Information » Cases


Attorney-General (SA) v Bray (1964) 111 CLR 402 – definition of domestic animal.

Saltoon v Lake [1978] 1 NSWLR 52 – domestic animals as property.

Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort Ltd v McBride [1976] 2 NSWLR 631 – animals fall within the definition of goods in sale of goods and consumer protection legislation.

R v Buttle (1960) SR (NSW) 320 – it is an offence to steal an animal or kill it with intent to steal the skin carcass or other part of the animal.

Zappia v Allsop (unreported, NSWCA, Kriby P, Clarke and Handley JJA, CA40192 of 1993, 17 March 1994, BC9402327) – in NSW a person is the owner of a dog for the purposes of the legislation if he/she is the owner of the dog, ordinarily keeps the dog or is the registered owner of the dog.

Holland v Crisafulli [1999] 2 Qd R 249 – a council may declare a dog dangerous, dangerous is not restricted to ‘dangerous to humans’.

Martin v City of Stirling (unreported, SC(WA), Ipp J, No 1042/90, 13 September 1990, BC9001131) – in most jurisdictions there is legislative provision for the destruction, sale or disposal of seized and impounded dogs.

Charlton v Crafter [1943] SASR 158 – in certain circumstances destruction or injuring of a dog may be justified or excused on grounds of necessity or self defence.

Appeal of Redman (1949) 49 SR (NSW) 360 – coursing is prohibited.

RSPCA v Munyard (unreported, SC(SA), Millhouse J, No 645/97, 2 July 1997, BC9702816) – a person charged with abandonment must have been under a duty of care, and must have forsaken the animal leaving it unprotected.

Thielbar v Craigen (1905) 69 JP 421 – in Queensland and the Northern Territory it is an offence to permit a fight in which one animal is pitted against another.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Standerton v Nel 1988 (4) SA 42 – standing to enjoin breaches of the animal cruelty legislation in order to obtain equitable remedies of declaration or injunction.

Australian Conservation Foundation Inc v Commonwealth (1980) 146 CLR 493 – standing to enjoin breaches of the animal cruelty legislation in order to obtain equitable remedies of declaration or injunction.

Aleksoski v State Rail Authority of NSW (2000) 30 MVR 403 – the keeper of a domestic animal may be liable for damage done by it which is attributable to its vicious propensity, without proof of negligence on the keeper’s part, if he or she has knowledge of the animal’s vicious propensity to cause injury or damage to human beings.

Alsop v Lidgerwood (1916) 22 ALR (CN) 13 – both the owner of an animal and any person in control of the animal may be sued for the actions of an animal. Liability for the actions of an animal lies firstly with the keeper, or the person who harbours or controls the animal, and not the owner.

Posthuma v Campbell (1984) 37 SASR 321 – the fact the plaintiff suffered injury while lawfully on the defendant’s land does not affect the defendant’s liability.

Wilkins v Manning (1897) WN (NSW) 220 – trespass excuses liability.

Doyle v Vance (1880) 6 VLR (L) 87 – liability for trespass of an animal.

Peak Hill Municipal Council v Wright (1960) 6 LGRA 149 – occupiers of land are entitled to seize trespassing animals and send them to the nearest pound, or may hand them to a pound keeper on their own land.

Midland Junction Municipal Council v Niland (1917) 19 WALR 81 – a pound keeper is an independent public officer, so that the local authority is not responsible for the pound keeper’s misfeasance.

O’Sullivan v Noarlunga Meat Ltd (No 1) (1954) 92 CLR 565 – parliament is able to prescribe hygiene conditions for premises where animals are slaughtered for export because the conditions affect beneficially overseas trade.

Levy v State of Victoria (1997) 189 CLR 579 – implied right to freedom of political communication.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd (2001) 208 CLR 199 – it is not unconscientious of a broadcaster to use or publish information that it obtains from someone who tortiously obtains the information in the first place.

Commonwealth v Tasmania (Tasmania Dam) (1983) 158 CLR 1 – regulation of activities of a corporation.

Turner v Cole [2005] TASSC 72 – Animals, Cruelty, Neglect causing serious disablement and Review of convictions and penalties.

Joyce v Visser [2001] TASSC 116 – Prevention of cruelty to animals, Causing unnecessary pain and cruelly ill-treating, Failing to feed and water dogs, Whether three months’ imprisonment manifestly excessive and Animal Welfare Act 1973 (Tas), s7, s8 and s9.

David Brayshaw v Judith Liosatos [2001] ACTSC 2 – appellants charged pursuant to Animal Welfare Act 1992 s8(2)(a) and s8(2)(d), duty to care for and feed, standard of care that of “reasonable custodian of such an animal”.

Perpetual Trustees Tasmania Ltd v State of Tasmania [2000] TASSC 68 – Bequest for animal welfare.

Mark, Stoner, Setter & Pearson v Henshaw (1998) 85 FCR 555 – Whether members of animal welfare group had reasonable excuse for entering on farming premises where wished to voice concern about battery operations and to attend to sick and injured birds.

Henshaw v Mark (1997) 140 FLR 438 – Where defendant members of animal welfare group entered onto premises on which battery hen egg-producing business conducted, attended to sick hens and attracted publicity, without interfering with commercial operation of owner.

Fares Rural Meat And Livestock Co Pty Ltd v Australian Meat And Live-Stock Corporation and Others (1990) 96 ALR 153 – administrative law, live sheep export

Re Weaver; Trumble v Animal Welfare League Of Victoria [1963] VR 257 – As the purposes of the league were directed to the welfare of animals, and in the main sick animals, and tended to promote human feelings and improve public morality, the bequest was a valid charitable gift, being beneficial to the public within the fourth head of Lord Macnaghten’s definition in Commissioners of Income Tax v Pemsel, [1891] AC 531

Murdoch v A-G (Tas) (No 2) (1992) 1 Tas R 117 – a gift for the benefit of animals generally is not charitable because it cannot be said to be for the benefit of the community.

Department of Local Government and Regional Development (WA) v Emanuel Exports et al (Magistrates Court 8 Feb 2008) The trial involved allegations that Emanuel and its directors breached the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) by exporting live sheep in a way that caused them unnecessary harm. The Magistrate found that the export of sheep in the circumstances of the case constituted a clear breach of the Act; however as the export was permitted under Commonwealth law, the relevant provisions of the Act were rendered inoperative or invalid under s109 of the Constitution. The Defendants were subsequently acquitted.

Pearson v Janlin Circuses Pty Ltd (2002) NSWSC 1118 – Justice Windeyer upheld the decision of Dowd J in Bell v Gunter (24 Oct 1997) that the offences (depriving an elephant of companionship) (under Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1979) are such that the legislative intention seems clearly not to require a component of mens rea in the proof of the offence. Not proved.

Rural Export and Trading (WA) PL & Samex Australian Meat Co Pty v Hahnheuser (2008) FCAFC 156 – protection of sheep from harm during voyage from Australia to overseas not capable of being substantially related to environmental protection.

United Kingdom Secretary of State for the Home Department v British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and another [2008] EWCA Civ 870; [2008] WLR (D) 273 – Information supplied by applicants for animal experimentation licences was exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 if the official in possession of the information knew or had reasonable grounds for believing that it was given in confidence.

Behrens v Betram Mills Circus Ltd [1957] 2 QB 1 – the keeper of a domestic animal may be liable for damage done by it which is attributable to its vicious propensity.

Draper v Hodder [1972] 2 QB 556 – an owner or keeper may be liable in negligence for damage caused by a domestic animal not known to be dangerous.

Leeman v Montagu [1936] 2 All ER 1677 – although the liability of an owner or keeper of an animal usually lies in negligence or trespass, it may also lie in nuisance.


Robinson v Wagner (1911) 30 NZLR 367 – in certain circumstances destruction or injuring of a dog may be justified or excused on grounds of necessity or self defence.


Animal Legal Defense Fund v Espy (1994) 23 F.3d 496 (DC Cir. 1994) – standing

Animal Legal Defense Fund v Glickman (1998) 154 F.3d 426 (D.C Cir 1998) – standing

Animal Lovers Volunteer Association v Weinberger (1985) 765 F.2d 937 (9th Cir. 1985) – standing

Animal Welfare Institute v Kreps (1977) 561 F2d 1002 (DC Cir. 1977) – standing

Callaghan v Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (1885) 16 LR IR 325 – unnecessary abuse

In re William G 447 A.2d 493 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1982) – cruelty conviction

Japan Whaling Association v American Cetacean Society 478 US 221 (1986) – standing

La Rue v State 478 S.2d 13 (Ala. Crim. App. 1985) – cruelty conviction

Lock v Falkenstien 1963 Okla. CR 32, 380 P2d 238 (Okla, Ct. Crim. App. 1963) – definition of animal

Lujan v Defenders of Wildlife 504 US 555 (1992) – standing

Motes v State 375 SE. 2d 893 (Ga. Ct. App. 1988) – cruelty conviction

New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals et al v New Jersey Dept of Agriculture (2008) NJ Supreme Court – Supreme court struck down regulations exempting all routine husbandry practices as ‘humane’ and ordered the agency to readdress many of the state mandated standards for treatment of farm animals.

Palila v Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources 852 F.2d 1106 (9th Cir 1988) – standing

People v Voelker – 172 Misc. 2d 564 (N.Y. Crim. Crt. 1997) – cruelty conviction

Regalado v United States – 572 A.2d 416 (D.C. 1990) – cruelty conviction

State v Schott – 384 N.W.2d 620 (Neb 1986) – cruelty conviction

State v Tweedie – 444 A.2d 855 (R.I. 1982) – cruelty conviction

Tuck v United States – 477 A.2d 115 (D.C. 1984) – cruelty conviction

Church of the Lukumi Babulu Aye v City of Hialeah (1993) 508 U.S 520 – Court unanimously invalidated city ordinances outlawing animal sacrifices. Government cannot pass laws which unfairly burden a minority religion, group or doctrine.

Mississippi State University and the IAMS Company v PETA (No 2006 – CA – 02120 –SCT –PETA sought records relating to any research projects, tests, experiments that received funding and/or sponsorship from the IAMS Company. PETA failed to rebut the evidence presented by MSU and IAMS that the data and information requested in the subject records constituted trade secrets and/or confidential commercial and financial information of a proprietary nature developed by MSU under contract with IAMS.


‘Noah’ v AG & Minister of Agriculture & Egg and Poultry Board & Moshe Benishty (2003) Israel Supreme Court – plaintiff asks to rule that force feeding of geese is forbidden (fois gras). Force feeding to be banned from 2005.


Mulesing is performed annually on over 20 million Australian Merino lambs. It involves taking a crescent-shaped slice of skin (5-7 cm) from either buttock (the ‘breach’) of a sheep, without anaesthetic, and results in abnormal behaviour for up to three days.

Despite industry’s promise to phase-out mulesing by 2010, many retailers throughout Europe have boycotted Australian wool due to overwhelming consumer concern.

More humane alternatives to surgical mulesing, such as intradermal injections prompting fleece to fall away from the breach (permanently) through a process of necrosis, are currently not receiving the support they require from Australia’s wool industry.


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