Justia Animal / Dog Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff, as administratrix of the estate of her late husband, filed a complaint against Monroe County alleging negligence in performing statutory duties, thereby allowing vicious dogs to remain at large, and wrongful death. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the County based upon the court’s conclusion that the evidence was insufficient to establish a disputed issue of material fact in relation to the special relationship exception to the public duty doctrine. The court then entered, sua sponte, an order summarily dismissing all of Plaintiff’s remaining claims against the County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because there was disputed evidence on each of the factors required to establish the special relationship exception to the public duty doctrine, the the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to the County; and (2) because the summary judgment order upon which the dismissal order was apparently based was dismissed, likewise, the circuit court’s dismissal order is vacated. View "Bowden v. Monroe County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review to determine the applicability of La. R.S. 9:2795.3, the Equine Immunity Statute. The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Equest Farm, LLC, finding that the immunity statute applied because plaintiff Danielle Larson was a participant engaged in equine activity at the time an Equest Farm pony bit her. The court of appeal reversed, holding that Larson was not a “participant” under the immunity statute, and that summary judgment was inappropriate because there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether another provision in the immunity statute might apply. The Supreme Court held that there were indeed genuine issues of material fact on the issue of whether the immunity statute applied. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the court of appeal and remanded to the trial court. View "Larson v. XYZ Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, individuals who breed and sell animals, filed the underlying action in district court, challenging a 2012 rule in which the Fish and Wildlife Service designated as injurious four species of snakes. At issue on appeal was the shipment clause in the Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C. 42(a)(1), which bars "any shipment" of certain injurious species of animals "between the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any possession of the United States." Plaintiffs argued that the Service lacks authority under the Lacey Act to prohibit transportation of the listed species between the 49 continental States. The court agreed with the district court that the shipment clause has no bearing on shipments of animals from one of the 49 continental States to another. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs. View "U.S. Assoc. of Reptile Keepers v. Zinke" on Justia Law

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Amy Canney’s minor child, Nicholai, was bitten by a dog kept by Eric Burns, a neighbor who performed on-call maintenance work on properties owned by Strathglass Holdings, Inc. Canney filed a complaint on behalf of Nicholai against Strathglass, claiming that Burns was at all pertinent times the agent, servant or employee of Strathglass and was maintaining the property for the benefit of Strathglass. The superior court granted summary judgment for Strathglass, concluding that Burns was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the dog bite. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) neither Burns’s acts or omissions nor Nicholai’s presence on his premises were related to Burns’s employment or agency with Strathglass, and therefore, summary judgment on Canney’s respondent superior claims was proper; and (2) Canney’s complaint failed to allege a theory of direct liability against Strathglass, and she offered no evidence that would support a direct claim of negligence against Strathglass. View "Canney v. Strathglass Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging New York City's "Sourcing Law," which requires that pet shops sell only animals acquired from breeders holding a Class A license issued under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq. Plaintiffs also challenged the "Spay/Neuter Law," which requires that pet shops sterilize each animal before releasing it to a consumer. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that the AWA does not preempt the Sourcing Law and rejected plaintiffs' arguments to the contrary as meritless; under the balancing test of Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., the court concluded that the Sourcing Law does not discriminate against interstate commerce; because the Sourcing Law imposed no incidental burdens on interstate commerce, it cannot impose any that are clearly excessive in relation to its local benefits, and therefore survived scrutiny under the dormant Commerce Clause; and the Spay/Neuter Law was not preempted under New York law governing veterinary medicine, animal cruelty, or business. The court explained that the laws at issue addressed problems of significant importance to the City and its residents; it appeared that the City has enforced them for more than a year, with no apparent ill effects; and the challenged laws were not preempted by either state or federal law, and do not offend the Commerce Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "New York Pet Welfare Association v. New York City" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a quarter horse trainer, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition for a writ of administrative mandamus. Specifically, petitioner challenges a license suspension and fine imposed upon him by the Board after finding that he violated regulations, California Code of Regulations, title 4, section 1844, subdivision (e)(9), by racing horses medicated with a drug, Clenbuterol, that the Board had temporarily suspended from authorized use. The court concluded that the Board's interpretation of the regulation at the time it extended or reenacted the Clenbuterol ban and in the instant litigation is not entitled to deference because the Board has vacillated. The court explained that, after considering the regulation's text and history, a temporary suspension of authorized use of a particular substance under section 1844.1 may not be extended beyond 12 months through reenactment or extension of the temporary suspension. Therefore, the allegations against and findings of regulatory violations by plaintiff had no legal basis, and the penalties imposed upon him were equally invalid. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment. View "De La Torre v. California Horse Racing Board" on Justia Law

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Big Cats of Serenity Springs was a Colorado-based non-profit that provided housing, food, and veterinary care for exotic animals. The facility was regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Three APHIS inspectors accompanied by sheriff’s deputies broke into the Big Cats facility without its permission to perform an unannounced inspection of two tiger cubs. But at the time the inspectors entered the facility, the cubs were at a veterinarian’s office receiving treatment, just as Big Cats had promised the APHIS inspectors the previous day. Big Cats and its directors sued the APHIS inspectors for the unauthorized entry pursuant to "Bivens v. Six Unknown Narcotics Agents," (403 U.S. 388 (1971)) and 42 U.S.C. 1983, asserting the entry was an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied the APHIS inspectors’ motion to dismiss the complaint and they filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the court’s failure to grant qualified immunity. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. Big Cats’ complaint stated a claim for relief under "Bivens." No APHIS inspector would reasonably have believed unauthorized forcible entry of the Big Cats facility was permissible, and therefore Big Cats and its directors could have a claim for violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search. But the Court reversed on Big Cats’ civil rights claim because the federal inspectors were not liable under section 1983 in the circumstances here. View "Big Cats of Serenity Springs v. Vilsack" on Justia Law

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Neita formerly owned and operated a dog-grooming business and rescue shelter. In 2012, he went to Chicago’s Department of Animal Care and Control to surrender a dog that had killed another dog and a dog that had become ill after whelping puppies. Travis, an Animal Control employee, called the police. Officers arrested and searched Neita, then searched his vehicle, and his business premises. Neita was charged with animal cruelty and 13 counts of violating an animal owner’s duties under Illinois law. He was found not guilty on all counts. After his acquittal, Neita suedTravis, the officers, and the city. The judge dismissed the federal claims, holding that Neita not adequately pled any constitutional violation and relinquished supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claims. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding the complaint’s allegations sufficient to state 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims for false arrest and illegal searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Neita alleged that he surrendered two dogs, neither of which showed signs of abuse or neglect, and was arrested without any evidence that he had mistreated either dog. If these allegations are true, no reasonable person would have cause to believe that Neita had abused or neglected an animal. View "Neita v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, walking her brown labrador retriever, “Dog,” encountered a gray and white pit bull running loose, which lunged at Dog’s neck. The dogs began to fight. Neighbors unsuccessfully tried to separate them. Plaintiff dropped Dog’s leash so that Dog could defend himself. Officer Davis, driving to a burglary call, received a report that a pit bull was attacking another dog at a corner along his route. Davis pulled over and trained his spotlight on the dogs. Plaintiff, who was crying, identified herself and described Dog. Davis has a form of colorblindness that makes it difficult for him to distinguish certain colors, but had not informed his employer of his condition. Davis shot at what he thought was the aggressor. The dogs separated. Dog limped toward plaintiff, who cried that Davis had shot her dog. Davis then aimed at the pit bull and fired several times. The pit bull left the scene. Dog died as a result of the gunshot wound. From the time Davis had arrived until the time he fired his seventh shot, about two minutes elapsed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed a verdict in favor of Davis in a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging unconstitutional seizure of Dog. The court upheld a conclusion that Davis had not committed discovery violations and the court’s rejection of plaintiffs’ proffered Fourth Amendment reasonableness analysis jury instruction. View "Saathoff v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Defendant Amanda Newcomb was convicted of second-degree animal neglect after she failed to adequately feed her dog, Juno, resulting in his malnourishment. Before trial, defendant moved to suppress blood test results showing that Juno had no medical condition that would have caused him to be malnourished, which in turn indicated that Juno was malnourished because he was starving. Defendant argued that the state had violated both Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, and the Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution by failing to obtain a warrant before testing the dog’s blood. The trial court denied the motion and allowed the state to introduce the test results during trial. Defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals, which agreed with defendant that she had a protected privacy interest in her dog’s blood that required the state to obtain a search warrant, unless the circumstances fit within an exception to the warrant requirement, and reversed. The Supreme Court concluded defendant had no privacy interest in the dog's blood under the State or federal constitutions, and reversed. View "Oregon v. Newcomb" on Justia Law