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Titlesort descending Summary
Becker v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

Motorist sued dog owner after he was injured in a car accident allegedly caused by dog. The Court of Appeals held that the “injury by dog” statute creates strict liability for any injury or damage caused by dog if owner was negligent (with public policy exceptions). Here, the dog owner was not strictly liable because he was not negligent when his dog escaped from its enclosure.

Cole v. Hubanks

Police officer was injured by homeowner's dog and sued for damages.  The Supreme Court held that public policy does not dictate extending the firefighter's rule to the police officer, and therefore, that the officer could sue for injuries received as a result of the bite.  Reversed and remanded.

Detailed Discussion of Wisconsin Great Ape Laws The following article discusses Wisconsin Great Ape law. Wisconsin does not have a specific law that prohibits the possession of apes or otherwise addresses their care. The state has a chapter on captive wildlife with a number of provisions related to the possession of captive live wild animals, which would generally include great apes.The state’s endangered species law also prohibits the taking, transport, and possession of endangered or threatened species, including federally-listed species. It is unclear based on a reading of the law whether it requires state permits for foreign endangered species. The law specifically exempts zoological societies or municipal zoos from its reach. Finally, apes are covered generally under the state’s anti-cruelty laws as warm-blooded, non-human animals. The law prohibits treating animals in a cruel manner, which includes causing unnecessary and excessive pain, suffering, or unjustifiable death. Additionally, all animals kept in captivity must have adequate food, water, and shelter.
Dog Federation of Wisconsin, Inc. v. City of South Milwaukee

This appeal is by the Dog Federation of Wisconsin and others who contest a City of South Milwaukee ordinance that imposes restrictions on the ownership and keeping of “pit bulls.” The Federation claims that the “pit bull” aspects of the ordinance are facially invalid because:  the definition of “pit bull” is impermissibly vague; the ordinance is overbroad; and the ordinance violates their right to equal protection. The court found that reference to recognized breeds provides sufficient specifics to withstand a vagueness challenge. With regard to equal protection, the court held that the ordinance is founded on “substantial distinctions” between the breeds of dog covered by the ordinance and other breeds of dog. Moreover, the ordinance is “germane” to the underlying purpose of the ordinance to protect persons and animals from dangerous dogs. Finally, the ordinance applies equally to the affected class of persons owning or keeping pit bulls.

Fandrey v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company

Dog bite victim sued homeowners insurer.  Held:  courts may factor traditional public policy to bar a claim under the dog bite statute, and in this case, public policy precludes imposing liability on homeowners even though the dog bite statute appears to impose strict liability.

Kangas v. Perry

Plaintiff, a passenger of a horse-drawn sled sued the owner of the property on which the accident occurred, as well as the owner of the horses and the sled for the injuries she suffered when thrown from the sled.


The Court of Appeals found that the equine immunity statute provided protection for the owner of the horse against tort liability.


The plain language of the statute provides that immunity from civil liability is available

to all persons

, “


an equine activity sponsor or equine professional…”; thus, protection is not limited only to those who are sponsors or professionals, rather they are examples of types of people to whom the statute applies.

Rabideau v. City of Racine

Pet owner could not recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress after a police officer shot her dog.  While the court recognized the bond between owner and pet, public policy prevented such recovery. However, under the proper circumstances, a person could recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress for the loss of a pet.

Rosche v. Wayne Feed Div. Continental Grain Co.

Pig breeder sought damages from feed manufacturer after pigs got sick, died, or became sterile after eating feed. The Court of Appeals held that jury should have been instructed that basic measure of damages for dead and injured livestock was based on market value of affected animals and did not include separate award for unborn litters.  Failure to give proper instruction was prejudicial error that required a new trial on the issue of damages.

State v. Kuenzi

Defendants Rory and Robby Kuenzi charged a herd of 30 to 40 deer with their snowmobiles, cruelly killing four by running them over, dragging them, and leaving one tied to a tree to die. The two men were charged with a Class I felony under Wisconsin § 951.02, which prohibits any person from “treat[ing] any animal ... in a cruel manner.” The Court concluded that the definition of “animal” included non-captive wild animals and rejected the defendants’ argument that they were engaged in “hunting.” The court reinstated the charges against the men.

WI - Assistance Animals - Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws

The following statutes comprise the state's relevant assistance animal and guide dog laws.