Texas Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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").

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.
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.
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).

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.

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.

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.

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