Cases

Case name Citationsort ascending Summary
Hendrickson v. Tender Care Animal Hospital Corporation 312 P.3d 52 (2013) Dog owner brought claims of professional negligence, negligent misrepresentation, lack of informed consent, reckless breach of a bailment contract, and emotional distress after her golder retriever, Bear, died following a routine neutering procedure. After the surgery, Bear was bloated and vomiting, and the owner alleged that the animal hospital failed to properly inform her of his condition. As a result, the owner treated Bear with a homeopathic remedy instead of the prescription medication given to her by the hospital and Bear's condition worsened and eventually caused his death.
National Audubon Society, Inc. v. Davis 312 F.3d 416 (9th Cir. 2002)

This order accompanies the Ninth Circuit's decision in National Audubon v. Davis, 307 F.3d 835 (9th Cir. 2002).

State v. Fessenden 310 P.3d 1163 (Or.App., 2013), review allowed, 354 Or. 597, 318 P.3d 749 (2013) and aff'd, 355 Or. 759 (2014)

This Oregon case considers, as an issue of first impression, whether the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement applies to animals in need of immediate assistance. Defendant appealed her conviction for second-degree animal neglect (ORS 167.325) based on the condition of her horse. The court found that the emergency aid exception extends to nonhuman animals when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals which are imminently threatened with suffering, serious physical injury or cruel death. Here, the deputy sheriff found that the horse was more emaciated than any other horse he had ever seen and there were signs of possible organ failure.

Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of Tommy and Kiko v. 31 N.Y.3d 1054, 100 N.E.3d 846 (2018) The petitioner, Nonhuman Rights Project brought this appeal on behalf of Tommy and Kiko, who are two captive chimpanzees. The chimpanzees had been confined by their owners in small cages within a warehouse and a cement storefront in a crowded residential area, respectively. Petitioner sought leave to appeal from an order of the Appellate Division, which affirmed two judgments of the Supreme Court declining to sign orders to show cause to grant the chimpanzees habeas relief. The lower courts based their denial of habeas corpus for the chimpanzees on the dictionary definition for "person." The term “person” tends to lean towards an entity that is recognized by law as having most of the rights and duties of a human. The Appellate Division also reasoned that chimpanzees are not considered people because they lack the capacity to bear legal duties or to be held legally accountable for their actions. As a counter, the Petitioner argued that the same can be said for human infants or comatose human adults, yet no one would say that it is improper to seek a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of one of them. The Appellate Division therefore based their denial on the fact that chimpanzees are not a member of the human species. In the instant action, Court of Appeals of New York denied the motion for leave to appeal. In the concurring opinion, Judge Fahey states that the better approach is not to ask whether a chimpanzee fits the definition of a person or whether it has the same rights and duties as a human being, but whether he or she has the right to liberty protected by habeas corpus. The concurring opinion also found that the Appellate Division erred by misreading the case it relied on and holding that a habeas corpus challenge cannot be used to seek transfer; a habeas corpus challenge can be used to seek a transfer to another facility. Although Judge Fahey recognizes that Chimpanzees share at least 96% of their DNA with humans and are autonomous, intelligent creatures, he concurred with the Appellate Division’s decision to deny leave to appeal. However, he ultimately questioned whether the Court was right to deny leave in the first instance.
Com. v. Raban 31 A.3d 699 (Pa.Super., 2011)

Defendant was convicted of violating the dog law for failing to properly confine his dog after it escaped from his property and attacked another dog. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed, holding that 1) scienter was not a necessary element of the violation because the statutory mandate to confine a dog was stated absolutely, and 2) a dog attack is not a de minimis infraction that would preclude a conviction.

State v. Dye 309 P.3d 1192 (Wash.,2013)

The Defendant appealed his conviction for residential burglary. The victim in the case was an adult man with significant developmental disabilities. At trial, the State obtained permission to allow a dog named "Ellie" to sit at the victim's feet during testimony. On appeal of the Court of Appeal's decision, the Supreme Court held that defendant failed to establish that his rights to a fair trial were violated (283 P.3d 1130 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2012)). Further, any prejudice that resulted from Ellie's presence was minor and largely mitigated by the limiting instruction that the trial court gave. The Court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion and the Court of Appeals decision was affirmed.

United States v. Kum 309 F.Supp.2d 1084 (E.D. Wis. 2004)

Defendant convicted for conspiracy to smuggle endangered wildlife into the United States.  Government moved for upward departure from sentencing range.  Held:  Court would not depart upward to reflect cruel treatment of animals (other holdings generally unrelated).

National Audubon Society, Inc. v. Davis 307 F.3d 835 (9th Cir. 2002)

In 1998, California voters passed Proposition 4, which restricted the use of certain kinds of traps, specifically steel-jawed leghold traps.  The National Audubon Society, among other groups, challenged the statute, arguing that it was preempted by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and the and National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act (NWRSIA).  The Ninth Circuit held that the statute was preempted by the Endangered Species Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Act.  Contrary to the trapper-plaintiffs contentions, the statute, however, did not violate the Commerce Clause.

Berry v. Frazier 307 Cal. Rptr. 3d 778 (2023), as modified on denial of reh'g (May 15, 2023), review denied (Aug. 9, 2023) Ryan Berry sued veterinarian Jeffery R. Frazier for damages related to the euthanasia of her cat. Berry alleged that Frazier performed the euthanasia without her informed consent, using an unnecessary and unjustified intracardiac injection that caused a painful death for her cat and emotional distress for her. In 2019, plaintiff hired "Vetted," a service that provides home euthanasia for pets, to put down their dying cat. Vetted sent Dr. Frazier, who failed to sedate the cat with a catheter and suggested using an intracardiac injection (injecting fluid directly into the heart), claiming it was a quick and painless method. The owners agreed, but later learned that this method is generally considered inhumane and illegal in some circumstances. Plaintiff's first amended complaint (FAC) raised the following: (1) fraud/deceit/intentional misrepresentation (third cause of action); (2) breach of fiduciary duty (fourth cause of action); (3) conversion/trespass to chattels (fifth cause of action); (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress (sixth cause of action); and (5) violation of section 3340 (eighth cause of action). The prayer for relief for each cause of action sought nominal damages of $1, restitution of $600 (cost of euthanasia), and punitive damages. The trial court granted Frazier's demurrer and dismissed the causes of action for fraud, conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of Civil Code section 3340. Berry voluntarily dismissed the remaining cause of action, resulting in a final judgment. On the instant appeal, the appellate court looked at the fraud claim finding that the defendant intentionally misled the plaintiff about the method of euthanasia and manipulated her into giving consent for the intracardiac injection, which turned out to be an inhumane and painful procedure. The plaintiff provided specific allegations of the defendant's representations, including statements about the procedure being quick and painless. The court found that the plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to support a claim of fraud, and the defendant's argument that the plaintiff failed to allege legally cognizable damages was rejected. With respect to the conversion/trespass to chattels claim, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant, a veterinarian, obtained her consent for euthanizing her cat through fraudulent means. The plaintiff claims that the defendant intentionally misled her about the procedure, resulting in the cat experiencing extreme pain. As to plaintiffs' claims of conversion/trespass to chattels and IIED, the court found that the allegations support these claims, as the defendant's conduct violated the plaintiff's property rights and caused severe emotional distress. The court disagreed with the trial court's dismissal of these claims and concludes that the demurrer should have been overruled. Finally, on the violation of Section 3340 (the exemplary damages statute), the court agreed with the trial court's ruling that no separate cause of action can be alleged for a violation of Section 3340. The court notes that while the statute provides for exemplary damages, it does not define "wrongful injuries" or indicate an intent to create a separate cause of action. While there is no independent cause of action under Section 3340, it can serve as a basis for seeking exemplary damages in connection with other causes of action so the plaintiff should have pleaded the request for Section 3340, providing sufficient facts to support the allegation of willful and inhumane conduct. The court remanded the case to allow the plaintiff to file a second amended complaint to include the request for Section 3340 exemplary damages in connection with other causes of action. Notably, the court rejected the defendant's argument that Section 3340 does not apply to veterinarians or that the plaintiff's claim only involves professional negligence. Section 3340 is broadly worded and can apply to any defendant, including veterinarians, for willful or grossly negligent conduct causing wrongful injuries to animals. The court found no basis to exclude veterinarians from the statute's coverage and notes that the defendant's argument is unsupported by relevant case law. The court has dismissed the appeals from the October 7, 2021 demurrer order, the October 7, 2021 motion to strike order, and the October 26, 2021 order dismissing the fourth cause of action without prejudice. The court has also reversed the judgment of dismissal and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. The trial court was directed to vacate the dismissal of the first amended complaint and modify the demurrer order. The plaintiff is allowed to file a second amended complaint, and the defendant is allowed to file a demurrer and motion to strike to any new amended pleading.
Leger v. Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries 306 So.2d 391 (La.App. 1975)

Alex Leger instituted this action against the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and Burton Angelle, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, to recover damages for the loss of his 1973 sweet potato crop.  Leger's primary contention was that, since the State of Louisiana is the owner of all wild quadrupeds according to statute, it is legally responsible for damages done to his potato crop.  The court held that the statutory  language compels the conclusion that the state's ownership is in a sovereign, and not a proprietary, capacity.  Thus, the nature of the ownership is as a trustee and the management duties are carried out under police power authority.  The court found nothing in the cited statutes or in the law which indicates that the state has a duty to harbor wild birds or wild quadrupeds, to control their movements or to prevent them from damaging privately owned property.

Folsom v. Barnett 306 S.W.2d 832 (Ky. 1957)

Defendant-veterinarian sought appeal of a judgment against him for malpractice resulting from the injury to plaintiff’s thoroughbred colt that resulted in its destruction. The Court of Appeals held that an examination of the record revealed that sufficient evidence was produced to put in issue the question of whether appellant used such skill and attention as may ordinarily be expected of careful and skillful persons in his profession. Thus, the issue was correctly submitted to a jury.

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

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

People v. Johnson 305 N.W.2d 560 (Mich. 1981)

Defendant claimed the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of cruelty to animals, arguing that there was not proof that the horses were under his charge or custody.  While the court agreed and reversed his conviction because he could not be convicted under the statute merely as the owner of the horses, absent proof of his care or custody of the horses, it further explained that the "owner or otherwise" statutory language was designed to punish cruelty to animals without regard to ownership.

Prindable v. Association of Apartment Owners of 2987 Kalakaua 304 F.Supp.2d 1245 (D. Hawaii, 2003)

Condominium resident filed a complaint alleging the housing authority violated the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act by failing to waive the "no pets" as a reasonable accommodation for his handicap. The court held that where the primary handicap is mental or emotional in nature, an animal "must be peculiarly suited to ameliorate the unique problems of the mentally disabled," and granted the housing authority's motion for summary judgment on the issue of the housing authority's failure to make a reasonable accommodation under the FHA.

Hammer v. American Kennel Club 304 A.D.2d 74 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,2003)

Plaintiff Jon Hammer is the owner of a pure-bred Brittany Spaniel which has a natural, undocked tail approximately ten (10) inches long.  He contends that tail docking is a form of animal cruelty, and that the practical effect of defendant American Kennel Club's tail standards for Brittany Spaniels is to effectively exclude his dog from meaningfully competing shows unless he complies with what he perceives as an unfair and discriminatory practice.  Specifically, his amended complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the complained-of standard (1) unlawfully discriminates against plaintiff by effectively precluding him from entering his dog in breed competitions, (2) is arbitrary and capricious, (3) violates Agriculture and Markets Law § 353, and (4) is null and void as in derogation of law; he further seeks an injunction prohibiting defendants from applying, enforcing or utilizing the standard.  The court held that plaintiff lacked standing to obtain any of the civil remedies he sought for the alleged violation of Agriculture and Markets Law Section 353.  The Legislature's inclusion of a complete scheme for enforcement of its provisions precludes the possibility that it intended enforcement by private individuals as well.  The dissent disagreed with the majority's standing analysis, finding that plaintiff's object is not to privately enforce § 353, insofar as seeking to have the defendants' prosecuted for cruelty.  Rather, plaintiff was seeking a declaration that the AKC's standard for judging the Brittany Spaniel deprives him of a benefit of membership on the basis of his unwillingness to violate a state law and, thus, he wanted to enjoin defendants from enforcing that standard against him.  The dissent found that whether tail docking for purely cosmetic reasons violates § 353 is solely a question of law and entirely appropriate for a declaratory judgment.  Cosmetic docking of tails was wholly unjustifiable under the law in the dissent's eyes.  While plaintiff pointed out that docking may serve some purposes for hunting dogs, it is not a justification for docking the tails of non-hunting dogs, such as plaintiff's, for purposes of AKC competitions.

Citizens for Balanced Use v. Maurier 303 P.3d 794 (Mont. 2013)

Upon the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks’s decision to relocate a brucellosis-free herd of bison out of Yellowstone National Park and into tribal lands, plaintiffs sought an injunction to halt this movement until the department complied with MCA § 87-1-216.  The District Court granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction.  Upon appeal by defendants and defendant intervenors, however, the Supreme Court of Montana held that MCA § 87-1-216 did not apply and that the District Court relied on erroneous grounds for issuing a preliminary injunction under MCA § 27-19-201(2). The case was therefore reversed, the preliminary injunction vacated and the case was remanded back to the District Court.

Warboys v. Proulx 303 F.Supp.2d 111 (D. Conn. 2004)

Pitbull owner filed suit seeking compensatory damages arising from the shotting and killing of his dog by police.  Defendants removed the action based on federal question jurisdiction and moved for summary judgment, and the dog owner moved to amend the complaint.  Motions granted.

People v. McKnight 302 N.W.2d 241 (Mich. 1980)

Defendant was convicted of willfully and maliciously killing animals for kicking a dog to death.  Defendant argued on appeal that dogs were not included under the statute punishing the willful and malicious killing of horses, cattle, or other beasts of another.  The court found that the term "other beasts" includes dogs.  Further, defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of the requisite willful and malicious intent to kill the dog.  The court disagreed and held that inferences from the surrounding circumstances were sufficient to support a finding of malicious intent.  The court affirmed his convictions.

Kringle v. Elliott 301 Ga.App. 1, 686 S.E.2d 665 (Ga.App.,2009)

The plaintiff, on behalf of her then seven-year-old son, brought an action against the defendant Elliot for injuries the child sustained resulting from a bite by defendant's golden retriever. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for a directed verdict reasoning that because this was the dog's first bite of a human, there was there was no cause of action under Georgia's “first bite” rule. The appellate court found that the excluded evidence did not indicate the owner had any reason to suspect that the dog had a propensity to bite and thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting defendant's motion or directing a verdict. 

Conservation Force, Inc. v. Manning 301 F.3d 985 (9th Cir. 2002)

This case questions whether Arizona's 10% cap on nonresident hunting of bull elk throughout the state and of antlered deer north of the Colorado River substantially affects commerce such that the dormant Commerce Clause applies to the regulation.  The Court that Arizona's cap on nonresident hunting substantially affects and discriminates against interstate commerce and therefore is subject to strict scrutiny under the dormant Commerce Clause. The case was remanded to determine the extent of Arizona's legitimate interests in regulating hunting to conserve its population of game and maintain recreational opportunities for its citizens. 

Loy v. Kenney 301 Cal. Rptr. 3d 352 (Cal.App. 2 Dist., 2022), reh'g denied (Dec. 2, 2022) This is a case brought by purchasers of puppies from breeders advertising on Craigslist, against the breeders who were selling fatally sick puppies to these buyers. The buyers allege that the sellers misrepresented the puppies as healthy, when the dogs were actually too young to be separated from their mothers and many of these puppies ended up dying from illnesses such as parvovirus. The buyers brought suit for violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and for animal cruelty. The trial court granted a preliminary injunction to stop the sellers from advertising and selling dogs while trial was pending. This appeal followed, with the sellers arguing that there was insufficient evidence to show that they were the sellers of these sick puppies. However, the court of appeals affirmed. The court found that the evidence from the humane officer’s search of the seller’s home led to sufficient evidence that they were selling the sick puppies, including the seizure of 32 puppies and dogs living in unhealthy and cruel conditions. The puppies were being separated from their mothers too soon, and some were encrusted with feces. During the search, one of the sellers also told the officer that they would not stop selling puppies. Sellers attempted to raise several evidentiary objections to the evidence offered by the humane society officers, but all were rejected. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed and awarded costs to the buyers who brought the action.
State v. Pinard 300 P.3d 177 (Or.App.,2013), review denied, 353 Or. 788, 304 P.3d 467 (2013)

In this Oregon case, Defendant shot his neighbor's dog with a razor-bladed hunting arrow. The neighbor euthanized the dog after determining that the dog would not survive the trip to the veterinarian. Defendant was convicted of one count of aggravated first-degree animal abuse under ORS 167.322 (Count 1) and two counts of first-degree animal abuse under ORS 167.320 (Counts 3 and 4). On appeal, Defendant contends that he was entitled to acquittal on Counts 1 and 4 because there was no evidence that the dog would have survived the wound. The court here disagreed, finding "ample evidence" from which a trier of fact could have found that the arrow fatally wounded the dog. As to Defendant's other issues the the merging of the various counts, the accepted one argument that Counts 3 and 4 should have merged, and reversed and remanded for entry of a single conviction for first-degree animal abuse.

ZENIER v. SPOKANE INTERNATIONAL RAILROAD COMPANY 300 P.2d 494 (Idaho, 1956)

In Zenier v. Spokane Intern. R. Co ., 78 Idaho 196 (Idaho 1956), a rancher’s mare and colt was killed, and the rancher sought statutory damages and attorney fees. A jury found for the rancher and imposed damages mainly on his testimony as to value. The railroad sought review, stating that the rancher's own negligence in allowing the horses to run barred recovery and there was no objective evidence as to value. The court upheld the award, finding that the animal’s value to the rancher was permitted as a basis for determining damages where personal property has been injured by the willful or negligent act of another.

People v. Preston 300 N.W. 853 (Mich. 1941)

Defendant was convicted of wilfully and maliciously killing three cows.  The issue considered on review was: "Are the circumstances and testimony here, aliunde the confession of the respondent, sufficient to create such a probability that the death of the cattle in question was intentionally caused by human intervention and to justify the admission in evidence of the alleged confession of the respondent?"  The court held that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction.

Commonwealth v. Deible 300 A.3d 1025 (2023) This case is an appeal from a judgment convicting appellant of animal cruelty for failure to groom her terrier dog. Appellant has owned the 17-year-old terrier dog since the dog was a puppy. At one point, the dog escaped from appellant’s home and was found by a bystander. This bystander testified that the dog’s fur was heavily matted, with objects stuck in its fur. The bystander took pictures of the dog and contacted a veterinary clinic to shave the dog. The dog was then left at an animal shelter, where a humane police officer examined the dog and found it matted so heavily it could not see, stand, or defecate properly. Appellant testified that the dog was aggressive when she attempted to groom him, and that the dog made itself dirty when it escaped appellant’s home. Appellant also argued that their veterinarian was supposed to groom the dog, but the dog’s veterinary records did not support this. The lower court found that there was sufficient evidence to charge appellant with animal cruelty, and ordered her to pay fines totaling $946.58 and forfeit ownership of the dog. Appellant filed this appeal to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence used to support her conviction of animal cruelty. The court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the cruelty charge, as the statute prohibits “ill-treatment” and the evidence of the condition of the dog supports that it was treated improperly. Appellant also argues that the court’s order for her to forfeit her dog was improper, but the court of appeals disagreed due to the pattern of neglect established by appellant’s history with the dog. Accordingly, the court of appeals affirmed the holding of the lower court.
Tilson v. Russo 30 A.D.3d 856 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept., 2006),

In this New York case, plaintiff, an experienced recreational horse rider, was bitten by a horse she intended to use to practice her techniques at defendant's stable. The rider then  brought a negligence action against owners of horse that bit her on the shoulder. In affirming the lower court's granting of summary judgment, the appellate court found that rider's injury occurred in the context of her participation in the recreational sporting activity of horseback riding, for purposes of primary assumption of the risk principles. She was aware of the inherent risks in sporting events involving horses, had an appreciation of the nature of the risks, and voluntarily assumed those risks.

Cohen v. Kretzschmar 30 A.D.3d 555 ((N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept. 2006)

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the owners established that their dog did not have a propensity to jump up on people, and that they were not negligent in the manner in which they handled the dog at the time of the alleged accident.  The judgment granting defendants' motion for summary judgment was affirmed.

Dufer v. Cully 3 Or. 377 (1871)

This case involved a plaintiff who sued for damages when a bull strayed into, or broke into the plaintiff's enclosures, and the plaintiff, with two other men, went to drive the bull away.  The court held that the owner of a domestic animal is not generally liable for injuries resulting from the vicious disposition of the animal, unless he is chargeable with notice.

Ballas v Ballas 3 Cal.Rptr. 11 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 1960)

In a divorce decree, lower court awarded dog and car to husband; the wife appealed.  Appellate court found that distinction between community and separate property was unimportant and held that wife was entitled to the dog, but the husband remained entitled to the car.

People v. Iehl 299 N.W.2d 46 (Mich. 1980)

Defendant appealed his conviction for killing another person's dog.  On appeal, defendant contended that the term "beast" provided by the anti-cruelty statue did not encompass dogs.  The court disagreed, finding the statute at issue covered dogs despite its failure to explicitly list "dogs" as did a similar statute. 

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. 

Huff v. Dyer 297 Ga.App. 761, 678 S.E.2d 206 (Ga.App.,2009)

In this Georgia case, the plaintiff was injured from being bitten by defendants' dog who was chained to the bed of their pickup truck while the defendants were inside an adjacent restaurant. The plaintiff sued defendants, claiming that they failed to warn her of their dog's dangerous propensities and that they committed negligence per se by violating the state's strict liability statute (OCGA § 51-2-7) and the Hall County Animal Control Ordinance. A jury found in favor of the defendants. The court found that the evidence was therefore more than sufficient to support the jury's conclusion that defendants' dog was “under restraint” for purposes of the ordinance. Further, there was no evidence that the owners had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensity. Affirmed.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Reynolds 297 F.Supp.3d 901 (S.D. Iowa, 2018) Plaintiffs, a collection of local and national non-profit organizations brought this action alleging that Iowa Code § 717A.3A, which criminalizes agrigcultural facility fraud by either obtaining access to an agricultural facility on false pretenses or making a false statement or false representation in regard to the application or agreement to be employed by an agricultural facility, impeded their ability to advocate for their respective causes. Some of the non-profit organizations listed as plaintiffs, engaged in undercover investigations where investigators serve as employees at argricultural facilities to gather information about the inner workings of slaughterhouses and other facilities. The plaintiffs alleged that the Iowa statute was unconstitutional on its face becuase it violated the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Discrict Court determined that the plaintiffs have standing to make their claim and have an injury sufficient to suppor their standing. The defendants sought a motion to dismiss. The District Court ultimately denied the motion to dismiss with respect to the First Amendment claim and granted the motion to dismiss with respect to the Equal Protection claim.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Reynolds 297 F.Supp.3d 901 (S.D. Iowa Feb. 27, 2018) In 2012, Iowa passed a statute (Iowa code § 717A.3A) that criminalized gaining access to agricultural facilities under false pretenses and making a false representation on a job application for those facilities. Plaintiffs in this case (animal rights groups including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and PETA) brought suit alleging that the statute was unconstitutional and sought to enjoin the Defendants (governor of Iowa) from enforcing it. Their complaint alleged that the statute violates the First Amendment as discrimination on the basis of content, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by targeting animals rights groups, and violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by burdening the freedom of speech. This case decides the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ complaint based on lack of standing and failure to state a claim because the outlawed conduct is not protected by the First Amendment as false statements and is rationally related to the legitimate government interest of protecting private property, thereby not violating the Fourteenth Amendment. The court denies Defendants' motion with respect to the First Amendment, concluding that Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged the intent to suppress their message because of their viewpoint. However, the court grants the motion to dismiss for the claim of a Fourteenth Amendment violation because the statute in fact serves a legitimate government purpose in protecting private property.
Taub v. State of Maryland 296 Md. 439 (Md.,1983)

Maryland Court of Appeals held that animal-cruelty statute did not apply to researchers because there are certain normal human activities to which the infliction of pain to an animal is purely incidental and unavoidable.

Norwest v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital 293 Or. 543 (Or. 1982)

This court found that there was no common law liability where a tortfeasor's conduct caused a child to lose parental support and care. The court declined to create a new common law cause of action for parental consortium, and suggested that it was up to the legislature to create such a cause of action. However, dicta in the case refers to an invasion of the animal/animal owner relationship as actionable misconduct.

Southall v. Gabel 293 N.E.2d 891 (Ohio, Mun.,1972)

This action was brought by plaintiff as owner of a 3 year old thoroughbred race horse, named Pribal, against defendant, a veterinarian, charging defendant so mishandled the horse that it sustained physical injuries and emotional trauma; that the emotional stability of the horse worsened until finally it was exterminated. The court held that the evidence failed to show any proximate cause between the surgery that was performed on the horse and the subsequent care and transport of the horse by the veterinarian. 

As the court stated, what caused Pribal to become mean and a "killer" is speculative; the O.S.U. Veterinary Clinic records in evidence did not indicate any causal relationship between the handling of Pribal by the defendant and the subsequent personality change resulting in Pribal becoming a "killer horse."

Sebek v. City of Seattle 290 P.3d 159 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2012)

Two Seattle taxpayers filed a taxpayer action lawsuit against the city of Seattle for violating Washington’s animal cruelty statute and Seattle’s animal cruelty ordinance with regard to a zoo’s elephant exhibit. After the lawsuit was dismissed by the King County Superior Court for lack of taxpayer standing, plaintiffs appealed the court’s decision. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision because the plaintiffs’ complaint alleged the zoological society, not the city, acted illegally and because the operating agreement between the city and the zoological society made it clear that the zoological society, not the city, had exclusive control over the operations of the elephant exhibit. Significantly, the appeals court found that a city’s contractual funding obligations to a zoological society that  cares and owns an animal exhibit at a zoo is not enough to allege a city violated animal cruelty laws.

Ash v. State 290 Ark. 278 (1986)

Police raided defendant's home and found an area converted into an arena for dog fighting. Defendant was found guilty  of promoting or engaging in dog fighting or possessing a dog for that purpose. On appeal, the court found that the based on the evidence a jury could have reasonably concluded that defendant was aware that on property owned by her and her husband an arena had been built for the purpose of clandestine dog fighting and that she was aware it was so being used.

State v. Mumme 29 So.3d 685 (La.App. 4 Cir.,2010.)

In this unpublished Louisiana case, the defendant was charged with “cruelty to an animal, to wit, a bat, belonging to Julian Mumme, by beating the animal with a bat causing the animal to be maimed and injured.” After the first witness was sworn at trial, the State moved to amend the information to strike the phrase “to wit: a bat." On appeal, defendant alleged that this was improper, a mistrial should have been declared, and the State should be prohibited from trying him again. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit disagreed with defendant, holding that the amendment corrected a defect of form, not a defect of substance (as allowed by La.C.Cr.P. art. 487), and that the trial court correctly allowed the bill to be amended during trial.

State v. Kingsbury 29 S.W.3d 202 (Texas 2004)

A cruelty to animals case. The State alleged that the appellees tortured four dogs by leaving them without food and water, resulting in their deaths. Examining section 42.09 of the Texas Penal Code, Cruelty to Animals, the Court found that “torture” did not include failure to provide necessary food, care, or shelter. The Court held that the criminal act of failing provide food, care and shelter does not constitute the felony offense of torture.

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

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

U.S. v. Smith 29 F.3d 270 (7th Cir. 1994)

Defendant was convicted of possessing Bald Eagle feathers in violation of Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) after receiving the feathers in the mail from a friend to complete a craft project.  On appeal, defendant challenged her conviction, alleging that she did not possess the requisite knowledge and that the act itself was vague as to the level of intent, or scienter .  The court affirmed defendant's conviction finding that the evidence established that defendant knowingly possessed eagle feathers in violation of MBTA, the conviction did not amount to punishment of wholly passive conduct contrary to defendant's suggestion, and that MBTA was not vague nor overbroad with regard to intent.  For further discussion on the intersection of the MBTA and the Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion of the Eagle Act .

Feger v. Warwick Animal Shelter 29 A.D.3d 515 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2006) In this New York case, a cat owner brought suit against an animal shelter and its employee for their alleged misconduct in knowingly placing a champion cat stolen from her home for adoption by unidentified family. In ruling that the lower court properly denied the plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment, the appellate court found that there are questions of fact, inter alia , as to whether “Lucy” is “Kisses." However, the Shelter defendants are correct that the plaintiff may not recover damages for the emotional harm she allegedly suffered from the loss of her cat.
People v. Garcia 29 A.D.3d 255 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., 2006)

In this New York case, the court, as a matter of first impression, considered the scope of the aggravated cruelty law (§ 353-a(1)) in its application to a pet goldfish.  Defendant argued that a goldfish should not be included within the definition of companion animal under the statute because there is "no reciprocity in affection" similar to other companion animals like cats or dogs.  In finding that the statute did not limit the definition as such, the court held that defendant's intentional stomping to death of a child's pet goldfish fell within the ambit of the statute.  Accordingly, the judgment of the Supreme Court, New York County that convicted defendant of attempted assault in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, criminal mischief in the third degree, assault in the third degree (three counts), endangering the welfare of a child (three counts), and aggravated cruelty to animals in violation of Agriculture and Markets Law § 353-a(1) was affirmed.

Buffalo Field Campaign v. Zinke 289 F.Supp.3d 103 (D.D.C. Jan. 31, 2018) Plaintiffs Buffalo Field Campaign and other environmental groups petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to add the Yellowstone bison population to the federal endangered species list. After the Service made a threshold “90–day” determination that Buffalo Field's petition failed to present sufficient scientific evidence that listing the bison may be warranted, Buffalo Field brought suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, alleging that the Service's determination was arbitrary and capricious. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Service applied an improper standard when evaluating Buffalo Field's petition, granted Buffalo Field's motion for summary judgment, denied the Service's cross-motion, and remanded the case for the agency to conduct a new 90–day finding using the proper standard. In particular, the court observed that the Service "simply picked a side in an ongoing debate in the scientific community," thereby in inappropriately heightening the standard of evaluation for a 90-day petition. Because of that, the court agreed with the Service that remand is the appropriate remedy as opposed to to directing the Service to begin a 12-month review.
Lincecum v. Smith 287 So.2d 625 (1973)

Despite "Good Samaritan" intent, the defendant was liable for conversion where he authorized a sick puppy's euthanasia without first making reasonable efforts to locate its owner. The court also awarded $50 for the puppy's replacement value and $100 for mental anguish and humiliation.

Dancy v. State 287 So. 3d 931 (Miss. 2020) The Justice Court of Union County found Michael Dancy guilty of three counts of animal cruelty and ordered the permanent forfeiture of Dancy’s six horses, four cats, and three dogs. Dancy appealed to the circuit court. The circuit court ordered that the animals be permanently forfeited and found Dancy guilty. The circuit court also ordered Dancy to pay $39,225 for care and boarding costs for the horses. Dancy subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court of Mississippi. Essentially, Dancy failed to provide adequate shelter, food, and water for the animals. The Court found that the circuit court properly released the animals to an animal protection organization. The Court also found that the reimbursement order was permissible. Two of Dancy’s three convictions were for violations of the same statute regarding simple cruelty, one for his four cats and one for his three dogs. The Court held that, according to the statute's plain language, Dancy’s cruelty to a combination of dogs and cats occurring at the same time "shall constitute a single offense." Thus, the State cannot punish Dancy twice for the same offense without violating his right against double jeopardy. For that reason, the court vacated Dancy’s second conviction of simple cruelty. The court affirmed the permanent forfeiture and reimbursement order and his other cruelty conviction.
Vosburgh v. Kimball 285 A.2d 766 (Vt. 1971)

This case involves an action by a dog owner against farmer for wrongfully impounding dogs and against town constable for wrongfully killing the dogs.  The Vermont Supreme Court held that farmer had acted in a reasonable and prudent manner by contacting the constable, where he never intended to "impound" the dogs when he secured them overnight in his barn after finding them in pursuit of his injured cows.  However, the issue of whether the dogs were wearing a collar as required by state law precluded the granting of a directed verdict for the constable.  (Under state law, a constable was authorized to kill dogs not registered or wearing a prescribed collar.)  The court held that it was necessary for the jury to make this determination.

Howard v. Chimps, Inc. 284 P.3d 1181 (Or. App. 2012)

While cleaning a cage at a chimpanzee sanctuary, the plaintiff was twice attacked by a chimpanzee, which left the plaintiff without much of her thumb. Plaintiff brought a suit against the sanctuary based on claims of strict liability; under a statute and common law; negligence; and gross negligence. At the district court, the plaintiff lost because she had signed a waiver releasing the sanctuary from liability "on all claims for death, personal injury, or property damage" and because she failed to state a claim in regards to the gross negligence charge. In affirming the lower court's decision, the appellate court found an enforceable contract existed with the waiver, and that there was no evidence of reckless disregard on defendant's part to rise to the level of gross negligence.

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