Prior Animal Law Cases of the Month

Summary: This page provides past cases highlighted on the front page of the website as recent cases. The month and year of publication are listed. Short summaries and links to the cases are provided.

Prior Animal Law Cases of the Month


February 2015

Brown v. State,  --- So.3d ----, 2015 WL 72231 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2015). Defendant was found guilty of felony cruelty to animals after a Chow mix was found near defendant's mobile home emaciated and suffering from several long-term conditions that had gone untreated. The District Court of Florida affirmed the trial court’s decision, writing only to address her claim that the trial court erred in denying her motion for judgment of acquittal because a felony conviction could not be based on an omission or failure to act. The court noted that a defendant could be properly charged with felony animal cruelty under this version of the Florida statute for intentionally committing an act that resulted in excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal by failing to provide adequate food, water, or medical treatment. The court then held that sufficient evidence existed showing that defendant owned a dog and failed, over a period of more than one year, to provide adequate food, water and needed medical care.

Kohl v. New Sewickley Tp. Zoning Hearing Bd., --- A.3d ----, 2015 WL 249186 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2015). Applicants sought a zoning variance to operate a nonprofit dog-rescue shelter. The zoning board denied the application, concluding that the dog-rescue operation run by applicants was a non-permissible “kennel” under the ordinance. Upon reviewing the trial court's reversal of the board's decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania concluded that the term “kennel,” as used in the zoning ordinance, was ambiguous, and had to be construed in favor of applicants to find that applicants' operation of a large dog rescue facility did not constitute the operation of a kennel. The court affirmed the trial court's decision.

State v. Gerberding, --- S.E.2d ----, 2014 WL 6907352 (N.C. Ct. App. 2014). After stabbing and slicing a dog to death, defendant was indicted for felonious cruelty to animals and conspiracy to commit felonious cruelty to animals. Defendant appealed on the basis that the trial court erred by incorrectly defining the term “without justification or excuse” to the jury. The facts indicated that defendant pinned down the dog and killed it after it bit her when she reached into its mouth to retrieve food. After careful consideration, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that the trial court properly instructed the jury according to the North Carolina pattern jury instructions.

Van Kleek v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 857 N.W.2d 297 (Neb., 2014). Plaintiff agreed to watch a couple’s dog while they were out of town. While plaintiff was caring for the dog, the animal bit her on her lower lip. Plaintiff's claim was rejected by the insurance company because the “insured” was defined to include “any person ... legally responsible” for covered animals. The Supreme Court of Nebraska affirmed the insurance company's motion for summary judgment, reasoning that plaintiff was “legally responsible” for the dog because she fed and watered the animal and let it out of the house while the couple was away

January 2015

Humane Society of the United States v. Jewell, --- F.Supp.3d ----2014 WL 7237702 (D.D.C. Dec. 19, 2014). HSUS sued to overturn the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) 2012 Final Rule to delist the Great Lakes gray wolves from the endangered species list. The US District Court called the 2012 Final Rule "arbitrary and capricious" under the Administrative Procedure Act and in violation of the ESA. The District Court thus relisted the wolves and placed them back under the control of the USFWS in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Brooks v. Jenkins, --- A.3d ----2014 WL 7148925 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Dec. 16, 2014). County deputies went to a home with a warrant to arrest a couple's son. A deputy shot the family's chocolate Labrador retriever. While the couple left the house to take the dog to the vet, the deputies entered the house—contrary to the couple's express instructions— and arrested the son. After a trial, the couple prevailed against the deputies and the jury awarded damages totaling $620,000 (reduced, after remittitur, to $607,500). The Maryland Court of Special Appeals held the $200,000 jury award in non-economic damages for the shooting of the dog on their constitutional tort claim was not excessive in light of the evidence.

Dixon v. State, --- S.W.3d ----2014 WL 7174378 (Tex. App. Dec. 16, 2014). An owner of a non-profit cat sanctuary, which housed over 200 cats taken care of by one employee, was convicted by a jury of four counts of non-livestock animal cruelty. The trial court placed the owner under community supervision for five years' on each charge, to be served concurrently. In her first issue on appeal, the owner contended the evidence was legally insufficient to support her convictions. Based on evidence that the owner only had one employee to take care of the cats, the Texas court of appeals overruled this issue. In her second issue, the owner contended that the trial court erred by overruling her motion to dismiss the indictments where the State alleged a felony by commission of elements defined as a misdemeanor under the animal cruelty statute. The court found that the failure to provide food, water, or care is the manner and means by which appellant killed the cats, causing them unjustified pain or suffering, which raised the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.

People ex rel. Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery,  2014 WL 6802767 (N.Y. App. Div. Dec. 4, 2014). This case is an appeal from a Supreme Court judgment denying petitioner's application for an order to show cause to commence a CPLR article 70 proceeding. At issue is the legal status of a chimpanzee named Tommy who is being kept on respondents' property. Petitioners filed a habeas corpus proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 70 on the ground that Tommy was being unlawfully detained by respondents. The Court of Appeals here is presented with the novel question on whether a chimpanzee is a legal person entitled to the rights and protections afforded by the writ of habeas corpus. In rejecting this designation, the Court relied on the fact that chimpanzees cannot bear any legal responsibilities or social duties. As such, the Court found it "inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights . . . that have been afforded to human beings."


December 2014

Hoffmann v. Marion Cnty., --- Fed.Appx. ----2014 WL 6306580 (5th Cir. Nov. 17, 2014). Plaintiffs operated a derelict-animal “sanctuary” on their ten-acre property in Marion County, Texas, where they held over one hundred exotic animals, including six tigers, several leopards, and a puma. Plaintiffs were arrested and charged with animal cruelty and forfeited the animals. Afterward, plaintiffs sued many of those involved in the events. On appeal, plaintiffs argued Marion County and the individual defendants violated their Fourth Amendment rights by illegally searching their property and seizing the animals. The court held that government officials may enter the open fields without a warrant, as the defendants did here. The district court’s grant of summary judgment was therefore affirmed.

Johnson v. D.C.,  --- F.Supp.3d ----2014 WL 5316644 (D.D.C. Oct. 17, 2014). Plaintiff asserts that he desires to give speeches in the District of Columbia about why he opposes treating animals as property, and in such speeches he would like to deny ownership of his dog. However, he alleges that he does not do so because he is deterred by D.C.Code § 8–1808(b). Plaintiff therefore sued the District of Columbia to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing the statute violated his First Amendment. The District Court, found that plaintiff lacked standing because he presented no concrete evidence to substantiate his fears of prosecution, but rather rests his claims on mere conjecture about possible governmental actions.

Chase v. State,  --- S.W.3d ----2014 WL 6478511 (Tex. Crim. App. Nov. 19, 2014). Appellant and his wife were walking their two dogs when two neighbor dogs attacked the group. After the attack, appellant slashed the attacking dog's throat with a knife, which resulted in the dog's death. Appellant was then charged with and convicted of cruelty to non-livestock animals under Texas law. The issue before that court was whether § 822.013(a) of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a non-penal code, provided a defense to criminal prosecution. The court held that § 822.013(a)—which allows an attacked animal's owner or a person witnessing an attack to kill a dog that is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked a domestic animal—is a defense against cruelty to non-livestock animals.

Morawek v. City of Bonney Lake,  --- P.3d ----2014 WL 6061489 (Wash. Ct. App. Nov. 13, 2014). A woman filed a complaint with the Bonney Lake animal control authority after her neighbor’s dog killed her cat. The animal control officer served plaintiff with paperwork stating that his dog satisfied the definition of a dangerous dog under the Bonney Lake Municipal Code because the dog had killed a domestic animal without provocation while off his owner's property. Plaintiff appealed the designation to the police chief, the city hearing examiner, and the superior court; all of which affirmed the designation. The Washington Court of Appeals, however, held that the hearing examiner's finding that the owner's dog killed the neighbor's cat without provocation was not supported by substantial evidence, as required to uphold a dangerous dog designation, even though the “location” element of the dangerous dog designation was satisfied. The dangerous dog designation was therefore reversed.


November 2014

Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Austin, --- F.Supp.3d ---- 2014 WL 5439589 (D. Mont. Oct. 28, 2014). Plaintiff challenges defendants' approval of the Rennic Stark Project (a forestry project that affected the ESA-listed lynx among other species) under the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The parties framed their dispute in terms of the project's effects, or lack thereof, on the Canada lynx, the North American wolverine, sensitive and old-growth-dependent species (fisher and goshawk), and westslope cutthroat trout. The district court denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on all claims.

Carpenter v. State,  --- N.E.3d ---- 2014 WL 5339365 (Ind. Oct. 21, 2014). After being convicted by a Superior Court bench trial and having the Superior Court’s judgment affirmed by the Court of Appeals, defendant appealed the admission of evidence recovered from his home after officers entered it without a warrant in pursuit of an aggressive and bloody dog. The Supreme Court of Indiana found that the entry was unreasonable under the Indiana Constitution and that the evidence obtained pursuant to a subsequent search warrant was inadmissible. The Superior Court's judgment was therefore reversed.

Robinson v. City of Bluefield,  --- S.E.2d ---- 2014 WL 5032602 (W. Va. Oct. 2, 2014). An Animal Control Officer responded to a complaint about two dogs at defendant's residence. While investigating the complaint at defendant's residence, the animal control officer was attacked by one of defendant's dogs. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia agreed with defendant and found that under the plain language of W.Va.Code § 19–20–20, the City of Bluefield was required to set forth satisfactory proof that defendant’s dog was “vicious, dangerous, or in the habit of biting or attacking other persons” before a circuit court or a magistrate, not a municipal court. The court therefore found that ordinance was void to the extent that it allowed a municipal court to order the destruction of the dog. The circuit court's order affirming the municipal court's order to kill Ms. Robinson's dog was therefore reversed.

Town of Bethlehem v. Acker,  --- A.3d ---- (Conn. App. 2014), 153 Conn. App. 449 (2014). Plaintiffs seized approximately 65 dogs from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut pursuant to a search and seizure warrant that had been issued on facts showing that the dogs, which were being kept in an uninsulated barn with an average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, were neglected, in violation of General Statutes § 22–329a. The trial court found that the smaller breed dogs were neglected, but found that larger breed dogs were not. The appellate court reversed the judgment of the trial court only with respect to its dispositional order, which directed the parties to determine among themselves which dogs were smaller breed dogs and which dogs were larger breed dogs, and remanded the case for further proceedings.


October 2014

Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Otter, 1:14-CV-00104-BLW, 2014 WL 4388158 (D. Idaho Sept. 4, 2014). In a ‘hold your tongue and challenge now’ First Amendment challenge to an Idaho statute that criminalizes undercover investigations and videography at “agricultural production facilities,” plaintiffs brought suit. The claims against the Governor were dismissed under 11th Amendment immunity. The court also found that the ALDF failed to allege a concrete plan to violate subsection (e), and lacked standing to challenge section 18–7042(1)(e). However, the ALDF’s First Amendment, bare animus Equal Protection, and preemption claims survived the motion to dismiss.

Defenders of Wildlife v. Jewell, CV 12-1833 (ABJ), 2014 WL 4714847 (D.D.C. Sept. 23, 2014). In 2012, a rule transferred management of the gray wolf in Wyoming from federal control to state control. Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment, and maintained that the decision was arbitrary and capricious because Wyoming's regulatory mechanisms were inadequate to protect the species, the level of genetic exchange shown in the record did not warrant delisting, and the gray wolf was endangered within a significant portion of its range. The Court concluded that it was arbitrary and capricious for the Service to rely on the state's nonbinding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves when the availability of that specific numerical buffer was such a critical aspect of the delisting decision.

Shotts v. City of Madison, 2013-KM-01108-COA, 2014 WL 4347582 (Miss. Ct. App. Sept. 2, 2014). Defendant was charged with animal cruelty after burning his girlfriend's dog while giving it a bath. He said it was an accident. There were no other witnesses, and the attending veterinarian testified that the dog's injuries were consistent with defendant's account. The 2011 animal cruelty statute, since repealed, that applied in this case required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant acted maliciously. Since the prosecution failed to meet that burden, the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered the defendant's conviction.

United Pet Supply, Inc. v. City of Chattanooga, Tenn., 13-5181, 2014 WL 4637546 (6th Cir. Sept. 18, 2014). A private non-profit corporation that contracted with the City of Chattanooga to provide animal-welfare services, received complaints of neglect and unsanitary conditions at a mall pet store. Pet store owners brought a § 1983 suit in federal district court; the Owners alleged that the removal of its animals and revocation of its pet-dealer permit without a prior hearing violated procedural due process and that the warrantless seizure of its animals and business records violated the Fourth Amendment.

September 2014

Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Aubertine,  --- N.Y.S.2d ----2014 WL 3511059 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.). Petitioners seek a declaration that force-fed foie gras is an adulterated food product and an order prohibiting the state respondents from allowing foie gras into the human food supply. Pre-answer motions to dismiss asserted, among other things, that petitioners lacked standing. In affirming the dismissal, the court found the risk of exposure to harm from eating foie gras was minimal and the indication of harm uncertain. As to assertion of standing from The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the court found that a finding of standing under this situation would essentially eliminate the standing requirement any time an advocacy organization used its resources to challenge government action or inaction.

Cottongame v. State, ---S.W.3d---2014 WL 3536801 (Tex. App., 2014). Appellant, a known feral cat caretaker, appealed from her conviction for violating a city ordinance regarding the number of animals that may be kept without a permit. She asserted that her conviction violated the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the city “selectively enforced" the ordinance. The court found that there was no evidence before the trial court indicating that appellant was singled out for enforcement or that her selection for enforcement was based on anything other than a valid citizen complaint. The court also rejected appellant's insufficient evidence argument.

Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue, Inc. v. Lira, --- S.W.3d ----2014 WL 4199165 (Tex. App.,2014). A German Shepherd dog owned by the appellees escaped through an open garage door of the appellees' home. Appellees made a request to transfer the dog back to them from a rescue organization. The trial court ruled in favor of the appellees on their conversion cause of action. On appeal, this court held that since the appellees did not redeem the dog in compliance with city ordinances, they did not have an entitlement to the dog, which was required to establish a conversion claim. Further, since the rescue organization was a recognized city rescue partner, animal control could lawfully transfer the dog to the rescue organization.

State v. Chilinski, --- P.3d ----2014 WL 3842953 (Mont. 2014). Defendant was convicted by a jury of 91 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to a total of 30 years with 25 years suspended. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Montana, defendant argued the District Court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search  on Fourth Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court held that the search warrant authorizing seizure of “any and all dogs” and “any and all records pertaining to dogs” was not impermissibly overbroad, and that the participation by civilian volunteers and Humane Society personnel in execution the warrant was not prohibited by the Fourth Amendment or the Montana Constitution. The Supreme Court held that the statute authorizing forfeiture of “any animal affected” as part of sentence for animal cruelty did not limit forfeiture of defendant's dogs to only those that served as basis for underlying charges.


August 2014

Institute of Marine Mammal Studies v. National Marine Fisheries Service, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2014 WL 2154348 (S.D. Miss.,2014). The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) alleged that NMFS regulations did not properly implement the MMPA, and that the NMFS was improperly administering placement list for rehabilitated sea lions that could not be reintroduced into the wild. While the Court found that the IMMS lacked standing on the first issue, it reviewed the claim concerning the IMMS "take" of the sea lions. The Court found that a term included in IMMS' permit improperly delegated federal authority to third parties.

In the Matter of the Application of Richard M. COPLAND, as an Executor of the estate of Lenore Lewis Abels, Deceased, 988 N.Y.S.2d 458 (2014). Co-executor of an estate petitioned the Westchester County Surrogate's Court for a decree in accordance with EPTL 7–8.1[d] reducing the amount of money to be transferred from the estate to the trustees of a testamentary pet trust established under the decedent's will. Since the decedent gave very specific instructions as to how she wanted her cats to be cared for and the petition was in opposition to the decedent’s wishes, the court denied the reduction.

State v. Amos, --- N.E.3d ---- (2014), 2014 WL 3511819. 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 was convicted of animal abandonment in violation of R.C. 959.01. 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."

State v. Peck, 93 A.3d 256 (2014). Defendant appealed a judgment entered in the District Court after a bench trial found she committed the civil violation of cruelty to animals. Defendant contended that the court abused its discretion in quashing a subpoena that would have compelled one of her witnesses to testify; that the cruelty-to-animals statute is unconstitutionally vague; and that the record contains insufficient evidence to sustain a finding of cruelty to animals and to support the court's restitution order. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, however, disagreed and affirmed the lower court's judgment.


January 2014 - April 2014

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. United States Department of Agriculture, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 6571845 (D.D.C. 2013). PETA brought a suit against the USDA for failing to enforce the AWA against bird abusers and for not promulgating regulations specific to the mistreatment of avians. In a motion to dismiss, the USDA argued (1) that PETA lacked standing and (2), even if PETA had standing, the organization had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. 

People v. Lohnes, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2013 WL 6670466 (N.Y. App. Div., 2013). After breaking into a barn and stabbing a horse to death, the defendant plead guilty to charges of aggravated cruelty to animals; burglary in the third degree; criminal mischief in the second degree; and overdriving, torturing and injuring animals. On appeal, the court found a horse could be considered a companion animal within New York's aggravated cruelty statute if the horse was not a farm animal raised for commercial or subsistence purposes and the horse was normally maintained in or near the household of the owner or the person who cared for it. 

Travis v. Murray, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2013 WL 6246374 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2013). A short, childless marriage ended in a custody battle over a dachshund after one spouse allegedly took the dog while the other spouse was away on a business trip. After reviewing the progression of the law in New York and in other states, the court decided to apply a “best for all concerned” standard and to give the parties a full, one-day hearing. The plaintiff’s motion to order the defendant to return the couple's dog and to be awarded “sole residential custody” of the dog was therefore granted.

Dog Case of the Month

Dog attacking and killing cat while held on leash not "objectively likely" result to sustain Florida felony animal cruelty conviction. Hamilton v. State, --- So.3d ----, 2013 WL 6670841 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.). Defendant had his dog on leash and approached too close to a cat, whereupon the leashed dog began to attack the cat. The appellate court found that defendant's conduct did not rise to a criminal level, as it was "objectively unlikely" that a leashed dog walking with his owner would inflict such damage.

December 2013

Johnson v. City of Murray , --- Fed.Appx. ----, 2013 WL 5832524 (C.A.10 (Utah,2013). After an investigation brought on by the plaintiff, an animal control supervisor was demoted from his duties. Plaintiff also provided a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune information that later led to the resignation of the ex-animal control supervisor. Meanwhile, the city voted to outsource its animal control department to another city, which eliminated the plaintiff’s job. On appeal, the court found the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights were not violated because a severely understaffed animal control unit constituted a substantial disruption. The City's interest in promoting efficient public services therefore outweighed the plaintiff’s First Amendment interests.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Weber , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 5844447(D.Mont.,2013). An environmental group sued the U.S. Forest Service claiming it violated the NEPA, the ESA, and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) when it permitted the implementation of the Flathead National Forest Precommercial Thinning Project. The court that the defendants' designation of matrix habitat was not arbitrary and that there was no showing of irreparable harm to lynx habitat to require the Service to be enjoined from implementing project. Likewise, plaintiffs’ claims regarding the grizzly bear’s critical habitat did not prevail; nor did the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the National Forest Management Act’s Inland Native Fish Strategy. The court, therefore, granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs' motion.
Spangler v. Stark County Dog Warden , --- N.E.2d ----, 2013 WL 5820277 (Ohio App. 5 Dist.,2013). The appellant appealed the decision of the Canton Municipal Court, Stark County that affirmed a dog warden's classification of his dog as "dangerous." Appellant's dog attacked another dog who was being held on leash at the end of appellant's driveway also causing an injury to the dog's owner leg in the process. While there are no cases on point, the court found the standard for appeal would be whether the judgment is manifestly against the weight of the evidence. Here, the court found the record did not reveal an abuse of discretion that would create a manifest miscarriage of justice. The statute only requires a demonstration that the dog in question "caused injury" without provocation. Appellant's dog leaving the property lead to a "chain of events resulting in some sort of puncture injury" to the other dog owner's leg.

November 2013

Southbark, Inc. v. Mobile County Com'n , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 5423806 (S.D.Ala.,2013). In the past, SouthBARK, a charitable non-profit no kill shelter, acquired dogs from the Mobile County Animal Shelter (MCAS) to prevent their euthanization. After a SouthBARK employee threatened a shelter worker and statements from SouthBARK about the number of animals being killed at MCAS, MCAS refused to let SouthBARK take anymore dogs for a 6 month period. Soon after MCAS allowed SouthBARK to take dogs again, MCAS again revoked this authority.

Vanderbrook v. Emerald Springs Ranch , 109 A.D.3d 1113, 971 N.Y.S.2d 754 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.,2013).While on a guided trail ride, plaintiff's sustained injuries and sued the ranch and the ranch's owners. On appeal, the court found the Supreme Court properly denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court found the defendants failed to meet their initial burden of establishing entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issues of the horse's vicious propensity and defendants' knowledge of that propensity.

State v. Fessenden , --- P.3d ----, 2013 WL 5352270 (Or.App., 2013). This Oregon case considers, as an issue of first impression, whether the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement applies to animals in need of immediate assistance. The court found that the emergency aid exception extends to nonhuman animals when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals which are imminently threatened with suffering, serious physical injury or cruel death. 

Dog Case of the Month

Animal adoption organization not liable for personal injuries from dog bite after parties sign contract and assume care for dog. Frank v. Animal Haven, Inc. , 107 A.D.3d 574 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,2013).


October 2013

Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Harris , --- F.3d ---, 2013 WL 4615131 (9th Cir. 2013). Prior to California's Force Fed Birds law coming into effect, two non-California entities produced foie gras that was sold at a California restaurant. When the law came into effect, all three entities sought to enjoin the state of California from enforcing the law. On appeal, the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny the preliminary injunction.
Bjugan v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co. , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 4591111 (D. Ore. 2013). After a house was damaged by a tenant’s 95 cats and 2 dogs, a landlord sought to recover expenses through State Farm Insurance. State Farm, however, denied the landlord coverage due to a provision in the insurance policy that excluded damages caused by domestic animals.
Conservation Force, Inc. v. Jewell , --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 4417452 (D.C. Cir. 2013). Appellants’ claims that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s violated the Endangered Species Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and due process rights in regards to the markhor goat were rendered moot due to subsequent agency action.

Dauphine v. U.S. , --- A.3d ----, 2013 WL 4556546 (D.C.,2013). Defendant, Dr. Nico Dauphine, was convicted of attempted cruelty to animals, contrary to D.C.Code §§ 22–1001, –1803 (2001). After an investigation, Dr. Dauphine was captured on surveillance video placing bromadialone, an anticoagulant rodenticide, near the neighborhood cats' food bowls. This court found the inclusion of the word "knowingly" did not change the statute from a general to specific intent crime, and simply shows that the actor had no justification for his or her actions.

Dog Case of the Month

Animal adoption organization not liable for personal injuries from dog bite after parties sign contract and assume care for dog. Frank v. Animal Haven, Inc. , 107 A.D.3d 574 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,2013).


September 2013

Weigel v. Maryland , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 3157517 (D.Md 2013). A nonprofit, nonstock cooperative housing corporation issued a rule that banned pit bulls on its premises. Members and leaseholders who owned dogs believed to be pit bulls sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the corporation and the state of Maryland in an amended complaint.

Humane Society of United States v. State , --- S.W.3d ----, 2013 WL 4080775 (Mo.,2013). On May 13, 2011, Animal Welfare Organizations sought a declaratory judgment against the State of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Agriculture stating that Senate Bill (SB) 795 violated the Missouri Constitution by amending a bill to change its original purpose. On appeal, in an en blanc opinion, the Missouri Supreme Court found the repeal and reenactment of § 273.327 in SB 161 rendered moot any decision as to whether SB795 was properly enacted.

Mitchell v. State , --- So.3d ----, 2013 WL 3927676 (Fla.App. 3 Dist.,2013). After the dog bite, accounts differ, but the defendant was later convicted of animal cruelty for the injuries the dog sustained after the bite. Upon appeal, the court found that the prosecutor had erred by framing the argument in a manner that improperly shifted the burden of proof from whether the defendant had intentionally and maliciously inflicted injuries on the dog to whether the State's witnesses were lying.  Since the court found this shift in burden was not harmless, the court reversed and remanded the defendant's conviction.

State v. Gerard , 832 N.W.2d 314 (Minn.App.,2013).  This case considers whether the trial court erred when it dismissed the felony count of unjustifiably killing an animal based on lack of probable cause. The incident stems from the killing of the neighbors' cat with a shotgun by defendant-respondent.

Dog Case of the Month

Washington appellate court upholds ruling against county for negligently failing to respond to multiple complaints against vicious dogs that severely mauled woman in her home. Gorman v. Pierce County , --- P.3d ----, 2013 WL 4103314 (Wash.App. Div. 2,201).


August 2013

Zalaski v. City of Hartford , --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 3796448 (C.A.2 (Conn.)). When animal rights activists, who were protesting the treatment of animals at a race sponsored by a circus, were arrested for criminal trespass and obstruction of free passage, they filed a section 1983 lawsuit for false arrest, unlawful retaliation, malicious prosecution, and interference with free expression under both the U.S. and Connecticut constitutions against the city and the officer.
Hastings v. Sauve , ---N.E.2d ----, 2013 WL 1829834 (N.Y., 2013). After plaintiff motorist was injured after hitting a cow that had wandered onto the highway, she sued farm owner, operator of cattle-shipping business, and operator's assistant, alleging that defendants were negligent in not properly confining cow to its pasture.
State v. Criswell , --- P.3d ----, 2013 WL 3324365 (Mont.,2013). Defendants were convicted of aggravated animal cruelty for subjecting ten or more animals (cats) to mistreatment or neglect by confining them in a cruel manner and/or failing to provide adequate food and water. As to the sufficiency argument, the Supreme Court held that the testimony from veterinary experts as well as the individuals involved in the rescue of the 400-plus cats removed from the three travel trailers was sufficient. Notably, the court observed that 264 of the 400-plus cats removed had to be euthanized.


July 2013

Conservation Congress v. U.S. Forest Service , --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 2631449 (9th Cir. 2013). When two federal agencies authorized the Mudflow Vegetation Management Project, a conservation group sued the agencies for failing to adequately evaluate the project's effects on the Northern Spotted Owl's critical habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
In re Polar Bear Endangered Species Act Listing and Section 4(d) , --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 2991027 (D.C. Cir. 2013). Hunters and hunting organizations sued the Secretary of Interior, the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Service itself after the Service listed polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and barred the importation of polar bear trophies under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). In affirming the lower court's decision, the court held that the organization's interpretation of the MMPA was incorrect, as Congress intended to extend MMPA protections to all depleted species.
Citizens for Balanced Use v. Maurier , --- P.3d ----, 2013 WL 3053594 (Mont. 2013). Upon the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks’s decision to relocate a brucellosis-free herd of bison out of Yellowstone National Park and into tribal lands, plaintiffs sought an injunction to halt this action until the department complied with MCA § 87-1-216.  

Dog Case of the Month

Landowners had no liability for son's dog attacking plaintiff where evidence showed they were not aware of dog's presence on property . Smith v. Kopynec , --- So.3d ----, 2013 WL 2476543 (La.App. 1 Cir.,2013).


June 2013

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. State, Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries , --- So.3d ----, 2013 WL 1774638 (La.App. 1 Cir. 4/25/13).The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), along with others, filed a petition for injunctive relief and a writ of mandamus against the Louisiana DWF for permitting the exhibit of a real tiger at a truck stop. This court found there was no error in the trial court's legal conclusion that Michael Sandlin did not meet the legal requirements for a Potentially Dangerous Wild Quadruped permit, and that permanent injunctive relief, enjoining DWF from issuing Michael Sandlin future permits for Tony, was warranted.
Parker v. Obert's Legacy Dairy, LCC , --- N.E.2d ----, 2013 WL 1820364 (In. Ct. App.). A neighboring landowner brought a nuisance claim against a dairy farm when the dairy farm decided to expand its operations; the dairy farm, however, used Indiana’s Right to Farm Act as an affirmative defense.
State v. Peterson , --- P.3d ----, 2013 WL 2156837 (Wa. Ct. App.). Defendant appeals six counts of first degree animal cruelty charges. The appeals court, however, held that RCW 16.52.205(6) was not unconstitutionally vague; that starvation and dehydration were alternative means to commit first degree animal cruelty, but there was substantial evidence to support the horses suffered from dehydration; and that the superior court had authority to order the defendant to pay restitution to the county.

Dog Case of the Month

While court notes mere ownership of certain breeds of dog not criminalized, evidence here was sufficient to uphold defendant's conviction for keeping mischievous animal . People v. Flores , --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2013 WL 1944000 (Cal.App. 1 Dist.).


May 2013

Palila v. Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources , Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2013 WL 1442485 (D.Hawai‘i,2013). Fearing potential prosecution under a county ordinance and a state statute for carrying out a Stipulated Order that protects an endangered species (the Palila), defendants, joined substantially by the plaintiffs, sought a motion for declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court granted the defendants’ motion because federal law, the Stipulated Order, preempted both state and county law.

Sierra Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 1111285 (D.D.C.,2013).Using the APA, the Sierra Club filed a suit against the USFWS due to the USFWS's response to the Sierra Club's petition to revise critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle; the Sierra Club also charged the USFWS with unlawfully delaying the designation of the Northeastern Ecological Corridor of Puerto Rico as critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle. While both sides filed a motion for summary judgment, the District Court only granted the USFWS motion for summary judgment because the USFWS's 12–month determination was unreviewable under the APA.
State v. Betts , --- S.W.3d ----, 2013 WL 1628963 (Tex.Crim.App.). The State appealed the granting of defendant's motion to suppress evidence in a felony animal cruelty case (defendant's 13 dogs from his aunt's backyard property). This court found that defendant has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his aunt's backyard despite the fact he did not have an ownership interest.

Dog Case of the Month

Court refuses to extend strict liability to actual owner where third party has dominion and control over dog at time of bite. Hayes v. Adams , --- N.E.2d ----, 2013 WL 753238 (Ill.App. 2 Dist.,2013).


April 2013

Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Soc ., --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 673712 (C.A.9 (Wash.),2013). Several whalers brought suit against Paul Watson and the Sea Shepard Society - of Animal Planet fame - under the Alien Tort Statute for acts that amounted to piracy and that violated international agreements regulating conduct on the high seas. Though the district court denied the whalers a preliminary injunction and dismissed the whalers' piracy claim, the Ninth Circuit found in favor for the whalers.
Marino v. University of Florida , --- So.3d ----, 2013 WL 673650 (Fla.App. 1 Dist.,2013).The petitioner in this Florida case sought records for 33 non-human primates whose captivity was documented by a USDA report. The University contends that the information was confidential and exempt under Florida law as part of its "Security Plan." The court reversed and remanded the case with instructions to release the records without redaction.manded the case with instructions to release the records without redaction.

Missouri Veterinary Medical Bd. v. Gray , --- S.W.3d ----, 2013 WL 600201 (Mo.App. W.D., 2013). An unlicensed Missouri equine dentist (Brooke Rene Gray) appeals an order from the circuit court enjoining and prohibiting her from doing business as "B & B Equine Dentistry," where she performed equine tooth floating and other acts. The court disagreed, finding that the State has a strong interest in regulating practices that involve public safety as is the case with veterinary medicine.
State v. Pinard , --- P.3d ----, 2013 WL 708951 (Or.App.,2013). Defendant shot his neighbor's dog with a razor-bladed hunting arrow. 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.

March 2013

Humane Soc. of U.S. v. Bryson , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 595092 (D.Or.,2013). In order to manage sea lion predation of salmonids at the Bonneville Dam, the NMFS decided to authorize agencies from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to lethally remove sea lions that were not protected by the ESA when efforts to deter their feeding on salmonids failed. The Humane Society and other parties disagreed and sued the NMFS; the agencies of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho intervened.
Kankey v. State , 2013 Ark. App. 68, Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2013 WL 458000 (Ark.App.,2013). A district court found the appellant’s animals had been lawfully seized, and then divested appellant of ownership of the animals and vested custody to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The appellant filed an appeal in the civil division of the circuit court.
Smith v. Com . Not Reported in S.E.2d, 2013 WL 321896 (Va.App.,2013). After the family dog growled at defendant's wife while she was outside feeding it, the defendant shot the dog. The defendant was later charged and convicted for felony cruelty to an animal resulting in death. Upon appeal, the defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his proffered self-defense jury instructions.  

Dog Case of the Month

Summary judgment not appropriate in absolute liability cased by a dangerous dog action where previous instances of the dog becoming "hyper" around other dogs may show proclivity for knocking down people. Conrad v. Catapano , --- A.3d ----, 2013 WL 673463 (N.J.Super.A.D.,2013).


February 2013

In re Endangered Species Act Section 4 Deadline Litigation-MDL No. 2165 , --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 45871, (C.A.D.C.,2013). After parties in a lawsuit over listing species as endangered or threatened agreed upon a settlement, the Safari Club motioned to intervene because the settlement might affect three species that the club's members hunt. The district court denied the motion to intervene as of right because the club lacked Article III standing and denied a permissive intervention because it would cause undue delay and prejudice to the parties; the court then approved the settlement and the club appealed. The appeals court affirmed the lower court's decision that the club lacked Article III standing for intervening as of right.

WildEarth Guardians v. National Park Service , --- F.3d ----, 2013 WL 93169, (C.A.10 (Colo.),2013). In this case, the WildEarth Guardians brought a suit against the National Park Service for violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Rocky Mountain National Park Enabling Act (RMNP)'s ban on hunting. The district court and the appeals court, however, held that the NPS did not violate NEPA because the agency articulated reasons for excluding the natural wolf alternative from its Environmental Impact Statement. Additionally, since the National Park Service Organic Act (NPSOA)'s detrimental animal exception and the RMNP's dangerous animal exception apply to the prohibition on killing, capturing, or wounding—not the prohibition on hunting, the use of volunteers to cull the park’s elk population did not violate the RMNP or the NPSOA.

Stanton v. State , --- S.W.3d ----, 2013 WL 239099, (Tenn.,2013). The defendant, a self-employed oil distributor, was charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty for intentionally or knowingly failing to provide food and care for his horses. After being denied a petition for pretrial division and a petition for a writ of certiorari, the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee, who granted the defendant permission to appeal, but affirmed the lower court's decision that the assistant district attorney general did not abuse his discretion and that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant's petition for writ of certiorari.

Dog Case of the Month

While defendant, as a matter of law, failed to disprove fact that dog had vicious tendencies, summary judgment still appropriate where plaintiff failed to show that she had knowledge of the dog's alleged vicious propensities. Faraci v. Urban , 101 A.D.3d 1753, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2012 WL 6720938 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.,2012).


January 2013

Wilkins v. Daniels , Slip Copy, 2012 WL 6644465 (S.D.Ohio, 2012). Various owners of exotic and wild animals filed a lawsuit in order to obtain a temporary restraining order and a permanent/preliminary injunction against the Ohio Department of Agriculture and its Director arguing that the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animals and Restricted Snakes Act was unconstitutional. The district court denied the owners’ motion for obtain a temporary restraining order and a permanent/preliminary injunction reasoning that the exceptions to the Act’s ban on owning wild and exotic animals does not violate the owners’ freedom of association rights, that the legislature had a legitimate purpose with regard to micro-chipping wild and exotic animals.

907 Whitehead Street, Inc. v. Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 6061706 (C.A.11 (Fla.),2012). The appellant in this case, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida ("Museum"), appeals the lower court's determination that it is an animal exhibitor for purposes of the Animal Welfare Act ("AWA"). While the court sympathized with the museum's frustrations, it affirmed the district court's findings of law and held that Museum is an AWA animal exhibitor subject to USDA regulation.
Sebek v. City of Seattle , --- P.3d ----, 2012 WL 6098265 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2012). Two Seattle taxpayers filed a taxpayer action lawsuit against the city of Seattle for violating Washington’s animal cruelty statute and Seattle’s animal cruelty ordinance with regards to a zoo’s elephant exhibit. After the lawsuit was dismissed by the King County Superior Court for lack of taxpayer standing, plaintiffs appealed the court’s decision. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Stray from Heart, Inc. v. Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of City of New York , --- N.E.2d ----, 2012 WL 6115617 (N.Y.), 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 08438. Petitioner, an animal rescue organization, filed suit seeking the enforcement of the Animal Shelters and Sterilization Act. The court held that the act does not provide for a private right of action for money damages. Instead, the legislative history reveals the law was designed to benefit the general public in New York City as well as stray cats and dogs. The court affirmed the lower court's decision with costs.

Dog Case of the Month

Minnesota Supreme Court holds that "potentially dangerous dog" designation does not affect owner's procedural due process rights because it does not result in any restrictions possession or enjoyment of the property. Sawh v. City of Lino Lakes , --- N.W.2d ----, 2012 WL 6601313 (Minn,2012).  

December 2012

Conservation Force v. Salazar , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 5665704 (C.A.D.C.). After waiting 9 years for the USFWS to take action on a permit that would allow the Conservation Force and other individuals to import Canadian wood bison as hunting trophies, the Conservation Force brought a suit against the U.S. Department of Interior and the USFWS for violating the ESA. On appeal by Plaintiffs for denial of attorneys fees and costs, this court held that since the USFWS delay in processing the permit was not a non-discretionary, statutory duty, as required to recover attorney fees and costs, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.
U.S. v. Wahchumwah , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 5951624 (C.A.9 (Wash.)). The USFWS investigated a tip that the defendant was selling eagle parts in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Upon appeal, the defendant argued that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the undercover agent’s warrantless use of a concealed audio visual device. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, finding that his Fourth Amendment rights were not violated by the undercover agent.

Howle v. Aqua Illinois, Inc. , --- N.E.2d ----, 2012 IL App (4th) 120207, 2012 WL 5353559 (Ill.App. 4 Dist.). As the result of a dog bite on the defendant’s rental property, the plaintiff suffered a torn cheek and irreparable damage to her ear. The plaintiff therefore attempted to recover damages from the defendant on the common law theory of negligence and through Illinois’ Animal Control Act. Upon appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision, though it stated a motion for summary judgment was more appropriate then the motion to dismiss for the Animal Control Act claim.

Schindler v. Mejias , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2012 WL 5950370 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.), 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 08205). This appeal is an appeal of the denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment in a defamation action. Plaintiff, an attorney, brought an action against Hector L. Mejias Jr., an employee of defendant Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, claiming that Mejias falsely accused him of misrepresenting himself as the Ulster County District Attorney during a sworn deposition.     

Dog Case of the Month

Allowing dog to roam unrestrained and not under owner's direct influence despite dog's following of verbal command sufficient under Connecticut's roaming dog law. State v. Smith , --- A.3d ----, 139 Conn.App. 107, 2012 WL 5357938 (Conn.App.). 


Moser v. Pennsylvania Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , 2012 WL 4932046 (E.D. Penn.). Two mares were confiscated after defendants received a complaint from a close acquaintance of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs then sued the defendants for violating the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Civil Rights Act, and Pennsylvania stautory and common law; the plaintiffs, however, lost when the district court granted the defendants motion for summary judgment on all counts.

Duncan v. State , 975 N.E.2d 838 (Ct. App. Ind. 2012). A complaint regarding the welfare of horses led to the defendant being convicted of 6 charges of animal cruelty, all of which were class A misdemeanors. Upon appeal, the defendant argued that he had not knowingly waived his right to a jury trial, that Indiana’s animal cruelty law was unconstitutionally vague and that there was no sufficient evidence to overcome a defense of necessity. The appeals court agreed that the defendant did not knowingly waive his right to a jury trial and therefore reversed and remanded the case on that issue; however, the appeals court disagreed with the defendant on the other issues.

Martinez v. Robledo , --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2012 WL 5208537, Cal.App. 2 Dist.,2021). Both respondents filed motions in limine concerning the issue of damages in the cases and, in both case, the trial court limited the measure of damages to the market value of the dogs ($1,000). The court reasoned that otherwise, the injured animal's owner would bear the burden of all the costs of treatment, regardless of the wrongdoer's conduct. Allowing a pet owner to recover reasonable and necessary costs related to the treatment of an animal wrongfully injured is an appropriate measure of damages.

Ruiz v. Franklin County Animal Control , 732 S.E.2d 393 (N.C.App.,2012).(Unpublished Opinion). This North Carolina case is an appeal from a denial of summary judgment in favor of Franklin County Animal Control. Defendants argue that the trial court erred by declining to enter summary judgment in their favor on the basis of governmental immunity. The court found that there is no dispute in the record that Franklin County Animal Control and Stallings, in his official capacity as an Animal Control Officer, were performing a governmental function in impounding and euthanizing plaintiff's dog.

Dog Case of the Month

As matter of first impression, Colorado appellate court holds the Premises Liability Act does not abrogate dog bite strict liability law. Legro v. Robinson , --- P.3d ----, 2012 WL 5266059 (Colo.App., 2012). 


Jurewicz v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2012 WL 4130515 (D.D.C.,2012.). Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the United States Humane Society requested that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) disclose a certain Animal Welfare Act form. Arguing that two FOIA exemptions prevented the USDA from releasing certain information on this form (the number of dogs that they buy and sell each year and their annual revenue from dog sales), three Missouri dog breeders and dealers sought to prevent this information’s disclosure.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Kansas State Fair Bd. , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2012 WL 3834740 (D.Kan.,2012).Upon being informed by the Kansas State Fair Board (KSFB) that it must shield a video depicting graphic images of animals being slaughtered, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sought a preliminary injunction in order to show the video at the Kansas State Fair.
Lee v. State , --- N.E.2d ----, 2012 WL 3775862 (Ind.App.,2012). An attendant of a dog fight was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor under the state's animal fighting law. On appeal, the defendant-appellant argued that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and that the statute invited arbitrary law enforcement. Specifically, defendant argues that the word "attends" is so vague as to make the statute unconstitutional.
Plotnik v. Meihaus , --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2012 WL 3764874 (Cal. App. 3 Dist.). The plaintiffs brought many causes of actions against their neighbors who injured their puppy with a baseball bat. The court held that a pet owner may recover for emotional distress under the trespass to personal property cause of action.
Take Me Home Rescue v. Luri , --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2012 WL 3727604 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.,2012). Defendant Luri appeals an injunction against her to return a foster dog that she failed to have spayed in accordance with an agreement between her and Take Me Home pet rescue organization. Defendant contends that the original agreement to provide foster care did not require her to spay the dog, and her subsequent interest in training the dog as an "agility dog" provides her an exemption. 

Dog Case of the Month

Washington appellate court upholds use of "facility dog" for adult witness at trial. State v. Dye , 283 P.3d 1130 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2012). For an in-depth analysis of this case, see Facility Dog Accompanies Adult Witness during Testimony , John Ensminger, Animal Legal & Historical Center (2012).



September 2012

Fabrikant v. French , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 3518527 (C.A.2 (N.Y.), 2012). An animal rescue organization seized many of the plaintiff-appellant's dogs who later filed a federal civil rights suit against the animal organization and others. On this appeal, the Second Circuit held that though the animal organization was a state actor, it had qualified immunity, which protected it from the plaintiff-appellant’s charges.
Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 3538236 (D.C. Cir. 2012). Friends of Blackwater filed a complaint challenging the Secretary's rule to delist the Virginia northern flying squirrel. The D.C. circuit court of appeals reversed the district court's decision, holding that the Secretary's determination the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel was no longer endangered was neither arbitrary and capricious nor in violation of the Act.
Howard v. Chimps, Inc. , --- P.3d ----, 2012 WL 3195145 (Or. App. 2012). While cleaning a cage at a chimpanzee sanctuary, the plaintiff was twice attacked by a chimpanzee, which left the plaintiff without much of her thumb. In affirming the lower court's decision, the appellate court found an enforceable contract existed with the waiver, and that there was no evidence of reckless disregard on defendant's part to rise to the level of gross negligence.
Morgan v. Marquis , --- A.3d ----, 2012 WL 3206773 (Me., 2012). Plaintiff sued the dog's owner on the theories of strict liability and negligence. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant on all claims, thereby rejecting plaintiff's claim that "pit bull" dogs are abnormally dangerous animals. Finding insufficient evidence that the defendant knew his dog was likely to bite someone, this court affirmed the lower court's decision on the strict liability claim.

State v. Nix , --- P.3d ----, 2012 WL 3105223 (Or.App., 2012). 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. 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.

Dog Case of the Month

Supreme Court of New Jersey declines to extend cause of action for emotional distress for owner witnessing the death of dog. McDougall v. Lamm , --- A.3d ----, 2012 WL 3079207 (N.J.,2012).

August 2012

Benningfield ex rel. Benningfield v. Zinsmeister , 367 S.W.3d 561, 2012 WL 2361778 (Ky.,2012). An 8-year-old boy and his sister were walking down a street when they were approached by a Rottweiler. Scared, the boy ran and was attacked by the dog, which caused the boy to suffer serious injuries. The Court ruled that a landlord could be strictly liable, but only if the landlord permitted the dog to stay on or about the premises. Since the attack did not occur on or about the premises, the landlord was not found liable under the dog bite statute.

Greenway v. Northside Hosp., Inc. , --- S.E.2d ----, 2012 WL 2819420 (Ga.App.,2012). While disoriented at a hospital, the plaintiff was asked by deputies to sign a form releasing his two yellow labs to Animal Control in the event of the plaintiff's demise. He signed the form without reading the terms, and was later informed that his dogs had been euthanized. In reversing the decision, the Court of Appeals found an issue of material fact existed towards all defendants. Questions of fact exist as to whether the euthanization of the dogs was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the hospital's negligent conduct in contacting Animal Control instead of the Humane Society, and whether it misrepresented the content of the form to Greenway.

Watson v. State , --- S.W.3d ----, 2012 WL 2401752 (Tex.Crim.App.,2012). Defendants were convicted of attack by dog resulting in death (Tex. Health & Safety Code § 822.005(a)(1)) after a 7-year-old was killed by several of defendants' pit bull dogs. On this appeal, appellants contend that the statute fails to define the terms “attack” and “unprovoked,” and that it fails to specify what conduct is prohibited, resulting in arbitrary enforcement. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Court of Appeals decision stating that the Dog Attack statute did not violate Due Process and that the defendants' convictions did not violate the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas or the U.S. constitution.

Dog Case of the Month

Supreme Court of Minnesota finds summary judgment for defendant inappropriate under dog bite strict liability law where plaintiff was injured voluntarily breaking up attack on his dog. Anderson v. Christopherson , --- N.W.2d ----, 2012 WL 2913222 (Minn.). 


July 2012

Hanrahan v. Hometown America , LLC, 2012 WL 2327814 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.). While walking his dog one evening, the plaintiff's husband was attacked by fire ants. Applying the Florida rule of “ferae naturae,” the court found that an owner or possessor of land does not have a duty to guard against harm from such wild animals unless he or she harbors or possesses them. Since the landlord did not harbor, possess, or introduce the fire ants onto the premises, the landlord owed no duty to the plaintiff.

Ruffin v. Wood , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 95 A.D.3d 1290, 2012 WL 1939443 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.). While the plaintiff was tending her garden, the defendant's dog jumped on a chain-link fence and startled plaintiff who then injured herself. While defendant conceded that the dog sometimes "jumped on people he knew in a playful manner," the dog never bit anyone or acted aggressively. On appeal, the court found there was ample support for the jury verdict in favor of defendant based on the evidence at trial.

Thomas v. Stenberg , --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2012 WL 1925657 (Cal.App. 1 Dist.). While driving his motorcycle down a private road that had easement access, the plaintiff was injured by a charging cow. Upon appeal, the court held that the plaintiff failed to prove defendant was negligent for failing to warn of the presence of an unconfined and inherently dangerous animal and that the defendant was strictly liable for the cow's actions.

Dog Case of the Month

Vet's alleged promise to "take care" of plaintiff's medical bills did not create an inference of knowledge that the dog was vicious. Abundant Animal Care, LLC v. Gray , --- S.E.2d ----, 2012 WL 2125842 (Ga.App.).


June 2012

Conservancy v. USFWS , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 1319857 (C.A.11 (Fla.)). Many environmental advocacy groups petitioned the USFWS to designate critical habitat for a species, the Florida panther, which was listed as endangered under the ESA in 1967. Claiming the agency's action was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, the groups filed a citizens suit under the ESA in district court. At district, the group's complaints were dismissed and the groups subsequently lost on appeal.

Crawford v. Van Buren County, Ark ., --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 1813423 (C.A.8 (Ark.)). In this § 1983 action, defendant kennel operator alleged taking of private property without just compensation, unreasonable search and seizure, and due process violations in relation to seizure of dogs, and that the local humane society conspired with government entities. On appeal of summary judgment for the defendants, the court found her claims against the county were barred, and that she failed to first exhaust her administrative remedies.

State v. Cochran , --- S.W.3d ----, 2012 WL 1499893 (Mo.App. W.D.). Prompted by a phone call to make a return visit to the defendant's house, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Animal Control discovered the defendant in the backyard, where she housed at least eleven dogs, trying to remove dog excrement from a pen and trying to remove ice from dog bowls. After further investigation, the defendant was charged with one count of animal abuse and with one count of violating a city ordinance for failure to vaccinate.

Beckwith v. Weber , --- P.3d ----, 2012 WL 1415598 (Wyo. 2012). While on vacation at a ranch in Wyoming, plaintiff was thrown or fell from a horse that stepped in a large badger hole. The plaintiff later brought a negligence suit against the ranch for injuries she had sustained during the fall. On appeal, the plaintiff challenged a jury instruction and asserted the trial court abused its discretion when it awarded costs to the ranch. The plaintiff did not prevail on either claim.

Dog Case of the Month

Appeal of right available in county board dangerous dog declaration in Washington. Coballes v. Spokane County , --- P.3d ----, 2012 WL 1448220 (Wash.App. Div. 3).


May 2012

U.S. v. Lawson , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 1372172 (4th Cir., 2012). Defendants appealed their conviction of violating, and conspiring to violate, the animal fighting prohibition of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The Court of Appeals granted a new trial, but held, in part, that the AWA is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause, and that the provision of different elements of the crime in jurisdictions permitting animal fighting does not violate equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Barrios v. Safeway Ins. Co. --- So.3d ----, 2012 WL 1000864 (La.App. 4 Cir.,2012). Louisiana dog owners sued motorist for mental anguish and property damage after their dog was hit and killed by defendant's car. While a domestic animal is considered corporeal movable property in Louisiana, the court stated, "clearly, pets are not inanimate objects." The Court upheld that the damages award of $10,000 because the dog was killed as a result of motorist's negligence, the owners were nearby and immediately arrived at scene to find their beloved dog dead, the dog was extremely valuable to owners, who had a close family-like relationship with dog for approximately 12 years, and the loss caused the owners to suffer psychic trauma.

Hastings v. Sauve , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2012 WL 1129275 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.,2012). After plaintiff motorist was injured after hitting a cow that had wandered onto the highway, she sued farm owner, operator of cattle-shipping business, and operator's assistant, alleging that defendants were negligent in not properly confining cow to its pasture. The Supreme Court held that, since the cow was a domestic animal, injury claims could only proceed under strict liability theory based on owner's knowledge of animal's vicious propensities. There was no evidence that cow had a vicious or abnormal propensity, or that cow's owner knew of propensity, as required to support a strict liability claim. Thus, none of the defendants were liable for negligently failing to restrain the cow.

Dog Case of the the Month

Evidence of a fence with gaps and dog with loose collar in unfenced backyard sufficient to support misdemeanor conviction for failure to restrain a dog in Indiana. Boss v. State , --- N.E.2d ----, 2012 WL 1066099 (Ind.App.).


April 2012

Mostek v. Genesee County Animal Control , Slip Copy, 2012 WL 683430 (E.D., Mich. 2012). Defendant Animal Control officer removed a neglected, gravely-ill cat that needed immediate veterinary care from Plaintiff's backyard. Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against Defendant alleging Fourth Amendment unlawful search and/or seizure claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Futch v. State , --- S.E.2d ----, 2012 WL 603655 (Ga.,2012). Defendant appealed conviction of cruelty to animals for shooting and killing a neighbor's dog because the dog was barking at defendant's goats. The Court of Appeals held that the restitution award of $3,000 was warranted by a preponderance of the evidence even though the owner only paid $750 for the dog.

Nigro v. New York Racing Ass'n, Inc , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2012 WL 717854 (N.Y.,2012).An experienced former professional exercise rider sued the owner of a race track facility seeking damages for personal injury after the horse she was riding fell on her while crossing a gravel-strewn asphalt road. The Supreme Court held that the rider assumed the risk that the horse might fall by choosing to cross the road despite being aware of the danger.

Scharer v. San Luis Rey Equine Hosp., Inc. , --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2012 WL 661684 (Cal.App. 4 Dist.). Horse owner sued veterinarians and equine hospital for professional malpractice after horse was euthanized less than two months after surgery to remove horse’s ovaries. The Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment for defendants, holding that equitable tolling did not apply because plaintiff was not prevented from pursuing her claim in a timely manner by the defendants or the court. A provision in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act extending the statute of limitations by 90 days did not apply absent a claim for personal injury or wrongful death to a person.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Dog's proclivity to jump on people to "greet" them does not establish a proclivity to run into people and knock them over for purposes of strict liability. Hamlin v. Sullivan --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2012 WL 850717 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.).


March 2012

Tilikum ex rel. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Sea World Parks & Entertainment, Inc. --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2012 WL 399214 (S.D.Cal.,2012). Plaintiffs contend that the orcas are being "held as slaves" because they are psychologically and physically held captive in stressful and unnatural conditions, and are forced to submit to the will of Sea World, among other things. The court first observed that this is an impression of first impression and, as such, there are no authorities applying the Thirteenth Amendment to non-persons. In analyzing the plain and ordinary meaning of the amendment, the court stated that the "clear language and historical context reveal that only human beings, or persons, are afforded the protection of the Thirteenth Amendment."

Erie County Society ex rel. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Hoskins , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2012 WL 266461 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.,2012). Plaintiff animal society appeals from an order to return 40 horses to defendant after they were seized pursuant to a warrant. The issue of whether the Court has the authority to order return of animals to the original owner was raised for the first time on appeal. Despite the procedural impropriety, the Court found plaintiff's contention without merit.

State v. Gruntz , --- P.3d ----, 2012 WL 403932 (Or.App.,2012). A Deputy Sheriff with years of personal experience in the care and feeding of horses, witnessed evidence of animal neglect on defendant's ranch, and 8 citizen complaints were filed. Upon defendant's motion, the trial court found that there was insufficient evidence to form probable cause. The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that the warrant affidavit permitted reasonable inference that neglect continued to exist at time of warrant application.

Vendrella v. Astriab Family Ltd. Partnership , --- A.3d ----, 2012 WL 469867 (Conn.App.,2012). Plaintiff father took his two-year-old son to defendant's farm, where the son was bitten on the check causing serious injury and permanent scarring. On defendant's motion for summary judgment, defendant stated he had no knowledge of the horse's vicious propensities. Plaintiffs countered with support that horses by their very nature are capable of biting, and that this was known to defendant. The Appellate Court agreed.

Dog Law Case of the Month

North Carolina Court of Appeals holds market value measure of damages applies in cases involving the negligent destruction of personal property, whether sentient or not. Shera v. N.C. State University Veterinary Teaching Hosp . --- S.E.2d ----, 2012 WL 539989 (N.C. Ct. App. 2012). 


February 2012

National Meat Ass'n v. Harris , --- S.Ct. ----, 2012 WL 171119 (U.S.). Trade association representing packers and processors of swine livestock and pork products sued the State of California for declaratory and injunctive relief barring a ban on slaughter and inhumane handling of nonambulatory animals on federally regulated swine slaughterhouses. The Supreme Court held that the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) preempted the California Penal Code provision prohibiting the sale of meat or meat product of “nonambulatory” animals for human consumption and requiring immediate euthanization of nonambulatory animals.

U.S. v. Felts (unpublished) , Slip Copy, 2012 WL 124390 (N.D.Iowa). Defendant kennel operator was found to violate the AWA on multiple occasions when inspected by APHIS representatives. From 2005 to 2009, defendant repeatedly failed inspections. The Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in part because Defendant failed to file an answer to the administrative complaint, and so was deemed to have admitted the allegations in the complaint.

Edwards v. Shanley , --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 89193 (C.A.11 (Fla.)). Automobile driver fled scene of a traffic stop and sustained serious injuries when he was attacked by a police dog, which was allowed to continue for 5 - 7 minutes. The Court of Appeals held that the use of the police dog to help track and initially subdue the driver was constitutional, but permitting the dog to continue to attack the driver constituted excessive force.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Previous K-9 training of retired police dogs was not evidence of dogs' vicious propensities and did not affirm plaintiff's assertion that dogs were now kept as "guard dogs."  Thurber v. Apmann , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2012 WL 225395 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.,2012).


January, 2012

Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar , Slip Copy, 2011 WL 6000497 (D.Ariz.). Plaintiffs filed action against Interior and FWS to set aside FWS's finding that the desert bald eagle does not qualify as a distinct population segment entitled to protection under the ESA. The Court found that FWS' 12–month finding was based on the 2007 delisting rule, which failed to comport with the notice, comment, and consultation requirements of the ESA.

Adrian v. Vonk , --- N.W.2d ----, 2011 WL 6260860 (S.D.). Ranchers sued State for damage to their property from prairie dogs from public lands. The Supreme Court held that state's statutorily-mandated actions in controlling prairie dogs were discretionary acts, and ranchers' action was barred by sovereign immunity; and statute did not provide for a nuisance cause of action against the State.

Phillip v. State , --- S.E.2d ----, 2011 WL 6187084 (Ga.App.). Defendant was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment after entering a non-negotiated guilty plea to 14 counts of dogfighting and two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Upon motion, the Court of Appeals held that the sentence was illegal and void because all counts, which were to run concurrently, had the maximum prison sentence of five years.

State v. Morival , --- So.3d ----, 2011 WL 6058299 (Fla.App. 2 Dist.). Defendant moved to dismiss charges of two felony counts of animal cruelty. The District Court of Appeal held that systematically depriving his dogs of nourishment was properly charged as felony animal cruelty rather than misdemeanor. Defendant fed his dogs so little that this amounted to “excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering” rather than “depriv[ing an animal] of necessary sustenance.”

Dog Law Case of the Month

Pierce, County, WA fee requirement to challenge county's dangerous animal declaration (DAD) violates due process. Downey v. Pierce County , --- P.3d ----, 2011 WL 5931911 (Wash.App. Div. 2).


December, 2011

O'Neill v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government , --- F.3d ----, 2011 WL 5345409 (C.A.6 (Ky.)). Dog owners sued city-county government and director of city animal-control agency under § 1983 for violations of Fourteenth Amendment after a warrantless search of home and seizure of their dogs. The Court of Appeals held that the owners did not need a breeder's license because their home was not a “Class A kennel.” It also held that the initial entry into owners' home by undercover animal-control officers was not a Fourth Amendment search because it did not infringe on owners' expectation of privacy.

Com. v. Linhares , --- N.E.2d ----,  2011 WL 5517133 (Mass.App.Ct.). Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals after he intentionally hit a duck with his car in a mall parking lot as the duck crossed the road with her baby ducks. The conviction was upheld by the Appeals Court because, in cases involving the direct infliction of pain on an animal, all that must be shown is that the defendant intentionally and knowingly did acts which were plainly of a nature to inflict unnecessary pain.

Sawh v. City of Lino Lakes , 800 N.W.2d 663 (Minn.App.,2011). The city council ordered the destruction of a dog after finding it to be a dangerous animal and the owner appealed. The Court of Appeals held that procedural due process required that the owner should have been given a meaningful opportunity to contest the declaration of the dog as a “potentially dangerous animal” before it was declared a “dangerous animal” under the city ordinance.

Siegert v. Crook County , --- P.3d ----, 2011 WL 5402078 (Or.App., 2011). An individual appealed County Court’s decision to approve the location of a dog breeding kennel in a zone where such kennels were not permitted. The county interpreted the code that was in effect at the time the kennel began operating to allow dog breeding as animal husbandry, and thus permissible farm use. The Court of Appeals found the county's interpretation to be plausible.

Tennant v. Tabor , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2011 WL 5433831 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.). Motorist collided with a horse and sued horse owners for damages. The Supreme Court held that, even if horse owners violated statute requiring them to provide shelter to horse, this did not constitute common-law negligence, which was required for damages.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Summary judgment appropriate where puppy getting underfoot thereby tripping and injuring housekeeper did not present an unreasonable risk of harm. Williams v. Galofaro , --- So.3d ----, 2011 WL 5402984 (La.App. 1 Cir.). 


November, 2011

Anderson v. City of Camden , 2011 WL 4703104 (D.S.C.,2011). Defendant Animal Control officers took Plaintiffs' two dogs, both German Shepherds, pursuant to a pick-up order issued by a Magistrate. Plaintiffs filed Fourth Amendment claim, as well as state law claims against defendants. The court noted that this case presented a distinct issue for the Fourth Circuit concerning the seizure of vicious dogs: the dogs were not roaming, but at their owners' residence and picked up based on an order from a neutral magistrate.

Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue, Inc v. Bengal , 2011 WL 4867541 (C.A.3 (Pa.),2011) (unpublished). Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue rescued three dogs from North Carolina and had them delivered to Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement seized them and turned them over to Appellants PSPCA. Returning the dogs to their owner served the public interest by settling property rights and allowing Sixth Angel to fulfill its mission of finding homes for the dogs.

Jenkins v. State , 2011 WL 4825636 (Wyo.,2011). Defendant was convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Defendant appealed, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court held that he was not entitled to a reversal, because he failed to demonstrate that his counsel failed to render reasonably competent assistance that prejudiced him to such an extent that he was deprived of a fair trial.

Ladnier v. Hester , --- So.3d ----, 2011 WL 5027176 (Miss.App.). Plaintiff motorist sued horse owner for negligence after he collided with the horse that was loose on the highway. The Court of Appeals sustained summary judgment for owner because the motorist produced no evidence that owner 1) had failed to act with reasonable care in enclosing his horses, 2) that horse had a propensity to escape.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Superior Court of Pennsylvania holds that Section 305(a)(1) of the dog law requiring confinement or control does not require any mens rea or scienter; the "clear legislative intent of Section 305(a)(1) is to favor the important public interest in preventing roving dogs." Com. v. Raban , --- A.3d ----, 2011 WL 4582435 (Pa.Super.).    


October, 2011

Tarquinio v. City of Lakewood , 2011 WL 4458165 (N.D.Ohio) (unpublished opinion). Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment from the court that Lakewood City Ordinance 506.01, which bans pit bull dogs or those dogs with "appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of such breeds," unconstitutional. The court found that the General Assembly intended to allow municipalities to regulate the possession of pit bulls.

Engquist v. Loyas , 2011 WL 4374605 (Minn.,2011). After a 9-year old child was bitten by defendant's dog while at a sleepover at defendant's house, the child's mother sued the dog’s owners on the child's behalf. The appellate court reversed. Specifically, the jury here could have found provocation without any consideration of the victim's knowledge of the danger, and this misstatement prejudiced the defendant.

State v. Bonilla , 2011 WL 3903354 (Conn.App.). The issue before the court in this case is whether defendant's felony conviction for being a spectator at a cockfight (contrary to General Statutes § 53–247(c)) violates defendant's constitutional rights to assemble and associate, and his equal protection rights. In rejecting defendant's arguments, the court noted first that the right to assemble does not encompass the right to assemble for an unlawful purpose.

Dog Law Case of the Month

"Equal knowledge" of dog's vicious temperament precludes recovery against owner-roommate in Georgia premises liability action based on a dog bite.   Stolte v. Hammack , 2011 WL 4116153 (Ga., 2011).    


September, 2011

Daskalea v. Washington Humane Soc. , 2011 WL 3555761 (D.C., 2011). Pet owners sued after their pets were seized, detained, injured, or destroyed by the Humane Society. Pet owners’ attempts to certify a class failed because the claims were not typical. The members of the proposed class allegedly suffered a wide range of deprivations, were provided with different kinds of notice, and claimed distinct injuries. The class certification motion was also denied because the proposed members sought individualized monetary relief.

Defenders of Wildlife v. Hall , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2011 WL 3359937 (D.Mont.).Several wildlife organizations filed suit to challenge the FWS's Final Rule delisting the gray wolf Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment. The case was put on hold pending the outcome of several other legal battles regarding the wolf's status on the Endangered Species List, during which gray wolf protections were reinstated. Then, after Congress passed the 2011 fiscal year budget which contained a provision requiring the FWS to delist the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS, the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

In Defense of Animals v. U.S. Dept. of Interior , --- F.3d ----, 2011 WL 3559951 (C.A.9 (Cal.),2011). Plaintiff animal non-profits filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction to stop the government from rounding up, destroying, and auctioning off wild horses and burros in the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area. Plaintiffs alleged that the government's actions violated the Wild Free–Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. However, the initial phase of the plan sought to be enjoined (the roundup) had taken place. The court held that the interlocutory appeal from the denial of a preliminary injunction was moot because the roundup had already taken place.

Allendorf v. Redfearn , 2011 WL 3105714 (Ill.,2011). After a farm employee was injured in an all terrain vehicle (ATV) while trying to round up a bull, he sued the farm owners under the Domestic Animals Running at Large Act. The Appellate Court held that the employee could not recover under the Act, which protects members of the general public who cannot be expected to appreciate the risk posed by an animal. Because the employee was not an innocent bystander but rather was attempting to exercise control over the bull at the time he was injured, he fell within the Act's definition of an “owner” of the bull.

Commonwealth v. Epifania , --- N.E.2d ----, 2011 WL 3435385 (Mass.App.Ct.,2011). Defendant appealed his conviction of arson for setting fire to a dwelling house, and wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person. The Appeals Court held that testimony that the cat belonged to the victim was sufficient to support a conviction of wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person.

Dog Law Case of the Month

City not liable for damages where it failed to enforce compliance with vicious dog ordinance and plaintiff could not prove this action exposed her to greater harm.  Pray v. Whiteskunk , --- N.W.2d ----, 2011 WL 3207821 (S.D., 2011). 


August, 2011

DuBois v. Quilitzsch , --- A.3d ----, 2011 WL 2517021 (R.I.,2011). After a dog injured a city inspector during an inspection of a property, the inspector sued the homeowners. Inspector alleged strict liability, premises liability, and negligence. The Supreme Court entered summary judgment for the defendants on the premises-liability and negligence claims because the inspector failed to show that homeowners had knowledge of their dog's vicious propensities.

People v. Land , --- N.E.2d ----, 2011 WL 2555826 (Ill.App. 1 Dist.,2011). In 2009, Jenell Land was found guilty by jury of aggravated cruelty to a companion animal, a Class 4 felony under Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act. Specifically, Land placed a towing chain around the neck of her pit bull, which caused a large, gaping hole to form in the dog’s neck (the dog was later euthanized). 

People v. Maikhio , --- P.3d ----, 2011 WL 2437645 (Cal.,2011). Defendant was charged with possession of a spiny lobster during closed season and failure to exhibit his catch as required by a statute. By denying that he had caught anything, defendant failed to display his catch upon demand.  

Dog Law Case of the Month

Use of a "bite sleeve" with dog raises question of fact as to knowledge of vicious propensity in dog bite case. Gannon v. Conti , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2011 WL 2637562 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.,2011). 


July, 2011

Kimes v. Grosser , 2011 WL 2128649 (Ca., 2011). After neighbors shot a cat, the owners sued to recover costs of its medical care and punitive damages. The Court of Appeal held that the owner could recover damages for costs incurred in treating the cat even if the costs exceeded the market value of the cat. The owner could also recover punitive damages upon a showing that the shooting was willful. 

Kindel v. Tennis , --- N.E.2d ----, 2011 WL 2083981 (Ill.App. 5 Dist.). Plaintiff-employee was injured by a bull owned and controlled by defendants while working on the defendants' farm. The lower court granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The Appellate Court disagreed, finding that the employee's allegations were sufficient to support a claim against the farm owners under the Animal Control Act.

People v. Proehl (unpublished) , Not Reported in N.W.2d, 2011 WL 2021940 (Mich.App.). Defendant was convicted of failing to provide adequate care to 16 horses. The court disagreed with defendant's claims, explaining: "Defendant's personal belief that his horses were in good health . . . was therefore based on fallacy, and has no effect on his liability under the statute." The court noted that Defendant’s contention that he was a "hoarder" is based upon a non-adopted bill which, in any event, fails to indicate whether animal hoarding may serve as a proper defense.

Silver v. State , 2011 WL 2437286 (Md.,2011). Defendants were sentenced by the District Court after pleading guilty to one count of animal cruelty. The Court of Appeals held that the Circuit Court could order that defendants pay restitution for the euthanasia cost for the deceased horse, but it was beyond the court’s authority to order defendants pay restitution for costs of caring for the two surviving horses because defendants had not been convicted in those cases.  

Dog Law Case of the Month

City animal control department protected under Indiana Tort Claims Act after boy was attacked by loose dog in violation of ordinance.  Davis v. Animal Control-City of Evansville , --- N.E.2d ----, 2011 WL 2493762 (Ind.).


June, 2011

Fund for Animals v. Hall , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2011 WL 1379826 (D.D.C.,2011). Environmental organization sued FWS, alleging it failed to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements when it opened and expanded hunting in national wildlife refuges. 

People v. Brunette , --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2011 WL 1380204 (Cal.App. 6 Dist.). Defendant was convicted of animal cruelty, and was ordered to pay restitution to the Animal Services Authority (“Authority”) that cared for the dogs. The appellate court held that the imposition of an interest charge on the restitution award was not authorized by the statutes. It also held that the Authority was an indirect victim, and was not entitled to direct victim restitution.

Simpson v. Department of Fish and Wildlife , --- P.3d ----, 2011 WL 1486081 (Or.App.,2011). Game ranch owners sought a declaratory ruling from the Depart. of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) as to whether their animals were property of the state. DFW ruled that the state had only a regulatory interest in the game animals. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the State's property interest in the animals was not proprietary or possessory. The State's interest was regulatory, based on a state statute and a regulation adopted by the State Fish and Wildlife Commission. 

Dog Law Case of the Month

Court upholds Los Angeles County's mandatory spay/neuter ordinance. Concerned Dog Owners of California v. City of Los Angeles , 194 Cal.App.4th 1219, --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2011 WL 1601919 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.,2011). Dog owners mounted a constitutional challenge to a Los Angeles municipal ordinance that required all dogs and cats within the city to be sterilized.    


May, 2011

Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar , --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2011 WL 1345670 (D.Mont.). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's 2009 Final Rule unlawfully delisted wolves in Idaho and Montana from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Court held that it had no authority to decide that it would be more equitable to ignore Congress' instruction on how an endangered species must be protected so that the wolves could be taken under the states' management plans.

Stout v. U.S. Forest Service , 2011 WL 867775 (2011). Plaintiff ranch owners held permits to graze cattle within the Murderer's Creek Wild Horse Territory (WHT), an area in which the threatened Middle Columbia River steelhead was present. The Forest Service approved a wild horse management plan in the area, but failed to prepare a Biological Assessment (BA) beforehand. The Forest Service’s failure to comply with its duty under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA was arbitrary and capricious. The

U.S. v. Wilgus , --- F.3d ----, 2011 WL 1126059 (C.A.10 (Utah)). Defendant Wilgus, who was not a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe, was found with 137 eagle feathers during a routine traffic stop. The Court of Appeals found that the government's existing scheme for issuing eagle feather possession permits and enforcing the Eagle Act is the least restrictive means of forwarding the government's compelling interests.

People v. Hock , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2011 WL 1225699 (N.Y.City Crim.Ct.). Defendant was denied his motion to set aside convictions under New York animal cruelty statute. The Criminal Court, City of New York, held that the 90 day period for prosecuting a Class A misdemeanor had not been exceeded. It would be contrary to the purpose of the law and not promote justice to require that all four necessities be withheld for a conviction.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Missouri court holds that humane society had no third-party liability based on alleged breach of duty to test dog for vicious propensities or warn defendant of risks in adopting dog who has bitten in the past. Miles ex rel. Miles v. Rich , --- S.W.3d ----, 2011 WL 1564030 (Mo.App. E.D.).   


April, 2011

People v. Curtis , --- N.E.2d ----, 2011 WL 670084 (Ill.App. 2 Dist.). Defendant owned five cats and housed 82 feral cats in her home. The Appellate Court held that the statute requiring animal owners to provide humane care and treatment contained sufficiently definite standards for unbiased application, and that a person of ordinary intelligence would consider defendant's conduct toward her pet cat to be inhumane.

Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue Inc. v. Pennsylvania SPCA , 2011 WL 605697 (2011) (Slip Copy). Plaintiff dog rescue received a shipment of dogs from a North Carolina animal shelter which were seized by Pennsylvania SPCA. Plaintiff filed this action, alleging malicious prosecution, abuse of process, a claim that both §§ 459-209(b) and 459-603(c) are unconstitutional, and damages for defamation and “derogatory publication.” The court dismissed all claims except for those relating to the Pennsylvania Dog Law.

State v. Kuenzi , 2011 WL 659380 (2011) (publication decision pending). Defendants 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.”

Dog Law Case of the Month

Son visiting parents' house had no duty to restrain pit bull involved in attack on pedestrian absent any evidence showing he possessed or controlled the dog. Muela v. Gomez , --- S.W.3d ----, 2011 WL 648940 (Tex.App.-El Paso). 


March, 2011

Pearson v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture , Slip Copy, 2011 WL 559083, (C.A.6,2011) (unpublished). Petitioner sought review of the decision and order of the Secretary of the USDA, terminating his license to own and exhibit wild animals (82 lions, tigers, and bears), issuing a cease and desist order, and imposing civil sanctions in the amount of $93,975 in violation of the AWA.  

U.S. v. Braddock , Slip Copy, 2011 WL 327416 (C.A.4 (S.C.),2011) (unpublished). Defendant-appellants appealed their convictions following guilty pleas to offenses relating to illegal cockfighting and gambling activities. Appellants contend that district court should have dismissed the indictment or granted leave to obtain discovery because they, as Caucasians, were prosecuted federally, while two Hispanic co-conspirators and thirty-six Hispanic people arrested in connection with another cockfighting ring in Hampton County faced only state charges. 

Rosenfeld v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Mendon , 78 Mass.App.Ct. 677, --- N.E.2d ----, 2011 WL 242734 (Mass.App.Ct.,2011). A zoning board granted landowner’s application for a special permit, and neighbor property owners appealed. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts held that defendant’s proposed use of land for horse stables fit within the agricultural use exception of the zoning ordinance and by-laws, and that plaintiffs had standing to enforce a deed restriction on defendant’s property.  

Dog Law Case of the Month

Florida Court of Appeal invalidates Broward County dangerous dog ordinance that conflicts with state law. Hoesch v. Broward County , --- So.3d ----, 2011 WL 408882 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.,2011).


February, 2011

McDougall v. Lamm (unpublished) , Not Reported in 2010 WL 5018258 (N.J.,2010). Plaintiff witnessed her dog be killed by Defendant's dog. The  court held that Plaintiff’s damages were limited to her dog's “intrinsic” monetary value or its replacement cost. Plaintiff was not entitled to compensation for the emotional distress she experienced in witnessing the attack.

State v. Mita , --- P.3d ----, 2010 WL 5483427 (Haw., 2010). Defendant, an owner of two dogs was charged with animal nuisance. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the district court. On certiorari, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, finding that the definition of animal nuisance in section 7-2.2 does not create an additional essential element of the offense; and, second, the definition of "animal nuisance" is consistent with its commonly understood meaning.

State v. Murphy , --- A.3d ----, 2010 WL 5353130 (Me.,2010). Defendant appeals her convictions two counts of cruelty to animals. The appellate found each of her five claims frivolous, and instead directed its inquiry as to whether the trial court correctly refused recusal at defendant's request. This court found that the trial court acted with "commendable restraint and responsible concern for Murphy's fundamental rights," especially in light of defendant's outbursts and provocations. 


January, 2011

Eckhart v. Department of Agriculture , --- A.3d ----, 2010 WL 4596316 (Pa.Cmwlth.). 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 (in excess of $150,000) were not excessive or unreasonable.

Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch, L.L.C. v. Lange , --- S.W.3d ----, 2010 WL 4751676 (Mo.App. E.D.). A Missouri statute places liability on a dog owner where such dog kills or maims a sheep or "other domestic animal" of another. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, disagreed with the trial court, finding that "domestic" should have been interpreted by the "plain meaning" of the word, which therefore includes Oak Creek’s breeder deer.

People v. Peters , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2010 WL 4977555 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.,2010). A veterinarian was convicted of animal cruelty and sentenced to three years of probation based upon his alleged unjustifiable failure under Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 to provide a mare and her foal with necessary sustenance, food and drink. 

Wrinkle v. Norman , --- P.3d ----, 2010 WL 4539371 (Kan.App.,2010). Wrinkle filed a negligence action against his neighbors (the Normans) for injuries stemming from an incident where he was trying to herd cattle he thought belonged to the Normans back into a pen on the Normans' property. The court found that Wrinkle could not meet the burden under his K.S.A. 47-123 claim that the Normans are liable for cattle running at large. 

Dog Law Case of the Month

Absentee landlord's monthly visit to rental house where he rarely saw dog was insufficient to establish strict liability. Sarno v. Kelly , --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 78 A.D.3d 1157, 2010 WL 4907736 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.).


December, 2010

Animal Welfare Institute v. Martin, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 4104633 (C.A.1 (Me.),2010) . Animal welfare organizations sued the State of Maine under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to stop the authorization of trapping activity that affected Canada lynx.

Habitat for Horses v. Salazar, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 4151863 (S.D.N.Y.,2010) . Plaintiffs assert that the BLM’s decision to remove 60 wild horses from the North Piceance Herd Area violates the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, NEPA, the Information Quality Act, and the FLPMA. 

Humane Soc. of U.S. v. Locke, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 4723195 (C.A.9 (Or.),2010) . The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) authorized several states to kill California sea lions under section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which allows the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds. 

Dog Law Case of the Month

Plaintiff approaching injured dog did not constitute provocation, but is relevant to comparative fault in Louisiana dog bite case. Smegal v. Gettys, --- So.3d ----, 2010 WL 4272594 (La.App. 1 Cir.,2010) .       


November, 2010

Carpenters Indus. Council v. Salazar, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 3447243(D.D.C.) . Plaintiffs, Carpenters Industrial Council, among several, averred that the FWS, in designating the owl as a "threatened species," violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the ESA, and the Administrative Procedure Act. 

WildEarth Guardians v. Salazar, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 3832061 (D.D.C.,2010) . Plaintiff, WildEarth Guardians, brought this action against Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, seeking judicial review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final agency actions pertaining to the Utah prairie dog.

Renzo v. Idaho State Dept. of Agr., --- P.3d ----, 2010 WL 3855338 (Idaho,2010) . A tiger habitat developer sued the Idaho State Department of Agriculture under the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA) for breach of ordinary care in refusing to grant exotic animal possession and propagation permits and for intentional interference with developer's prospective economic advantage. 

State v. DeMarco, --- A.3d ----, 2010 WL 3860400 (Conn.App.,2010) . Defendant appeals his conviction of two counts of cruelty to animals—specifically, cruelty to several dogs found within his home. Evidence supporting the conviction came from a warrantless entry into defendant's home after police found it necessary to do a "welfare check" based on an overflowing mailbox, 10-day notices on the door, and a "horrible odor" emanating from the home.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Texas dog attack law held constitutional because it requires at least a "reckless" mental state. State v. Taylor, --- S.W.3d ----, 2010 WL 3023282 (Tex.App.-Texarkana,2010) .     


October, 2010

Modesto Irr. Dist. v. Gutierrez, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 3274499 (C.A.9 (Cal.)). Plaintiffs contended that, in listing the steelhead as "threatened" under the ESA, the NMFS violated both the ESA and APA. Plaintiffs averred that listing the steelhead as a distinct species under the ESA violated the Act because the steelhead and rainbow trout interbreed.

Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink, 2010 WL 3420012 (C.A.9 (Idaho)) . Plaintiff environmental advocacy organization sued the BLM for revisions to nationwide grazing regulations for federal lands, arguing that the revisions violated the ESA, NEPA, and FLPMA. The Court held that BLM violated NEPA by failing to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the proposed changes, and violated the ESA by failing to consult with FWS before approving the revisions. 

Gromer v. Matchett, --- S.W.3d ----, 2010 WL 3467727 (Mo.App. S.D.) . Defendant-farmer appeals an award to plaintiff-motorist, whose vehicle was struck by another vehicle after a horse coming from defendant's farm collided with the first vehicle. Defendant asserts that the Stock Law was inappropriately applied where he did not own the livestock in question.  

People v. Romano, 2010 WL 3339158 (N.Y.Sup.App.Term,2010) . Defendant argued that the term “unjustifiably injures” in the anti-cruelty statute was unconstitutionally vague. The Court held a person could readily comprehend that he or she must refrain from causing unjustifiable injury by failing to groom a pet for several months and seeking medical care when clear, objective signs are present that the animal needs such care.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Landlord's knowledge of a pit bull's vicious propensity prior to lease agreement does not give rise to premises liability in dog bite case. Morehead v. Deitrich, 932 N.E.2d 1272 (Ind.App.,2010) .


September, 2010

Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 3084194 (D.Mont.,2010) . Twelve parties challenged the final ruling to delist the Rocky Mountain gray wolf species arguing that the decision violates the ESA by only partially protecting a listed population.

Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Lyder, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 3023652 (D.Mont.). Plaintiffs challenge the FWS' 2009 designation of approximately 39,000 sq. miles of critical habitat for the distinct population segment of the Canada lynx.  

State ex rel. Humane Society of Missouri v. Beetem, --- S.W.3d ----, 2010 WL 3167457 (Mo.App. W.D.,2010) . The "Missourians for Protection of Dogs" ("MPD") advocated a statewide ballot measure to enact a new statutory provision to be known as the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." One taxpaying Missouri citizen subsequently filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief, challenging the ballot measure's summary statement as being "insufficient and unfair." 

Dog Law Case of the Month

N.C. court reiterates that N.C. state courts have found that, "Rottweilers are aggressive by nature and that it might be negligent not to keep them restrained."   Harris v. Barefoot, 2010 WL 3001399 (N.C.App.) .  


August, 2010

Fabrikant v. French, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 2774043 (N.D.N.Y.) . Reacting to complaints, defendants Ulster County SPCA, executed a search warrant resulting in Fabrikant's arrest and seizure of thirteen of her fifteen animals. Plaintiff subsequently asserted that her federal constitutional rights were violated during the course of her criminal prosecution for animal cruelty.

Forest Guardians v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 2674990 (C.A.10 (N.M.)) . Forest Guardians contend on appeal that the USFWS violated section 10(j) of the ESA by releasing captive-bred Falcons within an area not wholly separated geographically from an already-existing Falcon population.  

U.S. v. Apollo Energies, Inc., --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 2600502 (C.A.10 (Kan.)) . Apollo Energies, Inc. and Dale Walker were charged with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act after an agent with the USFWS discovered dead migratory birds lodged in each appellant's "heater-treater," a piece of equipment used in the course of appellants' Kansas oil drilling businesses, on several occasions.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Finger protruding through hole in chain-link fence does not constitute "implied consent" for entry under dog bite strict liability law. Sligar v. Odell, --- P.3d ----, 2010 WL 2674037 (Wash.App. Div. 1).  


July, 2010

Conservation Force v. Salazar, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 2244122 (D.D.C.) . Plaintiffs contend that the Secretary failed to: (1) make a twelve-month finding as to the status of the Canadian Wood Bison and (2) process Plaintiffs’ applications to import bison hunting trophies.

Zuckerman v. Coastal Camps, Inc., --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 2301145 (D.Me.) . Twelve-year old Samantha Zuckerman sustained injuries when she fell from the pony she was riding during a horseback riding lesson. This Court agreed with the Magistrate that the record raises a genuine issue of material fact concerning the “faulty tack" exception. 

Moore v. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc., --- N.E.2d ----, 2010 WL 2266081 (Ill.App. 1 Dist.) . Plaintiffs aver that defendants PETA, Diane Opresnik, John Keene, and Mary DePaolo defamed them by stating that the plaintiff-dog trainer placed a shock device on a dog's genitals and allegedly shocked it.

State v. Spade, --- S.E.2d ----, 2010 WL 2243519 (W.Va.) . In 2006, appellant was charged with one count of animal cruelty after 149 dogs were seized from her rescue shelter. The court found that the plaintiff was entitled to a restitution hearing to determine the actual reasonable costs incurred in providing care, medical treatment, and provisions to the animals seized.

Dog Law Case of the Month

Conn. Appellate Court reaffirms Conn. Supreme Court holding that a negligence cause of action can exist against a landlord who is not the owner or keeper of a dog that bites. Giacalone v. Housing Authority of Town of Wallingford, --- A.2d ----, 122 Conn.App. 120, 2010 WL 2365559 (Conn.App.) .


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