Illinois

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Titlesort ascending Summary
Wheatley v. Towers


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.

Wade v. Rich


Plaintiff sued dog owners for injuries from a dog attack.  The jury ruled in favor of plaintiff for medical expenses, and plaintiff sought a new trial as to damages only.  The court held that a new trial on damages was appropriate because the jury's failure to award damages for pain and suffering was against the manifest weight of evidence as defendant's liability was established by the viciousness of the dog repeatedly biting plaintiff about the head and face, which was out of proportion to the unintentional act of plaintiff falling onto the sleeping dog.  Unintentional or accidental acts can


constitute provocation, but not if the dog responds with a vicious attack, as it did here, that is out of all proportion to the unintentional acts involved.

Village of Carpentersville v. Fiala


In this Illinois case, the defendant, Joseph R. Fiala, appealed a violation of the Village Code of Carpentersville, which prohibited the ownership of more than two adult dogs at his single-family residence.  In a hearing, one of defendant's neighbor's testified that the defendant was maintaining 15 large red dogs (Irish setters).  The Illinois Appellate Court held that the village had statutory authority to enact any ordinance necessary for the promotion of health, safety and welfare of the community and that a municipality may also pass ordinances that "define, prevent, and abate nuisances."  Further, the court also held that the village ordinance is not unconstitutional as violative of equal protection based on a classification between single-family residences and single-family units within multiple housing buildings, where such considerations of indoor and outdoor space, density, and proximity to others, noise levels, and structural differences, are rationally related to the object of the ordinance.

Tranchita v. Dep't of Nat. Res. Plaintiff Tomi Tranchita alleged that she cared for four abused and abandoned coyotes for 13 years. The coyotes were housed within a fully fenced-in backyard, ate appropriate food, and received medical care from a veterinarian. The Plaintiff possessed a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Class C exhibitor’s license which imposed restrictions on the licensee such as unannounced annual inspections by a veterinarian or specially trained animal expert. Plaintiff alleged that she had never been cited for any USDA violations and had passed all inspections. Plaintiff also held an Illinois state permit as a fur-bearing mammal breeder from 2011 to 2016, however, this permit lapsed after Plaintiff failed to pay the annual fee. On April 24, 2019, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) executed a search warrant on Plaintiff’s premises. The coyotes were seized during this raid. Plaintiff was told that if she did not sign a relinquishment form that the coyotes would be euthanized or confined to a small space that would end up killing them. IDNR cited Plaintiff for lacking proper permits and for several criminal violations of the Wildlife code. Three of the four coyotes ended up dying from what was believed to be distemper. Plaintiff filed suit alleging claims under the fourth and fourteenth amendments. Plaintiff also filed an emergency motion for preliminary injunctive relief arguing that the coyote’s lives were at risk if they were not returned. Plaintiff alleged that she had a protected property interest in the coyotes pursuant to her federal exhibitor license. The trial court found that Plaintiff did not have a protected property interest in the coyotes because she did not possess the proper Illinois permit at the time of the seizure. The trial court subsequently denied her motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiff then appealed. The Court looked to state law to determine whether Plaintiff had a property interest in the coyotes. Under the Illinois Wildlife Code, a fur-bearing mammal breeder permit is necessary in order to possess or raise a coyote. Plaintiff was in violation of Illinois law the moment her permit lapsed in 2016. This made the coyotes contraband since they were possessed in violation of Illinois’ Wildlife Code. No person is permitted to assert legal ownership or a right to possession of property that is contraband. Plaintiff argued that her federal exhibitor’s license recognized a right of property in her coyotes, however, the Court found that the mere possession of a federal exhibitor’s license does not automatically vest a property right in the permit holder. The Court ultimately affirmed the judgement of the trial court.
Spray v. Ammerman


This was an action brought by appellant, before a justice of the peace, against appellee, to recover damages for killing a dog owned by appellant. The court here reversed the judgment, and remanded the case to determine recovery of damages based on the qualities, traits, consequential losses, and the market price of the animal at issue. 

Smith v. Lane


In this Illinois case, the passenger of horse-drawn carriage brought action in negligence and strict liability against driver of carriage and owner of horse and carriage for injuries passenger received when carriage went off road and overturned. The lower court dismissed all of passenger's counts.  On appeal, the Appellate Court held that, as matter of first impression, the passenger was not subject to provisions of EALA, and the alleged facts sufficient to state cause of action under state Animal Control Act.

Peoria County v. Capitelli


This Illinois case concerns the appeal of a conviction for allowing a cat to run at large in violation of an ordinance enacted by the plaintiff, Peoria County.  The defendant contends on appeal that the county as a non-home-rule unit of government lacked the authority to enact the ordinance.  The court disagreed, finding the counties were given the express power to establish animal pounds and to dispose of stray animals pursuant to the provisions of the Impounding and Disposition of Stray Animals Act which concerns pet dogs and cats, and the Illinois Animal Control Act, which deals with stray animal control, rabies protection, liability for animal bites and related topics.  More interesting is the dissent's position, which finds that the statute makes no mention of the power to regulate cats.  Moreover, there can be no logical implication of authority to regulate cats running-at-large from the delegation of authority to regulate dogs running-at-large. 

People v. Robards This case is an appeal from an animal cruelty conviction against defendant Ms. Regina Robards. She seeks appeal on the grounds that the State failed to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Robards was charged with aggravated animal cruelty when her two dogs, Walker and Sparky, were discovered in her previous home emaciated, dehydrated, and dead. She had moved out of the home and into Ms. Joachim’s home in July 2014, telling Joachim that she was arranging for the dogs to be taken care of. However, when Joachim went over to the prior home in November 2014, she discovered Walker’s emaciated body on the living room floor. She called the police, who discovered Sparky’s body in a garbage bag in the bedroom. Robards’ conviction required that it was proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she intentionally committed an act that caused serious injury or death to her two dogs, and failing to seek adequate medical care for them. On appeal, Robards concedes that the dogs both died from dehydration and starvation, and that she was the only person responsible for the dogs’ care. However, she argues that for her conviction to stand, the prosecutor must prove that she intended to cause serious injury or death to the dogs. The court disagrees, stating that for conviction only the act need be intentional, and that the act caused the death or serious injury of an animal. Notably, the court observed that "defendant is very fortunate to have only received a sentence of 12 months' probation for these heinous crimes," and criticized the circuit court for its "unjustly and inexplicably lenient" sentence simply because defendant only caused harm to an animal and not a human being.
People v. Larson In December 2005, defendant Alan J. Larson was found guilty of possession of a firearm without a firearm owner's identification card and committing aggravated cruelty to an animal when he shot and killed the Larsons’ family dog Sinai in October 2004. Evidence included conflicting testimony among family members as to the disposition of the dog and whether he had a history of biting people, and a veterinarian who concluded that a gunshot to the brain was a conditionally acceptable method of euthanasia. Defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds that the aggravated-cruelty-to-an-animal statute was unconstitutionally vague because it fails to address how an owner could legally euthanize their own animal. The appellate court rejected this argument and affirmed defendant’s conviction.
People v. Land


In 2009, Jenell Land was found guilty by jury of aggravated cruelty to a companion animal, a Class 4 felony under Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act. Specifically, Land placed a towing chain around the neck of her pit bull, which caused a large, gaping hole to form in the dog’s neck (the dog was later euthanized). The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the defendant’s conviction and, in so doing, rejected each of Land’s four substantive arguments on appeal. Among the arguments raised, the appellate court found that the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury that the State had to prove a specific intent by Land to injure her dog did not rise to the level of "plain error."

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