Ohio

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Titlesort descending Summary
State v. Agee The Humane Society brought this action in response to a complaint regarding a dog tangled in a tether. Three German Shepherds were discovered that belonged to the Defendant, Shawn Agee, Jr. The dogs were suffering from maltreatment. All three had been restrained without access to water or food and one of the dog’s tethers was wrapped so tightly that its leg had started to swell. Two of the dogs were suffering from fly strike. The State charged the Defendant with 12 criminal misdemeanors relating to the treatment of the three animals. The trial court acquitted the Defendant of 10 of those counts because of his unrebutted testimony that he had been out of town for the weekend and had left the dogs in the care of his mother. The Defendant was found guilty to two second-degree misdemeanors relating to the two dogs suffering from fly strike because those particular injuries were long time, very painful injuries that were not being treated and the Defendant was the dogs’ “confiner, custodian, or caretaker.” The Defendant was sentenced to community control, a fine of $100, a suspended jail sentence of 180 days, the surrender of the two dogs with fly strike, and the proviso that the remaining dog be provided with regular vet appointments and various other conditions. This appeal followed. The Defendant asserted that the Court erred by finding that he had in fact violated the statute that he was found guilty of and that his convictions were not supported by legally sufficient evidence. The Defendant argued that he did not qualify as the type or class of persons subject to criminal liability merely as an owner. The Court noted that the trial court did not impose liability due to his status as the dogs’ owner, but rather due to this having served as the two dogs’ confiner, custodian, or caretaker when they developed fly strike and should have been but were not properly treated. As for the second assignment of error, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to find that the Defendant had violated the statute. The Defendant had admitted that he knew that the two dogs had fly strike “two or three weeks before he left town for the weekend.” The dogs were not treated before he left town. The Court ultimately affirmed both convictions.
State v. Amos After witnessing the 73 year old defendant-appellant emerge from area by the veterinary's dumpster holding an empty, wire cage animal trap, an employee of the clinic followed the defendant-appellant's car and obtained the vehicle's license plate number. Upon returning to the dumpster, the employee found a kitten with matted eyes that seemed unhealthy. The defendant-appellant was charged with one count of animal abandonment in violation of R.C. 959.01 and was found guilty. Defendant-appellant appealed her conviction and sentence on the grounds that the court erred in finding beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a keeper or, if she was a keeper, the court erred in determining that she abandoned the animal. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that once the defendant captured the animal in a cage, she assumed the responsibility that she would treat the animal humanely and could therefore be considered a “keeper.” Since Amos captured the animal and released it in another location without taking steps to make sure the animal would be found, the Ohio Court of Appeals also held that a reasonable person could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant-appellant had “abandoned” the animal. The judgment was therefore affirmed.
State v. Anello


In this Ohio case, after police received a complaint about possible neglect of dogs located in a barn, an officer went to investigate and entered the barn through an unlocked door. The Humane Society then assisted the department in seizing forty-two dogs. Defendant-Anello was convicted by jury of two counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence: to wit, the dogs from the barn. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the barn was not included within the curtilage of the residence since it was leased by a different person than the owner of the house (who had moved out of state). Further, the plain view/exigent circumstances exceptions came into play where the officers heard barking, smelled "overwhelming" urine odors, and observed through a window seventeen animals confined in cages that were stacked three high while the temperature outside was eighty degrees with high humidity. 

State v. Conte


Plaintiff-appellant, State of Ohio/City of Bexley, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Municipal Court dismissing the indictment against defendant-appellee, Joseph Conte. Appellant cited appellee for violating Bexley City Code 618.16(e), entitled “Dangerous and Vicious Animal.” Two days later, animal control then issued another citation against appellee for allowing his dog to run free without restraint in violation of Bexley City Code Section 618.16(e). In granting appellee's motion to dismiss, the trial court struck down a portion of Bexley City Code 618.16(e) as unconstitutional that provided that the owner of a vicious or dangerous animal shall not permit such animal to run at large. On appeal, this court found that the ordinance was not unconstitutional where the prosecution must prove at trial that the dog is vicious or dangerous as an element of the offense. 

State v. Cowan


A neighbor of the owner of 3 dogs complained to the dog warden, alleging that two of the dogs bit her.  The dog warden then advised the owner that her dogs were dangerous and vicious and that she must follow the statutory rules for owning vicious dogs.  When she failed to follow those statutory rules, she was criminally prosecuted.  The Supreme Court of Ohio said that her constitutional right to due process was infringed because she had no chance before trial to challenge the designation of her dogs as vicious.

State v. Davidson


In this Ohio case, defendant was convicted of 10 counts of cruelty to animals resulting from her neglect of several dogs and horses in her barn.  On appeal, defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient where the prosecution witness did not state the dogs were "malnourished" and said that a couple were reasonably healthy.  The appellate court disagreed, finding that defendant mischaracterized the veterinarian's testimony and that there was no requirement to prove malnourishment.  Further, the dog warden testified that she did not find any food or water in the barn and that the animals' bowls were covered with mud and feces.

State v. Gaines


Defendant, who pleaded guilty to 2 counts of dogfighting, challenged the constitutionality of the dogfighting statute and appealed a court-imposed forfeiture of cash and other seized items. The Court of Appeals ruled that: (1) dogfighting statute was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad; (2) statute did not violate equal protection or constitute cruel and unusual punishment on ground that violation constitutes fourth-degree felony while violation of statute prohibiting other animal fights is only a fourth-degree misdemeanor; and (3) despite guilty plea, forfeiture of cash and other items was erroneous absent establishment of direct connection with defendant's illegal dogfighting activities.




State v. Graves In this Ohio case, defendant Graves appeals his misdemeanor cruelty to animals conviction under R.C. 959.13(A)(3). The conviction stems from an incident in 2016 where Graves left his dog in locked and sealed van while he went into a grocery store. According to the facts, the van was turned off in an unshaded spot with windows closed on a 90+ degree day. Witnesses at the scene called police after they engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to get defendant to leave the store. In total, the dog spent about 40-45 minutes locked in the van. Graves was issued a citation for cruelty to animals and later convicted at a bench trial. On appeal, Graves first asserts that R.C. 959.13(A)(3) is unconstitutional because the statute is void for vagueness as applied to him and overbroad. This court found that the definition of cruelty was not so unclear that it could not be reasonably understood by Graves. The court was unconvinced by appellant's arguments that the statute provided insufficient guidance to citizens, and left open relevant question such as length of time a dog can be left unattended, exact weather conditions, and issues of the size of dogs left in vehicles. The court noted that most statutes deal with "unforeseen circumstances" and do not spell out details with "scientific precision." In fact, the court noted "[t]he danger of leaving an animal locked in a sealed vehicle in hot and humid conditions is well-known." Additionally, the court did not find the law to be overbroad, as defendant's right to travel was not infringed by the law. Finally, defendant contends that his conviction was against the manifest weight of the evidence. In rejecting this argument, the court found Graves acted recklessly under the law based on the hot and humid weather conditions and the fact that humans outside the van were experiencing the effects of extreme heat. Thus, the lower court's judgment was affirmed.
State v. Jacobs The defendant, Michael Jacobs, was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and corrupting another minor with drugs, receiving a prison sentence of four years. The victim testified with a “companion dog” at her feet. Among other assignments of error, Jacobs argued that he was denied his right to a fair trial because of the presence of the companion dog during the victim’s testimony. The child was under 15 at the time of the alleged abuse, but 17 years old when she testified. The Ohio appellate court concluded that the use of a companion dog in such a case was a matter of first impression in the state, though other comfort items, such as teddy bears had previously been used in similar situations in Ohio courts. To the defense’s objection that the witness was no longer under 15 at the time of her testimony, the appellate court stated that the defense had “failed to offer any authority to support the proposition that there is a certain age cut-off for the use of special procedures on behalf of alleged sexual abuse victims.” The court concluded that Ohio Evidence Rule 611(A), which provides that a trial court is to exercise “reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses…” and to “protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment,” was sufficiently flexible to allow the use of the dog during the trial. Having overruled all of Jacobs' assignments of error, the court affirmed the judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
State v. Mallis


Appellant, Cheryl Mallis, appealed the judgment of the Youngstown Municipal Court convicting her on one count of failure to confine a vicious dog and one count of failure to confine a dog. She was originally charged with two counts of violating the vicious-dog statute, R.C. 955.22(D)(1), and she moved to have those charges dismissed prior to trial. The motion was overruled, and appellant now challenges that ruling on appeal. The Court of Appeals held that the state could not prosecute the dog owner for failure to confine a vicious dog under the vicious dog statute since the statute had previously been declared by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional on its face and had not been amended or modified thereafter.

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