Connecticut

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Titlesort ascending Summary
State v. DeFrancesco


After the USDA went to the defendant’s house to perform a prelicense inspection for an Animal Welfare Act permit for a rabbit, the USDA discovered the defendant also kept a Bengal cat, a Jungle cat and a Bobcat on the premises; the USDA then notified the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the three cats. After the defendant’s attempt to sell the three cats, the DEP confiscated them and placed them in the care of an expert; the DEP also charged the defendant with three misdemeanor violations of General Statutes section 26-40a. After trial and appellate court determinations, the Connecticut Supreme Court found the three cats to be included on the list of prohibited felidae in General Statutes section 26-40a and found General Statutes section 26-40a did not violate Due Process.

State v. Bonilla


The issue before the court in this case is whether defendant's felony conviction for being a spectator at a cockfight (contrary to General Statutes § 53–247(c)) violates defendant's constitutional rights to assemble and associate, and his equal protection rights. In rejecting defendant's arguments, the court noted first that the right to assemble does not encompass the right to assemble for an unlawful purpose. Further, the right to associate was not infringed because "[a]ttending a cockfight as a spectator is neither a form of 'intimate association' nor a form of 'expressive association' as recognized by our courts or the United States Supreme Court . . ." As to defendant's claim of violation of equal protection, the court found that the aim of § 53–247(c)(4), criminalizing being a spectator at a cockfighting event, is rationally related to the legislative goal of preventing such fights from being staged.

State v. Ancona


Defendant Michael Ancona appealed his conviction of permitting a dog to roam at large in violation of General Statutes § 22-364(a). The defendant claims that (1) the court improperly held him responsible as a keeper of a dog when the owner was present and known to the authorities, and (2) the state adduced insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. The plain language of the statute § 22-364(a) states that an “owner or keeper” is prohibited from allowing a dog to roam on a public highway. Either the owner or keeper or both can be held liable for a violation of the statute. The court also found sufficient evidence that defendant was the keeper of the pit bull: the dog stayed at his house, he initially responded to the incident and tried to pull the dog away, and defendant yelled at the Officer Rogers that she was not to take "his dog."

State v. Acker Defendant, the director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut, Inc., was charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty for failing to give animals “proper care by exposing [them] to conditions that placed [them] at risk of hypothermia, dehydration, or to conditions injurious to [their] well-being....” Defendant was the director of a nonprofit animal rescue organization and housed rescued dogs in an uninsulated outdoor barn heated solely by space heaters. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of 15 counts and acquitted of the remaining 48 counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, the defendant claimed that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and (2)C.G.S.A. § 53-247(a) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case. The appellate court rejected defendant’s claims and affirmed the trial court’s decision.
State ex rel. Griffin v. Thirteen Horses


Defendant's horses were seized on December 14, 2005 pursuant to a search and seizure warrant signed by the court. The warrant was sought, in part, on affidavits that alleged possible violations of the Cruelty to Animals statutory provisions. Defendant Rowley filed the instant motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction because the state has failed to comply with the provisions of § 22-329a and because the search and seizure warrant is invalid. Specifically, defendant maintains that the phrase in subsection (a) authorizing the chief animal control officer to "lawfully take charge of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated" merely allows the officer to enter the owner's property to care for the animal, but does not authorize seizure of the animal without a prior judicial determination. This court rejected Rowley's interpretation of the phrase "lawfully take charge." The court found that, as a practical matter, it is inconceivable that animal control officers, having found animals that are neglected or cruelly treated, would then leave them at the property.

Presidential Village, LLC v. Phillips In this case, a landlord brought a summary process action against a tenant who lived in the federally subsidized apartment, based on tenant's keeping of “emotional support dog” in violation of a pet restriction clause in the tenant's lease. The trial court entered judgment in favor of tenant, based on equity, and the landlord appealed. The appeal was transferred to the Supreme Court of Connecticut. The Court held that: 1) appeal was not rendered moot by landlord's commencement of second summary process action against tenant, which was dismissed; 2) trial court could not rely on “spirit” of Department of Housing and Urban Development in exercising equitable discretion to enter judgment in favor of tenant; 3) trial court abused its discretion in applying doctrine of equitable nonforfeiture; and 4) summary process action was “civil action” to which medical treatment report exception to hearsay rule could be applied to allow for admission of letter from physician and social worker of tenant's niece concerning dog's benefit to niece. Reversed and remanded.
Overview of Connecticut Great Ape Laws
Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. ex rel. Beulah v. R.W. Commerford & Sons, Inc. In this case the petitioner, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc., sought a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of three elephants, Beulah, Minnie, and Karen, which are owned by the respondents, R.W. Commerford & Sons, Inc. and William R. Commerford, as president of R.W. Commerford & Sons, Inc. The issue was whether the court should grant the petition for writ of habeas corpus because the elephants are “persons” entitled to liberty and equality for the purposes of habeas corpus. The court denied the petition on the ground that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction (because the plaintiffs lacked standing) and the petition was wholly frivolous on its face in legal terms (elephants are not "persons" according to the court). The court he court dismissed the petition for writ of habeas, but pointed to the state's anti-cruelty laws "as a potential alternative method of ensuring the well-being of any animal."
Miller v. Dep't of Agric. The Plaintiff, Kim Miller, argued “a severe deprivation” of her rights when the Superior Court dismissed her appeal to prevent her dogs from being euthanized. Miller owned two Rottweiler dogs that attacked the victim Cynthia Reed, causing injuries to Reed's head, the back of her neck, and her back. An animal control officer issued two disposal orders to euthanize Miller’s dogs. The Defendant, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, then affirmed the orders and Miller appealed. The Superior Court also dismissed the appeal, and Miller appealed further to the Appellate Court of Connecticut. Here, Miller argues, among other things, that her Sixth Amendment rights to confront witnesses were violated when witnesses were not available for cross-examination. Plaintiff Miller also claims that there were procedural violations in the initial hearing because of lack of written rules that applied to dog disposal orders and claimed error when the hearing officer acted acted arbitrarily and capriciously by “interject[ing] his opinion” while questioning a witness. The Appellate Court held that: (1) the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) did not preclude the admission of statements from the victim and an eyewitness, even though the victim and witness did not testify at the hearing. The court reasoned that in administrative proceedings under the UAPA, evidence is not inadmissible solely because it constitutes hearsay, as long as the evidence is reliable and probative. Additionally, a party to an administrative proceeding under the UAPA is not required to call any particular witness. (2) A dog owner's appeal of disposal orders for a biting animal is not a criminal prosecution that invokes Sixth Amendment protections. The court reasoned that the issuance of a disposal order does not, by itself, trigger the imposition of a fine or prison term on the owner. Rather, by obviating the threat that dangerous animals pose to the public, the provision is remedial and civil in nature. The judgment of the trial court dismissing the plaintiff's appeal was affirmed.
Mann v. Regan


The plaintiff (Mann) brought this action to recover damages for injuries she sustained to her face when she was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant (Regan). The incident occurred when the defendant’s dog was being cared for by the plaintiff at her house while the defendant traveled out of state. With regard to defendant's tacit admission challenge, this court found that defendant’s silence in response to her daughter’s statement, “Well, mom, you know he bit you,” was within the trial court’s discretion to admit as a hearsay exception. As to the jury instructions, this court was not persuaded that there is a meaningful distinction between the words “vicious” and “dangerous” as used in the context of an action stemming from a dog bite.

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