Pennsylvania

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Titlesort descending Summary
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.

Commonwealth v. Lee


Sheriffs removed Defendant's starving dog from his garage and took it to a shelter for hospitalization.  Following a conviction and sentencing for animal cruelty and an order of restitution payable to the shelter, Defendant appealed.  The Superior Court remanded for re-sentencing and vacated the order of restitution, holding that the shelter was not a victim of Defendant's actions, and that restitution is only payable to humans.

COMMONWEALTH v. MASSINI


In this Pennsylvania case, defendant was prosecuted for killing a cat that belonged to his neighbor. The section under which he was prosecuted prohibited the killing of a 'domestic animal of another person.' However, a cat was not one of the animals defined as a ‘domestic animal’ by the Act. Using rules of statutory interpretation, the court found that the omission of 'cat' from the listed species of the penal code provision was intentional by the legislature, and thus the defendant's sentence was discharged.

Commonwealth v. Reynolds


A woman's four serval cats, two fennic foxes, three ringtailed lemurs, three kinkajous, and one wallaby were all seized pursuant to a search warrant.  The trial court granted the woman's motion for return of her property in part and denied in part, specifically allowing for the return of the kinkajous and lemurs.  The Court of Appeals remanded to determine whether the woman's possession of the animals was in violation of the federal AWA or state Game Code.   

Daughen v. Fox


Plaintiffs brought a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of companionship after defendant animal hospital performed unnecessary surgery based on a mix-up of x-rays.  The court denied the first claim, finding the defendant's conduct did not meet the "extreme and outrageous" conduct test.  With regard to plaintiff's claim for loss of a unique chattel and for loss of the dog's companionship and comfort, the court observed that, under Pennsylvania law, a dog is personal property, and, under no circumstances under the law of Pennsylvania, may there be recovery for loss of companionship due to the death of an animal.  

Desanctis v. Pritchard
The trial court dismissed a couple's complaint asking the court to enforce a settlement agreement which provided for shared custody of the couple's dog.  The appellate court upheld that decision, holding that the settlement agreement was void to the extent that it attempted to award visitation or shared custody with personal property.
DeSanctis v. Pritchard


Plaintiff seeks enforcement of contract with ex-spouse for sharing possession of dog. Lower court refused to enforce agreement saying that dogs were just property and shared possession was not possible.

Detailed Discussion of Pennsylvania Great Ape Laws The following article discusses Great Ape law in Pennsylvania. While the state of Pennsylvania controls possession and importation of “exotic wildlife” by law, the definition of “exotic wildlife” is vague as to whether it includes great apes. Instead, Pennsylvania regulates the possession of great apes by administrative regulation and reference to the federal endangered species list. In addition, Pennsylvania’s administrative code addresses the commercial use of great apes in menageries with a USDA Class C Exhibitor permit.Like other states, Pennsylvania does not define great apes as “endangered” under its own endangered species law. It does, however, define endangered and threatened species to include federally listed endangered and threatened species under its accompanying regulation. Finally, great apes are covered under the state’s anti-cruelty law.
Eckhart v. Department of Agriculture


A dog kennel operator acquired 30 dogs while under a revised notice to cease and desist operating a kennel and from buying dogs. The Commonwealth Court affirmed fines imposed by the Department of Agriculture, holding that the fines for violation of the dog law were not excessive or unreasonable; that fines for failure to comply with conditions of the revised notice were not unconstitutionally excessive or unreasonable; and that enforcement of orders by Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement pending appeal were not staid by the doctrine of equitable estoppel.

Franciscus v. Sevdik Five-year-old Femina asked the dog walker, Ms. Dailey, if she could pet Julius, the pit bull. When she bent over to do so, the dog jumped up and bit her on the chin. The Plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Franciscus commenced this negligence action to recover damages for injuries sustained by their daughter, Femina. They filed the action against Mr. Sevdik, the owner of the dog, Ms. Dailey, the dog walker, and Mr. Steigerwald, the individual owner and operator of Fetch Pet Care of West Hills/South Hills. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that summary judgment granted by the trial court in favor of Ms. Dailey and Fetch Pet Care was improper. The Court reasoned that the dog was entrusted to these Defendants by Mr. Sevdik and the dog was in their control when the injury occurred. Since the Defendants knew the dog jumped on people, was to be muzzled when walked, and was not to be walked along routes where there were people, specifically children and other dogs, they had a duty to use reasonable care to protect others from harm while the dog was in their control. While the court stated it did not need to reach the issue of whether the trial court erred in refusing refusing to take judicial notice of dangerous propensities of pit bulls, it noted that Pennsylvania law does not recognize a presumption that pit bulls as a breed are dangerous or have dangerous propensities. The order was vacated and the case was remanded.

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