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Tenant Marie Johnson appealed a trial court’s conclusion that she violated two material terms of her residential rental agreement: a “no-smoking” policy and a “no pets” policy. After review of the trial court record, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed based on the no-pets violation: the court did not err in concluding that tenant was not entitled to a reasonable accommodation for a specific emotional support animal. The record reflected that the landlord approved tenant’s request for an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation, but did not approve of “Dutchess” as the specific animal because of the dog’s hostility, complaints from other residents, and tenant’s inability to restrain the dog. Given this holding, the Court did not address whether the trial court erred in finding that tenant violated the no-smoking policy. View "Gill Terrace Retirement Apartments, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Animal Welfare Act's (AWA), 7 U.S.C. 2133, compliance demonstration requirement does not unambiguously preclude USDA's license renewal scheme and the scheme is not facially unreasonable. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit challenging the USDA's most recent renewal of a license for animal exhibitors (Cricket Hollow Zoo), alleging that, at the time of the renewal, the agency was aware that Cricket Hollow was in violation of numerous animal welfare requirements under the Act and its implementing regulations. The DC Circuit held that the agency's renewal scheme was consistent with the demonstration requirement in section 2133. Because the agency's decision to renew the Cricket Hollow Zoo license was made in compliance with that regulatory scheme, it was not inconsistent with the Act. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment on the statutory claim; vacated the district court's order granting the Government's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' arbitrary and capricious claim; and remanded to the district court with instructions to remand the record to the agency for further proceedings. View "Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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Under Chicago’s 2014 “puppy mill” ordinance, pet retailers in the city “may offer for sale only those dogs, cats, or rabbits” obtained from an animal control or care center, pound, or kennel operated by local, state, or federal government or “a humane society or rescue organization.” Plaintiffs challenged the ordinance as exceeding the city’s home-rule powers and the implied limits on state power imposed by the Commerce Clause. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case. The Illinois Constitution permits home-rule units like Chicago to regulate animal control and welfare concurrently with the state. The ordinance does not discriminate against interstate commerce, even in mild practical effect, so it requires no special cost-benefit justification under the Commerce Clause. The court found that the ordinance survives rational-basis review, noting the city’s concerns that large mill-style breeders are notorious for deplorable conditions and abusive breeding practices, including overbreeding, inbreeding, crowded and filthy living conditions, lack of appropriate socialization, and inadequate food, water, and veterinary care, causing pets to develop health and behavioral problems, creating economic and emotional burdens for pet owners and imposing financial costs on the city as owners abandon their pets. View "Park Pet Shop, Inc. v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity against a trooper who shot and killed plaintiff's dog when the dog ran onto a highway and obstructed traffic. The court held that the issue was not whether the trooper had the authority to seize the dog, but whether the degree of force he employed was reasonable to accomplish the necessary seizure. In this case, the trooper's actions were objectively reasonable under the circumstances and he was entitled to qualified immunity. Even assuming a constitutional violation, the trooper was entitled to qualified immunity because his conduct did not violate a clearly established Fourth Amendment right. Plaintiff has not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that an officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he shot and killed an unrestrained, unsupervised dog creating a serious risk to public safety and avoiding numerous attempts to control him without force. View "Hansen v. Black" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs in an action challenging California Health and Safety Code 25982. Section 25982 bans the sale of products made from force-fed birds, such as foie gras. The panel held that section 25982 is not expressly preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), because the PPIA prohibited states from imposing "ingredient requirements" that were "in addition to, or different than" the federal law. In this case, the ordinary meaning of "ingredient" and the purpose and scope of the PPIA together made clear that "ingredient requirements" pertain to the physical components that comprise a poultry product, not animal husbandry or feeding practices. The panel also held that the PPIA impliedly preempted section 25982 under the doctrines of field and obstacle preemption. Accordingly, the panel vacated the district court's permanent injunction and remanded for further proceedings. View "Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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The Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits arbitrary discrimination in public accommodations with respect to trained service dogs, but not to service-dogs-in-training. The Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendants in an action alleging violation of the Unruh Act, violation of the Disabled Persons Act, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff claimed that Fortune, the owner and operator of a chain of Seafood City markets, illegally denied him service when he tried to enter two different stores with his service dog. The court held that defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the Unruh Act claim because plaintiff did not offer any evidence, let alone substantial evidence, that his dog was a fully trained service animal at the time. The court also held that "persons authorized to train service dogs" under the DPA means any person who is credentialed to do so by virtue of their education or experience, and plaintiff failed to make this showing. Finally, defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the emotional distress claims because there was no evidence that defendants intended to cause plaintiff any emotional distress. View "Miller v. Fortune Commercial Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, visited the Cherokee Bear Zoo. Plaintiffs observed bear pits containing four bears, identified by signs as grizzly bears. The pits were compact and made entirely of concrete. Each pit had a small pool of water, but neither had any vegetation nor any shade. Plaintiffs observed the bears in listless form, pacing and begging for food. Patrons fed the bears apples and dry bread sold by the Zoo. Plaintiffs brought a citizen suit, alleging that the Zoo’s practice of keeping the bears in the described living conditions constituted a “tak[ing]” of and possession of a taken threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1). Plaintiffs’ argued that the Zoo’s conduct is a form of “harass[ment]” of, and “harm” to, its bears. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s rulings in favor of Plaintiffs on the issues of standing and the bears’ status as protected but vacated the court’s ruling against Plaintiffs on the issue of whether the Zoo is committing an unlawful taking. To establish harassment, Plaintiffs must prove that the Zoo’s husbandry practices fall within 50 C.F.R. 17.3’s definition of harass and that those practices do not fall within the enumerated exclusion. The district court did not reach the first issue and improperly declined to ask whether the Zoo’s animal husbandry practices are “generally accepted.” View "Hill v. Coggins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Kathleen Swigart and defendant Carl Bruno participated in an organized endurance horseback riding event with approximately 47 other riders. Swigart was in the lead and had dismounted at a required checkpoint along the course. There was no dispute that Bruno's horse struck Swigart while she was standing on the ground, injuring her. Swigart sued Bruno, alleging causes of action for negligence, reckless or intentional misconduct, and having an animal with a dangerous propensity. The trial court granted Bruno's motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals concluded the doctrine of primary assumption of risk barred Swigart's cause of action for negligence, and that Swigart did not meet her burden of establishing a genuine issue of material fact as to Bruno's alleged recklessness or Bruno's horse's alleged propensity for danger. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Swigart v. Bruno" on Justia Law

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The Animal Welfare Act does not directly address license renewal but does expressly authorize the USDA to promulgate and implement its own renewal standards. PETA filed suit challenging the license renewal process for animal exhibitors promulgated by the USDA through which the USDA may renew such license despite a licensee's noncompliance with the Act. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the USDA's Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court agreed with the Eleventh Circuit that the Act's licensing regulations embody a reasonable accommodation of the conflicting policy interests Congress has delegated to the USDA and were entitled to Chevron deference. View "PETA v. USDA" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant did not comply with the statutes, rules and regulations governing Block Management Area (BMA) hunting, he did not have permission to hunt and harvest game at Skytop Ranch BMA, thus violating Mont. Code Ann. 87-6-415(1). Defendant was convicted of hunting without landowner permission in violation of section 87-6-415(1). The conviction stemmed from Defendant’s act of harvesting a cow elk without first obtaining permission to hunt at Skytop Ranch BMA. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss, arguing that by participating in The Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks’ Block Management Program, Skytop Ranch statutorily gave its permission for the public to hunt on its property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that by violating the use restrictions for private property enrolled in the Block Management Program, Defendant violated section 87-6-415(1). View "State v. McGregor" on Justia Law