Cases

Case name Citationsort ascending Summary
United States Association of Reptile Keepers, Inc. v. Jewell 103 F. Supp. 3d 133 (D.D.C. 2015) On a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin implementation of the 2015 Rule (80 Fed.Reg. 12702 ), the US District Court for the District of Columbia addressed whether the U.S. Department of Interior acted within its authority when it issued Lacey Act regulations prohibiting the interstate transportation of certain large constricting snakes. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers argued that since the Lacey Act “[did] not encompass transportation of listed species between two states within the continental United States,” the Department of Interior exceeded its authority. Relying on the history of zebra mussels and bighead carp, the Department argued that it did not. The Court, however, found the Department had failed to establish that that history was sufficient to confer an authority on the Department that Congress did not confer when it enacted the controlling statutory text. The Court ruled the preliminary injunction would issue and ordered the parties to appear for a status conference on May 18, 2015 to address the scope of the injunction.
Kovar v. City of Cleveland 102 N.E.2d 472 (Ohio App. 1951)

This case involved a petition by LaVeda Kovar, et al against the City of Cleveland to obtain an order to restrain the City from disposing of dogs impounded by the City Dog Warden by giving or selling them to hospitals or laboratories for experimental and research purposes.  The Court of Appeals held that the City of Cleveland, both by its constitutional right of home rule and by powers conferred on municipal corporations by statute, had the police power right to provide that no dog should be permitted to run at large unless muzzled, and any dog found at large and unmuzzled would be impounded.  Further, by carrying out the mandate of the city ordinance by disposing of these impounded dogs was simply the performance of a ministerial or administrative duty properly delegated to Director of Public Safety.

Town of Bethlehem v. Acker 102 A.3d 107 (Conn. App. 2014) Plaintiffs seized approximately 65 dogs from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut pursuant to a search and seizure warrant that had been issued on facts showing that the dogs, which were being kept in an uninsulated barn with an average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, were neglected, in violation of General Statutes § 22–329a. The trial court found that the smaller breed dogs were neglected, but found that larger breed dogs were not. On an appeal by plaintiffs and a cross appeal by defendants, the appeals court found: (1) the trial court applied the correct legal standards and properly determined that the smaller breed dogs were neglected and that the larger breed dogs were not neglected, even though all dogs were kept in a barn with an average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit; (2) § 22–329a was not unconstitutionally vague because a person of ordinary intelligence would know that keeping smaller breed dogs in an uninsulated space with an interior temperature of approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit would constitute neglect; (3) the trial court did not err in declining to admit the rebuttal testimony offered by the defendants; and (4) the trial court did not err in granting the plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief and properly transferred ownership of the smaller breed dogs to the town. The appellate court, however, reversed the judgment of the trial court only with respect to its dispositional order, which directed the parties to determine among themselves which dogs were smaller breed dogs and which dogs were larger breed dogs, and remanded the case for further proceedings, consistent with this opinion.
Alternatives Research & Development Foundation v. Glickman 101 F.Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C.,2000)

In this case, the plaintiffs, a non-profit organization, a private firm and an individual, alleged that the defendants, the USDA and APHIS violated the mandate of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by promulgating regulations that exclude birds, mice and rats from the definition of “animal” under the Act. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that all three plaintiffs lack standing to bring suit. Defendants also moved to dismiss on the grounds that the exclusion of the three species is within the agency's Congressionally delegated discretion, not subject to judicial review. The court denied defendant's motion, holding that based on Lujan , defendants challenge to standing failed. Further, the AWA does not grant the USDA "unreviewable discretion" to determine what animals are covered under the AWA.

Toney v. Glickman 101 F.3d 1236 (8th Cir., 1996) Plaintiffs were in the business of selling animals to research facilities. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that they had committed hundreds of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131 et seq. The ALH then imposed what was, to that point, the harshest sanction, $200,000, in the history of the Act. The Judicial Officer affirmed the ALJ's findings and denied the Plaintiffs' request to reopen the hearing for consideration of new evidence. While the 8th Circuit affirmed most of these findings, it held that the evidence did not support all of them. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter to the Department for redetermination of the sanction. The court also affirmed the Judicial Officer's refusal to reopen the hearing and denied the Plaintiffs' Request for Leave to Adduce Additional Evidence. The Plaintiffs were free, however, to seek leave to offer this additional evidence on remand to the extent it was relevant to the sanction.
People v. Baniqued 101 Cal.Rptr.2d 835 (Cal.App.3 Dist.,2000).

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, California, ordering their conviction for cockfighting in violations of animal cruelty statutes.  The court held that roosters and other birds fall within the statutory definition of "every dumb creature" and thus qualify as an "animal" for purposes of the animal cruelty statutes.

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

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

Nantucket Residents Against Turbines v. U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Mgmt. 100 F.4th 1 (1st Cir. 2024) In this case, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) approved the construction of Vineyard Wind, a wind power project off the coast of Massachusetts after consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”). A group of Nantucket residents, organized as "Nantucket Residents Against Turbines" (“Residents”), allege that the federal agencies violated the Endangered Species Act by concluding that the project's construction likely would not jeopardize the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment for BOEM and NMFS. On appeal of summary judgment, the Residents further allege that BOEM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by relying on NMFS's flawed analysis. The court rejected the Residents' argument, finding that NMFS's biological opinion properly analyzed the current status and environmental baseline of the right whale. Further, the biological opinion properly analyzed the effects of the project (e.g., noise) on the right whale, along with mitigation measures, and did not ignore the project's additive effects on the right whale's long-term recovery prospects. Finally, BOEM's reliance on the biological opinion did not violate NEPA. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
Schindler v. Mejias 100 A.D.3d 1315 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept., 2012)

This appeal is an appeal of the denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment in a defamation action. Plaintiff, an attorney, brought an action against Hector L. Mejias Jr., an employee of defendant Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, claiming that Mejias falsely accused him of misrepresenting himself as the Ulster County District Attorney during a sworn deposition. The statement occurred during an incident at the SPCA where Plaintiff-Schindler was trying to pick up a dog owned by his client. The particular issue on appeal is whether the supreme court erred in determining that Mejias's supporting deposition constitutes libel per se. The court found that the alleged act was sufficiently egregious because such a claim would suggest professional misconduct on an attorney's part and invites both disciplinary action and damage to an attorney's professional reputation. Further, defendants failed to meet their burden of showing an absence of malice. The order was affirmed.

Westfall v. State 10 S.W.3d 85 (Tex. App. 1999)

Defendant convicted of cruelty for intentionally or knowingly torturing his cattle by failing to provide necessary food or care, causing them to die. Defendant lacked standing to challenge warrantless search of property because he had no expectation of privacy under open fields doctrine.

Free v. Jordan 10 S.W.2d 19 (Ark. 1928)

In a replevin action to recover possession of a lost dog from its finder, the court reversed and remanded the case so a jury could determine whether the statute of limitations was tolled due to the defendant's alleged fraudulent concealment of his possession of the dog.

Banasczek v. Kowalski 10 Pa. D. & C.3d 94 (1979)

Edward Banasczek (plaintiff) instituted an action in trespass against William Kowalski (defendant) for money damages resulting from the alleged shooting of two of plaintiff's dogs. The court held the following: “[T]he claim for emotional distress arising out of the malicious destruction of a pet should not be confused with a claim for the sentimental value of a pet, the latter claim being unrecognized in most jurisdictions.   Secondly we do not think, as defendant argues, that the owner of the maliciously destroyed pet must have witnessed the death of his or her pet in order to make a claim for emotional distress.” Pennsylvania has summarily rejected a claim for loss of companionship for the death of a dog.  

Hohenstein v. Dodds 10 N.W.2d 236 (Minn. 1943) This is an action against a licensed veterinarian to recover damages for his alleged negligence in the diagnosis and treatment of plaintiff's pigs.  Plaintiff alleged defendant-veterinarian negligently vaccinated his purebred pigs for cholera.  The court held that a n expert witness's opinion based on conflicting evidence which he is called upon to weigh is inadmissible.  Further, a n expert witness may not include the opinion of another expert witness as basis for his own opinion.  
Yuzon v. Collins 10 Cal.Rptr.3d 18 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.,2004)

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

People v. Tinsdale 10 Abbott's Prac. Rept. (New) 374 (N.Y. 1868)

This case represents one of the first prosecutions by Mr. Bergh of the ASPCA under the new New York anti-cruelty law. That this case dealt with the issue of overloading a horse car is appropriate as it was one of the most visible examples of animal abuse of the time. This case establishes the legal proposition that the conductor and driver of a horse car will be liable for violations of the law regardless of company policy or orders.Discussed in Favre, History of Cruelty

State v. Murphy 10 A.3d 697 (Me.,2010)

Defendant appeals her convictions for assault of an officer, refusing to submit to arrest, criminal use of an electronic weapon, and two counts of cruelty to animals. In October 2009, a state police trooper was dispatched to defendant's home to investigate complaints that she was keeping animals despite a lifetime ban imposed after her 2004 animal cruelty conviction. The appellate found each of her five claims frivolous, and instead directed its inquiry as to whether the trial court correctly refused recusal at defendant's request. This court found that the trial court acted with "commendable restraint and responsible concern for Murphy's fundamental rights," especially in light of defendant's outbursts and provocations.

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

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

Kanoa Inc., v. Clinton 1 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (1998)

Plaintiff cruise company filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to halt scientific research of the defendant government, alleging standing under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), the Marine Mammal Protection Act ("MMPA"), and the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").

People v. Berry 1 Cal. App. 4th 778 (1991)

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

Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania ex rel. their members v. Pennsylvania Game Com'n 03 A.2d 117 (Pa.Cmwlth., 2006)

A Pennsylvania association consisting of hunters and outdoorsmen and members of the association filed a complaint/request for writ of mandamus against the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and various state officials, seeking an order directing Commission and DCNR to provide the data and information on which the Commission relied in setting "harvest" figures for Pennsylvania's deer population. Before this Court in our original jurisdiction are the preliminary objections of the Pennsylvania Game Commission , the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and certain Commonwealth officers (collectively, Respondents). The court first found that the Sportsmen indeed have standing, conferred both by statute and under the under the traditional substantial-direct-immediate test. However, Respondent Game Commission's demurrer was sustained, primarily because the court agreed that due to the ambiguous nature of Sportsmen's pleading, it is not possible to discern a legal theory to support the relief requested. Further, the court sustained Respondent's claim that the DCNR, its Secretary, and the state's Governor were not proper parties to association's suit. Despite these procedural defects, the court did not dismiss the Sportsmen's action, and instead allowed them to amend their complaint within 30 days of this order.

Strickland v. Medlen -397 S.W.3d 184 (Tex. 2013)

The Supreme Court of Texas considers petitioner's appeal from the court of appeals' decision holding that a dog owner may recover intangible loss-of-companionship damages in the form of intrinsic or sentimental-value property damages. The facts underlying the action involved the improper euthanization of respondents' dog, Avery. They sued for Avery's “sentimental or intrinsic value” because the dog had little or no market value and was irreplaceable. The trial court found that Texas law barred such damages, and dismissed the suit with prejudice. The Court of Appeals of Texas became the first court to hold that a dog owner may recover intangible loss-of-companionship damages in the form of intrinsic or sentimental-value property damages. The Supreme Court reverses that decision here, ruling that dogs are ordinary property, with damages limited to market value, and noneconomic damages based in relational attachment are not permitted.

Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force v. Montana ---- F.Supp.3d ----, 2023 WL 8064884 (D. Mont. Nov. 21, 2023) This case was brought by several environmental organizations against the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to challenge the approval or regulations that authorize the trapping and snaring of wolves within grizzly bear habitat in Montana. The grizzly bear is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Montana trapping regulations allow wolf hunters to use foothold traps large enough to capture grizzly bears. Grizzly bears rely heavily on their front and back paws to hunt for food, so crippling their limbs with these traps will lead to the incidental killing of grizzly bears from starvation. Plaintiffs contend that allowing the trapping of wolves in grizzly bear territory is in violation of § 9 of the ESA, as it will lead to the incidental unlawful taking of grizzly bears. Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction to enjoin the start of the wolf trapping season, raised questions on the merits, and established a reasonable threat of harm to grizzly bears if the trapping and snaring of wolves is allowed in their habitat. On the merits of the claim, although defendants could prove that no grizzly bears had been killed with such traps in Montana for several years, the court found that plaintiffs succeeded on the merits as there was evidence of grizzly bears being killed by such traps in adjacent states. Plaintiffs also showed that there was a likelihood of harm to grizzly bears, with evidence that these traps will lead to the death of grizzly bears. The court granted plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction in part and denied in part, and enjoined the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission from authorizing wolf trapping and snaring.
Estis v. Mills --- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 3807048 (La. App. 2 Cir. August 14, 2019) On September 11, 2017, Plaintiffs, Catherine Estis, Samuel Estis, and Thuy Estis brought this action against the Defendants, Clifton and Kimberly Mills, seeking damages for the shooting of the Plaintiff’s ten-month-old German Shepherd puppy, Bella. The Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants shot Bella, did not disclose to them that Bella had been shot, and dumped her body over ten miles away. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Defendants argued that they fell within the immunity afforded by a Louisiana statute that gives immunity to anyone who kills a dog that is not on the property of the owner and is harassing, wounding, or killing livestock. The Defendants alleged that Bella, the puppy, was harassing their horses. The Plaintiffs argued that the immunity afforded by the statute needed to be affirmatively pled by the Defendants and that the Defendants waived such immunity by failing to assert the affirmative defense in their original answer or any subsequent pleading. The Plaintiffs further argued that the motion for summary judgment would not have been granted if it were not for the immunity protections. The Court ultimately held that the Defendants failed to affirmatively plead the immunity statute and, therefore, it reversed and remanded the case to the lower court.
State v. Avella --- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 2552529 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. June 21, 2019) The Defendant was charged with practicing veterinary medicine without a license and for cruelty to animals. The Defendant made a homemade device attempting to treat his dog for a problem because he did not have the money to take his dog to the vet. The home treatment ended up injuring the dog and he took the dog to a veterinarian for treatment. The veterinarian stated that the dog needed to be taken to an advanced care veterinary facility, however, the Defendant could not do so due to lack of funds. The trial court dismissed the charges brought against the Defendant and the State of Florida appealed. Florida law forbids a person from practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The Defendant was not a veterinarian. The Defendant relied upon statutory exemptions in Florida’s statue that permit a person to care for his or her own animals and claims that he was just trying to help his dog, Thor. The Defendant also argued that the purpose of the statute was to prevent unlicensed veterinary care provided to the public rather than to criminalize the care an owner provides to his or her animals. The Court held that the trial court did not err in dismissing Count I for unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine given the stated purpose of the statute and the statutory exemptions. As for Count II, animal cruelty, the State argued that the Defendant’s conduct in using a homemade tool to remove bone fragments from the dog’s rectum and then failing to take the dog to an advanced care clinic fits under the Florida animal cruelty statute. Although the Defendant argued that he had no intention of inflicting pain upon his dog and was only trying to help him, the Court agreed with the State’s argument that “the statute does not require a specific intent to cause pain but punishes an intentional act that results in the excessive infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.” Ultimately the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Count I, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Count II and remanded for further proceedings on the animal cruelty charge.
State v. Archer --- So.3d ----, 2018 WL 6579053 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 14, 2018) This appeal concerns the lower court's granting of a motion to suppress evidence in an animal cruelty case. In April of 2017, a Ponce Inlet Police Department officer responded to defendant's residence after receiving a call about possible animal abuse. The caller described hearing sounds of a dog yelping and being beaten. Upon arrival, Officer Bines heard dog commands and the sounds of "striking flesh." He then knocked on defendant Archer's front door and began speaking with him on the front porch. Officer Bines told Archer that he was there to investigate a complaint of possible animal abuse to which Archer acknowledged that his dog bit him after he disciplined the dog for making a mess, so he "hit him a couple times." The officer then told Archer he had "probable cause" to enter the house or he could seek a warrant. Ultimately, Bines followed Archer to the backyard where Archer pointed to a dog in the corner that had its tongue out and was bloodied. Shortly thereafter, Bines determined the dog was dead. Archer was then cuffed and advised of his Miranda rights. After placing Archer in the police vehicle, Bines and other officers re-entered the home and yard to take pictures of the crime scene and to secure the canine's remains. After being charged with violating the cruelty to animals law (Section 828.12), Archer moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the warrantless entry of his home. The trial court granted and denied the motion in part, finding that while there were exigent circumstances to justify the warrantless entry, the exigency was over once it was determined that the dog was dead. The State of Florida appeals here. The appellate court first noted that while warrantless searches of homes are presumed illegal, an officer may enter when there are exigent circumstances including medical emergencies related to animals. Despite Archer's attempts to distinguish the instant facts from previous cases because there were no signs of blood or smells to indicate an emergency, the totality of the facts showed police received a call of animal cruelty in progress and the Officer Bines heard sounds of striking flesh. In addition, Archer advised Bines that he had struck the dog. Thus, the court found the officer "had reasonable grounds to believe that there was an urgent and immediate need to check on the safety and well-being of the dog and to connect the feared emergency to the house that they entered." As to suppression of the evidence found in plain view after entry onto the property, the appellate court also found the lower court erred in its decision. Under existing case law, once entry is allowed based on exigent circumstances, items found in plain view may be lawfully seized. The officer saw the dog in the corner before he knew the dog was dead, and thus, the exigency still existed. With respect to the photographs taken and the bodycam footage, the court held that re-entry into the home after Archer was in the patrol car did not require a warrant. Once an exigency that justified a warrantless search is over, law enforcement cannot go back and conduct further searches. However, in this case, the re-entry into Archer's house was a continuation of photographing evidence that was already found in plain view while the exigency existed (e.g., before the officers knew the dog was dead). The motion to suppress was affirmed in part and reversed in part.
Strickland v. Pinellas Cty. --- So.3d ----, 2018 WL 6518761 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 12, 2018) Andy G. Strickland appealed an order dismissing with prejudice his complaint for declaratory relief against Pinellas County. The request stems from letters he received from Animal Services of Pinellas County about his dog. Strickland and a neighbor were involved in a dispute after their dogs attacked each other. The neighbor filed a complaint with Animal Services claiming that Strickland's dog was the "aggressor dog" and then sent a letter to the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners. The County then sent two letters to Strickland, the first informing him that his dog had exhibited dangerous propensities, and the second, from an assistant county attorney, informing him of the possible criminal ramifications for keeping a dangerous dog or being an "Irresponsible Pet Owner" under the county code. As a result of these letters, Strickland filed a complaint in circuit court saying that he was not afforded any opportunity to dispute those claims and that he is entitled to have the threat of criminal prosecution removed. The County moved to dismiss Strickland's complaint arguing that he failed to allege a justiciable controversy and a bona fide dispute between the County and him. The County claimed that there were no legal findings made with respect to Strickland's dog and that the letters were possible ramifications and explanations of law. The trial court agreed and granted the County's motion, finding the letters were not accusatory and the case presented no justiciable issue. On appeal here, this court upheld the lower court's order because Strickland's allegations did not present a bona fide dispute. Both letters emphasized that his dog had not been classified as dangerous and that no action was being taken by the county. A speculative fear by Strickland that he may be subject to future consequences does not warrant declaratory relief and does not show imminent danger of prosecution. Thus, the trial court correctly dismissed Strickland's complaint. Affirmed.
Wallen v. City of Mobile --- So.3d ----, 2018 WL 3803749 (Ala. Crim. App. Aug. 10, 2018) Wallen appeals her convictions for six counts of violating Mobile, Alabama's public nuisance ordinances. The nuisance convictions stem from an anonymous complaint about multiple barking dogs at Wallen's property. After receiving the tip in March of 2016, an animal control officer drove to the residence, parked across the street, and, as he sat in his car, heard dogs bark continuously for approximately ten minutes. That same day, a local realtor went to house that was for sale behind Wallen's property and heard an "overwhelming" noise of dogs barking continuously for 30-45 minutes. For almost a year, officers received complaints about noise coming from Wallen's house. In May of 2017, Wallen entered a plea of not guilty for multiple charges of violating the public nuisance ordinance in Mobile Circuit Court. She also filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Mobile City Code was unconstitutionally vague. Her motion was later denied, and a jury trial was held where Wallen was found guilty of six counts of violating Mobile's public-nuisance ordinance. On appeal, Wallen first argues that the public nuisance ordinance is unconstitutionally overbroad because it regulates without reference to time, place, and manner. However, the court found that Wallen did not establish how the overbreadth doctrine applied to her case and how the ordinance was unconstitutional. As to her next vagueness challenge, Wallen contended that the ordinance had no objective standards to determine whether a dog's barking is disturbing or unreasonable. This court disagreed, finding the statute defines what are "disturbing noises" (which specifically states barking), and other courts previously established that the term "habit" in a dog-barking statute is not vague. Finally, the found that Wallen's last general argument, that the code is unconstitutional as applied to her, did not satisfy court rules with respect to issues presented and support with authority on appeal. The judgment of the lower court was affirmed.
Landry’s, Inc. v. Animal Legal Defense Fund --- S.W.3d ----, 2018 WL 5075116 (Tex. App. Oct. 18, 2018) This is an appeal of a dismissal of appellant Landry's claims under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“the TCPA”) and the subsequent required awarding of attorney fees and sanction under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 27.009. Landry's is a large corporation that owns and operates more than 500 entertainment properties across the country, including the Houston Aquarium, Inc. The aquarium houses four white tigers in an human-made enclosure known as "Maharaja's Temple." Appellees, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and its attorneys as well as a radio station owner (Cheryl Conley), asserted a variety of claims in connection with the publication of the notice to intend to sue under the Endangered Species Act due to the care and housing of the tigers. As a result of that notice and the associated publicity, Landry's asserted claims in the trial court for defamation, business disparagement, tortious interference with prospective business relations, abuse of process, trespass, conspiracy to commit each of these torts, and conspiracy to commit theft. Conley and ALDF moved to dismiss the claims under the TCPA, arguing that the claims related to exercise of free speech, petition, and association, and that Landry's could not make out a prima facie case. Additionally, they also argued that the claims were barred by the judicial-proceedings privilege. The lower court agreed and granted Conley's motion to dismiss. It also awarded $250,000 to ALDF and $200,000 to Conley. On appeal here, Landry again points to the allegedly defamatory statements released on social media (Twitter and Facebook) and through news media regarding the tigers' care. The court noted that many of the statements were non-actionable because they were not shown to be false statements of fact or were opinions. Nonetheless, even on those statements where Landry's met their burden of proving a defamation claim, the statements were protected by the judicial-proceedings privilege. The court was not convinced by Landry's contention that the statements were not made in contemplation of litigation because they were made after the required federal notice for filing suit under the ESA. Additionally, the court also rejected Landry's claim that the ALDF cannot claim attorney immunity because it is not a law firm and instead is comprised of attorneys who hold law licenses. The court observed that law licenses are not issued to business entities, but to individuals. The court also rejected Landry's remaining causes of action. As to the attorneys' fee and sanctions, the court did modify the attorneys' fees because one attorney at the trial court level did not participate in the appeal. Landry's then argued that the $450,000 in sanctions was excessive. The court first noted the TCPA mandates an award of sanctions and attorneys' fees. In reviewing the award for abuse of discretion, this court reviewed arguments by ALDF concerning Landry's hiring of the third largest law firm to defend a relatively small initial action, the filing of a 157-page response, with Landry's unwillingness to concede any points. The court took that in addition to several factors under the TCPA. The court was particularly concerned with Landry's filing of this suit on day 59 of the 60-day notice to file suit under the ESA (which may have been an indication to preempt the federal suit, according to the court). Despite that and more, the court did conclude that sanctions that were 2.4 and 2.8 times the attorneys' fees awards were excessive. The court suggested a remittitur, which would bring those awards respectively to $103,191.26 and $71,295.00. Thus, the lower court's decision to dismiss Landry's claims was affirmed, but the awards for attorneys' fee and sanctions were modified.
Galindo v. State --- S.W.3d ----, 2018 WL 4128054 (Tex. App. Aug. 30, 2018) Appellant Galindo pleaded guilty to cruelty to nonlivestock animals and a deadly-weapon allegation from the indictment. The trial court accepted his plea, found him guilty, and sentenced him to five years in prison. The facts stem from an incident where Galindo grabbed and then stabbed a dog with a kitchen knife. The indictment indicated that Galindo also used and exhibited a deadly weapon (a knife) during both the commission of the offense and flight from the offense. On appeal, Galindo argues that the deadly-weapon finding is legally insufficient because the weapon was used against a "nonhuman." Appellant relies on the recent decision of Prichard v. State, 533 S.W.3d 315 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017), in which the Texas Court of Appeals held that a deadly-weapon finding is legally insufficient where the sole recipient of the use or exhibition of the deadly weapon is a nonhuman. The court here found the facts distinguishable from Prichard. The court noted that Prichard left open the possibility that a deadly-weapons finding could occur when the weapon was used or exhibited against a human during the commission of an offense against an animal. Here, the evidence introduced at defendant's guilty plea and testimony from sentencing and in the PSIR are sufficient to support the trial court's finding on the deadly-weapons plea (e.g., the PSI and defense counsel stated that Galindo first threatened his girlfriend with the knife and then cut the animal in front of his girlfriend and her son). The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.
Saulsbury v. Wilson --- S.E.2d ----, 2019 WL 493695 (Ga. Ct. App. Feb. 8, 2019) This Georgia involves an interlocutory appeal arising from a dog bite lawsuit. In 2016, Plaintiff Saulsbury was walking her English Bulldog past Defendant Wilson's house when Wilson's pitbull dog escaped its crate in the open garage. A fight ensued between the dogs. Wilson then attempted to break up the fight and was allegedly bitten by Saulsbury's dog, suffering a broken arm in the process and necessitating a course of rabies shots. The Saulsburys then sued the Wilsons in magistrate court to recover hospital and veterinary expenses. Wilson counterclaimed for her injuries in excess $15,000, thus transferring the case to superior court. At this time, the Saulsburys moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals here reverses that denial. The court found that Wilson assumed the risk when she intervened in a dog fight with her bare hands. In particular, the court observed that assumption of risk serves as a complete defense to negligence. That finding was bolstered by the fact that Wilson had knowledge that her dog had previously bitten other persons and had admitted to breaking up previous dog fights with a stick. The court relied on previous case law showing that all animals, even domesticated animals, pose a risk as does the act of breaking up even human fights. The court was not persuaded by the fact that Saulsbury may have been in violation of various DeKalb County ordinances related to an owner's responsibility to control his or her animal. A plain reading of those ordinances does not impose a duty on the part of an owner to "dangerously insert herself into a dog fight." The court found the lower court erred in denying the Saulsbury's motion for summary judgment and reversed and remanded the case.
SAM LAMBERT & ANDRIA LAMBERT v. SALLY MORRIS & STEVE HAIR --- S.E.2d ----, 2018 WL 6314142 (N.C. Ct. App. Dec. 4, 2018) Plaintiffs Sam Lambert and Andria Lambert appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in this lost dog case. Specifically, plaintiffs filed an action against defendants Sally Morris and Steve Hair alleging conversion, civil conspiracy, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress, as well as injunctive relief and damages related to the disappearance of their dog, Biscuit. Biscuit went missing in August of 2015. After searching for Biscuit for several days, plaintiffs contacted the local animal control and posted Biscuit as a lost dog on animal control's unofficial Facebook page. Over a month later, a citizen brought Biscuit (who had no microchip or collar on) to animal control where she was placed in a holding cell. After the 72-hour hold, Biscuit was transferred to the Humane Society. Biscuit was spayed and examined by a veterinarian, and a picture was posted on the Humane Society website. At the vet exam, tumors were discovered in Biscuit's mammary glands and so surgery was performed, some of it paid for by defendant Hair. Hair eventually adopted Biscuit. Almost a year later, plaintiffs found an old picture of Biscuit on the Humane Society Facebook page and attempted to claim Biscuit. Defendant Hair learned of this and requested that plaintiffs reimburse for veterinary expenses, to which they agreed. After some discussion, Hair learned plaintiffs had over 14 dogs and refused to return Biscuit without a home inspection. That caused a heated discussion and the meeting between plaintiffs and defendant ended without the dog returning. About a month later, plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, whereupon defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. On appeal here, the court first noted that, per state law, an animal shelter hold a lost or abandoned dog for at least 72-hours. Here, animal control satisfied its legal duty by keeping Biscuit in custody for the required holding period before transferring her to the Humane Society. Thus, plaintiffs lost any ownership rights to Biscuit after the 72-hour mark. Moreover, almost a month had passed between the time Biscuit was taken in by animal control and the formal adoption by defendant Hair at the Humane Society. As a result, the court found that Hair was the rightful owner of Biscuit and was entitled to negotiate with plaintiffs as he saw fit. Thus, no genuine issues of material fact existed for plaintiffs at trial. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to defendants and dismissing plaintiffs’ claims.
State v. Doherty --- S.E.2d ---- 2024 WL 2002922 (N.C. Ct. App. May 7, 2024) In this North Carolina case, the defendant appeals from his conviction of felony cruelty to animals and suspended sentence of imprisonment. The conviction stems from Defendant's kicking of his neighbor's dog. According to testimony of the dog's owner, Defendant would activate sprinklers in his yard anytime someone with a dog walked by his home. In November of 2019, the dog's owner was walking her fourteen-year-old dachshund-beagle mix, Davis, in front of Defendant's house when she stepped out of the roadway onto Defendant's lawn to avoid a passing car. The occupants of the car then stopped to talk with the dog's owner briefly, whereupon Defendant emerged from his home and proceeded to kick Davis in the stomach. The dog's owner called the police and the dog was transported to an emergency veterinarian because he was "lifeless" and "limp." Defendant was ultimately charged, indicted, and convicted of felonious cruelty to animals. On appeal, Defendant argues (1) that the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the charge of felonious cruelty to animals because a single kick was insufficient to show that Defendant "cruelly beat" the dog; and (2) that the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of misdemeanor cruelty to animals. This court first addressed whether a single kick to a dog was sufficient to meet the definition of "cruelly beat." Looking first at the standard dictionary definition of "beat," the court found that the words, “cruelly beat” can apply to any act that causes the unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death to an animal, even if it is just one single act. In fact, the court stated, "[t]o hold otherwise would allow a person to kick a dog so hard they suffer life-threatening injuries—such as the case here—but not be subject to felonious cruelty to animals because it was 'just' one kick." Thus, the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to dismiss. As to the lesser included offense instruction, this court found that there was no evidence of error, let alone plain error, since the jury would have likely found Defendant guilty of felonious animal cruelty based on the evidence presented. No reversible error occurred and Defendant's conviction was affirmed.
Labor Commission v. FCS Community Management --- P.3d ----, 2024 WL 370160 (Utah App., 2024) This case concerns the Utah Anti-discrimination and Labor Division's (UALD) determination that a homeowner's association's three-month delay in responding to a member's request for reasonable accommodation to keep chickens on their property as assistance animals for a child with anxiety and PTSD violated the Utah Fair Housing Act. The trial court found that this three month delay was a constructive denial of the request, because under the Utah Fair Housing Act a housing provider must participate in an interactive process to evaluate and discuss the request for accommodation, and no such interactive dialogue or interactive process took place. On appeal, the court found that the three month delay in responding to the request was not unreasonably long, especially considering that the HOA had to review the status of chickens as support animals, chicken waste runoff, and possibility of rodent complaints during this time. The court of appeals also found that the members were not harmed by the HOA's alleged delay, since they were still allowed to keep the chickens at this time. The court of appeals then reversed the trial court's holding granting the members damages, fees, and other relief.
Labor Commission, Antidiscrimination and Labor Division v. FCS Community Management --- P.3d ----, 2024 WL 1203693 (Utah App., 2024) This is an appeal of a complaint filed by the Utah Anti-discrimination and Labor Division (ULAD) seeking review of the determination that an HOA violated members' request for reasonable accommodation by denying homeowner's the ability to keep chickens on their property. The chickens were intended to be assistance animals for the homeowner's daughter, who has anxiety and PTSD. The district court found that the HOA constructively denied the homeowner's request for reasonable accommodation by delaying their response to the request for three months. This court reversed the decision of the lower court, finding that there was no constructive denial of the request since the HOA allowed the homeowners to keep the chickens during the interim period, did not punish them for keeping the chickens, and ultimately granted the request to keep the chickens.
State v. Wilson --- P.3d ----, 2019 WL 4955178 (Wash. Ct. App. Oct. 8, 2019) Defendant Robert Wilson appeals his conviction of first degree animal cruelty, which arose from an incident at an archery club when Wilson shot a large dog in the hindquarters (70lb. "Dozer") with an arrow after that dog attacked Wilson’s small dog ("Little Bit"). (Dozer recovered from his injuries.) Wilson argues that his action was lawful under RCW 16.08.020, which states that it is lawful for a person to kill a dog seen chasing, biting, or injuring a domestic animal on real property that person owns, leases, or controls. The trial court declined to give defendant's proposed jury instruction based on this statutory language, finding that it only applied to stock animals and not when a dog was injuring another dog. The court did, however, permit the common law defense that allows owners to take "reasonably necessary action" in defense of their animals, which the State must then disprove beyond a reasonable doubt. On appeal, this court noted that no Washington court has interpreted RCW 16.08.020 in a published case. Under common law cases that allow a person to kill an animal to defend his or her property, the court found those cases require the killing be "reasonably necessary." While the parties dispute whether the statute requires that the actions be "reasonably necessary," the appellate court first found Wilson was still not entitled to a dismissal of charges because he could not establish that the location where he shot the arrow at Dozer was land that he "owned, leased, or had control over" per the statute. As to the Wilson's next argument that the trial court erred in not giving his proposed instruction for RCW 16.08.020, the appellate court agreed. While the trial court found that the statute only applied to stock animals, the appellate court noted that the law does not define the term "domestic animal." Using the plain dictionary meaning for "domestic" - "belonging to or incumbent on the family" - and for "domestic animal," this court stated that "Little Bit certainly belonged to Wilson's family" and a dog fits the meaning of "domestic animal." Finally, the court found that the "reasonably necessary" requirement from the common law cases on shooting domestic animals cannot be grafted onto the statutory requirements of RCW 16.08.020. Thus, the trial court's refusal to give defendant's proposed instruction based on RCW 16.08.020 cannot be grounded in the reasonably necessary common law requirement. The trial court's refusal to give the proposed instruction was not harmless. As such, the appellate court reversed Wilson's conviction and remanded the action for further proceedings.
Goldberger v. State Farm Fire and Casaulty Company --- P.3d ----, 2019 WL 3792803 (Ariz. Ct. App. Aug. 13, 2019) Joel and Kim Goldberger owned residential rental property in Flagstaff that was insured by State Farm Fire and Casualty Company under a rental dwelling policy. The Goldbergers filed a claim asserting that their tenant allowed feral cats to access the property and cause approximately $75,000 in “accidental damage.” State farm subsequently denied the claim asserting that feral cats are domestic animals and therefore the damage was not covered under the policy. The Goldbergers filed suit alleging breach of contract and insurance bad faith. State Farm moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. State Farm claimed that the policy stated that accidental losses caused by “birds, vermin, rodents, insects, or domestic animals” were not covered by the policy. The superior court granted State Farm’s motion and this appeal followed. The Goldbergers argued that the superior court erred in dismissing their complaint due to the fact that the term “domestic animals” is reasonably susceptible to differing interpretations and must be construed against State Farm. State Farm argued that the exclusion in the policy was only susceptible to one reasonable interpretation. The Court stated that there were two interpretations to the term “domestic animal.” The first definition is a species-based definition that says that domestic animals are animals belonging to a broader class of animals that have been domesticated at some point in history. The second definition is an individualized definition that says that domestic animals are animals that are kept by a person for any of various purposes, including as pets. The Court ultimately decided that the individualized definition makes more sense in terms of the insurance policy itself as well as case law. In making this determination, the court noted the "nonsensical" outcome that would arise for exotic or nontraditional pets were a species-based definition adopted. Domestic animals encompass animals that are subject to the care, custody, and control of a person. On the facts alleged in the complaint alone, the Court could not say that the tenant was keeping the feral cats in such a manner that the exclusion would preclude coverage. The court therefore resolved all reasonable inferences in the Goldberger’s favor and presumed that the cats were feral. Because the feral cats that caused the damage are not domestic animals under all reasonable interpretations of the facts alleged in the complaint, the court erred in granting the insurer's motion to dismiss. The Court reversed the superior court’s order dismissing the Goldberger’s complaint and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.
Matter of Ware --- P.3d ----, 2018 WL 3120370 (Wash. Ct. App. June 26, 2018) After the Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office's decided not to issue charges in an animal abuse case, two private citizens sought to independently initiate criminal charges. One person filed a petition for a citizen's complaint in district court and, after that was denied, another person filed a petition to summon a grand jury. On appeal, those appellants argue that the lower court erred in not granting their petitions. The animal cruelty claim stems from an incident in 2016, where a woman filed a report with police stating that a neighbor had killed her mother's cat by throwing a rock at the cat and stabbing it with a knife. Witnesses gave similar account of the abuse of the cat by the neighbor. The responding police officer then determined that there was probable cause to arrest the suspect for first degree animal cruelty. The officer found the cat's body and photographed the injuries, although the officer could not determine whether the cat had been stabbed. Subsequently, the prosecuting attorney's office declined to file charges because the actions related to the animal's death were unclear. Additionally, the cat's body was not collected at the scene to sustain a charge.
People v. Harris --- P.3d ---- 2016 WL 6518566 (Colo.App.,2016) Harris was convicted for twenty-two counts of cruelty to animals after dozens of malnourished animals were found on her property by employees of the Humane Society. On appeal, Harris raised two main issues: (1) that the animal protection agent who was an employee of the Humane Society was not authorized to obtain a search warrant to investigate her property and (2) that the mistreatment of the twenty-two animals constituted one continuous course of conduct and that the lower court violated her rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause by entering a judgment on twenty-two counts of animal cruelty. The Court of Appeals reviewed the issue of whether the animal protection agent had the authority to obtain a search warrant to investigate the property and determined that the agent did not have the proper authority. The Court looked to the state statute that specifically stated that only “state employees” were able to investigate livestock cases. In this case, the animal protection agent was employed by the Humane Society and was not a state employee; therefore, he did not have the authority to obtain a search warrant to investigate the property. However, the Court found that there was no constitutional violation with regard to the search warrant because it was still obtained based on probable cause. For this reason, the Court denied Harris’ request to suppress evidence that was submitted as a result of the search warrant. Finally, the Court reviewed Harris’ argument regarding her rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause. The Court found that under the statute dealing with animal cruelty, the phrases “any animal” and “an animal” suggests that a person commits a separate offense for each animal that is mistreated. Essentially, the Court held that the language of the statute “demonstrates that the legislature perceived animal cruelty not as an offense against property but as an offense against the individual animal.” As a result, Harris’ rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause were not violated and the Court upheld the lower court’s decision.
People v. Restifo --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 220 A.D.3d 1113, 2023 WL 7028284 (N.Y. App. Div. 2023) This is an appeal of a verdict to convict defendant of aggravated cruelty to animals. Defendant was walking his two pit bull dogs and allowed the dogs enough leash space to reach a pet cat resting on the steps of its owner’s porch. The cat’s owners, who were witnesses to this event, watched as the pit bulls mauled their pet cat. When the witnesses asked defendant to stop his dogs, defendant attempted to flee with his dogs still carrying the cat’s body in its mouth. The witnesses pursued and eventually, the dog dropped the deceased cat’s body. Defendant was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and overdriving, torturing and injuring animals, and failure to provide proper sustenance. Defendant was convicted, and appealed the aggravated animal cruelty charge. Defendant argues that the verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence. The court here found that defendant was well aware that the dogs were aggressive, even keeping them separate from his young son because of their propensity to attack smaller animals. There was also testimony from another neighbor of defendant allowing his dogs to chase feral cats off her porch without stopping them, and testimony regarding defendant’s dog previously mauling a smaller dog without defendant intervening to stop them. Defendant was warned by animal control to muzzle them, but refused to do so. Defendant also bragged to co-workers about how he let his pit bulls go after other dogs and attack wild and old animals. Accordingly, the court found that defendant was aware of the dogs’ aggressive behavior and affirmed the holding of the lower court.
C.M. v. E.M. --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2023 WL 8360025 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nov. 28, 2023) This is a family law case concerning, among other issues, the euthanasia of a family companion animal. Defendant argues that Plaintiff violated an order in place by putting the family dog down without reason, necessity, and justification, and that the dog was an emotional support animal whose custody had not been determined. Defendant also argues that plaintiff did not allow defendant the opportunity to spend time with the dog before it was put down, and that he suffered emotional distress due to the dog's death. The court found that the euthanasia of the family dog did not violate the order in place, because the companion animal was not classified as "property" or an "asset" under the order in place, and that animals are afforded additional protection under the Family Court Act. Whether the animal was put down unnecessarily could be considered animal cruelty, but that inquiry would need to be determined in a criminal proceeding, and criminal charges were not filed. Accordingly, the court held that plaintiff did not violate the order by euthanizing the family dog.
Cantore v. Costantine --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2023 WL 7560690 (N.Y. App. Div. Nov. 15, 2023) This is an appeal of a personal injury case brought by plaintiff, the mother of the injured child, against the owners of a dog that caused the injury and the owners of the restaurant where the injury occurred. The injury took place at a dog-friendly restaurant both parties were dining at, where the dog owned by defendants bit a three-year-old infant. Plaintiff alleges that the restaurant owners knew of the dog’s vicious propensities but allowed it on the premises, and are liable along with the owners of the dog for the injuries sustained by her child. Defendant restaurant owners contend that they did not know of the dog’s vicious propensities, and that their restaurant requires that dogs be leashed and the dog was leashed at the time of the bite. Plaintiff argues that, under the Hewitt case, a standard negligence analysis should be used rather than an analysis based on knowledge of vicious propensities. Plaintiffs also argue defendant restaurant owners owed a duty of care to their customers, which was breached by allowing a dangerous dog on the premises. The lower court denied defendants motion for summary judgment because there were unresolved issues of fact as to the restaurant defendants’ duty to their patrons and the foreseeability of the injury. This appeal followed. On appeal, the court reversed the order of the lower court because defendants established that they did not have any knowledge of the vicious propensities of the dog and that they exercised reasonable care through their signage and policies to protect restaurant patrons from the risk of harm that allowing animals on the premises poses. Defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against them is granted.
People v. Brinkley --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2019 WL 3226728 (N.Y. App. Div. July 18, 2019) Defendant was convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals. The Defendant appealed the judgment. Defendant and his nephew had purchased a puppy and continually used negative reinforcement, such as paddling or popping the dog on the rear end with an open hand, for unwanted behavior. On one occasion, when the dog was approximately 15 months old, the Defendant’s nephew found that the dog had defecated in the apartment. The nephew attempted to paddle the dog and the dog bit the nephew’s thumb as a result. When the Defendant had returned home, the nephew explained to him what had happened. The Defendant proceeded to remove the dog from his crate, put the dog’s face by the nephew’s injured thumb, and told him he was a bad dog. The dog then bit off a portion of the Defendant’s thumb. The Defendant attempted to herd the dog onto the back porch, but the dog became aggressive and continued to bite him. As a result, the Defendant repeatedly kicked the dog and used a metal hammer to beat the dog into submission. The dog later died due to his injuries. The Defendant argued that he had a justifiable purpose for causing the dog serious physical injury. The Defendant testified that he was in shock from the injury to his thumb and that he was trying to protect himself and his nephew. However, other evidence contradicted the Defendant's testimony. The dog was in a crate when the Defendant got home, and the Defendant could have left him there rather than take the dog out to discipline him. The Defendant was at least partially at fault for creating the situation that led him to react in such a violent manner. The Court reviewed several of the Defendant’s contentions and found them all to be without merit. The judgment was ultimately affirmed.
People v. Panetta --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2018 WL 6627442, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 28404 (N.Y. App. Term. Dec. 13, 2018) Defendant was convicted of animal cruelty, inadequate shelter, and failing to seek veterinary care for her numerous dogs. After an initial seizure of two dogs, defendant was served with a notice to comply with care and sheltering of her remaining dogs. Following inspections about a month later, inspectors found that defendant had failed to comply with this order, and dogs suffering from broken bones and other injuries (including one dog with "a large tumor hanging from its mammary gland area") were seized and subsequently euthanized. As a result, defendant was arrested and charged with 11 violations of Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 and local code violations. Defendant then moved to suppress the physical evidence and statements taken during the initial warrantless entry onto her property and the evidence obtained after that during the execution of subsequent search warrants, arguing that the initial warrantless entry tainted the evidence thereafter. At the suppression hearing, a building contractor who had visited defendant's residence testified that he contacted the Office for the Aging because he had concerns for defendant. An official at the Office for the Aging also testified that the contractor told her that he observed 6 dogs in the home and about 50-100 dogs in outdoor cages. The investigating officer who ultimately visited defendant's property reported that there were nearly 100 dogs living in "unhealthy conditions" on defendant's property. Upon encountering defendant that day, the officer testified that defendant demanded a search warrant for further investigation (which the officer obtained and executed later that day). Following this hearing, the City Court held that while the officer's entry violated defendant's legitimate expectation of privacy, his actions were justified under the emergency exception warrant requirement and, thus, denied defendant's motion to suppress. On appeal here, defendant argues that the prosecution failed to establish the officer had reasonable grounds to believe there was an immediate need to protect life or property and that all the evidence obtained thereafter should have been suppressed. Relying on previous holdings that allow the emergency exception in cases where animals are in imminent danger of health or need of protection, this court found that the prosecution failed to establish the applicability of the emergency doctrine. In particular, the court was troubled by the fact that, on the first visit, the officers crossed a chain fence that was posted with a no trespassing sign (although they testified they did not see the sign). Because the officers only knew that there were "unhealthy conditions" on defendant's property in a house that the contractor testified that he thought should be "condemned," this did not support a conclusion of a "substantial threat of imminent danger" to defendant or her dogs. While in hindsight there was an emergency with respect to the dogs, the court "cannot retroactively apply subsequently obtained facts to justify the officers' initial entry onto defendant's property." As a result, the court remitted the matter to the City Court for a determination of whether the seizures of evidence after the initial illegal entry occurred under facts that were sufficiently distinguishable from the illegal entry so to have purged the original taint.
Hollendale Apartments & Health Club, LLC v. Bonesteel --- N.Y.S.3d ---- , 2019 WL 2031263 (N.Y. App. Div., 2019) The Plaintiff owns and operates an apartment complex with a policy that prohibits defendants from keeping a dog on the premises. The Defendant, Bonesteel, began renting an apartment at Plaintiff's complex in 2011 under a one-year lease. Defendant continued to renew his one-year lease for additional one-year terms until 2014. Defendant's therapist sent a letter to the Plaintiff requesting an exception to the no dog policy so that the Defendant could have an emotional support animal. The Plaintiff denied the request but stated that it would allow a bird or cat or an early termination of Defendant's lease. The Plaintiff filed an action seeking a judgment declaring that the Plaintiff's refusal to permit the Defendant to have an emotional support dog was not in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Human Rights Law (HRL). The Plaintiff subsequently reduced the Defendant's lease renewal term to three months. The Defendant filed counterclaims on grounds of discrimination. The Supreme Court of New York also granted a motion allowing the Attorney General to intervene. The Attorney General asserted counterclaims on similar grounds to those raised by the Defendant. After a nonjury trial, the trial court issued a judgment that the Plaintiff's actions did not violate the FHA and the HRL. The Defendant then appealed. On appeal, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether the Plaintiff's claims were justiciable even though the matter was not raised by the parties. Since the Plaintiff had already denied the Defendant's request for an exception to the policy when it filed the action and no harm to the Plaintiff occurred or was impending, it was essentially asking the Court to issue an advisory opinion which is not an exercise of judicial function. Therefore, the Court dismissed the Plaintiff's declaratory judgment. The Court then considered the Defendant's counterclaims since concrete injuries were alleged. The only two arguments addressed were whether the Defendant actually had a qualifying disability within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL and whether the accommodation requested was necessary to afford the Defendant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his dwelling. The Court concluded that the Defendant met his burden to establish that he is disabled within the meaning of the FHA and HRL. The Court also found that the Defendant "offered sufficient evidence that having an emotional support dog would affirmatively enhance his quality of life by ameliorating the effects of his disability, and thus demonstrated necessity within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL." Lastly, the Court found that the Plaintiff retaliated against the Defendant by reducing his lease renewal terms to three months. Accordingly, Defendant was entitled to judgment in his favor on the retaliation counterclaims.
City of Columbiana v. Simpson --- N.E.3d ----, 2019 WL 4897158 (Ohio Ct. App., 2019) Richard G. Simpson, Appellant, lived in a residential district in Columbiana, Ohio. Simpson kept eight hens, a chicken coop, and an enclosure on his property for approximately seven years. On July of 2016, Simpson was informed that keeping chickens in the district he lived in was a zoning violation, however, Simpson found no prohibition in the Code regarding the keeping of chickens in a residential district. The city sent Simpson violation notices and instructed him to remove the chickens from the property. Simpson appealed the violation to the Planning Committee. On June 20, 2017 the City Council voted to place a resolution on the ballot for voters to decide whether chickens could be kept in residential districts. The resolution failed at the general election. A second notice was sent to Simpson and Simpson refused to remove the chickens from his property. The City instituted an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief on March 13, 2018. The trial court held that the keeping of chickens was prohibited in the City’s residential districts and that the city ordinances were valid on their face and were not arbitrarily or capriciously applied. Simpson appealed. Simpson argued that keeping the chickens did not constitute an agricultural use or poultry husbandry because he kept them as a hobby and therefore does not violate any of the city ordinances. The Court did not agree and concluded that the keeping of chickens fell within the definition of agriculture and was, therefore, prohibited based on the ordinances. Simpson next argued that since he acquired the chicken and coop prior to the City applying the prohibitions, it was a legal non-conforming use and that the zoning code contained no language that would have put him on notice that such property was not permitted on his real property. The Court concluded that there was no error by the trial court in holding that Simpson’s use of his land was not a legally conforming use. Finally, Simpson argued that the one of the city ordinances was arbitrary and unreasonable because there was no evidence of the chickens, coup, or enclosure constituting a nuisance. The Court concluded that a city is not required to show that a property owner’s proposed use constitutes a nuisance in order to establish the constitutionality of the ordinance. The Court found that the ordinance was neither arbitrary nor unreasonable and bears a substantial relation to the public health. The ordinance was a valid exercise of the City’s police power. The Court ultimately held that the City ordinance prohibited the keeping of chickens in residential districts. The prohibition was inferred from reading the ordinance in concert with other Code sections. The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.
City of Cleveland v. Turner --- N.E.3d ----, 2019 WL 3974089 (Ohio Ct. App., 2019) Defendant was convicted by bench trial of one count of sexual conduct with an animal (bestiality) in violation of R.C. 959.21(B). He was sentenced to 90 days in jail (with credit for time served), a $750 fine, with five years of inactive community control that included no contact with animals and random home inspections by the Animal Protection League (APL). The evidence supporting his conviction came from explicit letters defendant wrote to his boyfriend (who was incarcerated at the time) that described acts of bestiality. Defendant was also a sex offender parolee at the time of the letter writing. The letter, which was intercepted by jail officials, recounted a sexual act defendant engaged in with a dog that was under his care. Other similarly explicit letters were entered as evidence. In addition to the letters, the dog's owner testified that she left her dog with defendant and, after picking up the dog, the dog's behavior markedly changed from friendly to anxious and afraid. In addition, the dog was skittish for many days after, licked her genitals excessively, and was uncomfortable with any person near her backside, including the veterinarian. On appeal, defendant contends that the court erred by admitting his extrajudicial statements without independent evidence of a crime. Specifically, defendant contends the city failed to establish the corpus delicti to permit introduction of his purported confession. The court noted that this was a case of first impression since there is no Ohio case law that has analyzed the corpus delicti issue in the context of R.C. 959.21. Relying on the Indiana case of Shinnock v. State, 76 N.E.3d 841 (Ind.2017), this court found that while there was no direct evidence of a crime against the dog, the circumstantial evidence corroborates defendant's statements in his letter. The corpus delicti rule requires that the prosecution supply some evidence of a crime to admit the extrajudicial statements. Here, the city did that with the dog owner's testimony concerning the dog's altered behavior after being left alone with defendant. The court also found the evidence, while circumstantial, withstood a sufficiency of evidence challenge by defendant on appeal. On the issue of sentencing and random home inspections as a condition of his community control sanctions, the court found that the trial court did not have "reasonable grounds" to order warrantless searches of real property for a misdemeanor conviction. The finding of guilt for defendant's bestiality conviction was affirmed, but the condition of community control sanction regarding random home inspections was reversed and remanded.
State v. Schuler --- N.E.3d ----, 2019 WL 1894482 (Ohio Ct. App., 2019) Appellant is appealing an animal cruelty conviction. A deputy dog warden received a report from a deputy sheriff who observed a pit bull on appellant's property who was unable to walk and in poor condition while responding to a noise complaint. Appellant released the dog to the deputy and the dog was later euthanized. While the deputy was on appellant's property she observed two other dogs that were extremely thin which prompted the deputy to return to the appellant's house the next day, but the appellant was in the hospital. The deputy later returned to the appellant's home a few days later and the appellant's ex-wife allowed the deputy to perform an animal welfare check on the property. Two Australian cattle dogs were very muddy and in an outdoor kennel with no food or water. Numerous chickens, rabbits, mice, snakes, and raccoons were also observed inside and outside the house all living in cramped, filthy conditions. The deputy went to the hospital and the appellant signed a waiver releasing the raccoons and snakes to the wildlife officer, but the appellant refused to release the other animals to the deputy. As a consequence a search warrant was obtained. "Two raccoons, 3 black rat snakes, 8 dogs, 7 chickens, 3 roosters, 17 rabbits, 5 rats, 200 mice, and 2 guinea pigs were removed from the property." Appellant was charged by complaints with five counts of cruelty to animals and two counts of cruelty to companion animals. An additional complaint was filed charging appellant with one count of cruelty to a companion animal (the euthanized pit bull). The appellant raised 3 errors on appeal. The first error is that the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to convict him of animal cruelty. The Court found that the complaint charging the appellant with animal cruelty in counts B, C, and D were not valid because it did not set forth the underlying facts of the offense, did not provide any of the statutory language, and failed to specify which of the 5 subsections the appellant allegedly violated. Therefore, the Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to convict the appellant and the animal cruelty conviction regarding the three counts for the rabbits was vacated. The second error appellant raised was that his conviction for cruelty to companion animals for the two Australian cattle dogs was not supported by sufficient evidence. The Court overruled appellant's second error because it found that the state had presented sufficient evidence to show that the appellant negligently failed to provide adequate food and water for the Australian cattle dogs. The third error the appellant raised was that the Court erred by ordering him to pay $831 in restitution. The Court also overruled appellant's third error since the appellant stipulated to paying the restitution. The judgment of the trial court was affirmed in all other respects.
Hetrick v. Ohio Dep't of Agric. --- N.E.3d ---- 2017 WL 4464371 (Ohio Ct. App.,2017) In this case, the court of appeals reversed the trial court's decision to grant appellee Hetrick's dangerous wild animal (DWA) permits. Hetrick was the owner of DWA's on his property, and according to an Ohio law he was required to register the DWA's and apply for permits before a certain statutory deadline. This court held that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) lacked a statutory basis to deny the application for a rescue facility permit on timeliness grounds but did not err in so finding on caging and care grounds. Further, the court reversed, in part, the judgment of the Wood County Court of Common Pleas in the rescue facility permit case; reversed, in toto, the judgment of the lower court in the wildlife shelter permit case; and with this decision, reinstated the ODA's denial of both permits. Judgments reversed.
State v. Agee --- N.E.3d ---- , 2019 WL 3504010 (Ohio App., 2019) The Humane Society brought this action in response to a complaint regarding a dog tangled in a tether. Three German Shepherds were discovered that belonged to the Defendant, Shawn Agee, Jr. The dogs were suffering from maltreatment. All three had been restrained without access to water or food and one of the dog’s tethers was wrapped so tightly that its leg had started to swell. Two of the dogs were suffering from fly strike. The State charged the Defendant with 12 criminal misdemeanors relating to the treatment of the three animals. The trial court acquitted the Defendant of 10 of those counts because of his unrebutted testimony that he had been out of town for the weekend and had left the dogs in the care of his mother. The Defendant was found guilty to two second-degree misdemeanors relating to the two dogs suffering from fly strike because those particular injuries were long time, very painful injuries that were not being treated and the Defendant was the dogs’ “confiner, custodian, or caretaker.” The Defendant was sentenced to community control, a fine of $100, a suspended jail sentence of 180 days, the surrender of the two dogs with fly strike, and the proviso that the remaining dog be provided with regular vet appointments and various other conditions. This appeal followed. The Defendant asserted that the Court erred by finding that he had in fact violated the statute that he was found guilty of and that his convictions were not supported by legally sufficient evidence. The Defendant argued that he did not qualify as the type or class of persons subject to criminal liability merely as an owner. The Court noted that the trial court did not impose liability due to his status as the dogs’ owner, but rather due to this having served as the two dogs’ confiner, custodian, or caretaker when they developed fly strike and should have been but were not properly treated. As for the second assignment of error, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to find that the Defendant had violated the statute. The Defendant had admitted that he knew that the two dogs had fly strike “two or three weeks before he left town for the weekend.” The dogs were not treated before he left town. The Court ultimately affirmed both convictions.
Hines v. Pardue --- F.Supp.3d -------, 2023 WL 5254673 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 15, 2023) Plaintiff and veterinarian Ronald S. Hines brings this action to challenge a Texas law that mandates a veterinarian conduct a physical examination of an animal before practicing veterinary medicine on the grounds that the law violates his First Amendment right to free speech. Plaintiff, who was unable to maintain a veterinary practice in person due to medical issues, began providing veterinary advice to animal owners via a website without first examining their animals. Plaintiff was disciplined by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for doing this, and was fined $500 and sentenced to a year of probation. Plaintiff then sued the members of the Board on two separate occasions, with the second appeal being remanded by the Fifth Circuit with instructions to determine whether the requirement for a physical examination before issuing veterinary advice regulates speech incidentally to the regulation of non-expressive professional conduct, or is a regulation of non-expressive conduct. Here, the district court first examined multiple instances of plaintiff providing veterinary advice to animal owners via the internet. Next, the court asserts that plaintiff has standing to pursue his claims against the board. Lastly, the court examines plaintiff’s First Amendment argument. Plaintiff argues that his email exchanges with animal owners constitutes speech, and the court agrees that this is speech and that the Examination Requirement regulates this speech. However, the court finds that this regulation of plaintiff’s speech is content neutral, because the requirement for a physical examination of the animals before issuing advice applies neutrally to all forms of veterinary care and veterinary speech regardless of content. Therefore, the court held that defendants may enforce the Examination Requirement without violating plaintiff’s free speech rights.

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