Commonwealth v. Comella

735 A.2d 738 (1999)

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Commonwealth v. Comella

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
735 A.2d 738 (1999)

  • Written by Haley Gintis, JD

Facts

In 1998, Sandra Comella’s (defendant) dog attacked Mary Jo Salmen’s dog. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (plaintiff) charged Comella with harboring a dangerous dog in violation of the state’s Dog Law. Comella was found guilty by a district justice and ordered to pay a $300 fine. Comella appealed on the ground that Section 502-A(a)(1)(ii) of the Dog Law provided that a person was guilty of harboring a dangerous dog if the dog injured another’s domestic animal. Comella argued that the statutory definition of the term domestic animal provided in Section 102 did not include dogs as a type of domestic animal. Moreover, Comella argued that a previous version of Section 502-A(a)(1)(ii) had specifically defined the term domestic animal as including dogs. However, the legislature amended the Dog Law in 1996 by removing the definition in the harboring-a-dangerous-dog section and adding the uniform definition in Section 102 for the entire act. Comella claimed that because the new uniform definition of domestic animal did not include dogs, she was not guilty of violating 502-A(a)(1)(ii) because her dog had not caused injury to a domestic animal. The trial court dismissed Comella’s appeal. Comella appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McGinley, J.)

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