|Texas Attorney General Letter Opinion 94-071||Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. LO 94-071||
Texas Attorney General Opinion regarding the issue of whether staged fights between penned hogs and dogs constitutes a criminal offense. The Assistant Attorney General deemed these staged fights as violating the criminal cruelty laws.
|Texas Attorney General Opinion No. JC-0048||Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. JC-0048||
Texas Attorney General Opinion regarding the issue of whether city ordinances are preempted by statutes that govern the treatment of animals. Specifically, the opinion discusses pigeon shoots. The opinion emphasizes that organized pigeon shoots are prohibited under Texas cruelty laws but that present wildlife laws allow the killing of feral pigeons.
|Loban v. City of Grapevine||Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2009 WL 5183802 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth,2009)||
In this unpublished Texas case, Appellant Jason Loban appeals the trial court's judgment awarding appellee City of Grapevine $10,670.20 in damages. In 2006, Appellant's dogs were declared "dangerous" under the City's municipal ordinance. On appeal, Appellant argued that the trial court's award of $10,670.20 in damages to the City should be reversed because the City did not plead for monetary relief, the issue was not tried by consent, and there was no evidence to support the award. This Court agreed. In finding the monetary judgment void, the Court observed that the City did not put any request for a monetary award in its pleadings and there was no evidence in the record of the amount of the fine.
|City of Houston v. Levingston||Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2006 WL 241127 (Tex.App.-Hous. (1 Dist.))||
A city veterinarian who worked for the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC) brought an action against the city, arguing that he was wrongfully terminated under the Whistleblower’s Act. The vet contended that he reported several instances of abuses by BARC employees to the division manager. In upholding the trial court’s decision to award Levingston over $600,000 in damages, the appellate court ruled the evidence was sufficient to support a finding that the veterinarian was terminated due to his report . Contrary to the city’s assertion, the court held that BARC was an appropriate law enforcement authority under the Act to report violations of section 42.09 of the Texas Penal Code committed by BARC employees. Opinion Withdrawn and Superseded on Rehearing by City of Houston v. Levingston , 221 S.W.3d 204 (Tex. App., 2006).
|Maldonado v. Franklin||Not Reported in S.W. Rptr., 2019 WL 4739438 (Tex. App. Sept. 30, 2019)||Trenton and Karina Franklin moved into a subdivision in San Antonio, Texas in September of 2017. Margarita Maldonado lived in the home immediately behind the Franklins’ house and could see into the Franklins’ backyard. Maldonado began complaining about the Franklins’ treatment of their dog. The Franklins left the dog outside 24 hours a day, seven days a week no matter what the weather was like. Maldonado also complained that the dog repeatedly whined and howled which kept her up at night causing her emotional distress. Maldonado went online expressing concern about the health and welfare of her neighbor’s dog, without naming any names. Mr. Franklin at some point saw the post and entered the conversation which lead to Mr. Franklin and Maldonado exchanging direct messages about the dog. Maldonado even placed a dog bed in the backyard for the dog as a gift. In December of 2017, the Franklins filed suit against Maldonado for invasion of privacy by intrusion and seclusion alleging that Maldonado was engaged in a campaign of systemic harassment over the alleged mistreatment of their dog. While the suit was pending, Maldonado contacted Animal Control Services several times to report that the dog was outside with the heat index over 100 degrees. Each time an animal control officer responded to the call they found no actionable neglect or abuse. In June of 2018, Maldonado picketed for five days by walking along the neighborhood sidewalks, including in front of the Franklins’ house, carrying signs such as “Bring the dog in,” and “If you’re hot, they’re hot.” The Franklins then amended their petition adding claims for slander, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and trespass. The trial court granted a temporary injunction against Maldonado, which was ultimately vacated on appeal. Maldonado filed a Anti-SLAPP motion and amended motion to dismiss the Franklins’ claims as targeting her First Amendment rights. The trial court did not rule on the motions within thirty days, so the motions were denied by operation of law. Maldonado appealed. The Court began its analysis by determining whether Maldonado’s motions were timely. Under the Texas Citizen’s Participation Act (TCPA) a motion to dismiss must be filed within sixty days of the legal action. The sixty-day deadline reset each time new factual allegations were alleged. Due to the fact that the Franklins had amended their petition three times and some of the amended petitions did not allege any new factual allegations, the only timely motions that Maldonado filed were for the Franklins’ claims for slander and libel. The Court then concluded that Maldonado’s verbal complaints to the Animal Control Service and online posts on community forums about the Franklins’ alleged mistreatment of their dog were communications made in connection with an issue related to a matter of public concern and were made in the exercise of free speech. Therefore, the TCPA applied to the Franklins’ slander and libel claims. The Court ultimately concluded that although Maldonado established that the TCPA applied to the slander and libel claims, the Franklins met their burden to establish a prima facie case on the slander and libel claims. Therefore, the Court ultimately concluded that Maldonado’s motion to dismiss the slander and libel claims were properly denied. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order and remanded the case to the trial court.|
|Lindsey v. Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners||Not Reported in S.W. Rptr., 2018 WL 1976577 (Tex. App., 2018)||In 2015, Kristen Lindsey, who is a licensed veterinarian, killed a cat on her property by shooting it through the head with a bow and arrow. Lindsey had seen the cat fighting with her cat and defecating in her horse feeders and believed the cat to be a feral cat. However, there was evidence that the cat actually belonged to the neighbor and was a pet. Lindsey posted a photo of herself holding up the dead cat by the arrow. The photo was shared repeatedly and the story ended up reported on several news outlets. The Board received more than 700 formal complaints and more than 2,700 emails about the incident. In 2016 the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (the Board) initiated disciplinary proceedings against Lindsey seeking to revoke her license and alleging violations of the Veterinary Licensing Act and Administrative Rules. While the proceeding was pending, Lindsey filed a petition for declaratory judgment and equitable relief in the trial court. The grand jury declined to indict her for animal cruelty. Due to this, Lindsey asserted that the Board lacked the authority to discipline her because she had not been convicted of animal cruelty and her act did not involve the practice of veterinary medicine. The administrative law judges in the administrative-licensing proceeding issued a proposal for decision and findings of fact and conclusions of law which the Board adopted and issued a final order suspending Lindsey's license for five years (with four years probated). Lindsey then filed a petition for judicial review in trial court after the Board denied her motion for a rehearing. The trial court affirmed the Board's final order. This case involves two appeals that arise from the disciplinary proceeding filed against Lindsey by the Board. Lindsey appeals the first case (03-16-00549-CV) from the trial court denying her motion for summary judgment and granting the Board's motion for summary judgment and dismissing her suit challenging the Board's authority to bring its disciplinary action. In the second case (17-005130-CV), Lindsey appeals from the trial court affirming the Board's final decision in the disciplinary proceeding. Even though Lindsey was not convicted of animal cruelty, the Court of Appeals held that the Board possessed the authority to determine that the offense of animal cruelty was sufficiently connected to the practice of veterinary medicine. Lindsey also did not have effective consent from the neighbor to kill the cat. The Board had sufficient evidence that Lindsey tied her profession to the shooting of the cat through the caption that she put on the photo that was posted on social media. The Court of Appeals ultimately overruled Lindsey's challenges to the Board's authority to seek disciplinary action against her veterinary license in both appeals as well as her challenges regarding the findings of fact and conclusions by the administrative law judges. The Court affirmed the judgment in both causes of action.|
|Zeid v. Pearce||953 S.W.2d 368 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 1997)||
Richard and Susan Zeid appeal from the trial court's order dismissing their lawsuit against Dr. William Pearce, d/b/a Coronado Animal Clinic, for veterinary malpractice after the dog suffered from allergic reactions resulting from alleged negligent vaccinations. The court observed that, in Texas, the recovery for the death of a dog is the dog's market value, if any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner that may be ascertained by reference to the dog's usefulness or services. Consequently, the court found this longstanding Texas rule to be inconsistent with the Zeids' claim for pain and suffering and mental anguish. Because the Zeids did not plead for damages for the loss of their dog that are recoverable in Texas, the trial court did not err in sustaining Dr. Pearce's special exception and dismissing their cause of action.
|Wilhelm v. Flores||95 S.W.3d 96 (Tex. 2006)||
In this Texas case, a deceased worker's estate and his four adult children brought a negligence action against the beekeeper and others, after the worker died from anaphylactic shock caused by bee stings. On petition for review, the Supreme Court held that beekeeper did not owe worker, a commercial buyer's employee, any duty to warn him of dangers associated with bee stings or to protect worker from being stung.
|Chambers v. Justice Court Precinct One||95 S.W.3d 874 (Tex.App.-Dallas, 2006)||
In this Texas case, a justice court divested an animal owner of over 100 animals and ordered that the animals be given to a nonprofit organization. The owner sought review of the forfeiture in district court. The district court subsequently dismissed appellant's suit for lack of jurisdiction. Under the Texas Code, an owner may only appeal if the justice court orders the animal to be sold at a public auction. Thus, the Court of Appeals held that the statute limiting right of appeal in animal forfeiture cases precluded animal owner from appealing the justice court order.
|Granger v. Folk||931 S.W.2d 390 (Tex. App. 1996).||
The State allows for two methods of protecting animals from cruelty: through criminal prosecution under the Penal Code or through civil remedy under the Health & Safety Code.
|Pitts v. State||918 S.W.2d 4 (Tex. App. 1995).||
Right of appeal is only available for orders that the animal be sold at public auction. The statutory language does not extend this right to seizure orders.
|Downing v. Gully, P.C.||915 S.W.2d 181 (Tex. App. 1996)||
Appellant dog owners challenged the decision of the County Court at Law No. 2 of Tarrant County (Texas), which granted summary judgment in favor of appellee veterinary clinic in appellants' negligence, misrepresentation, and Deceptive Trade Practices Act claims. The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of appellee veterinary clinic because appellee's veterinarians provided affidavits that were sufficiently factually specific, describing experience, qualifications, and a detailed account of the treatment, so that appellee negated the element of the breach of the standard of care, and because Deceptive Trade Practice Act claims did not apply to state licensed veterinarians.
|Celinski v. State||911 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. App. 1995).||
Criminal conviction of defendant who tortured cats by poisoning them and burning them in microwave oven. Conviction was sustained by circumstantial evidence of cruelty and torture.
|Tilbury v. State||890 S.W.2d 219 (Tex. App. 1994).||
Cruelty conviction of defendant who shot and killed two domesticated dogs. Defendant knew dogs were domesticated because they lived nearby, had demeanor of pets, both wore collars, and had been previously seen by defendant.
|Pine v. State||889 S.W.2d 625 (Tex. App. 1994).||
Mens rea in cruelty conviction may be inferred from circumstances. With regard to warrantless seizure, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit seizure when there is a need to act immediately to protect and preserve life (i.e. "emergency doctrine").
|Bueckner v. Hamel||886 S.W.2d 368 (Tex. App. 1994).||
Texas law allows persons to kill without liability dogs that are attacking domestic animals. However, the attack must be in progress, imminent, or recent. This defense does not apply to the killing of dogs that were chasing deer or non-domestic animals.
|Mills v. State||848 S.W.2d 878 (Tex. App. 1993).||
In an animal cruelty conviction, the law requires that sentences arising out of same criminal offenses be prosecuted in single action and run concurrently.
|Long v. The State of Texas||823 S.W.2d 259 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991)||
Appellant, who was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, raised 35 points of error in a direct appeal in which he challenged the trial court's voir dire rulings and its evidentiary rulings. The court held that the admission into evidence of photographs was within the discretion of the lower court, which properly determined that the photographs served a proper purpose in enlightening the jury.
|Mills v. State||802 S.W.2d 400 (Tex. App. 1991).||
In criminal conviction for cruelty to animals, statute requires that sentences arising out of same criminal offenses be prosecuted in single action and run concurrently.
|City of Richardson v. Responsible Dog Owners of Texas||794 S.W.2d 17 (Tex. 1990).||
City's animal control ordinance banning the keeping of pit bulls was not preempted by state Penal Code provisions governing the keeping of vicious dogs.
|Bell v. State||761 S.W.2d 847 (Tex. App. 1988)||
Defendant convicted of cruelty to animals by knowingly and intentionally torturing a puppy by amputating its ears without anesthetic or antibiotics. Defense that "veterinarians charge too much" was ineffective.
|Rogers v. State||760 S.W.2d 669 (Tex. App. 1988).||
Dog fighting case. Where the dog fighting area was in an open section of woods near the defendant's home, police officers were not required to obtain a search warrant before entering the defendant's property because of the "open fields" doctrine.
|Lopez v. State||720 S.W.2d 201 (Tex. App. 1986).||
The court convicted the defendant of cruelty to animals where the defendant left his dog in the car on a hot, sunny, dry day with the windows only cracked an inch and a half. Such action was deemed "transporting or confining animal in a cruel manner."
|Mejia v. State||681 S.W.2d 88 (Tex. App. 1984).||
Rooster fighting case. Testimony from the defendant's witness, a sociologist that argued cockfighting is not generally thought of as an illegal activity, was irrelevant in cruelty to animals conviction. Statute is not unconstitutionally vague.
|Cross v. State||646 S.W.2d 514 (Tex. App. 1982).||
"Necessary food" in the animal cruelty statute means food sufficient in both quantity and quality to sustain the animal in question.
|McDonald v. State||64 S.W.3d 86 (Tex. App. 2001)||
The act of finding a sick puppy and intentionally abandoning it in a remote area, without food or water or anyone else around to accept responsibility for the animal, was unreasonable and sufficient to support a conviction for animal cruelty.
|Bormaster v. Henderson||624 S.W.2d 655 (Tx. 1981)||
This appeal arises out of a suit brought under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) and for breach of expressed and implied warranties after plaintiff purchased an allegedly defective umbrella cockatoo from a pet shop. Prior to purchase, appellee-seller stated the cockatoo was healthy and gave the appellant an "Official Health Certificate for Animals and Fowl" with a 72-hour expressed warranty on the health of the cockatoo. Two weeks later the cockatoo began showing signs of poor health so appellant took it to a veterinarian (it later died). This court concluded the trial court had sufficient rebuttal evidence upon which to hold appellant failed to prove the cockatoo's death by a preponderance of the evidence. Further, this court agreed with the trial court's finding that appellant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the appellees committed any false, misleading or deceptive acts under the DTPA, or breached any expressed or implied warranties.
|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.
|Palfreyman v. Gaconnet||561 S.W.3d 258 (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.|
|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.
|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.
|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.|
|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.
|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.|
|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.
|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.|
|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.
|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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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."