Although the court held that the regulations in their entirety were not invalid, the court found that NJDA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in enacting its regulations by allowing all “routine husbandry practices,” as there was no evidence that those practices were “humane.” The court further rejected NJDA regulations allowing cattle tail docking, finding no evidence to support that the practices were “humane.” Finally, the court rejected the assertion of NJDA that certain controversial farm practices, such as castration, de-beaking, and toe-trimming, are “humane” if they are performed by a “knowledgeable individual” “in a way to minimize pain.”

People v. Land 955 N.E.2d 538 (Ill.App. 1 Dist., 2011)

In 2009, Jenell Land was found guilty by jury of aggravated cruelty to a companion animal, a Class 4 felony under Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act. Specifically, Land placed a towing chain around the neck of her pit bull, which caused a large, gaping hole to form in the dog’s neck (the dog was later euthanized). The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the defendant’s conviction and, in so doing, rejected each of Land’s four substantive arguments on appeal. Among the arguments raised, the appellate court found that the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury that the State had to prove a specific intent by Land to injure her dog did not rise to the level of "plain error."

Rupert v. Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 957 F.2d 32 (1st Cir. 1992)

Appellant was the pastor of an all-race Native American church that required the use of eagle feathers during certain worship who challenged the BGEPA after being denied a permit to obtain eagle feathers because he was not a member of a recognized Indian tribe.  Under an equal protection analysis, the court found the limitation on the use of eagle parts to Native Americans is rationally related to the government's interest in preserving the eagle population as well as the special religious and cultural interests of Native Americans.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by non-Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

U.S. v. Gonzales 957 F.Supp. 1225 (D. N.M. 1997)

Court held that defendant has standing to raise a facial challenge to the Indian eagle permit process where he declined to apply for a permit based on the intrusiveness of the questions.  Defendant is a member of a highly secretive religious sect of his tribe.  In the RFRA analysis, the court held that the permit application was not the least restrictive means of implementing the government's compelling interest where the permit required intrusive information about religious practices.  For further discussion on Native American religious challenges to the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

Com. v. Linhares 957 N.E.2d 243 (Mass.App.Ct., 2011)

Defendant intentionally hit a duck with his car and was convicted of cruelty to animals. The conviction was upheld by the Appeals Court because all that must be shown is that the defendant intentionally and knowingly did acts which were plainly of a nature to inflict unnecessary pain. Specific intent to cause harm is not required to support a conviction of cruelty to animals.

Rabon v. City of Seattle 957 P.2d 621 (Wash. 1998)

Petitioner dog owner sought an injunction against a Seattle ordinance that allowed the city to destroy a vicious dog once the owner has been found guilty of owning a vicious dog (two lhasa apsos) .  The majority held that the state statute regulating dogs did not preempt field of regulating dangerous dogs and the city ordinance did not irreconcilably conflict with state statute.  Notably, Justice Sanders filed a strong dissent, pointing out that these dogs are the primary companions for the elderly petitioner.  While the state law regulating dangerous dogs allows cities to regulate "potentially dangerous dogs," the Seattle ordinance in question fails to make a distinction between the two types of dogs.  Justice Sanders wrote: "As Mr. Rabon notes, if the City were correct, dog owners and defense attorneys would find themselves arguing the bite was so vicious that the dog qualifies as "dangerous" in order to spare the dog's life."  Thus, the ordinance "eviscerates" the dual definition and violates the overriding state law on dangerous dogs.

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.
City of Onida v. Brandt 959 N.W.2d 297 (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.”
Friends of Animals v. Bernhardt 961 F.3d 1197 (D.C. Cir. 2020) Appellants consisting of conversation organizations and a safari guide challenged a series of actions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) governing imports of sport-hunted animal trophies from Africa. The Appellants challenged certain findings that the Service made allowing animal trophies to be imported. The Court had reviewed a similar set of findings in another case and concluded that they were legislative rules illegally issued without notice and comment. FWS subsequently withdrew all its findings that were issued without notice and comment including the ones that were challenged by the Appellants in a subsequent memorandum. The Appellants still desired to contest the withdrawn findings. The Appellants alleged that it was illegal for the FWS to abandon its prior findings without engaging in APA informal rulemaking and that it was illegal for the FWS to announce its intent to the make the necessary findings through informal adjudications in the future. The Appellant’s claims fell into three categories: (1) challenges to the 2017 Zimbabwe findings that sport-hunting of elephants would enhance the survival of the species; (2) challenges to the memorandum by the FWS withdrawing their prior findings; and (3) challenges to the memorandum’s announcement that the FWS intends to making findings on a case-by-case basis when considering individual permit applications. The Court found that since the FWS had withdrew the 2017 findings, they no longer caused the appellants any injury which made any challenges to them moot. The Appellants attempted to argue that the flaws in the 2017 Zimbabwe elephant finding were capable of repetition yet would evade review. The Court rejected this argument. As for the second challenges regarding the memorandum’s withdrawal of its prior findings, the Court found that the withdrawal caused no injury to the Appellants. The Court rejected the challenges to the memorandum’s announcement that the FWS intended to make findings on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately the Court affirmed the district court’s judgment.
Guenther v. Walnut Grove Hillside Condominium Regime No. 3, Inc. 961 N.W.2d 825 (Neb., 2021) Plaintiff Christine Guenther appeals her dismissal of her complaint for declaratory judgment against her condominium complex. Guenther contended that Walnut Grove refused to make a reasonable accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act and the Nebraska Fair Housing Act (collectively FHA), by denying her request to secure her daughter's emotional support dogs through construction of a fence in a common area. In 2018, Guenther made a request to Walnut Grove to construct a fence through part of the common area behind her condominium so that her dogs can safely spend time outside. Guenther stated that she made this request because she witnessed (via sounds) her first emotional support animal killed by either another dog or a car shortly after she moved in. However, Walnut Grove denied Guenther's request, contending that it lacked the authority to divide or partition the "common elements" of the property. As a result, Guenther filed a complaint in the district court for Douglas County seeking a declaration that Walnut Grove refused a reasonable accommodation under the FHA. A trial was held and the lower court dismissed Guenther's complaint, holding that Guenther's daughter did not suffer from a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of her major life activities and that therefore, Guenther failed to show that N.G. is a handicapped person. Additionally, the court held that Guenther failed to prove that her requested accommodation is necessary to afford the daughter an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the home. On appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court, the court found the case boiled down to whether Guenther "carried her burden of proving her request to build a fence in Walnut Grove's common area (1) is reasonable and (2) necessary (3) to afford a handicapped person the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling." As to the factors, the court found that while it is undisputed that the daughter suffered from mental health disorders that were benefited by the interaction with the family dogs, there was insufficient proof that a fence was necessary. In fact, testimony revealed that the daughter freely enjoyed the use of the animals while at Walnut Grove. The fence was not a necessary part of Guenther's ability to use and enjoy the dwelling. Further, Guenther failed to prove that the alternatives proposed by Walnut Grove would not have been effective. Because Guenther failed to meet her burden to prove that construction of the fence is necessary, her claim for refusal of a reasonable accommodation under the FHA failed the judgment was affirmed.
LaPlace v. Briere 962 A.2d 1139 (N.J.Super.A.D.,2009)
In this New Jersey case, a horse owner brought an action against the person who exercised his horse while the horse was being boarded at the defendant's stable. While the stable employee was "lunging" the horse, the horse reared up, collapsed on his side with blood pouring from his nostrils, and then died. On appeal of summary judgment for the defendant, the court held that the person who exercised horse could not be liable under the tort of conversion as she did not exercise such control and dominion over the horse that she seriously interfered with plaintiff's ownership rights in the horse. While the court found that a bailment relationship existed, the plaintiff failed to come forward with any additional evidence that established the horse was negligently exercised or that the exercise itself was a proximate cause of its death. The grant of summary judgment for the defendants was affirmed.
Riverbrook v. Fabode 963 N.W.2d 415 (2020), aff'd in part, vacated in part, 981 N.W.2d 468 (Mich. 2022) This Michigan case centers on the adequacy of the evidence supporting a request for an assistance animal. Antony Fabode lived in a mobile home on property that was leased to his sister by Riverbrook. In the spring of 2018, Antony obtained a puppy, King, which he claims is a Labrador Retriever mix, but was suspected by Riverbrook as being a banned pit bull type dog. Riverbrook consequently notified Antony's sister of the violation and ordered the dog removed from the premises. To that order, Antony first responded to Riverbrook with a certificate claiming that King was an emotional support animal (ESA) and, after that was rejected as insufficient, came back with a letter by limited license professional counselor, Anne Venet. After again denying the request, Riverbrook sought to enforce the consent judgment with an order of eviction. The district court granted the motion and ordered Antony's removal. Antony sought a stay of eviction on the grounds that he and his sister were authorized to possess King as an ESA. At the district court hearing, Venet testified in support of her letter explaining that she determined Antonuy's need for an ESA after a brief phone call. The court then declined to permit questioning by Riverbrook into the credibility of the determination that Antony was disabled and needed King as a therapeutic aid. Ultimately, the district court denied the writ for eviction. The circuit court affirmed that ruling based on the FHA and the caselaw that supports an unobtrusive line of questioning. The crux of this appeals centers on whether the lower court's order denying Riverbrook's writ of eviction was erroneous after the court disallowed Riverbrook's attorney from questioning the reliability of the evidence of disability and need for an assistance animal. The Michigan Court of Appeals found that "the district and circuit courts avoided their gatekeeper role under MRE 702 despite Riverbrook's repeated objections to the reliability and admissibility of the Fabodes’ evidence." This hampered Riverbrook's ability to discover whether the information presented was reliable and supported Antony's disability-related request and whether Riverbrook refused to make a reasonable accommodation for a tenant based on disability or handicap. The circuit court order was vacated the matter was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
U.S. v. One Afghan Urial Ovis Orientalis 964 F.2d 474 (5th Cir. 1992)

Claimant appeals the order granting summary judgment to the government in a order of forfeiture under the Lacey Act for the hide and parts of a sheep killed in Pakistan and exported to the U.S.  Claimant argues that because there is no national Pakistani law enacted for the protection of wildlife, no Pakistani law interferes with his right to remove the respondent sheep from Pakistan based upon the provincial permit.  The court disagreed, noting the Pakistan Constitution honors provincial law to the extent that it does not conflict with national law and Pakistani law prohibits the export of "wild animal skins and garments made from such skins, products or derivatives of such skins."  The Court held that the Government established probable cause for the forfeiture, and Claimant did not demonstrate that any genuine issue of material fact exists which would preclude the award of summary judgment. 

State v. Mallis 964 N.E.2d 1096 (Ohio App. 7 Dist.,2011)

Appellant, Cheryl Mallis, appealed the judgment of the Youngstown Municipal Court convicting her on one count of failure to confine a vicious dog and one count of failure to confine a dog. She was originally charged with two counts of violating the vicious-dog statute, R.C. 955.22(D)(1), and she moved to have those charges dismissed prior to trial. The motion was overruled, and appellant now challenges that ruling on appeal. The Court of Appeals held that the state could not prosecute the dog owner for failure to confine a vicious dog under the vicious dog statute since the statute had previously been declared by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional on its face and had not been amended or modified thereafter.

Boss v. State 964 N.E.2d 931 (Ind.App.,2012) Defendant appealed her convictions of misdemeanor failure to restrain a dog and misdemeanor harboring a non-immunized dog after her dogs attacked a neighbor and a witness to the incident causing serious injury to both parties. Evidence supported her convictions for failure to restrain dogs because her fence had gaps through which the dogs could escape, and another dog was wearing only a loose collar. Evidence supported her convictions for harboring dogs that had not been immunized against rabies because she did not show proof that dogs had been immunized, which supported inferences that she was aware of the high probability that the dogs had not been immunized, and therefore, she knowingly harbored non-immunized dogs. 
Crow Indian Tribe v. United States 965 F.3d 662 (9th Cir. 2020) Several Indian tribes, environmental organizations, and animal-welfare groups filed suits claiming that Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) violated Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by issuing final rule “delisting” or removing grizzly bear population in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from threatened species list. The distinct population segment of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population has been so successful under the ESA that the FWS has been trying to delist it for almost 15 years, according to the court. This specific case was triggered by a 2017 D.C. Circuit case (Humane Society v. Zinke) that requires the FWS to address the impact that removing a DPS from protection under the ESA would have on the remaining listed species. At the time that ruling was issued, the FWS had already published a 2017 Rule that sought to delist the grizzly bear Yellowstone DPS. This then resulted in cross motions for summary judgment in district court. The district court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs and vacated the 2017 rule, remanding it to the FWS. This remand resulted in a second delisting rule by FWS that was again vacated and remanded by the district court, demanding consideration of several discrete issues by FWS. The FWS now appeals that remand for consideration that require the study of the effect of the delisting on the remaining, still listed, grizzly population in the coterminous 48 states, as well as further consideration of the threat of delisting to long term genetic diversity of the Yellowstone grizzly. In addition, states in the region of the DPS (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming) as well as some private hunting and farming organizations have intervened on the government's behalf. On appeal, the Court of Appeals first found that it had authority to review the district court order and that the intervenors had standing to pursue an appeal. As to the order by the district court that the FWS needs to conduct a "comprehensive review" of the impact of delisting on the remnant grizzly population, the appellate court vacated that portion of the order using the phrase "comprehensive review." Instead, it remanded to the lower court to order a "further examination" on the delisting's effects. The court also agreed with the district court that FWS' 2017 Rule was arbitrary and capricious where it had no concrete, enforceable mechanism to ensure the long-term genetic viability of the Yellowstone DPS. Finally, the Court of Appeals agreed with the district court order to mandate a commitment to recalibration (changes in methodology to measure the Yellowstone grizzly bear population) in the rule since that is required by the ESA. The Court affirmed the district court’s remand order, with the exception of the order requiring the FWS to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the remnant grizzly population.
Houseman v. Dare 966 A.2d 24 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2009)

An engaged, live-in couple purchased a dog together and listed both of their names on the American Kennel Club registration.  While speaking to his girlfriend about ending the relationship, the boyfriend promised her that she could keep the dog, but failed to fulfill that promise; the court required specific enforcement of that promise. In addition, the court found that dogs possess special subjective value similar to "heirlooms, family treasures, and works of art."

U.S. v. Atkinson 966 F.2d 1270 (9th Cir. 1992)

Melville O'Neal Atkinson was convicted of twenty-one felony violations of the Lacey Act for his role in organizing and guiding several illegal hunting expeditions.  The court found sufficient evidence to sustain his conviction based on interstate commerce where, at the end of each illegal hunt, defendant arranged or assisted in arranging to ship deer carcasses to the hunters' homes outside the state. 

Bjugan v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co. 969 F.Supp.2d 1283 (D. Ore. 2013)

After a house was damaged by a tenant’s 95 cats and 2 dogs, a landlord sought to recover expenses through State Farm Insurance. State Farm, however, denied the landlord coverage due to a provision in the insurance policy that excluded damages caused by domestic animals. In a diversity action brought by the landlord, the district court found the damage caused by the tenant’s cats fell within State Farm’s policy exclusion and therefore granted State Farm’s motion for summary judgment.

People v. Tohom 969 N.Y.S.2d 123 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,2013)

This case, as a matter of first impression, considers whether a trial court was authorized to allow a "therapeutic comfort dog" to be present on witness stand for a 15-year-old-girl who was the victim in a predatory sexual assault and child endangerment case. Prosecutors sought to allow a Golden Retriever named Rose to accompany the child on the witness stand while she testified at the defendant’s trial. Prosecutors cited Criminal Procedure Law provisions regarding special witnesses and pointed to Executive Law §642-a, which allows a person supportive of a special witness to be “present and accessible” during testimony by such a witness. On appeal, defendant again argued that the dog would prejudice the jury against the defendant and would convey to the jury that the witness was under stress as a result of testifying and that this stress resulted from telling the truth. In finding that the comfort dog did not violate defendant's right to a fair trial, the appellate court agreed that the trial court's interpretation of Executive Law § 642-a "special witness" provision was correct. Further, the defendant failed to show that the dog Rose's presence was inherently prejudicial.

Defenders of Wildlife v. Dalton 97 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (2000)

Plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction to prevent defendant government official from lifting the embargo against tuna from Mexico's vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Plaintiffs alleged irreparable injury if three stocks of dolphins became extinct. The court found plaintiffs failed to produce evidence showing irreparable injury. 

People v. Robards 97 N.E.3d 600 (Ill. App. Ct. Mar. 12, 2018) This case is an appeal from an animal cruelty conviction against defendant Ms. Regina Robards. She seeks appeal on the grounds that the State failed to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Robards was charged with aggravated animal cruelty when her two dogs, Walker and Sparky, were discovered in her previous home emaciated, dehydrated, and dead. She had moved out of the home and into Ms. Joachim’s home in July 2014, telling Joachim that she was arranging for the dogs to be taken care of. However, when Joachim went over to the prior home in November 2014, she discovered Walker’s emaciated body on the living room floor. She called the police, who discovered Sparky’s body in a garbage bag in the bedroom. Robards’ conviction required that it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she intentionally committed an act that caused serious injury or death to her two dogs, and failing to seek adequate medical care for them. On appeal, Robards concedes that the dogs both died from dehydration and starvation, and that she was the only person responsible for the dogs’ care. However, she argues that for her conviction to stand, the prosecutor must prove that she intended to cause serious injury or death to the dogs. The court disagrees, stating that for conviction only the act need be intentional, and that the act caused the death or serious injury of an animal. Notably, the court observed that "defendant is very fortunate to have only received a sentence of 12 months' probation for these heinous crimes," and criticized the circuit court for its "unjustly and inexplicably lenient" sentence simply because defendant only caused harm to an animal and not a human being.
Barrios v. Safeway Ins. Co. 97 So.3d 1019 (La.App. 4 Cir.,2012)

Louisiana dog owners sued motorist for mental anguish and property damage  after their dog was hit and killed by defendant's car. The lower court awarded damages to each of the dog owners in the total amount of $10,000. The Court upheld that the damages award of $10,000 because the dog was killed as a result of motorist's negligence, the owners were nearby and immediately arrived at scene to find their beloved dog dead, the dog was extremely valuable to owners, who had a close family-like relationship with dog for approximately 12 years, and the loss caused the owners to suffer psychic trauma.

Com. v. Kneller 971 A.2d 495 (Pa.Super.,2009) Defendant appealed a conviction for criminal conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals after Defendant provided a gun and instructed her boyfriend to shoot and kill their dog after the dog allegedly bit Defendant’s child.   The Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed the conviction, finding the relevant animal cruelty statute to be ambiguous, thus requiring the reversal under the rule of lenity.   Concurring and dissenting opinions were filed, in which both agreed that the statute is unambiguous as to whether a dog owner may destroy his or her dog by use of a firearm when that dog has attacked another person, but disagreed as to whether sufficient evidence was offered to show that the dog in fact attacked another person. (See Supreme Court order - Com. v. Kneller, 978 A.2d 716, 2009 WL 5154265 (Pa.,2009)).
Cisneros v. Petland, Inc. 972 F.3d 1204 (11th Cir. 2020) Plaintiff Cisneros purchased a Shih Tzu puppy named "Giant" from Petland Kennesaw, a Kennesaw, Georgia franchise of Petland, Inc. She received a certificate of "veterinary inspection" and a limited health guarantee at the time of purchase. Several days later, problems arose with the puppy and she brought the dog back to the Petland affiliated veterinarian who prescribed antibiotics without making a diagnosis. Shortly thereafter, an emergency pet visit revealed the dog suffered from parvovirus. Cisneros called Petland who told her to take the dog back to the Petland vet if she wanted a refund. She did so and the dog died several days later. Because the State of Georgia requires reporting of parvovirus, Cisneros received a report after the dog died, but she learned the dog's organs had been removed (an uncommon post mortem practice). As a result, plaintiff alleged that actions were the intended result of a nationwide conspiracy involving Petland and its affiliates to sell unhealthy puppies from "puppy mills" where health conditions are rubber stamped by a network of "preferred veterinarians" and buyers are deceived by sales documents that distract from the fraud. Plaintiff broadly asserted three claims: (1) a violation of the federal RICO statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c); (2) a conspiracy to violate the federal RICO statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); and (3) with respect to a Georgia subclass of persons who purchased a cat or dog from a Petland franchise in Georgia from July 2013 to the present, a violation of Georgia's state RICO statute, O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4. The district court dismissed Cisneros's federal causes of action for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her remaining state-law claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). After applying the six-fold test for a private plaintiff suing under the civil provisions of RICO, this Court found chiefly that Cisneros has alleged no facts that plausibly support the inference that the defendants were collectively trying to make money in pet sales by fraud, which is a common purpose sufficient to find a RICO enterprise. Cisneros was required to allege not just that Petland Kennesaw had a fraudulent purpose, but that it was a common purpose, formed in collaboration with Petland, PAWSitive, and the preferred veterinarians. In the end, Cisneros has alleged only that Petland operates a franchise business like any other franchisor. Even assuming that Cisneros has adequately pled fraud on the part of Petland Kennesaw, she has not alleged that its predicate acts constituted a pattern of racketeering activity. The action was affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part.
Lee v. State 973 N.E.2d 1207 (Ind.App. 2012)

An attendant of a dog fight was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor under section 35-46-3-4 of the Indiana Code. On appeal, the defendant-appellant argued that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and that the statute invited arbitrary law enforcement, which violated the Due Process clause of the U.S. Constitution. Though the appeals court found the defendant-appellant had waived her constitutional claims by not filing a motion at the bench trial, the appeals court found her claims lacked merit. The defendant-appellant’s conviction was therefore upheld.

Goodby v. Vetpharm, Inc. 974 A.2d 1269 (Vt.,2009)

This Vermont case answered whether noneconomic damages are available when a companion animal dies due to negligent acts of veterinarians and a pharmaceutical company, and also whether a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) is allowed for the death of a pet. The Vermont Supreme Court answered both questions in the negative. Plaintiffs' cats died after taking hypertension pills produced by defendant pharmaceutical company Vetpharm, which contained a toxic level of the medication (20 times the labeled dose). After the cats were brought into defendant-veterinarians' office, plaintiff contends that defendant veterinarians negligently or wantonly failed to diagnose the toxicity in the cats, and improperly treated the cats as a result. While the plaintiffs and amici urged the court to adopt a special exception to recover noneconomic damages for the loss of their personal property (to wit, the cats), the court found that to be a role more suited to the state legislature. With regard to the NIED claim, the court held that plaintiffs were never in the "zone of danger" necessary to establish a claim.

Southbark, Inc. v. Mobile County Com'n 974 F.Supp.2d 1372 (S.D.Ala.,2013)

In the past, SouthBARK, a charitable non-profit no kill shelter, acquired dogs from the Mobile County Animal Shelter (MCAS) to prevent their euthanization. However, after a SouthBARK employee threatened a shelter worker and after numerous statements from SouthBark about the number of animals being killed at MCAS, MCAS refused to let SouthBARK take anymore dogs for a 6 month period. After the 6 month period, MCAS allowed SouthBARK to take dogs again, but soon afterwards sent a letter to SouthBARK informing them that they could not take any more animals. SouthBARK and Dusty Feller, the Vice President of SouthBARK, brought this action against Mobile County Commission and MCAS. On July 8, Defendants filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss. The District Court granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part, stating that it was "not inclinded to make Defendants' arguments for them."

Duncan v. State 975 N.E.2d 838 (Ct. App. Ind. 2012)

A complaint regarding the welfare of horses led to the defendant being convicted of 6 charges of animal cruelty, all of which were class A misdemeanors. Upon appeal, the defendant argued that he had not knowingly waived his right to a jury trial, that Indiana’s animal cruelty law was unconstitutionally vague and that there was no sufficient evidence to overcome a defense of necessity. The appeals court agreed that the defendant did not knowingly waive his right to a jury trial and therefore reversed and remanded the case on that issue; however, the appeals court disagreed with the defendant on the other issues.  The case was affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Weber 979 F.Supp.2d 1118 (D.Mont.,2013)

An environmental group sued the U.S. Forest Service claiming it violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) when it permitted the implementation of the Flathead National Forest Precommercial Thinning Project. The court that the defendants' designation of matrix habitat was not arbitrary and that there was no showing of irreparable harm to lynx habitat to require the Service to be enjoined from implementing project. Likewise, plaintiffs’ claims regarding the grizzly bear’s critical habitat did not prevail; nor did the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the National Forest Management Act’s Inland Native Fish Strategy. The court, therefore, granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs' motion.

Pages