Justia Animal / Dog Law Opinion Summaries

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This case involved a premises liability claim brought by a visitor against landlords for an injury caused by the tenants’ dog. The question was whether the landlords, Ernesto and Teri Hernandez, owed a duty to petitioner Maria Saralegui Blanco. The tenants, David Gonzalez Sandoval, Alexandra Barajas Gonzalez, and Elvia Sandoval, rented single family home owned by the landlords. While visiting the home, Saralegui Blanco was attacked and bitten by the tenants’ dog. Saralegui Blanco sued, alleging the tenants and landlords were negligent and liable for her injuries. The trial court dismissed the claims against the landlords on summary judgment. The Washington Supreme Court granted direct review and affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, dismissing Saralegui Blanco’s premises liability claim against the landlords: petitioner failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact that the landlords possessed the land, retained control over the premises or the dog, or created a dangerous condition. View "Saralegui Blanco v. Gonzalez Sandoval" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court directing the Sully County sheriff to euthanize two dogs owned by Appellants as "vicious animals" under S.D. Codified Laws 7-12-29, holding that the circuit court did not err.Appellants dogs attacked another dog, which died a few days later from internal injuries and complications fraud an infection caused by the attack. The City of Onida filed a petition for declaratory judgment requesting that Appellants' dogs be determined vicious animals under a city ordinance and, alternatively, sought a determination of dangerousness under section 7-12-29 and requested an order allowing the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs. The circuit court concluded that the City could not require the dogs to be euthanized under the ordnance but found that the dogs were dangerous under the statute and authorized the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that any error on the part of the circuit court in failing to require consultation with the Department of Health as part of its formal determination of dangerousness was harmless. View "City Of Onida v. Brandt" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over whether a landlord was liable for harm caused by his tenants' dog the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Landlord, holding that Plaintiff failed to show that a genuine issue of material fact existed for trial.A seven-year-old boy was bitten by a dog owned by tenants of Landlord's property. Plaintiff brought this complaint against Landlord seeking to recover for the boy's injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Landlord, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was insufficient evidence to support a claim that Landlord knew that the dog posed a danger before it bit the boy; and (2) therefore, Landlord was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Curlee v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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In this animal seizure case, the Supreme Court denied a writ of procedendo to compel Respondent, Willoughby Municipal Court Judge Marisa Cornachio, to enter a final judgment regarding a magistrate's probable cause finding in an animal seizure case, holding that the case was moot.Relators commenced this action to compel Judge Cornachio to issue a final judgment in the seizure case. Judge Cornachio subsequently issued a judgment entry in the seizure case. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that because Judge Cornachio provided the relief that Relators sought in procedendo and because procedendo will not compel the performance of a duty that has already been performed, the case was moot. View "State ex rel. Bechtel v. Cornachio" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of defendant in an action brought by plaintiff, seeking injunctive relief under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff, who survived years of abuse, obtained Aspen as a service dog to help her cope with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative identity disorder (DID), anxiety, and depression. Because enrolling in a full training course to provide Aspen with formal certification was not a viable option for plaintiff, she began self-training Aspen to perform specific tasks she thought would ameliorate her disability and decrease her isolation. In the underlying suit, plaintiff challenged Del Amo's practice of denying admission to Aspen as a violation of Title III of the ADA and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act.The panel held that the district court erred by effectively imposing a certification requirement for plaintiff's dog to be qualified as a service animal under the ADA. The panel held that the ADA prohibits certification requirements for qualifying service dogs for three reasons: (1) the ADA defines a service dog functionally, without reference to specific training requirements; (2) Department of Justice regulations, rulemaking commentary, and guidance have consistently rejected a formal certification requirement; and (3) allowing a person with a disability to self-train a service animal furthers the stated goals of the ADA, for other training could be prohibitively expensive. The panel remanded for the district court to reconsider whether Aspen was a qualified service dog at the time of trial, and if Aspen is a service dog, whether Del Amo has proved its affirmative defense of fundamental alteration. View "C. L. v. Del Amo Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Foster Farms for its allegedly misleading labels and against American Humane for its allegedly negligent certification. The Court of Appeal concluded that it need not decide whether there are triable issues of fact that would defeat summary judgment. Rather, the court concluded that plaintiff has not pleaded a viable cause of action against either defendant. The court concluded that plaintiff's claims against Foster Farms are barred by federal preemption. In this case, plaintiff's direct causes of action against Foster Farms is based on the premise that its labels' inclusion of the American Humane Certified logo was itself misleading, because the chicken was not treated in a manner that an objectively reasonable consumer would consider humane. The court concluded that these causes of action are barred by the doctrine of federal preemption, based on the express preemption clause of the Poultry and Poultry Products Inspection Act. The court also concluded that the negligent certification claim against American Humane is not viable in the absence of physical injury. View "Leining v. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant John Huckabay appealed his criminal conviction of felony unlawful possession of a moose. A couple heard a gunshot as they were packing up to leave their cabin by Mica Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene in October 2014. They encountered a large truck with a cow moose hoisted in the back on a metal frame. A man beside the truck introduced himself as John Huckabay. At their inquiry, Huckabay told the couple he had a tag for the moose. The driver, still in the truck, introduced himself as “Bob” later identified as Bob Cushman, a local butcher and the owner of the vehicle. As the couple departed, the wife looked up Idaho’s moose hunting season on her phone. Concerned of a potential hunting violation, the couple proceeded to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (“IDFG”) regional office where they reported the shooting of an antlerless moose by a man named Huckabay. While Huckabay did not give the IDFG officers information about Cushman or details about who specifically shot the moose, Huckabay accompanied a third officer to the area where the moose had been killed. Officers obtained Cushman’s address and visited his residence. With Cushman’s permission, the officers checked inside a walk-in cooler on the premises and found a skinned and quartered cow moose, which lacked the requisite tag. The officers also noted that the carcass was still “very warm,” showing it had only recently been placed in Cushman’s cooler. A grand jury indicted Huckabay for felony unlawful killing or possession of a moose. Huckabay moved to dismiss his indictment, arguing the evidence was insufficient to establish probable cause and the indictment lacked essential elements of the crime. He also filed additional motions to challenge a lack of jurisdiction. Each of these issues hinged on his argument that the plain language of Idaho Code section 36-1404(c)(3) required more than one animal to warrant a felony charge. The district court denied Huckabay’s motions, finding that the indictment was sufficient to establish probable cause that Huckabay possessed the moose even if there was insufficient evidence to establish he killed the moose in question. The Idaho Supreme Court concurred with the district court that Idaho Code section 36-1401(c)(3) could plainly apply to the unlawful killing, possessing, or wasting of a single animal, and affirmed Huckabay's conviction. View "Idaho v. Huckabay" on Justia Law

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Defendant Christina Fay appealed her convictions on seventeen counts of cruelty to animals. The Wolfeboro Police Department executed a search warrant at defendant’s residence in June 2017 with the aid of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and others, pursuant to which over seventy Great Danes were seized. One of defendant's employees informed the police that there were seventy-eight dogs living at the residence. She stated that the dogs rarely went outside and were not housebroken, and that the residence was covered in animal waste. She reported that the dogs only received water when they were let outside, but that it was not uncommon for the dogs to remain inside for an entire weekend. She also stated that the dogs were fed spoiled meat, and that many vomited often, were underweight, and had liquid stool. In addition, the employee stated that there were riding crops located throughout the house to break up fights among the dogs, and that one dog would bite anyone other than defendant who got near it. Because police did not have resources to execute a search warrant and seizing seventy-eight dogs, HSUS was called to assist in the search. Every member of the police department, the Wolfeboro Fire Department, members of the ambulance team, employees from other town agencies, and staff from HSUS and the Pope Memorial SPCA, executed the warrant on June 16, 2017. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence seized as a result of the search, arguing, among other things, that HSUS’s involvement violated her right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. After a hearing, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion. Defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "New Hampshire v. Fay" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey was at home in York County, Pennsylvania with his daughter, young grandson, and their pet dog, Ace, a seven-year-old Rottweiler/Labrador Retriever mix. Jeffrey opened the door to let Ace outside, unaware that Trooper Corrie and other officers were swarming his property to serve an arrest warrant on an armed robbery suspect believed to be living there. Corrie heard Trooper Drum yell “whoa” several times, prompting Corrie “to turn around.” He saw a large dog coming toward him, “already mid-leap, within an arm’s reach.” Ace “was showing teeth, and growling in an aggressive manner.” Corrie says he “backpedaled to create distance,” and Ace circled around him, “attempt[ing] to attack.” Corrie “believe[s] there was another snarl,” and he fired a shot. Ace “began to come after [him] again.” Corrie fired a second shot and then a third. The dog yelped, ran to Jeffrey, and died within minutes. Trooper Drum stated that Ace had behaved aggressively. The family did not witness the incident.The family sued Corrie, claiming unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Corrie. The use of deadly force against a household pet is reasonable if the pet poses an imminent threat to the officer’s safety, viewed from the perspective of an objectively reasonable officer. Unrebutted testimony established that Act aggressively charged at Corrie, growled, and showed his teeth, as though about to attack. View "Bletz v. Corrie" on Justia Law

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In 144 years of the Kentucky Derby, only one horse to cross the finish line first had been disqualified. No winning horse had ever been disqualified for misconduct during the race itself. In 2019, at the 145th Derby, “Maximum Security,” the horse that finished first, was not declared the winner. He would come in last, based on the stewards’ call that Maximum Security committed fouls by impeding the progress of other horses. His owners, the Wests, were not awarded the Derby Trophy, an approximate $1.5 million purse, and potentially far greater financial benefits from owning a stallion that won the Derby.They filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the individual stewards, the individual members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, an independent state agency, and the Commission, claiming that the regulation that gave the stewards authority to disqualify Maximum Security is unconstitutionally vague.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The decision to disqualify Maximum Security was not a “final order[] of an agency” under KRS 13B.140(1) and is not subject to judicial review. The owners had no constitutionally-protected right. Kentucky law provides that “the conduct of horse racing, or the participation in any way in horse racing, . . . is a privilege and not a personal right; and ... may be granted or denied by the racing commission or its duly approved representatives.” View "West v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission" on Justia Law