New York

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Flikshtein v. City of New York


The New York appellate court held that the dangerousness or viciousness of plaintiff’s pet monkey was irrelevant, and that the city could remove the monkey regardless of its benevolent behavior.

Frank v. Animal Haven, Inc.


Plaintiff was bitten by the dog that she adopted from Animal Haven, Inc. and sued that entity for personal injuries stemming from the bite. In affirming the decision to dismiss the complaint, this court noted that the adopting parties signed a contract a the time of adoption where they undertook a "lifetime commitment" for the responsible care of the dog. While the contract stipulated that Animal Haven had the right to have the dog returned if the plaintiff breached the contract, this did not reserve a right of ownership of the dog. Further, the contract also explicitly relieved Animal Haven of liability once the dog was in the possession of the adoptive parties.

Freel v. Downs


Cleveland H. Downs and Walter Smith were informed against for cruelty to animals, and they move to quash complaints. Complaint quashed against defendant Smith, and defendant Downs held to answer.


Galgano v. Town of North Hempstead


In this New York Case, the plaintiffs appeal from an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County which granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint for personal injuries and damages due to a dog bite. The court reaffirmed New York law that to recover in strict liability in tort for a dog bite or attack, the plaintiff must establish that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner knew or should have known of the dog's propensities. The fact that the subject dog was brought to the animal shelter because another dog in the owner's household did not get along with it is not indicative that it had vicious propensities.

Gannon v. Conti


In 2008, defendants' dog allegedly left their yard by passing through an underground "invisible" electrical fence system and bit the plaintiff who was sitting on her bike on the adjacent property. Plaintiff filed suit seeking damages for injury based on common-law negligence and strict liability. The lower court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the fact that they had no prior knowledge of the dog's alleged vicious propensities. On appeal, the court found that even defendants' own depositions raised an issue of fact as to notice of their dog's alleged vicious propensities. Specifically, one defendant admitted he used a "bite sleeve" obtained through his employment as a police officer to encourage the dog to bite and hold a perpetrator's arm. This evidence that the dog was encouraged to leap up and bite a human arm created a sufficient issue of fact for the jury despite defendants' claim that this was a "play activity" for the dog.

Geary v. Sullivan County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc.


In this New York case, plaintiffs surrendered their maltreated horse to defendant Sullivan County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. on March 4, 2005. Shortly thereafter, they commenced this action seeking return of the horse and damages, including punitive damages. Defendants' answer failed to respond to all paragraphs of the 38-paragraph complaint, which included six causes of action, prompting plaintiffs to move for summary judgment on the ground that defendants admitted "all" essential and material facts. At oral argument before this Court, plaintiffs' counsel consented to defendants filing an amended answer. The court found that since this amended pleading will presumably contain denials to all contested allegations in the complaint, plaintiffs' request for summary judgment on the procedural ground that defendants' failed to deny certain facts must fail. Moreover, as correctly noted by Supreme Court, conflicting evidence precludes summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor.

Gonzalez v. Royalton Equine Veterinary Services, P.C. Veterinarian contacted State Police after allegedly observing deplorable conditions in Plaintiff's barn. The premises were subsequently searched, and a horse and three dogs were removed and later adopted. Plaintiff commenced an action in City Court for, inter alia, replevin, and several defendants asserted counterclaims based on Lien Law § 183. The Lockport City Court entered partial summary judgment in favor of owner and ordered return of animals. On appeal, the Niagara County Court, reversed and remanded. Owner appealed to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York. The Court found the Niagara County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. (SPCA) was not required to bring a forfeiture action to divest Plaintiff of ownership of the seized animals because the animals were kept in unhealthful or unsanitary surroundings, the plaintiff was not properly caring for them, and the plaintiff failed to redeem the animals within five days before the SPCA was authorized to make the animals available for adoption. The city court’s order was affirmed as modified.
Hamlin v. Sullivan


Plaintiff was walking her dog in an area of state where dogs go off-leash. Plaintiff and defendant were back in the parking lot talking when defendant's dog, who was still off-leash, ran into her, causing her to fall and sustain injuries. The appellate court found that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to meet the burden establishing that the dog had a proclivity to run into people and knock them over. While testimony showed that the dog (Quinn) routinely ran up to people and put his paws on their chest to "greet" them, this was different than a propensity to knock people down. The court found that the behavior of jumping on people "was not the behavior that resulted in plaintiff's injury, and plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that defendant had notice of a proclivity by Quinn to run into people and knock them over. . ." The court also noted that the dog's rambunctious behavior, occurring at a dog park where dogs freely run around, was insufficient to establish vicious propensities. Summary judgment for the defendants was affirmed.

Hammer v. American Kennel Club


Plaintiff sought both declaratory and injunctive relief against the American Kennel Club (AKC) for use of standards in dog show competitions for Brittany Spaniel dogs that require the docking of their tails.  The issue in this appeal is whether Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 grants plaintiff, who wishes to enter his dog and compete without penalty in breed contests, a private right of action to preclude defendants from using a standard that encourages him to "dock" his Brittany Spaniel's tail.  The Court of Appeals concluded that it would be inconsistent with the applicable legislative scheme to imply a private right of action in plaintiff's favor because the statute does not, either expressly or impliedly, incorporate a method for private citizens to obtain civil relief.  In light of the comprehensive statutory enforcement scheme, recognition of a private civil right of action is incompatible with the mechanisms chosen by the Legislature.

Hammer v. American Kennel Club


Plaintiff Jon Hammer is the owner of a pure-bred Brittany Spaniel which has a natural, undocked tail approximately ten (10) inches long.  He contends that tail docking is a form of animal cruelty, and that the practical effect of defendant American Kennel Club's tail standards for Brittany Spaniels is to effectively exclude his dog from meaningfully competing shows unless he complies with what he perceives as an unfair and discriminatory practice.  Specifically, his amended complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the complained-of standard (1) unlawfully discriminates against plaintiff by effectively precluding him from entering his dog in breed competitions, (2) is arbitrary and capricious, (3) violates Agriculture and Markets Law § 353, and (4) is null and void as in derogation of law; he further seeks an injunction prohibiting defendants from applying, enforcing or utilizing the standard.  The court held that plaintiff lacked standing to obtain any of the civil remedies he sought for the alleged violation of Agriculture and Markets Law Section 353.  The Legislature's inclusion of a complete scheme for enforcement of its provisions precludes the possibility that it intended enforcement by private individuals as well.  The dissent disagreed with the majority's standing analysis, finding that plaintiff's object is not to privately enforce § 353, insofar as seeking to have the defendants' prosecuted for cruelty.  Rather, plaintiff was seeking a declaration that the AKC's standard for judging the Brittany Spaniel deprives him of a benefit of membership on the basis of his unwillingness to violate a state law and, thus, he wanted to enjoin defendants from enforcing that standard against him.  The dissent found that whether tail docking for purely cosmetic reasons violates § 353 is solely a question of law and entirely appropriate for a declaratory judgment.  Cosmetic docking of tails was wholly unjustifiable under the law in the dissent's eyes.  While plaintiff pointed out that docking may serve some purposes for hunting dogs, it is not a justification for docking the tails of non-hunting dogs, such as plaintiff's, for purposes of AKC competitions.

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