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Williams v. Spinola

Defendant appeals from a judgment entered on a jury verdict awarding plaintiff $3,600 in compensatory and $4,000 in punitive damages for the unlawful killing of plaintiff's dogs. Defendant contended at trial that the dogs were trying molest her sheep. With regard to defendant's claim on appeal that punitive damages were not appropriate in this case, the court agreed that the issue should not have been submitted to the jury. The court affirmed the jury's finding with regard to denial of defendant's directed verdict, and reversed the award of punitive damages.

Westberry v. Blackwell

In this Oregon case, plaintiff filed this action to recover for personal injuries sustained when she was bitten by defendants' dog. The complaint alleged a cause of action for strict liability and another for negligence. The trial court granted a judgment of involuntary nonsuit on both causes of action. On appeal, this court found the previous biting, which had occurred only one hour before, could reasonably lead a jury to believe that the dog had dangerous propensities, and that the defendants had knowledge of them. Thus, the court found that the involuntary nonsuit on the strict liability cause was improperly granted. Further, the question of whether the owner, who knew the dog had bitten the guest while on her way into the owner's house, was negligent in failing to control or confine the dog, was for the jury. Reversed and remanded.

Watzig v. Tobin

This is an appeal of a district court decision on property damages from plaintiff's car hitting defendant's cow.  On appeal, the Court determined that the animal owners did not violate a closed range statute merely because their cow was on a public highway, that the presence of an animal on a public highway does not establish that the animal owners were negligent, and that the driver of an automobile has a duty to maintain a reasonable outlook for animals on public highways.

Students for Ethical Treatment of Animals (SETA) v. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of University of Oregon (IACUC)

Appeal of a circuit court decision finding a summary judgment that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring suit where a state university student organization and other parties brought suit against the university committee that supervised animal research, including a research proposal for cranial surgery on Macaque monkeys. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that plaintiffs had an interest in the governmental decisions of the committee, had established a denial of access related to that interest, thus had standing to bring the suit.

State v. Pinard

In this Oregon case, Defendant shot his neighbor's dog with a razor-bladed hunting arrow. The neighbor euthanized the dog after determining that the dog would not survive the trip to the veterinarian. Defendant was convicted of one count of aggravated first-degree animal abuse under ORS 167.322 (Count 1) and two counts of first-degree animal abuse under ORS 167.320 (Counts 3 and 4). On appeal, Defendant contends that he was entitled to acquittal on Counts 1 and 4 because there was no evidence that the dog would have survived the wound. The court here disagreed, finding "ample evidence" from which a trier of fact could have found that the arrow fatally wounded the dog. As to Defendant's other issues the the merging of the various counts, the accepted one argument that Counts 3 and 4 should have merged, and reversed and remanded for entry of a single conviction for first-degree animal abuse.

State v. Nix 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.
State v. Nix

Upon receiving a tip that animals were being neglected, police entered a farm and discovered several emaciated animals, as well as many rotting animal carcasses. After a jury found the defendant guilty of 20 counts of second degree animal neglect, the district court, at the sentencing hearing, only issued a single conviction towards the defendant. The state appealed and argued the court should have imposed 20 separate convictions based on its interpretation of the word "victims" in ORS 161.067(2). The appeals court agreed. The case was remanded for entry of separate convictions on each guilty verdict. 
State v. Kelso

Appeal from a district court decision relating to mental state requirements of an animal owner.  The Court of Appeals reversed a district court finding which required a higher mental state than negligence in violation of a statute which provides that the owner or custodian of an animal or livestock shall not "permit" animal to run at large. The Court of Appeals found that the offense does not require a culpable mental state.

State v. Johnson

A defendant was convicted in district court of violating a city ordinance by keeping a vicious dog.  The Court of Appeals held that the word "trespasser" in the city ordinance was to be used in its ordinary context, that a child who rode his bicycle onto the defendant's driveway was a trespasser, that there were no issues of consent involved, and that the trespasser exception applied even to areas on the defendant's property where the dog was not under the owner's control.

State v. Hartrampf

Defendant appealed a conviction for attempted involvement in animal fighting, arguing that the statutes at issue were unconstitutionally vague.  Since the defendant admitted he knowingly was among spectators at farm hosting a cockfighting event, the Court of Appeals held that a person of common intelligence could discern that defendant's conduct constituted a substantial step toward involvement in animal fighting.