Category Archives: Animals

Canine Behavior Consultant Finds Pit Bull to be “Fear-Aggressive”—and Willing to “Attack and Fight”

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Alan and Lisa Johnson, husband and wife, sued for injuries Alan Johnson suffered when a dog owned by Kalpano Rao and Narayan Raj attacked Alan in an elevator in a residential condominium owned by Element Condominium and managed by Elliman Property Management. Rao and Raj owned and resided in condominium units in the building.

On May 30, 2011, Johnson, Raj, and his dog Ibiza boarded a public passenger elevator inside the building. Once inside, Johnson asked if he might pet Ibiza, to which Raj assented. Johnson lowered his hand to Ibiza to allow the dog to sniff him, and, after the dog appeared to accept Johnson’s hand, Johnson knelt down to face and pet the dog. After Johnson pet Ibiza, as Johnson was standing up, the dog barked at him, lunged at him, and bit his face, tearing off pieces of his nose and lip. Raj immediately pulled the dog away from Johnson, but not before he had suffered severe facial injuries that required plastic surgery.

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Every Dog Will Have Its Day

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Virginia Hough filed a complaint with the State Division  of Human Rights against  1 Toms Point Lane Corporation , a residential cooperative,  alleging a violation of the New York State Human Rights Law.  Hough charged the co-op with discriminating against her on the basis of disability because she was not allowed to keep an emotional support dog in her apartment to help ameliorate her generalized anxiety disorder.

After a hearing, an administrative law judge made a recommendation and findings in favor of Hough. Toms Point was directed to cease and desist from enforcing against Hough any rules or policies prohibiting dogs and awarded Hough compensatory damages of $1,000 for mental anguish. The Commissioner of the Division adopted the  judges recommendation and findings. And the co-op filed a proceeding to review the Commissioner’s determination.  The Division cross-petitioned to enforce the order.

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Every Dog is Entitled to One Bite

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

On July 5, 2016, the Bakshis’ dog allegedly mauled a small dog owned by Felice Kobrick and bit the finger of Frances Drakes. The incident occurred in the street abutting the Bakshis’ property in Nassau County. A few days later, Kobrick’s dog was euthanized.

The Drakes sued the Bakshis to recover damages for personal injuries. The Bakshis moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Supreme Court granted the motion.

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It’s A Dog’s Life

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Westchester Plaza Holdings, LLC filed a summary holdover proceeding to evict Gertrude Sherwood and her son, Sheldon Sherwood, on the ground that they had failed to cure their violation of the no-pet clause in the parties’ lease. Specifically, Westchester Plaza claimed that  the Sherwoods had violated their lease by harboring a dog without landlord’s permission. and sought a final judgment of possession of their rental apartment. Gertrude did not appear in the action. Sheldon appeared and asserted that the dog was an emotional support animal entitling him to keep  the pet in the apartment under the State’s Human Rights Law.

A non-jury trial was held before the Court. Westchester Plaza called Jana Schmidt, its in-house counsel, who testified that she was informed sometime in late February or March of  2019 that the Sherwoods were harboring a dog in the apartment in contravention of the parties’ lease. Schmidt further testified that, after being informed of the dog in the apartment, she directed her staff to investigate. She also testified that she was informed by her staff that visual observation and video confirmed that a dog was being harbored in the apartment by the Sherwoods. Schmidt further testified that neither  of them asked for permission to have a dog in their apartment.

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What’s Sauce for the Goose…

This post was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Julianne Allen sued her neighbors Jennifer and John Powers claiming that their two German Shepherds barked incessantly. The dogs’ constant barking at all hours allegedly interfered with Allen’s right to quiet use and enjoyment of her property. The Powers denied the allegations and asserted a counterclaim contending that Allen had repeatedly called municipal authorities with specious complaints in prolonged efforts to make them move or have their landlord, David Bosko, evict them.

Allen asked the Court to dismiss the counterclaim for failing to state a cause of action. Allen argued that the Powers’ allegations sounded like a claim for harassment— and New York does not recognize such a cause of action.

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Who Let the (Cat) Out?

This post originally appeared on the SGR blog.

David Finn and his wife sued Ashlynn Anderson in Jamestown City Court for ownership/custody of a cat.

The Finns moved to Wescott Street in September of 2018. Around that time, they noticed a white cat frequently wandering onto their property looking for food. The cat was quite thin, and had no identification tags. They assumed that the four year old cat was a stray, named him “Sylvester”, and began feeding the cat in the entry-way of their home. The Finns fed Sylvester frequently for several months before bringing him into their house.

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New Yorkers own hundreds of thousands of cats, dogs, farm animals and other pets.  Thus, it is not surprising that accidents and injuries caused by animals are a fertile source of litigation.  Several recent examples follow.

Thompson v. Brown, 2018 NY Slip Op 08736, App. Div. 3rd Dept. (December 20, 2018)

In an action for negligence arising out of the escape of a bull owned by defendants, Supreme Court granted plaintiff’s motion to the extent of finding that plaintiff sustained a serious injury within the meaning of the insurance law.

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Litigation with respect to dogs and cats is an unending source of amazement.  Several recent examples follow:

People v. Cherry (Frankie), 2017 NY slip Op 27284, App. Div. 2d Dept. (August 25, 2017)

City Court summarized the pleadings:

Defendant was charged, as follows, with violating Agriculture and Markets Law § 353:

The deponent states that, at the above time and place, deponent observed two pit bulls in the backyard of defendant’s residence, that deponent observed said dogs to have sores on the pelvic area, extremely emaciated, prominent ribs, spine, pelvic bones, exaggerated hour glass torsos, and food and water bowls to be empty and rusted.

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During the past several months our courts, at all levels, have issued a vast and unusual number of decisions relating to the “vicious propensities” of dogs; canine “custody disputes; animal and pet related claims of negligence; and the “three month rule”.

RPDG, LLC v. Kuravsky, 2016 NY Slip Op 50791(U) [App. T. 2d Dept. May 12, 2016]

Appellate Term summarily affirmed, as follows, the judgment of Civil Court, after a bench trial, dismissing the petition:

In this holdover proceeding predicated, . . . on a claim that tenant, Alexander Kuravsky, violated his lease by harboring a dog without landlord’s consent, the Civil Court dismissed the petition after a nonjury trial, finding that landlord’s failure to commence the proceeding within three months of learning of the dog’s presence in the subject apartment constituted a waiver of landlord’s right to enforce the no-pet provision of the lease [ ].

Colombini v. Benitez, 2016 NY Slip Op 31829(u) [Sup. Ct. N.Y.  Co. September 30, 2016] Continue reading


You may have noticed that I am inexplicably captivated and fascinated by the constant stream of trial court proceedings and appeals involving cats, dogs and other animals.  [See, The Bark Goes On (2/2/14); and Legal “Horse” And Other Tales (2/1/15)].

In recent months there has been an outburst of decisions relating to animals from both the Court of Appeals and the several Appellate Divisions:

Doeer v. Goldsmith, 2015 NY Slip Op 04752 (Court of Appeals) [decided on June 9, 2015] was a summary (four-judge) decision with a three-judge concurring opinion and two dissents (by three judges).

Doeer was the fourth time in recent years that the Court of Appeals has addressed the duty of care with respect to pets and animals.

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