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Hoarding: Related Cases

Case Name Citation Summary
Cat Champion Corp. v. Jean Marie Primrose   149 P.3d 1276 (Or. Ct. App. 2006)   A woman had 11 cats which were in a state of neglect and were taken away from her and put with a cat protection agency. Criminal charges were dropped against the woman when it was found she was mentally ill and incapable of taking care of herself or her cats. The court found it could grant the cat protection agency ownership over the cats so they could be put up for adoption, even though the woman had not been criminal charged, and had not forfeited her cats.  
Hemingway Home and Museum v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture   2006 WL 3747343 (S.D. Fla.)   The plaintiff lived in Hemmingway's old property, a museum, with 53 polydactyl cats (cats having more than the usual number of toes). The United States Department of Agriculture investigated and said that the plaintiff needed to get an exhibitor's license to show the cats, but that was not possible unless the cats were enclosed. Plaintiff sued the government in order to avoid the $200 per cat per day fines assessed, but the court held that the government has sovereign immunity from being sued.  
State v. Kess   Not Reported in A.2d, 2008 WL 2677857 (N.J.Super.A.D.)   After receiving a call to investigate a complaint of the smell of dead bodies, a health department specialist found defendant burying sixteen to twenty-one garbage bags filled with decaying cats in her backyard (later investigations showed there were about 200 dead cats total). Defendant also housed 35-38 cats in her home, some of whom suffered from serious illnesses. Because the humane officer concluded that defendant failed to provide proper shelter for the cats by commingling the healthy and the sick ones, he charged her with thirty-eight counts of animal cruelty, in violation of N.J.S.A. 4:22-17, one for each of the thirty-eight cats found in her home. While defendant claimed that she was housing the cats and attempting to nurse them back to health so they could be adopted out, the court found sufficient evidence that "commingling sick animals with healthy ones and depriving them of ventilation when it is particularly hot inside is failing both directly and indirectly to provide proper shelter."  
City of Boston v. Erickson   877 N.E.2d 542 (Mass.2007)  

This very short case concerns the disposition of defendant Heidi Erickson's six animals (four living and two dead) that were seized in connection with an animal cruelty case against her. After Erickson was convicted, the city withdrew its challenge to the return of the living animals and proceeded only as to the deceased ones. A single justice denied the city's petition for relief, on the condition that Erickson demonstrate “that she has made arrangements for [t]he prompt and proper disposal [of the deceased animals], which disposal also is in compliance with health codes.” Erickson challenged this order, arguing that it interfered with her property rights by requiring her to discard or destroy the deceased animals. However, this court found no abuse of discretion, where it interpreted the justice's order to mean that she must comply with all applicable health codes rather than forfeit her deceased animals.

 
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. On appeal, Defendant first argued that, to him, nothing appeared to be wrong with his horses and, consequently, no liability can attach. The court disagreed, 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." Defendant also maintained that he is an animal hoarder, which is a "psychological condition" that mitigates his intent. Rejecting this argument, the court noted that Defendant’s "hoarding" contention is based upon a non-adopted bill which, in any event, fails to indicate whether animal hoarding may serve as a proper defense.

 
Whitman v. State   2008 WL 1962242 (Ark.App.,2008)  

Appellant was tried by a jury and found guilty of four counts of cruelty to animals concerning four Arabian horses. On appeal, appellant raised a sufficiency of the evidence challenge and a Rule 404(b) challenge to the admission of testimony and pictures concerning the condition of appellant's dogs and her house. The court found the photographic evidence was admissible for purposes other than to prove appellant's character, e.g., to show her knowledge of neglect of animals within her house, and thereby the absence of mistake or accident concerning the horses that lived outside.

 
Allen v. Municipality of Anchorage   168 P.3d 890 (Alaska App., 2007)  

Krystal R. Allen pleaded no contest to two counts of cruelty to animals after animal control officers came to her home and found 180 to 200 cats, 3 dogs, 13 birds, and 3 chickens in deplorable conditions. She was sentenced to a 30-day jail term and was placed on probation for 10 years. One of the conditions of Allen's probation prohibits her from possessing any animals other than her son's dog. In first deciding that its jurisdictional reach extends to claims not just based on the term of imprisonment, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by restricting Allen's possession of animals during the term of her probation.  

 
State v. Maynard   673 S.E.2d 877 (N.C.App.,2009)   In this North Carolina case, defendant challenged her conviction for violating that city ordinance that limited the number of dogs greater than five months of age that can be kept on premises within the city limits to three. After conviction, defendant appealed the constitutionality of the ordinance, arguing that it was “arbitrary and without any justification” and “fails to stand upon a rational basis.” This Court disagreed. First noting that legislative enactments have a presumption of constitutionality, the Court held that the town of Nashville enacted the ordinance for the purpose of reducing noise and odor problems. These objectives are clearly legitimate public purposes, and the limitation on the number of dogs is directly related to those objectives.  
Cleveland Hts. v. Jones   2006 WL 256638 (Ohio App. 8 Dist.)   In this Ohio case, the defendant was convicted in the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court of keeping more than two dogs at his single-family residence contrary to an ordinance that limited the keeping of more than two dogs at a single-family residence (defendant was found to have three dogs, one of whom he said was "visiting" his daughter). In affirming defendant's conviction, the court found no merit to defendant's challenge that the term "kept" was ambiguous. Further, the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to support defendant's conviction where the officer witnessed the dogs at the residence and defendant admitted to having three dogs in his home even without ownership of the third.  

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