May 23, 2016.
Complaint received and sworn to in the Orleans Division of
the District Court Department on August 9, 2013.
case was heard by H. Gregory Williams, J.
Roderick S. Oreste for the defendant.
Elizabeth Anne Sweeney, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Katzmann, Maldonado, & Blake, JJ.
defendant was convicted after a jury-waived trial in District
Court of two counts of violating a 2012 statute, G. L. c.
140, § 174E( f ), which protects dogs from
cruel conditions and inhumane chaining or
tethering. She now appeals, challenging [51
N.E.3d 503] the sufficiency of the evidence. In this case of
first impression, which requires review of the reach of G. L.
c. 140, § 174E, we conclude that subjecting a dog to
cruel conditions suffices to establish a violation, and we
reject the contention that outside confinement or confinement
in general is an element required to convict under the
statute. Accordingly, we affirm.
the defendant's house in Brewster (property) had been
condemned in August, 2012, and she had moved
into a nursing home, her two Shetland sheepdogs, Zach and
Kenji, remained on the property, where they had access to the
inside of the condemned house and a fenced-in yard.
the defendant herself was present on the property at least
intermittently even after the house had been condemned, and
she had occasional assistance from friends, the dogs were
effectively left alone on the property, which was clogged
with trash inside and out, emitted odors of trash (inside)
and dog feces (outside), and contained numerous items that
would pose a danger to the dogs' health and safety.
Neighbors, animal control officers, and police officers
observed the deplorable conditions to which Kenji and Zach
25, 2013, an animal control officer who had been working with
the defendant saw that Kenji was limping badly and appeared
to be in pain. He was taken to a veterinarian, and both dogs
were removed from the property three days later.
defendant's primary contention on appeal is that G. L. c.
140, § 174E, inserted by St. 2012, c. 193, § 48, is
inapplicable where there is no evidence that the dogs were
confined outside. We agree with the trial judge,
however, that this argument ignores subsection ( f )
of the statute, which provides as follows:
" No person owning or keeping a dog shall subject the
dog to cruel conditions or inhumane chaining or the tethering
at any time. For the purposes of this subsection, 'cruel
conditions and inhumane chaining or tethering' shall
include, but not be limited to, the following conditions:
" (1) filthy and dirty confinement conditions including,
but not limited to, exposure to excessive animal waste,
garbage, dirty water, noxious odors, dangerous objects that
could injure or kill a dog upon contact or other
circumstances that could cause harm to a dog's physical
or emotional health;
" (2) taunting, prodding, hitting, harassing,
threatening or otherwise harming a tethered or ...