How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in NY State – A Manual of Procedures

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Appendix I

Selected Case Law-
Related to Animals

These cases may be of interest to you and helpful to the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case.

We have identified the sections of Agriculture and Markets law to which the cases apply, and provided a synopsis of each case, followed by the case law itself.

  • Section 353 of NYS Agriculture and Markets Law:
    Deals with a person overdriving, overloading, torturing or cruelly beating or unjustifiably injuring, maiming, mutilating, or killing or causing any of the foregoing to occur.The following five cases apply to this section of the law.

    Mudge v. State – probable cause for arrest
    People v. Arcidicono – deprivation of sustenance
    People v. Bunt – constitutionality of Section 353
    People v. Koogan – torture
    People v. O’Rourke – overdriving
  • Section 356 of Agriculture and Markets Law:
    States that a person responsible for impounding an animal must provide that animal with sufficient air, food, shelter and water to survive.The following case applies to this section of the law.

    Chenango County Humane Society v. Percy A. Polmatier – impounded animal
  • Section 374 of Agriculture and Markets Law
    Discusses the humane destruction or other disposition of animals lost, strayed, homeless, abandoned or improperly confined or kept.Established that when considering abandonment, sometimes animals can be deemed to be abandoned even though they are in the possession of a shelter or owner. The concept is known as “constructive abandonment.” Thus, in effect being “abandoned” though actually being owned.In a situation where animals are deemed to be in a deplorable state, and the humane alternative is to euthanize them, the concept of “constructive abandonment” (see above) is operative. This means that for all intents and purposes, the animal has been abandoned by its owner (because it has not received proper food or veterinary care) even though it is still on the owner’s property. This construct allows the veterinarian to proceed with euthanizing the animal if that is the best thing to do.The following two cases established the concept of “constructive abandonment” which is relevant to this section of the law.

    Chernik v. Department of Health of the City of New York – constuctive abandonment
    Hampton Animal Shelter v. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – constructive abandonment

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