Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
Rotunda v. Haynes 33 Misc.3d 68 (App. Term 2011) The plaintiff in this case filed suit against the defendant, a dog breeder, to recover medical fees after receiving a dog that had a “severe genetic heart defect.” The dog was purchased by a third party and given to plaintiff as a gift. The court in this case held that the plaintiff was not entitled to damages under the General Business Law or the Uniform Commercial Code. The court held that the plaintiff was not entitled to damages under the General Business Law because the dog was not actually purchased by plaintiff. In addition, the plaintiff was not entitled to recover under the Uniform Commercial Code because plaintiff was unable to establish “privity with the defendant or personal injuries arising from the alleged defect,” which are required in order to recover damages. The judgment was affirmed.
People v. Zimberg 33 N.W.2d 104 (Mich. 1948)

Defendants were charged with having in their possession in the city of Detroit with intent to sell pikeperch (yellow pickerel) that were undersized, contrary to a Michigan statute.  In response to defendants' challenge to the constitutionality of the statute, the court noted that it is universally held in this country that wild game and fish belong to the state and are subject to its power to regulate and control; that an individual may acquire only such limited or qualified property interest therein as the state chooses to permit.  Defendants also contended the statute violated equal protection.  The court disagreed, finding the argument is without foundation in fact, as the statute makes no discrimination.

Altman v. City of High Point 330 F.3d 194 C.A.4 (N.C. 2003)

This case arises out of several shooting incidents in the City of High Point, North Carolina.  In each incident, a High Point animal control officer shot and killed one or more dogs that were running at large in the city. Plaintiffs, the owners of the animals, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the officers' actions violated their Fourth Amendment rights.  The Court of Appeals concluded that the dogs at issue in this case do qualify as property protected by the Fourth Amendment and that the officers seized that property. However, because in each instance the seizure involved was reasonable, it concluded that the officers did not violate the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights.

State v. Chilinski 330 P.3d 1169 (Mont. 2014) After a call reporting the poor health of over 100 dogs at a large Malamute breeding operation and the recruitment of the Humane Society of the United States, including several volunteers, to help execute a warrant, defendant was charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and 91 counts of felony cruelty to animals pursuant to § 45–8–211, MCA. Defendant was convicted by a jury of 91 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for a total of 30 years with 25 years suspended. A prohibition from possessing any animals while on probation was also imposed on the defendant, as well as an order to forfeit every seized dog and all puppies born after the execution of the warrant. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Montana, defendant argued the District Court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search on Fourth Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court held, however, that the search warrant authorizing seizure of “any and all dogs” and “any and all records pertaining to dogs” was not impermissibly overbroad; that the participation by civilian volunteers and Humane Society personnel in execution the warrant was not prohibited by the Fourth Amendment or the Montana Constitution; and that the use of civilian volunteers to assist in execution of search did not violate defendant's right to privacy. The Supreme Court therefore held that the lower court did not err in denying the motion to suppress the evidence. Next, the defendant argued that the District Court abused its discretion when it improperly determined that the results of an investigation of his kennels in 2009 were irrelevant pursuant to M.R. Evid. 403. The court, however, agreed with the District Court, despite defendant's claim that 2009 inspection would show that the poor conditions of the kennels and the dogs in 2011 were justified due to economic hardship and health issues. Finally, defendant argued that the District Court was not authorized to order forfeiture of the defendant’s dogs that were not identified as victims of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court, however, held that the statute authorizing forfeiture of “any animal affected” as part of sentence for animal cruelty did not limit forfeiture of defendant's dogs to only those that served as basis for underlying charges, nor did it implicate the defendant's right to jury trial under the Apprendi case. The Supreme Court therefore held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in requiring the defendant to forfeit all of his dogs. The lower court’s decision was affirmed.
Wyno v. Lowndes County 331 Ga. App. 541, 771 S.E.2d 207 (2015), cert. denied (June 15, 2015) Victim was attacked and killed by her neighbor's dog. Victim's husband, acting individually and as administrator of his wife's estate, brought action against dog owners and several government defendants, whom he alleged failed to respond to earlier complaints about the dog. The trial court dismissed the action against the government for failure to state a claim, concluding that sovereign and official immunity or, alternatively, the Responsible Dog Ownership Law (OCGA § 4–8–30), barred action against the government defendants. Husband appealed. The appeals court held the trial court did not err in dismissing the action against the county and its employees in their official capacities. The former version of OCGA § 4–8–30, effective at the time of the attack, provided immunity to local governments and their employees from liability for all injuries inflicted by dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The appeals court held that the trial court erred in dismissing the action against the employees in their individual capacities based on official immunity, however. By applying the former OCGA § 4–8–30 (2012) to dismiss the action against the employees in their individual capacities, the trial court implicitly rejected the husband’s constitutional challenge to the statute. Judgment was therefore affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded to the trial court to enter a ruling specifically and directly passing on the husband’s constitutional challenge.
Harby v. Harby 331 So. 3d 814 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2021) This Florida case involves an appeal of a final judgment of dissolution of marriage. With respect to animal law, the wife appealed the trial court's distribution of family dogs, Liberty and Nico, to the former husband. According to testimony, the dogs were bonded to each other. The former wife testified that the family adopted Liberty "to be an emotional support dog" and was her constant companion. The former wife testified that she cared for the dogs when they were adopted in 2013 and 2014 until the parties separated in 2017. Since that separation, the dogs have been in the husband's possession and care. The trial court determined that the dogs were marital property and that the wife appeared to be in good health with no physical or mental disabilities. Further, both parties agreed the dogs should not be separated from each other and the court found the dogs had been in the husband's possession since the parties separated. On appeal, the wife argues that the trial court's distribution of the family dogs to Former Husband was arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by the record. In particular, the wife contends that one of the dogs is her emotional support animal and former husband expressed no desire or claim for the dogs in testimony. The court first observed that Florida is not one of the handful of states with statutes that give pets a special property status in distribution of marital assets. Instead, animals are considered personal property. Here, the court found both parties have cared for the dogs at times and the husband cared for them after the parties separated in 2017. And, while the court found that Liberty was "emotionally comforting," there was no evidence that the former wife had a disability and that Liberty provided emotional support to alleviate an effect of such disability. Thus, the role Liberty played was to provide comfort and companionship like most household pets. Since the trial court also considered each party's sentimental interest in the pets, including the children's attachment since they resided primarily with the former husband, there was no showing that the court abused its discretion in awarding the dogs to former husband. Thus, the appellate court concluded that the trial court acted within its discretion by awarding the family dogs to the former husband.
Applbaum v. Golden Acres Farm and Ranch 333 F. Supp. 2d 31 (N.D. N.Y. 2004)

Minor child fell off of a horse while horseback riding at a resort ranch and sustained severe injuries.  Parents of the minor child brought a personal injury claim against the stable and the stable moved for summary judgment.  The trial court precluded summary judgment due to the existence of genuine issues of material fact relating the parent's assumption of the risk.

Rowley v. City of New Bedford 333 F.Supp.3d 30 (D. Mass. Sept. 25, 2018) This opinion concerns the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts' motion to dismiss plaintiff Rowley's (formerly plaintiff "Friends of Ruth & Emily, Inc.") citizen suit for injunction under the federal Endangered Species Act. Plaintiffs allege that two Asian Elephants, Ruth and Emily, were mistreated by the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford by chaining their legs, housing them in inadequate facilities, failing to provide proper socialization, and failing to provide adequate veterinary care, which gives rise to a "taking" under Section 9 of the ESA. Rowley claims that she is a member of the zoological society there and visits the elephants on a "near daily basis," resulting in “an aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual relationship with Ruth and Emily over the years.” The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts asked both parties to brief on the issue of standing for the instant action. The court first noted that the ESA expressly authorizes citizen suits for injunctive relief. To survive a motion to dismiss, Rowley must, through facts, clearly demonstrate standing, and then the court must analyze those facts under a multi-pronged approach. To begin, the court distinguished cases that established the proper "animal nexus" for injury in fact with those that did not meet that finding. Here, Rowley's complaint established injury in fact because she lives in New Bedford, is a member of the Zoo's Zoological Society, and observes the elephants on a near daily basis. Rowley alleges that the maltreatment of Ruth and Emily injures this ability because she observes their ongoing suffering while in substandard captivity. The court was not persuaded by New Bedford's claim that Rowley has not established injury in fact because she has no specialized training in wildlife or animal welfare. In fact, this claim ignored precedent from this very circuit that "aesthetic injury" can be established by viewing animals in inhumane conditions. In addition, the court rejected New Bedford's "nonexistent requirement into the injury in fact analysis" that Rowley must have observed or will observe Asian elephants in their native habitats. As a result, the court found Rowley properly established injury in fact. As to the next requirement of causation, the court found that Rowley sufficiently alleged that the Zoo's actions caused the harm complained of for purposes of surviving a motion to dismiss. Finally, as to redressability, the court found that Rowley's request for a declaratory judgment as to the Zoo's treatment of Ruth and Emily, and an injunction prohibiting the Zoo from euthanizing the elephants met this prong. New Bedford's contention that Rowley's further suggestion of moving the elephants to a sanctuary in Tennessee impaired her redressability argument because Rowley did not propose how the cost of relocation would be funded was also rejected. At this stage, the court does not need to determine whether this solution is necessary or feasible. The District Court ultimately held that Rowley demonstrated sufficient standing to pursue her claims. Hence, New Bedford's motion to dismiss was denied.
State v. Nix 334 P.3d 437 (2014), vacated, 356 Or. 768, 345 P.3d 416 (2015) In this criminal case, defendant was found guilty of 20 counts of second-degree animal neglect. Oregon's “anti-merger” statute provides that, when the same conduct or criminal episode violates only one statute, but involves more than one “victim,” there are “as many separately punishable offenses as there are victims.” The issue in this case is whether defendant is guilty of 20 separately punishable offenses, which turns on the question whether animals are “victims” for the purposes of the anti-merger statute. The trial court concluded that, because only people can be victims within the meaning of that statute, defendant had committed only one punishable offense. The court merged the 20 counts into a single conviction for second-degree animal neglect. On appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that animals can be victims within the meaning of the anti-merger statute and, accordingly, reversed and remanded for entry of a judgment of conviction on each of the 20 counts and for resentencing. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and affirmed. Thus, in Oregon, for the purposes of the anti-merger statute, an animal, rather than the public or an animal owner, is a “victim” of crime of second-degree animal neglect.
Reece v. Edmonton (City) 335 DLR (4th) 600; 513 AR 199; [2011] CarswellAlta 1349; 530 WAC 199 This case dealt with the procedure the applicants used to get their claim heard by the court. The respondent City holds a licence under the Wildlife Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. W‑10 to operate a zoo, which houses a lone Asian elephant named Lucy. The appellants commenced this action by originating notice for an order. The chambers judge concluded that the proceedings were an abuse of process because a private litigant cannot seek a declaration that the respondent is in breach of a penal provision in a statute, namely that the elephant was kept in distress because of health concerns. Alternatively, he concluded that the application should have been brought by way of statement of claim, not originating notice. Further, the chambers judge concluded that the appellants had no private interest standing, and that there were barriers to them being awarded public interest standing. On appeal, the parties raised two issues: (1) whether the chambers judge erred in denying the appellants standing to seek a declaration; and (2) whether the chambers judge erred in concluding that the proceedings were an abuse of process. This court held that the chambers judge came to the correct conclusion that these proceedings are an abuse of process. APPEAL DISMISSED.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Badgley 335 F.3d 1097 (C.A.9 (Or.),2003)

The Center for Biological Diversity and eighteen other nonprofit organizations appealed the district court's summary judgment in favor of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Center claimed the Secretary of the Interior violated the Endangered Species Act by making an erroneous, arbitrary, and capricious determination that listing the Northern Goshawk (a short-winged, long-tailed hawk that lives in forested regions of higher latitude in the northern hemisphere and is often considered an indicator species) in the contiguous United States west of the 100th meridian as a threatened or endangered species was not warranted.  In the absence of evidence that the goshawk is endangered or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, the court found the FWS's decision was not arbitrary or capricious and affirmed the summary disposition.

Swanson v. Tackling 335 Ga. App. 810 (2016) This is an interlocutory appeal by the dog owners (the Swansons) in a personal injury lawsuit for a dog bite. The court in this case overruled the lower court’s ruling that the defendant was not entitled to summary judgement after defendant’s dog bit a child but the dog had never shown a propensity to injure anyone prior to the incident. Plaintiff was suing defendant after defendant’s dog bit plaintiff’s child on the arm and head. Plaintiff argued that defendant is responsible for the injuries caused by the dog because the defendant neglected to properly restrain the dog. The court reversed the lower court’s decision and held in favor of defendant, stating that there was no evidence that was presented to indicate that defendant could have or should have known that the dog would act in this way towards the child. In order to prevail, the plaintiff needed to present evidence that the dog had acted in a similar way in the past.
King v. Karpe 338 P.2d 979 (Ca.,1959)

Plaintiff sued for damages after a cow was sent to slaughter after a veterinarian had determined that she was incapable of breeding. The court recognized “peculiar value” of the cow where there was evidence that she was slaughtered before she had completed a course of treatment meant to restore her to brood status, that she could have produced for another five or six years, that the three bull calves she had produced were outstanding, that defendant took a half interest in them as the breeding fee and exhibited them at shows, that the cow's blood line produced calves particularly valuable for inbreeding, that plaintiff needed this type of stock to build up her herd, and that defendant had knowledge of these facts. The value of the bull to which the cow had been bred was also material to the cow’s actual value.

Molinari v. Tuskegee University 339 F. Supp. 2d. 1293 (N.D. Ala. 2004)

A veterinary student was kicked by a cow while trying to perform a medical procedure.  The student brought a personal injury lawsuit against the professor and university for negligently allowing the university-owned cow to kick her and not providing timely medical treatment.  Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part.

People v. Strobridge 339 N.W.2d 531 (Mich.App.,1983)

In this Michigan case, the defendant appealed his conviction of keeping more than three dogs on his premises without a kennel license in violation of Grandville ordinances, § 21, No. 159-A.  On appeal, defendant asserted that the trial court improperly denied his “nonconforming use” defense; that is, he claimed the ordinance at issue was a zoning ordinance rather than a regulatory ordinance.   Relying on a case that held that prior nonconforming use (where a person has been using property in a nonconforming way prior to the adoption of the zoning ordinance), the court found that indeed defendant was entitled to present such a defense, as he owned the dogs on the property prior to adoption of the ordinance.  Defendant next argued that the trial court erred in ruling that the ordinance was a constitutional exercise of the city's police power.  While the court observed that criminal ordinances are to be more strictly construed than ordinances involving a civil penalty, it still found that the ordinance at issue was a valid exercise of police power, especially considering that a previous case had upheld a similar ordinance that limited ownership to only two dogs.

Butcher v. Gay 34 Cal.Rptr.2d 771 (Cal.App.5.Dist.)

Plaintiff alleged that she had contracted Lyme disease "as a result of exposure to infested ticks" on respondent's property, and that respondent had "failed to spray the area, post signs or prevented [sic] domestic dog(s) from coming into contact with the plaintiff - jumping in her lap - thereby exposing her to a vector of the disease without her knowledge. Court found no duty toward the plaintiff and allow the motion for summary judgment against the plaintiff to stand.

Lesser v. Epsy 34 F.3d 1301 (7th Cir. 1994) Owner had a rabbitry, and the rabbits were sold for scientific research.   Inspection of the rabbitry without a warrant occurred, and Owner claimed that his constitutional rights were violated.   Search without a warrant was appropriate because any deficiencies could have been easily concealed if notice of a search was provided to the Owner.  
United States of America v. James and Thomas Allemand 34 F.3d 923 (10th Cir. 1994)

The jury convicted the Allemands of conspiring to export illegally taken wildlife and to file false records concerning wildlife intended for export.  The court held that any error in the trial court's failure to instruct the jury that it could convict for conspriacy to make and submit false records concerning wildlife export only if conspirators intended to violate the law it was amended in 1988 was harmless where almost all the evidence adduced at trial related to acts from a time after the amendment was effective.

Gruber v. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis 34 N.E.3d 264 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015) An eleven-year-old boy was at a YMCA camp when a pig—which had never injured anyone or exhibited any dangerous propensities—stuck its head between the bars of its pen and grabbed the boy's hand, causing injuries. The boy and his mother sued the camp, and the camp filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the camp. On appeal, the boy and his mother asked the court to change the standard for liability of owners of domestic animals to that of strict liability when the animal was not a cat or dog. Since the Indiana Supreme Court precedent was clear that this general rule applied to all domestic animals—and not just cats and dogs—the court declined their invitation to alter the standard. The trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of the camp was therefore affirmed.
Rabon v. City of Seattle (II) 34 P.3d 821 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2001)

This Washington case constitutes plaintiff's second appeal in extended litigation aimed at preventing the City of Seattle from destroying his dogs after a jury convicted him of the criminal charge of owning vicious dogs. The case began when Rabon filed a civil suit seeking an injunction against having his dogs destroyed.  This present appeal is from an order dismissing his constitutional claims against the City on summary judgment.  In affirming the order of summary judgment, this court held that a person's interest in keeping a vicious dog as a pet is not so great as to require a more careful procedure than is provided by Seattle's administrative and hearing process. The fact that plaintiff did not have a right to an immediate pre-deprivation hearing before the dogs were seized and impounded is justified by the strong public interest in prompt action to prevent more attacks. 

In re Capers' Estate 34 Pa. D. & C.2d 121 (Pa.Orph.) (1964)

In this Pennsylvania case, the testatrix directed in her will that her Irish setter dogs to be destroyed in a humane manner. The executors were unsure of what action to take and sought declaratory relief. In attempting to construe the testatrix's intent, the court found that she "evidently feared that either they would grieve for her or that no one would afford them the same affection and kindness that they received during her life." The court found that the intent of testatrix would be carried out if her two favored Irish setters were placed in an environment where they are given the same care and attention that she she gave them during her life. The final question the court grappled with was whether it was against public policy to hold valid a clause in a will directing the summary destruction of certain of decedent's property after her death. The court held that the clause was void as not being within the purview of the Wills Act of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and being against the public policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

United States v. Carrano 340 F.Supp.3d 388 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 4, 2018) Defendant Thomas Carrano was convicted after a jury trial of conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq. In 2016, Carrano, who was president of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association (“NYUGBA”), became the subject of an investigation by NYPD officers, ASPCA agents, and USDA agents for suspected cockfighting activities. In that investigation, these officers eventually searched Carrano's property and seized extensive animal fighting paraphernalia, some of which was covered in chicken blood. Defendant was indicted on a single count of conspiring to violate the AWA and was subsequently convicted by jury. In this appeal, defendant contends that the government failed to prove he joined a conspiracy to violate the AWA and failed to prove the interstate commerce requirement for the conspiracy. Defendant argues that the "substantial evidence against him, including the training videos, the vitamin supplements, the gaffs and postizas, and the dubbed birds" are consistent with showing chickens at a poultry show, rather than cockfighting. The court noted that the jury made permissible inferences as to the evidence that were consistent with cockfighting, and that a reviewing court will not substitute its judgment for that judgment. In addition, Facebook and text messages from defendant evidence the furtherance of a conspiracy. While defendant contends that the government failed to prove that he actually engaged in cockfighting during the relevant time period, the court stated that the conspiracy charge only required sufficient evidence showing defendant agreed to deal in chickens for a fight through interstate commerce. The court also found defendant's argument as to a defect in the superseding indictment was waived and meritless. Even considering the substance of the argument, the court found proof that defendant's conduct impacted interstate commerce. The court also held that defendant failed to prove his ineffective assistance of counsel claim on appeal. Defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal or in the alternative a new trial was denied.
Rickrode v. Wistinghausen 340 N.W.2d 83 (Mich.App.,1983)

In this Michigan case, a mother sued as next friend for injuries suffered by her daughter after the daughter was attacked by defendant's domestic cat. The lower court directed a verdict in favor of the cat's owner and the mother then appealed. The Court of Appeals held that evidence warranted submission to the jury on questions of strict liability and negligence. If an owner has knowledge that her cat has bitten children before and that it was suffering from a disease that makes the cat extra sensitive, then a prima facie case has been made that the cat was dangerous, posing more than the normal risk of harm from cats.

WildEarth Guardians v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service 342 F. Supp. 3d 1047 (D. Mont. 2018) In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (The Service) issued regulations implementing the CITES Program for certain Appendix II species that are in the United States which include bobcats, gray wolves, river otters, Canada lynx, and brown grizzly bears. Under the regulations, certain requirements must be met prior to the species exportation from the Unites States. The Service annually distributes export tags to approved states and tribes which are then distributed to trappers, hunters, and other individuals seeking to export furbearer species. The Service drafted an incidental take statement setting a cap on the amount of Canada lynx that are allowed to be killed or injured while bobcats are hunted. Plaintiffs brought this action claiming that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by not adequately analyzing the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the CITES Program and by not preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). It is further alleged that the 2001 and 2012 Biological Opinions and Incidental Take Statement referenced and incorporated in the Environmental Assessment that the Service conducted is deficient under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Center for Biological Diversity filed a separate action raising similar NEPA claims. The two actions were consolidated into one and the WildEarth case was designated as the lead case. The Service and the intervenors challenged the Plaintiff's standing to bring their claims. The District Court found that the plaintiffs have standing to bring their claims. As for the NEPA claims, the Court held that the only time an EIS is necessary is when a specific agency action alters the status quo. In this case, the Court found no identifiable agency action that would alter the status quo. The Service has administered the CITES Export Program since 1975 and it does not propose "any site-specific activity nor call for specific action directly impacting the physical environment." As for the EPA claims, in the Incidental Take Statement drafted by the Service, the authorized level of take is set as follows: "two (2) lynx may be killed and two (2) injured annually due to trapping over the 10-year term of th[e] biological opinion." The Plaintiffs argued that the use of the word "and" in the "Two and Two" standard was ambiguous. The District Court agreed and held that as currently worded, the "two and two" fails to set an adequate trigger for take because it is not clear whether one or both are necessary to exceed the trigger. The Plaintiffs also argue that the terms "annually" and "injury" are ambiguous. The District Court held that "annually" was ambiguous, however, it was not enough to independently make the statement arbitrary and capricious. The Court also held that the Service's use of the word "injury" was both overbroad and underinclusive. The Service's interpretation and use of the term is arbitrary and capricious in the context of this case. The Court found that the reporting requirements were arbitrary and capricious and that the take statement does not set forth reasonable and prudent measures to minimize the impact of incidental taking on the species. The Service provides states and tribes with a brochure with information on lynx identification and other information every time bobcat tags are issued, however the brochures are not required to be given out by states and tribes, it is merely recommended. The District Court ultimately Denied the Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to their NEPA claims and granted it as to their ESA claims. The incidental take statement was remanded to the Service for further review and clarification.
Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 342 F.Supp.3d 968 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 21, 2018) Center for Biological Diversity ("CBD") filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief under the Endangered Species Act, seeking protection for the Pacific fisher (a medium-sized brown mammal in the weasel family found only in North America). All parties moved for summary judgment. The CBD was the party that submitted the original petition to list this distinct population segment as endangered in 2000 (after various petitions were filed since 1990 with no action). In 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (the "Service") publicly proposed to list the Pacific fisher as threatened and sought public comment. In April 2016, the Service withdrew the proposed listing, finding that: populations will persist in the future; wildfires will have beneficial consequences; there "may be" breeding and interchange with other populations; and there were only a small number of confirmed deaths due to toxicosis from anticoagulant rodenticides. Plaintiffs now challenge that listing reversal as arbitrary and capricious, and seek an order requiring the Service to publish a new rule within 90 days based on “the best scientific and commercial data available." This court first examined the effect of anticoagulant rodenticides on the Pacific fisher. The court found the Service's assessment of the increase of the emerging threat from toxicosis was arbitrary and capricious, and that the Service "cherry picked" the Gabriel study to say that the study was uncertain. As to population trends, the court found that the Service based its conclusion on limited and inconclusive trend data and ignored the studies' conclusions. In fact, the court stated, "[h]ere, the absence of conclusive evidence of Pacific fisher persistence does not stand alone. The Service does not dispute that the Pacific fisher population has declined dramatically." In the end, the court granted plaintiff CBD motion for summary judgment and denied defendant Service's motion. The court directed the Service to prepare a new rule by March 22, 2019 (which denied plaintiff's motion for a 90-day rule and also denied the Service's request to "brief the timeline in order to evaluate staffing and budget constraints").
State v. Peabody 343 Ga. App. 362, 807 S.E.2d 107 (2017) This Georgia case involves a former police lieutenant who was indicted on two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals after he left his K-9 named Inka locked in his police vehicle while he attended to tasks inside his home. The dog died after being left inside the vehicle, which had all doors and windows closed with no A/C or ventilation running. The state appeals the trial court's grant of defendant's motion to quash the indictment. Specifically, the state argues that OCGA § 17-7-52 (a law that requires at least a 20-day notice prior to presentment of a proposed indictment to a grand jury when a peace officer is charged with a crime that occurred in the performance of his or her duties) is inapplicable. The state did not send defendant a copy of the proposed indictment before it presented the case to the grand jury. The state contends defendant "stepped aside" from his police-related duties and was therefore not afforded the protections of OCGA § 17-7-52. This court disagreed with that assessment. Since Peabody was responsible for the care and housing of Inka as her K-9 handler, leaving her unattended, albeit in an illegal manner, was still in performance of his police duties. As such, Peabody was entitled to the procedural protections of the statute according to the appellate court. The trial court's motion to quash his indictment was affirmed.
Deardorff v. Farnsworth 343 P.3d 687, review denied, 358 Or. 145 (2015)

In this case, the Oregon Court of Appeals was reviewing whether or not the trial court erred in holding that an insurance company was estopped from relying on an exclusion in an insurance policy. The plaintiffs in this case were transporting horses in California that were owned by other when the trailer carrying the horses caught fire. The insurers for the horse owners compensated the horse owners and then filed an action against plaintiffs. As a result, plaintiffs charged the defense of the action to their insurer, OMI. OMI refused to provide a defense for the plaintiffs, arguing that it was not covered in the insurance policy. Plaintiffs filed an action against OMI to recover the costs arguing that they were verbally told that this would be covered in the policy. The trial court ordered summary judgment for the plaintiffs, holding that OMI was estopped from denying liability because it had breached its contract with plaintiff. Ultimately, the court of appeals reviewed the issue and determined that the trial court had erred in its decision. The court of appeals found that based on applicable case law, estoppel cannot be used to negate an express exclusion in an insurance policy. As a result, the court reversed the trial court's decision and remanded the case.

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.

City of Water Valley v. Trusty 343 So.2d 471 (Miss. 1977) Appellants filed b ill of complaint seeking to enjoin enforcement of city's dog leash ordinance.  The court summarily held that Mississippi Code Annotated s 21-19-9 (1972) authorizes municipalities to regulate the running at large of animals of all kinds. The ordinance here was enacted pursuant to that authority, it meets the constitutional requirements, and the demurrer should have been sustained on that question.
Nelson v. Lewis 344 N.E.2d 268 (Ill.App. 1976)

Toddler accidentally stepped on the tail of the owner's dog, and the dog responded by scratching her eye, causing permanent damage to the tear duct.  The toddler sought damages under Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 8, para. 366 (1973), arguing that her unintentional act did not constitute provocation.  The court held that provocation under the statute referred to both intentional or unintentional acts.  Because the dog was provoked by the unintentional act, he did not react viciously.

United States v. Kilpatrick 347 F.Supp.2d 693 (D. Neb. 2004)

Two hunters were convicted of violating the Lacey Act after they hunted on a federal wildlife refuge, killed a deer and transported the carcass out-of-state.  The trial court imposed sentences of probation and fines.  The District Court affirmed the conviction and sentences holding they were reasonable.

Miles ex rel. Miles v. Rich 347 S.W.3d 477 (Mo.App. E.D., 2011)

In this Missouri case, the plaintiff filed an action against defendant dog owner for damages after defendant's dog bit the plaintiff's child. Defendant dog owner then filed a third-party petition against the Humane Society of Missouri from which defendant had adopted the dog, seeking contribution under a theory of common law negligence. Defendant appeals the lower court's dismissal, specifically contending that the Humane Society breached 1) its duty to prevent the adoption of the dog by doing tests it knew would have identified the dog's dangerous propensity to bite ; and 2) its duty to fully inform defendant of the risks of keeping a dog who has bitten in the past. The appellate court found that the Humane Society did not own, possess, harbor or control the dog when it bit Ms. Miles; thus, it had no duty under common law negligence principles to prevent the harm.

Branks v. Kern 348 S.E.2d 815 (N.C.App.,1986)

In this negligence action, a cat owner brought suit against veterinarian and veterinary clinic after she was bitten by her own cat while the cat was receiving treatment by the veterinarian. At issue, is whether the veterinarian owed a duty to the cat owner to exercise reasonable care in preventing the cat from harming the owner while the cat was being treated.  In review of the lower court’s grant of motion for summary judgment, the Court of Appeals held that substantial issues of material fact existed to preclude the grant of summary judgment. However, this was overturned on appeal at the Supreme Court. ( See , Branks v. Kern (On Appeal)   359 S.E.2d 780 (N.C.,1987)).

U.S. v. Lewis 349 F.3d 1116 (9th Cir. 2003)

Defendant was convicted of a number of offenses related to his role in a wildlife smuggling operation. If trial did not begin within the requisite time period and defendant moved for dismissal prior to trial, the court had to dismiss the indictment, either with or without prejudice. The court held that the circumstances in the case, where it was clear that the delay in the trial caused the delay in the hearing, rather than the other way around, and where defendant repeatedly asked the court to set the case for trial and was otherwise ready to proceed to trial, plaintiff United States' pending pretrial motion could not serve as a basis for exclusion for a 117 day period. Because the delay violated the Speedy Trial Act, defendant's convictions had to be reversed, his sentences vacated, and his indictments dismissed.

Shively v. Dye Creek Cattle Co. 35 Cal.Rptr.2d 238 (Cal.App.3.Dist.)

This California case concerned a personal injury action arising from a collision between the plaintiff's car and defendant's black Angus bull, which was lying on the highway at night. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. In reversing this decision, the Court of Appeal held that the open range law does not itself define the duty owners of cattle owe nor does it exempt them from the duty of ordinary care.

Hewitt v. Palmer Veterinary Clinic, PC 35 N.Y.3d 541, 159 N.E.3d 228 (2020) This is an action for negligence and premises-liability brought by a plaintiff, who was attacked by another patron's dog in the waiting room of defendant veterinary clinic. Plaintiff alleges defendant had a duty to provide a safe waiting area, which was breached by allowing the aggressive dog to attack her. Defendants allege that it had no knowledge of the dog's prior aggressive tendencies, and moved for summary judgment. The Supreme Court granted defendants motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed. The court found that a lack of notice of the dog's vicious propensities does not alleviate defendant's liability to provide a safe waiting area, and modified the lower court's granting of summary judgment.
WILCOX v. BUTT'S DRUG STORES, Inc. 35 P.2d 978 (N.M. 1934)

In Wilcox v. Butt’s Drug Stores , plaintiff came into pharmacy to purchase her usual laxative for her show dogs when pharmacist recommended a different brand that ended up killing one of the dogs. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that although sentimental value was not appropriate when calculating the dog’s value, it found recovery not to be limited to market value. Factors such as breed, special qualities, and purchase price were looked at to determine value.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Morgenweck 351 F.Supp.2d (D. Co. 2004)

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service completed a review of an environmental group petition that requested the Yellowstone cutthroat trout be listed as an endangered species.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service refused to list the fish as an endangered species and the environmental group brought an action to set aside the agency's findings.  The District Court held in favor of the environmental group reasoning the agency's rejection of the petition was arbitrary and capricious and the review of the petition was not conducted properly.

Hatahley v. United States 351 U.S. 173, 76 S.Ct. 745 (1956)

In the case of Hatahley v. United States, 351 U.S. 173 (1956), a group of Navajo Indians living in Utah sued the government under the Federal Torts Claim Act, to recover the confiscation and destruction of horses and burros that were kept as pets and uniquely valued to the owners. The federal agents confiscated these animals and then sold them to a glue factory. The petitioners vehemently argued that these horses had unique and sentimental value to them, and served as a means of income to yield crops. Although the government agents argued that they were authorized to engage in this taking pursuant to the Utah Abandoned Horse Slaughter Act, the trial court ruled in favor of the petitioners. The court awarded the petitioners a judgment of $100,000 based on the fair market value, consequential damages for deprivation of use, and “mental pain and suffering” of the petitioners. The decision was reversed and remanded to the District Court with instructions to assess damages with sufficient particularity.

Western Watersheds Project v. Michael 353 F.Supp.3d 1176 (D. Wyo. 2018) Wyoming enacted statutes that imposed civil and criminal penalties for data collection on private land or when private land was crossed to reach public land without landowner permission. The pair of statutes (one criminal and one civil) prohibited individuals from entering “open land for the purpose of collecting resource data” without permission from the owner. The criminal statute imposed penalties that were stricter than Wyoming’s general trespass provision. The Plaintiffs, who were advocacy organizations, filed suit to challenge the statutes alleging that the statutes violated the Free Speech and Petition Clauses of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that the statutes were preempted by federal law. The District Court found for the Plaintiffs on the free speech, petition, and equal protection claims, but did not feel that the Plaintiffs stated a preemption claim. Wyoming then amended the statutes and the Plaintiffs amended their complaint re-alleging free speech and equal protection claims. The district court found for the defendants on a motion to dismiss. The Plaintiffs then appealed. Both Plaintiffs and Defendants had filed cross motions for summary judgment. The Court granted the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and denied Defendants’’ Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court ultimately found that the Wyoming statutes were facially unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The State of Wyoming was permanently enjoined from enforcing the statutes.
Conti v. ASPCA 353 N.Y.S.2d 288 (N.Y.,1974)

A parrot flew away from its original owner, was found and adopted by the plaintiff, and subsequently seized by the ASPCA for return to the original owner. The finder-plaintiff brought an action of replevin to recover possession of the parrot. The court found that the bird found was the same as the one lost and it did not extinguish the original owner's right to possession by reverting to a wild state.

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.

Defenders of Wildlife v. Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior 354 F.Supp.2d 1156(D. Or. 2005)

Plaintiffs challenged the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) "downlisting" of the gray wolf from endangered to threatened status through publication of its Final Rule.  The Final Rule delists the gray wolf in 14 southeastern states based on "listing error" because that region was not part of the gray wolf's historical range.  The court held that the FWS's extension of boundaries of only DPSs in which gray wolf populations had achieved recovery goals to encompass wolf's entire historical range was arbitrary and capricious.  FWS's downlisting of entire DPSs, without analyzing threats to the gray wolf outside of its current range, was inconsistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and thus was arbitrary and capricious. 

In re Marriage of Stewart 356 N.W.2d 611 (Iowa Ct. App. 1984)

Dog which had been gift from husband to wife was awarded to husband in divorce decree; wife appealed.  Appeals court found that the trial court did not err, considering both "the property division as a whole" and that the dog had accompanied husband to work each day.  Court held that a dog is personal property whose best interests need not be considered.

Wheatley v. Towers 358 N.E.2d 971 (Ill.,1977)

Plaintiff's dog was picked up by animal control for running-at-large. The plaintiff expressed his intent to reclaim the dog but before doing so the holding period expired and the dog was euthanized. The plaintiff sued the veterinarian for conversion. The court held that the euthanasia was not conversion because the impoundment ordinance gave the animal shelter a right to euthanize the dog after the holding period expired.

Vickers v. Egbert 359 F. Supp. 2d 1358 (Fla. 2005)

A commercial fisherman brought a claim against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission alleging substantive due process violations.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission instituted licensing requirements and restrictions on lobster trapping certificates in order to alleviate an overpopulation of lobster traps.  The court held in favor of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, reasoning fishing was not a fundamental right.

State v. Newcomb 359 Or 756 (2016) In this case, the Supreme Court of Oregon reviewed a case in which defendant accused the State of violating her constitutional rights by taking a blood sample of her dog without a warrant to do so. Ultimately, the court held that the defendant did not have a protected privacy interest in the dog’s blood and therefore the state did not violate defendant’s constitutional rights. Defendant’s dog, Juno, was seized by the Humane Society after a worker made a visit to plaintiff’s home and had probable cause to believe that Juno was emaciated from not receiving food from plaintiff. After Juno was seized and taken into custody for care, the veterinarian took a blood sample from Juno to confirm that there was no other medical reason as to why Juno was emaciated. Defendant argued that this blood test was a violation of her constitutional rights because the veterinarian did not have a warrant to perform the test. The court dismissed this argument and held that once Juno was taken into custody, defendant had “lost her rights of dominion and control over Juno, at least on a temporary basis.” Finally, the court held that because Juno was lawfully seized and Juno’s blood was “not ‘information’ that defendant placed in Juno for safekeeping or to conceal from view,” defendant’s constitutional rights had not been violated.
Branks v. Kern (On Appeal) 359 S.E.2d (780 N.C.,1987)

On grant of appeal from Branks v. Kern , 348 S.E.2d 815 (N.C. 1986).  Cat owner brought negligence action against veterinarian and veterinary clinic after her hand was bitten while she held her own cat during a catheterization procedure. In reversing the Court of Appeals decision (348 S.E.2d 815 (N.C. App. 1986)), the Supreme Court held that defendants in the instant case have met their burden of showing that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law where the evidence showed that the danger was obvious to plaintiff and defendants only owed plaintiff a duty to exercise ordinary care.

Vendrella v. Astriab Family Ltd. Partnership 36 A.3d 707 (Conn.App.,2012)

Minor sued farmer horse-owner for negligence after farmer's horse bit him. The Appellate Court reversed summary judgment, holding that a fact issue remained as to whether the farmer had notice that the horse belonged to a class of domestic animals that possessed a natural propensity to bite. Such knowledge may make certain injuries foreseeable, giving rise to a duty to use reasonable care to restrain the animal to prevent injury.

Fuller v. Vines 36 F3d 65 (9th Cir. 1994)

Motion for leave to amend § 1983 civil rights complaint to add claims that police officer violated Fourth Amendment by shooting pet dog and by pointing gun at one plaintiff was denied and the United States District Court for the Northern District of California entered summary judgment in favor of police officers and city. Plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) killing of pet dog stated Fourth Amendment violation, but (2) no seizure of plaintiff occurred when police pointed gun.

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