|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.|
|Palfreyman v. Gaconnet||--- S.W.3d ----, 2018 WL 4624208 (Tex. App. Sept. 27, 2018)||This Texas appeals presents the unique question of whether companion animals, specifically "pet dogs," can be considered "stock" for awarding attorney fees under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 38.001(6) in lawsuits concerning their injury or death. The facts stem from an incident at appellees' dog boarding business where Palfreyman's two dogs died. In Palfreyman's original petition, she sought damages based on claims of negligence and gross negligence. She additionally requested reasonable attorney fee's under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 38.001(6) for "killed or injured stock." Appellees countered that Palfreyman could not recover attorney fees because the dogs were not "stock" as used in the statute. At the conclusion of trial, the trial court refused to consider the award of attorney fees. On appeal, the Court of Appeals first notes that Texas law does not allow recovery of attorney fees unless they are authorized by statute or contract. Here, the court examined the word "stock" as used in the cited law. While there is no definition in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code and the word "stock" is rarely used in Texas statutes, the term "livestock" is defined in several instances. In particular, the Penal Code distinguishes "livestock" from "nonlivestock animals" that include domesticated dogs. Further, the ordinary dictionary definition for stock would not include pets like dogs. The court was not persuaded by Palfreyman's argument that the Code should be liberally construed to promote its underlying purpose as well as her other examples of definitions for "stock." Thus, the court concluded the term “stock” in section 38.001(6) does not include pet dogs and appellant was not entitled to attorney fees under Section 38.001(6).5. Finally, Palfreyman contended in her reply brief that attorney fees may be awarded in bailment actions. However, the court declined this argument because she did not raise this in her initial brief so the court is not required to consider this new argument. The trial court's judgment 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.|
|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.
|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.
|Batra v. Clark||110 S.W.3d 126 (Tex.App.-Houston [1 Dist.],2003)||
In this Texas case, the appellant-landlord appealed a verdict that found him negligent for injuries suffered by a child visiting a tenant's residence. The lower court found the tenant and landlord each 50% liable for the girl's injuries. The Court of Appeals, in an issue of first impression, if a landlord has actual knowledge of an animal's dangerous propensities and presence on the leased property, and has the ability to control the premises, he or she owes a duty of ordinary care to third parties who are injured by this animal. In the present facts, the court found that Bantra had no duty of care because there was no evidence showing that Batra either saw the dog and knew that it was a potentially vicious animal or identified the dog's bark as the bark of a potentially vicious animal. The judgment was reversed.
|Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. v. Schuster||144 S.W.3d 554 (Tex.App.-Austin,2004)||
In this Texas case, a dog owner brought an action against a Petco groomer for damages when her dog was killed after escaping from the pet groomer and running into traffic. The trial court entered a default judgment in favor of the owner and awarded damages. The Court of Appeals, held that the dog owner was not entitled to damages for mental anguish, absent pet store's ill-will, animus or desire to harm her personally. Moreover, the owner was not entitled to intrinsic value damages, lost wages, or counseling expenses.
|Heiligmann v. Rose||16 S.W. 931 (Tex.,1891)||
Appellees sued appellant for damages after he poisoned three of their dogs. The Court held that an owner has an action and remedy against a trespasser for damages resulting from injuries inflicted upon dogs because they are property. The Court elaborated on the true rule in determining the value of dogs, explaining that It may be either a market value or some special or pecuniary value to the owner. The Court allowed actual damages.
|Gabriel v. Lovewell||164 S.W.3d 835 (Texas, 2005)||
A Texas horse owner brought action against horse farm for negligence and breach of implied warranty in connection with the death of a horse in care of horse farm. On appeal of a decision in favor of the horse owner, the Court of Appeals held that by asking veterinarian if veterinarian told the horse owner that the horse died because it was not brought to veterinary clinic soon enough, the horse farm opened the door, and thus, the previously-rejected hearsay testimony regarding horse owner's conversation with veterinarian was admissible for limited purpose of impeaching veterinarian's testimony. Thus, the evidence was legally and factually sufficient to support the jury's verdict.
|Dodge v. Durdin||187 S.W.3d 523 (Tex. App.-Hous. (1 Dist.), 2005)||
Employee brought a negligence action against employer for injuries suffered when administering medicine to an untamed horse. District Court granted summary judgment stating that the plaintiff was considered a "participant" under the Equine Act. Plaintiff appealed. Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case stating that the Equine Act did not apply because the Act covered consumers, not employees.
|Volosen v. State||192 S.W.3d 597(Tex.App.-Fort Worth, 2006)||
In this Texas case, the trial court found Appellant Mircea Volosen guilty of animal cruelty for killing a neighbor's dog. The sole issue on appeal is whether the State met its burden of presenting legally sufficient evidence that Volosen was "without legal authority" to kill the dog. By statute, a dog that "is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked ... fowls may be killed by ... any person witnessing the attack." The court found that no rational trier of fact could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the dog was not attacking or had not recently attacked chickens in a pen in Volosen's yard; thus, the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that Volosen killed the dog "without legal authority" as required to sustain a conviction for animal cruelty. Judgment Reversed by Volosen v. State , 227 S.W.3d 77 (Tex.Crim.App., 2007).
|Williams v. Neutercorp (Unpublished)||1995 Tex. App. LEXIS 833 (Tex Ct. App. Apr. 20, 1995).||
Appellant sought review of the order from the County Court dismissing appellant's lawsuit after it sustained the special exception filed by appellee company, appellee animal hospital, and appellee veterinarian in appellant's suit which alleged negligence and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 17.50. The special execption is that the Veterinary Licensing Act, Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 8890, 18C, expressly provided that the DTPA did not apply in veterinary malpractice cases.The court affirmed the lower court's order dismissing appellant's suit against appellees because the lower court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing appellant's pleadings with prejudice, after the lower court sustained the special exception regarding the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, and after appellant refused to amend her pleading.
|Texas Attorney General Opinion No. JC-0552||2002 Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. JC-0552||
Texas Attorney General Opinion clarifying a new provision in Chapter 822 of the Texas Health & Safety Code that requires all dangerous wild animals to be registered in the county in which they're located. Otherwise, possession of these animals is unlawful.
|Mack v. State of Texas (unpublished)||2003 WL 23015101 (Not Reported in S.W.3d)||
The Texas Appeals Court affirmed the trial court's decision that failure to adequately provide for cattle such that they suffered from malnourishment constituted animal cruelty offense under Texas law. The court found that the evidence was legally sufficient to establish that malnourished cow was one of the many domesticated living creatures on defendant's ranch, and was therefore an “animal” under the state law.
|Edmonds v. Cailloux||2006 WL 398033 (Tex.App.-San Antonio) (Not Reported in S.W.3d)||
An in-home caretaker of a sick, elderly woman sued the woman, her trust, and her son after the son’s dog knocked her down causing injury. The court of appeals remanded the case because it found a genuine issue as to whether the dog had dangerous propensities and whether the son knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities to justify strict liability. The court did, however, affirm the order of summary judgment as to the negligence claim, where the son was not the caretaker’s employer and thus did not owe her a duty to exercise reasonable care.
|Qaddura v. State||2007 Tex. App. LEXIS 1493||The court held that the owner of livestock who placed them in the care of his tenant while he was on vacation for a month, but failed to provide his tenant with enough food for the livestock could be found guilty under the animal cruelty statute.|
|Garza v. State||2007 Tex. App. LEXIS 8953||Carrollton, Texas municipal code prohibited the keeping of more than three pets on property within the city limits. Yvette Garza, a member of an animal rescue organization, challenged the determination that she had violated the city code by keeping more than three dogs. She argued that the code was unconstitutionally vague and that her actions were necessary. The court held that although the term "keep" was not defined in the statute, a person of ordinary intelligence would understand the law because "keep" has a common sense meaning. Garza also failed to produce evidence proving when the scheduled euthanasia of the dogs was going to occur, she therefore failed to establish the elements of her necessity defense.|
|Mouton v. State||2008 WL 4709232 (Tex.App.-Texarkana)||
Defendant was convicted of cruelty to an animal, and sentenced to one year in jail, based upon witness testimony and photographs depicting several dogs in varying states of distress. On appeal, the Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana, found that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motions for a directed verdict or for a new trial to the extent that both motions challenged evidentiary sufficiency, and that ineffective assistance of counsel had not been shown, because the Court could imagine strategic reasons on Defendant’s counsel’s part for not calling a particular witness to testify on Defendant’s behalf, and for allowing Defendant to testify in narrative form during the punishment phase.
|Vavrecka v. State||2009 WL 179203, 4 (Tex.App.-Hous. (Tex.App.-Houston [14 Dist.],2009).||
Defendant appealed a conviction for cruelty to animals after several dogs that appeared malnourished and emaciated with no visible food or water nearby were found on Defendant’s property by a police officer and an Animal Control officer. The Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston, 14th District confirmed the conviction, finding that Defendant waived any error with respect to her motion to suppress evidence by affirmatively stating at trial that Defendant had “no objection” to the admission of evidence. Finally, the Court’s denial of Defendant’s request to show evidence of Defendant’s past practice and routine of caring for stray animals and nursing them to health did not deprive Defendant of a complete defense.
|Gonzalez v. South Texas Veterinary Associates, Inc.||2013 WL 6729873 (Tex. App. Dec. 19, 2013), review denied (May 16, 2014)||Plaintiff acquired an indoor/outdoor cat with an unknown medical and vaccination history. Plaintiff took cat to defendant for treatment and the cat received a vaccination. The cat soon developed a golf-ball-sized mass that contained a quarter-sized ulceration which was draining “matter” on the cat's right rear leg. When plaintiff returned the cat to the defendant, defendant diagnosed the cat with an infection, prescribed an antibiotic for treatment, and instructed Gonzalez to return if the cat's symptoms did not improve. When the cat's symptoms did not improve, plaintiff took the cat to another veterinarian who diagnosed the cat with vaccine-associated sarcoma. The cat had to be eventually euthanized. Acting pro se, the plaintiff filed suit, alleging that defendant failed to: (1) inform her of vaccine-associated sarcoma risk; (2) adhere to feline vaccination protocols; and (3) properly diagnose vaccine-associated sarcoma in the cat, which resulted in the loss of her life. On appeal, plaintiff asserted that the trial court erred by granting defendant's no-evidence and traditional motions for summary judgment. After examining the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff and disregarding all contrary evidence and inferences, the court concluded that the plaintiff brought forth more than a scintilla of probative evidence establishing the relevant standard of care to prove her malpractice claims. The trial court, therefore, erred by granting the no-evidence summary judgment. On the traditional summary judgment claim, the court held that that the defendant's evidence did not conclusively prove that a veterinarian complied with the applicable standard of care in light of another veterinarian's report to the contrary. The trial court, therefore, erred by granting defendant's traditional motion for summary judgment. The case was reversed and remanded.|
|Cottongame v. State||2014 WL 3536801 (Tex. App. 2014), unpublished||Despite an ordinance restricting the number of cats a person can own to three unless a permit was obtained, an officer decided not to enforce the ordinance against the appellant because she was helping with the feral-cat problem in the city and because “she was ... attempting to bring into compliance [her] animal rescue.” When the officer left his job, however, a neighbor complained and an investigation took place. The investigating officer noted everything in the house was covered in cat litter, there was no carpet in the home, and cat urine was on the living-room floor. The smell of cat urine and feces also sickened the officer to the point that he had to leave the house to get fresh air. The State filed a complaint alleging Appellant's violation of the ordinance. A jury found Appellant guilty of the offense as alleged in the complaint and assessed her punishment at $75 plus court costs. Appellant appealed from her conviction for violating a city ordinance regarding the number of animals that may be kept without a permit. In her first issue, the appellant asserted that her conviction violated the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the city “selectively enforced its purported ordinance that prohibits any person from having possession of more than three cats without a permit.” The court, however, found that there was no evidence before the trial court indicating that appellant was singled out for enforcement or that her selection for enforcement was based on anything other than a valid citizen complaint. In her second issue, the appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. The court, however, found that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that the appellant was in violation of the ordinance. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.|
|City of La Marque v. Braskey||216 S.W.3d 861 (Tex. Ct. App. 2007)||
A city's ordinance did not allow a kennel, defined as a place containing more than four dogs and cats, to be operated within 100 feet of a residence, school, or church. A woman kept as many as 100 cats at a time in a shelter within 100 feet of three homes, and she was criminally charged under the ordinance. The court found that the ordinance did not violate the plaintiff's constitutional rights because there was no right to use her property in any manner that she chose.
|City of Houston v. Levingston||221 S.W.3d 204 (Tx.App.-Hous.(1 Dist.) 2006)||
This opinion substitutes City of Houston v. Levingston, 2006 WL 241127 (Tex.App.-Hous. (1 Dist.)), which is withdrawn.
|Volosen v. State||227 S.W.3d 77 (Tex. Crim. App., 2007)||
Appellant killed neighbor's miniature dachshund with a maul when he found it among his chickens in his backyard, and he defends that Health & Safety Code 822 gave him legal authority to do so. At the bench trial, the judge found him guilty of animal cruelty, but on appeal the court reversed the conviction because it found that the statute gave him legal authority to kill the attacking dog. However, this court held that appellant did not meet his burden of production to show that the statute was adopted in Colleyville, TX and found as a matter of fact that the dog was not "attacking."
|Volosen v. State||227 S.W.3d 77 (Tx.Crim.App. 2007)||
The appellant/defendant mauled a miniature dachshund to death after the dog entered a yard where the appellant kept his chickens. The State of Texas prosecuted the appellant/defendant for cruelty to animals on the ground that the appellant/defendant killed the dog without legal authority. The appellant/defendant, however, argued that section 822.033 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, an entirely different statute, provided that authority. After the appeals court reversed the district court’s decision to convict the defendant/appellant, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found that the appellant/defendant had failed to meet his burden of production to show the applicability of his claimed defense and thus reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case back to that court.
|Bushnell v. Mott||254 S.W.3d 451 (Tex.,2008)||
In this Texas case, the plaintiff (Bushnell) brought an action against the defendant (Mott) for her injuries sustained when defendant's dogs attacked plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment to defendant. The Texas Supreme Court reversed, and held that the owner of a dog not known to be vicious owes a duty to attempt to stop the dog from attacking a person after the attack has begun, and Mott's behavior after the attack had begun raises an issue of material fact whether Mott failed to exercise ordinary care over her dogs.
|Augillard v. Madura||257 S.W.3d 494 (Tex.App.-Austin,2008)||
This appeal arises from a suit for conversion filed by Shalanda Augillard alleging that Tiffany Madura and Richard Toro wrongfully exercised dominion and control over Augillard's black cocker spaniel, Jazz, who was recovered from New Orleans in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina. The central issue at trial and the only disputed issue on appeal is whether Augillard's dog, Jazz, and the dog that Madura adopted from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Hope, are in fact the same dog. Augillard asserts on appeal that the trial court erred in disregarding conclusive evidence, including forensic DNA analysis, establishing that Hope and Jazz are the same dog.
|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. Taylor||322 S.W.3d 722 (Tex.App.-Texarkana,2010)||
Defendant was charged with a violation of Section 822.005(a)(2) of the Texas Health and Safety Code - the dog attack statute. The trial court dismissed the indictment stating that Section 822.005(a)(2) was unconstitutional because it fails to set forth any required culpable mental state. The Court of Appeals, however, found that the statute was constitutional because it does set forth a culpable mental state. "[B]oth the plain language of Sections 822.005(a)(2) and 822.042 impose upon the owner of a dangerous dog the duty to restrain or secure his or her animal."
|Muela v. Gomez||343 S.W.3d 491 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 2011)||
Defendant Samuel Muela appeals a judgment for damages in the amount of $30,279.45 after plaintiff was attacked by a pit bull. Samuel contends that the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that he owned or possessed the pit bull and thus had no knowledge of its vicious propensities. The court concluded that there is no evidence that Samuel lived at his parents' trailer or owned the pit bull. Additionally, while Samuel did visit his parents' house to feed their pet dog, there was no direct evidence that he had ever seen the pit bull or knew of it. The court reversed and rendered judgment that Gomez take nothing against Samuel.
|Medlen v. Strickland||353 S.W.3d 576 (2011,Tex.App.-Fort Worth)||
[Reversed by Texas Supreme Court: 397 S.W.3d 184 (Tex. 2013)]. The Medlens sued Strickland 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. On appeal, the court stated that several opinions have supported damages based on sentimental or intrinsic value for personal property where the property has little or no market value. Because dogs are personal property that hold a special value to their owners, the court found that it was consistent to extend sentimental damages for the loss of a pet. The action was remanded for further proceedings.
|City of Garland v. White||368 S.W.2d 12 (Tex. Civ. App. 1963).||
Police officers were trespassers and could be held civilly liable for damages when they entered a dog owner's property with the intent to unlawfully kill the dog. Reports had been made that the dog was attacking other animals but because the attacks were not imminent, in progress, or recent, the killing of the dog was not lawful.
|Watson v. State of Texas||369 S.W.3d 865 (Tex.Crim.App. 2012)||
Defendants were convicted of attack by dog resulting in death (Tex. Health & Safety Code § 822.005(a)(1)) after a 7-year-old was killed by several of defendants' pit bull dogs. On this appeal, appellants contend that the statute fails to define the terms “attack” and “unprovoked,” and that it fails to specify what conduct is prohibited, resulting in arbitrary enforcement. Thus, jurors could have determined different definitions of the elements of the offense, violating the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas and United States Constitutions. The Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, finding, "[t]he statute contains objective criteria for determining what conduct is prohibited and therefore does not permit arbitrary enforcement." The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Court of Appeals decision stating that the Dog Attack statute did not violate Due Process and that the defendants' convictions did not violate the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas or the U.S. constitution.
|State v. Betts||397 S.W.3d 198 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013)||
This Texas case represents the State's discretionary petition for review after the lower court and Waco Court of Appeals granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The evidence at issue involved the seizure of defendant's 13 dogs from his aunt's backyard property, which then led to his indictment on felony cruelty to animals. As to the first issue, this court found that defendant has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his aunt's backyard despite the fact he did not have an ownership interest. Secondly, the court found that the officers were not authorized by the plain view doctrine to make a warrantless entry into the backyard to seize the dogs. Finally, the court found that the community caretaking doctrine was not argued by the State at trial or at the court of appeals; thus, the State was barred from advancing that argument in this appeal.
|Young's Bus Lines v. Redmon||43 S.W.2d 266 (Tex. 1931)||
Appellee blind newspaper vendor had a trained seeing eye dog that was run over and killed by a public bus, driven by appellant. The court held that the measure of damages was the market value of the dog at the time and place where it was killed. If the dog had no market value, then the intrinsic or actual value to appellee was the measure of damages.
|Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue, Inc. v. Lira||447 S.W.3d 365 (Tex. App. 2014), reh'g overruled (Oct. 16, 2014)||A German Shepherd dog owned by the appellees escaped through an open garage door of the appellees' home. Animal control impounded the dog for violations of city ordinances. When the appellees did not redeem the dog, instead of being euthanized, animal control turned the dog over to a rescue society for adoption. The dog was then sterilized and micro chipped. After learning what happened, appellees made a request to transfer the dog to them. When they were refused, the appellees filed suit. The trial court ruled in favor of the appellees on their conversion cause of action and their requests for declaratory and injunctive relief, which ordered appellant to turn the dog over to the appellees. On appeal, the court held that since the appellees did not redeem the dog in compliance with city ordinances, they did not have an entitlement to the dog, which was required to establish a conversion claim. Further, since the rescue organization was a recognized city rescue partner, animal control could lawfully transfer the dog to the rescue organization. The court also held the ordinance setting forth an additional 30-day redemption period did not apply to owners. The appeals court therefore reversed the judgment of the trial court, rendered judgment that appellees take nothing, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, including an appropriate order restoring possession of the dog to appellant.|
|Chase v. State||448 S.W.3d 6 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014)||Appellant and his wife were walking their two dogs when two neighbor dogs attacked the group. After the attack, appellant slashed the attacking dog's throat with a knife, which resulted in the dog's death. Appellant was then charged with and convicted of cruelty to non-livestock animals under Texas law. The appellant appealed to the Texas Court of Appeals and the case was reversed and remanded. The State filed a petition for discretionary review with the Court of Criminal Appeals. The issue before that court was whether § 822.013(a) of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a non-penal code, provided a defense to criminal prosecution. The court held that § 822.013(a)—which allows an attacked animal's owner or a person witnessing an attack to kill a dog that is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked a domestic animal—is a defense against cruelty to non-livestock animals. The judgment of the Court of Appeals was therefore affirmed. The dissenting opinion disagreed. The dissent argued the goal of this statute was to protect farmers and ranchers against the loss of their livelihood by allowing them to protect their livestock from attacking dogs without fear of liability to the dog's owner, not to allow individuals in residential neighborhoods to kill a neighbor's dog after an attack with criminal impunity.|
|Dixon v. State||455 S.W.3d 669 (Tex. App. 2014), petition for discretionary review refused (Apr. 29, 2015)||An owner of a non-profit cat sanctuary, which housed over 200 cats taken care of by one employee, was convicted by a jury of four counts of non-livestock animal cruelty. The trial court placed the owner under community supervision for five years' on each charge, to be served concurrently. In her first issue on appeal, the owner contended the evidence was legally insufficient to support her convictions. Based on evidence that the owner only had one employee to take care of the cats, however, the Texas court of appeals overruled this issue. In her second issue on appeal, the owner contended that the trial court erred by overruling her motion to dismiss the indictments where the State alleged a felony by commission of elements defined as a misdemeanor under the animal cruelty statute. On this issue, the court stated that it was true that the State had to prove that appellant failed to provide food, water, or care to the cats, but it also had to prove death or serious bodily injury to the cat that was committed in a cruel manner, i.e., by causing unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering. In other words, the failure to provide food, water, or care is the manner and means by which appellant killed the cats, causing them unjustified pain or suffering, which raised the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. The second issue was therefore affirmed. The appeals court also overruled the owner’s other issues and thereby affirmed the lower court’s ruling.|
|Swilley v. State||465 S.W.3d 789 (Tex. App. 2015)||In the indictment, the State alleged Appellant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortured or in a cruel manner killed or caused serious bodily injury to an animal by shooting a dog with a crossbow, a state jail felony. The dog in question was a stray, which fell within the statutory definition of an “animal.” After a jury found Appellant guilty, the trial court assessed his punishment at two years' confinement in a state jail. On appeal, Appellant contended that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after the jury heard evidence of an extraneous offense also involving cruelty to animals. Since the video that mentioned the extraneous offense was admitted without objection, the court held the Appellant waived the error and the trial court did not err by denying Appellant's motion for mistrial or by giving the instruction to disregard and overrule Appellant's first issue. Appellant further asserted the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. The court, however, held the evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Appellant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortured or in a cruel manner killed or caused serious bodily injury to an animal by shooting it with a crossbow. The trial court's judgment was therefore affirmed.|
|Amos v. State||478 S.W.3d 764 (Tex. App. 2015), petition for discretionary review refused (Nov. 18, 2015)||A jury found appellant guilty of the offense of cruelty to a nonlivestock animal after he beat a Shih Tzu to death with a broom. After finding an enhancement paragraph true, the jury assessed Appellant's punishment at thirty-one months’ confinement. Appellant asserted five issues on this appeal: (1) the admission of a State's witness's recorded statement to the police, which the court overruled because the evidence was received without objection; (2) the denial of his motion to quash the indictment for failing to allege an offense, which the court overruled because the indictment tracked the statutory language; (3) the denial of six of his challenges for cause, which the court overruled because the venire members gave the defense counsel contradictory answers meaning the trial court could not abuse its discretion in refusing to excuse a juror; (4) the denial of his objection to the charge, which the court overruled because the jury charge tracked the statute’s language; and (5) the denial of his motion to suppress the dog’s necropsy, which the court overruled because the appellant had no intention of reclaiming the dog's body or her ashes and thereby relinquished his interest in them such that he could no longer retain a reasonable expectation of privacy and lacked standing to contest the reasonableness of any search. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.|
|Martinez v. State||48 S.W.3d 273 (Tex. App. 2001).||
A jury may infer a culpable mental state ("intentionally and knowingly") from the circumstances surrounding the offense of cruelty to animals.
|Lira v. Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue, Inc.||488 S.W.3d 300 (Tex. Apr. 1, 2016)||
In this case, plaintiff’s family dog, a German Shepherd named Monte, ran away and was rescued by Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue (GHGSDR). The organization refused to return the dog to plaintiff, so plaintiff filed suit against GHGSDR. The court found that there is no common law that states that a dog owner loses property rights to its dog if it runs away and is found by someone else. The court also looked to whether or not there was a city ordinance that would determine the proper ownership of the dog. Ultimately, the court found that the city ordinance regarding stray dogs did not strip the plaintiff of ownership rights because the dog had run away. The court also held that if there were any doubts as to the meaning of the ordinance, it should always be read “against a forfeiture of property.” The Supreme Court of Texas reversed judgment of the court of appeals and rendered judgment reinstating the trial court's judgment that Monte belonged to the Liras and the court properly enjoined GHGSDR to return him to his owners.
|Smith v. State||491 S.W.3d 864 (Tex. App. 2016), petition for discretionary review refused (Aug. 24, 2016)||Defendant Jonas Smith was convicted of aggravated assault and appealed. He argued that the trial court (1) erred by denying his motion to suppress his warrantless arrest; (2) abused its discretion by failing to grant a mistrial after the Plaintiff referenced the Defendant’s previous incarceration; and (3) abused its discretion by allowing a child witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog. The Court of Appeal of Texas, Houston (14th Dist.)., held that: 1. The police officer had probable cause to believe that the defendant committed an act of family violence, which justified his warrantless arrest; 2. any prejudice resulting from the Plaintiff’s reference to Defendant's prior incarceration was cured by prompt jury instruction to disregard reference; 3. allowing the child witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog was not likely to prejudice the jury in evaluating the child's testimony; and 4.any error in allowing the witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog was harmless. The Court of Appeals reasoned that the defendant did not present any argument during the trial about the jury being prejudiced by the presence of the service dog. Therefore, there was nothing present for review at the appellate level. Also, the Defendant did not identify any harm from the use of a service dog. The Defendant’s conviction was affirmed.|
|Mouton v. State||513 S.W.3d 679 (Tex. App. 2016)||
San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) responded to a call about 36 pit bull terriers that were chained, significantly underweight, and dehydrated. The dogs also had scarring consistent with fighting. Police obtained a search warrant and coordinated with ACS to seize the dogs. While the dogs were being secured, Appellant Terrence Mouton arrived at the residence. He told the officers that he had been living at the residence for a couple of weeks, but that he did not own all of the dogs and was holding them for someone else. Mouton was convicted in the County Court of cruelty to non livestock animals. On appeal, Mouton argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict because the Appellee, the State of Texas, failed to prove that the animals were in his custody. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The court held that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that Mouton was responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the dogs on his property and that the dogs were subject to his care and control, regardless of whether he was the actual owner of each animal. A reasonable jury could have also found that Mouton was “aware of, but consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that he failed to provide proper nutrition, water, or shelter for the dogs.
|Hayes v. State||518 S.W.3d 585 (Tex. App. 2017)||Defendant appeals an order with the Henderson County Sheriff's Office to destroy his dogs under Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. More specifically, defendant claims reversible error after he was denied a jury trial. Defendant's three dogs were seized after they attacked an individual riding a bicycle in front of defendant's residence. After a hearing, the dogs were found to be dangerous pursuant to Section 822.041 related to dogs causing serious bodily injury to a person. The judge then ordered the dogs to be humanely destroyed. Hayes appealed the order and requested a jury trial, which was objected to by the Henderson County Attorney's Office and sustained by the court. The dogs were found to be dangerous at a bench trial and ordered humanely euthanized, while defendant was ordered to pay $2,780 to the county. On appeal, defendant argues the county court erred in removing his case from the jury trial docket. The court now considers two questions: "(1) whether the owner of a dog ordered to be humanely destroyed by a justice, county, or municipal court judge, pursuant to Chapter 822, subchapter A, of the Texas Health and Safety Code, has the right to appeal such order; and (2) if an appeal is allowed, whether a jury can be requested to hear the de novo appeal." The court here declined to adopt the state's interpretation that the statute's silence as to a right of appeal indicates that the legislature eliminated that right. In fact, the court observed Subchapter A of Chapter 822 dealing with less serious "dangerous dogs," allows a party to appeal a dangerous dog finding. The court found it would be inconsistent that the more severe Subchapter D denies an appeal of right where the less severe subchapter grants it, especially where a forfeiture of property occurs (i.e., dogs). As to the right to jury trial, the court found Chapter 822 silent on that issue. However, the court found the order for seizure and destruction of defendant's "special personal property" guaranteed him a trial by jury under Article I of the Texas Constitution. The trial court's Final Order was reversed and the case was remanded to county court.|
|Nationwide Horse Carriers, Inc. v. Johnston||519 S.W.2d 163 (Tex.,1974)||
A pregnant mare was injured during transport and lost her foal. The owner sued carrier for damages. The Court of Civil Appeals held that horse owner was not entitled to recover damages for loss of mare’s unborn foal; that award for mare's diminished ability to produce healthy foals was excessive in light of fact that she subsequently produced a foal that survived; and that horse owner was not entitled to attorney fees since the horse was considered freight.
|Justice v. State||532 S.W.3d 862 (Tex. App. 2017)||In this Texas appeal, defendant Brent Justice contends that his conviction for a single count of cruelty to a nonlivestock animal was based on insufficient evidence. The incident stemmed from defendant's filming of his co-defendant, Ashley Richards, torturing and killing of a newly-weaned puppy. Justice and Richards ran an escort business named "Bad Gurls Entertainment" that focused on the production and distribution of animal "crush" videos (fetish videos involving the stomping, torturing, and killing of various kinds of animals in a prolonged manner). The evidence that supported the conviction involved the confessions of both perpetrators and the video of the puppy being tortured and ultimately killed. On appeal, defendant argues that he cannot be found guilty since was not the principal involved in the offense. This court was unconvinced, finding that the evidence was sufficient to support a state jail felony since "[t]here is no shortage of evidence that appellant aided Richards in her cruelty," including handing Richards the knife and filming the killing. The one issue in defendant's "hybrid" pro se and represented brief on appeal that the court granted was related to a finding that defendant used a "deadly weapon." After the filing of initial briefs, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Prichard v. State, No. PD-0712-16, --- S.W.3d ---, 2017 WL 2791524 (Tex. Crim. App. June 28, 2017), held that “a deadly weapon finding is disallowed when the recipient or victim is nonhuman.” Thus, in the case at hand, the court deleted the deadly weapon finding since it was directed at the puppy rather than a human. The case was remanded for a new hearing on punishment only since the conviction was affirmed for a state jail felony.|
|McCall v. State||540 S.W.2d 717 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).||
Open fields doctrine; warrantless seizure. It was not unreasonable for humane society members to enter defendant's land and seize dogs where the dogs were kept in an open field clearly in view of neighbors and others, and where it was apparent that the dogs were emaciated and not properly cared for.
|McGinnis v. State||541 S.W.2d 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).||
In an animal cruelty prosecution, the trial court should first instruct the jury on the definition of torture of an animal. Then, the court can permit the jury to determine whether the acts and circumstances of the case showed the torture of an animal.
|Arrington v. Arrington||613 S.W.2d 565 (Tex. Civ. App. 1981)||
A divorcing couple agreed to visitation of their dog, which the trial court incorporated into the divorce decree, appointing wife as the dog's managing conservator. Husband appealed because he had not been appointed managing conservator; the appellate court stated that dogs are personal property, and the office of managing conservator had been created for human children. While the court held that dogs are personal property under the law, it also stated that visitation of dogs should be allowed.