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Titlesort descending Summary
Commonwealth v. Austin

Defendant appeals his conviction of harboring a dangerous dog.  The Court affirmed, holding that there was sufficient evidence supporting the conviction, and also holding that serious injuries are not a prerequisite for convicting a defendant for harboring a dangerous animal.

Commonwealth v. Brown

The defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals for the use of acid on some horses' feet.  The defendant appealed the descision because the lower court had found the Commonwealth's circumstantial evidence to be enough to submit the question of quilt to the jury.  The Superior Court found that some of the evidence was improperly admitted by the lower court.  Thus, the Superior Court reversed the judgement.

Commonwealth v. Craven

Defendants who were charged with cruelty to animals and criminal conspiracy for their attendance at a dogfight as spectators challenged the constitutionality of the dogfighting statute. The trial court found that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that since the statute only creates criminal liability for a person's conscious decision to attend a dogfight, it is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.

Commonwealth v. Craven

The issue before the Court in this consolidated appeal was whether the trial court properly determined that 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511(h.1)(6), which criminalizes an individual's attendance at an animal fight "as a spectator," is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.  Specifically, appellees contended that the statute criminalized "mere presence" at a dog fight.  The Supreme Court disagreed, finding the evidence showed appellees were active spectators at the fight (as seen in the videotape evidence).  The court concluded that the statute is constitutionally sound, thereby reversing the lower court's decision that the statute imposed strict liability on mere presence.

Commonwealth v. Creighton

In this Pennsylvania case, a cat owner challenged a local ordinance that limited the number of cats she could own at her residence (she owned 25 cats that were rescued "mousers" from factories; the ordinance limited ownership to 5). 

The court noted that the preamble to the ordinance stated that pursuant to the Borough Code and "in the interest of preserving the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents ... [the Borough] desires to limit the number of dogs and cats kept by any one person and/or residence," but did not state what legitimate public health, safety and welfare goals the Borough sought to advance by enacting this ordinance.  Thus, from

the information before the court, it could not say whether the Borough ordinance here was a reasonable means to effectuate a legitimate governmental goal.


Commonwealth v. Duncan This case deals specifically with the issue of whether or not the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment extends to police action undertaken to render emergency assistance to animals. In this particular case, police officers were called to defendant’s property after a neighbor reported that two of defendant’s dogs were deceased and a third dog looked emaciated after being left outside in inclement weather. After showing up to the defendant’s home, police contacted animal control who immediately took custody of all three dogs, despite defendant not being present. The court held that the emergency aid exception did apply to the emergency assistance of animals because it is consistent with public policy that is “in favor of minimizing animal suffering in a wide variety of contexts.” Ultimately, the court determined that the emergency aid exception could be applied to emergency assistance of animals if an officer has an “objectively reasonable basis to believe that there may be an animal inside [the home] who is injured or in imminent danger of physical harm.” The matter was remanded to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Commonwealth v. Gardner

In this Pennsylvania case, a new resident moved next door to a woman who had been operating a kennel for years.  He then complained to the borough council which then amended an ordinance such that the keeping of more than six dogs over six months of age was made a nuisance per se, illegal and a violation of the ordinance.  The court held that it did not believe that the borough council or the court had the power or the authority to determine that more than a certain number is a nuisance per se, and less than that number is a nuisance only upon proof of the same being a nuisance. "In other words, it is our opinion that the borough council, in the exercise of its police power may not unreasonably and arbitrarily prohibit things which were not nuisances at common law, and their declaration in an ordinance that a thing is a public nuisance does not make it so, if it is not a nuisance in fact . . ."

Commonwealth v. Gonzalez
Appellant was convicted of cruelty to animals for cockfighting. On appeal, appellant claimed that the delegation of police power to animal welfare agents was unconstitutional. The court found that appellant was without standing to complain because he failed to show an injury. Appellant also argued that the animal fighting statute was preempted by a federal statute,

7 U.S.C.S. §



The court disagreed. Finally, appellant asserted that §


5511 was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The court determined that appellant lacked standing to challenge the statute's


Commonwealth v. Gosselin

A woman was convicted of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife for owning a domesticated squirrel.  The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction  They reasoned since the squirrel was domesticated in South Carolina, and South Carolina does not have any prohibition against the taking and domestication of squirrels, the trial court could not rely on the Pennsylvania statute prohibiting such.

Commonwealth v. Kneller

Kneller appealed from a conviction of criminal conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals after she gave an acquaintance a gun and asked him to shoot a dog. The Court affirmed the conviction, concluding that “The Animal Destruction Method Authorization Law” (ADMA) and the “Dog Law” are not ambiguous. In addition, the deadly weapon enhancement applies to an owner who is convicted of cruelty to animals and used a firearm to kill it.