Texas Cases

Case name Citationsort ascending Summary
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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.
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.
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.

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.  

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.
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.   
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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Landry’s, Inc. v. Animal Legal Defense Fund --- S.W.3d ----, 2018 WL 5075116 (Tex. App. Oct. 18, 2018) This is an appeal of a dismissal of appellant Landry's claims under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“the TCPA”) and the subsequent required awarding of attorney fees and sanction under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 27.009. Landry's is a large corporation that owns and operates more than 500 entertainment properties across the country, including the Houston Aquarium, Inc. The aquarium houses four white tigers in an human-made enclosure known as "Maharaja's Temple." Appellees, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and its attorneys as well as a radio station owner (Cheryl Conley), asserted a variety of claims in connection with the publication of the notice to intend to sue under the Endangered Species Act due to the care and housing of the tigers. As a result of that notice and the associated publicity, Landry's asserted claims in the trial court for defamation, business disparagement, tortious interference with prospective business relations, abuse of process, trespass, conspiracy to commit each of these torts, and conspiracy to commit theft. Conley and ALDF moved to dismiss the claims under the TCPA, arguing that the claims related to exercise of free speech, petition, and association, and that Landry's could not make out a prima facie case. Additionally, they also argued that the claims were barred by the judicial-proceedings privilege. The lower court agreed and granted Conley's motion to dismiss. It also awarded $250,000 to ALDF and $200,000 to Conley. On appeal here, Landry again points to the allegedly defamatory statements released on social media (Twitter and Facebook) and through news media regarding the tigers' care. The court noted that many of the statements were non-actionable because they were not shown to be false statements of fact or were opinions. Nonetheless, even on those statements where Landry's met their burden of proving a defamation claim, the statements were protected by the judicial-proceedings privilege. The court was not convinced by Landry's contention that the statements were not made in contemplation of litigation because they were made after the required federal notice for filing suit under the ESA. Additionally, the court also rejected Landry's claim that the ALDF cannot claim attorney immunity because it is not a law firm and instead is comprised of attorneys who hold law licenses. The court observed that law licenses are not issued to business entities, but to individuals. The court also rejected Landry's remaining causes of action. As to the attorneys' fee and sanctions, the court did modify the attorneys' fees because one attorney at the trial court level did not participate in the appeal. Landry's then argued that the $450,000 in sanctions was excessive. The court first noted the TCPA mandates an award of sanctions and attorneys' fees. In reviewing the award for abuse of discretion, this court reviewed arguments by ALDF concerning Landry's hiring of the third largest law firm to defend a relatively small initial action, the filing of a 157-page response, with Landry's unwillingness to concede any points. The court took that in addition to several factors under the TCPA. The court was particularly concerned with Landry's filing of this suit on day 59 of the 60-day notice to file suit under the ESA (which may have been an indication to preempt the federal suit, according to the court). Despite that and more, the court did conclude that sanctions that were 2.4 and 2.8 times the attorneys' fees awards were excessive. The court suggested a remittitur, which would bring those awards respectively to $103,191.26 and $71,295.00. Thus, the lower court's decision to dismiss Landry's claims was affirmed, but the awards for attorneys' fee and sanctions were modified.
Galindo v. State --- S.W.3d ----, 2018 WL 4128054 (Tex. App. Aug. 30, 2018) Appellant Galindo pleaded guilty to cruelty to nonlivestock animals and a deadly-weapon allegation from the indictment. The trial court accepted his plea, found him guilty, and sentenced him to five years in prison. The facts stem from an incident where Galindo grabbed and then stabbed a dog with a kitchen knife. The indictment indicated that Galindo also used and exhibited a deadly weapon (a knife) during both the commission of the offense and flight from the offense. On appeal, Galindo argues that the deadly-weapon finding is legally insufficient because the weapon was used against a "nonhuman." Appellant relies on the recent decision of Prichard v. State, 533 S.W.3d 315 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017), in which the Texas Court of Appeals held that a deadly-weapon finding is legally insufficient where the sole recipient of the use or exhibition of the deadly weapon is a nonhuman. The court here found the facts distinguishable from Prichard. The court noted that Prichard left open the possibility that a deadly-weapons finding could occur when the weapon was used or exhibited against a human during the commission of an offense against an animal. Here, the evidence introduced at defendant's guilty plea and testimony from sentencing and in the PSIR are sufficient to support the trial court's finding on the deadly-weapons plea (e.g., the PSI and defense counsel stated that Galindo first threatened his girlfriend with the knife and then cut the animal in front of his girlfriend and her son). The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.

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