Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler July 26, 2016

Yes, if your dog attacks someone it can bring legal consequences. People even have been jailed when their loose dogs kill a human. But can dogs or other animals go on trial? Do animal trials really exist?

Maybe not today, at least in a formal sense, but animal trials are believed to have been common in Europe in the Middle Ages. These are also known as Medieval times, which ran from the 5th Century to the 15th Century.

Since it was so long ago, historical records are sketchy and perhaps unreliable. But evidence does point to animal trials actually happening in the distant past.

Big Animals Had a Day in Court

Big animals, especially, had their day in court when they inflicted harm on humans. In fact, have you heard of the herds of pigs where murder most foul occurred?

Such a case is believed to have happened in 1379. It involved three pigs who got agitated among two herds of pigs feeding together. The three pigs reportedly charged the son of the swine master, killing him.

A trial was held for all of the pigs from each of the herds, and all were condemned to die. However, each pig except for the three attacking pigs was found to be an accomplice and was pardoned. No such luck for the three killer pigs.

Remember: Back in those days, farms were more common and animals outnumbered machines. Critters roamed the streets, and children often played in the fields. Human-animal interaction was common — even casual — but sometimes humans paid a price.

As the pig case showed, larger animals such as pigs, bulls, horses and cows were most likely to face secular tribunals which could hand down capital punishments for homicide. Such animals might be executed in grisly ways.

Similarly, even in more modern times, dogs or other animals which kill humans may be euthanized, not so much as a punishment but to remove a potential threat.

In 2008, a public parks’ bear in Macedonia was convicted of stealing a beekeeper’s honey, with the parks service fined $3,500 in damages. And in 1916, an elephant which killed her trainer was hanged with a crane in Tennessee.

Animals also have been executed before a crime even was committed. In May of 2016, when a small boy fell into a gorilla pit at the Cincinnati Zoo, a Western Lowland gorilla was shot dead on the spot to safeguard against him injuring or killing the boy.

No Love for Rats — Filthy, Slimy Rats

In the Middle Ages, smaller critters such as rats, mice, locusts and weevils were more apt to be tried by ecclesiastical courts than secular tribunals. These trials were for the crime of devouring crops. The creatures were formally expelled from fields, orchards and vineyards by excommunication or even by exorcism.

While these religious dictates did not necessarily remove the pests, they did remove the stigma of humans exterminating some of God’s creatures, no matter how small, and no matter the offense.

Indeed, after rats or other vermin had been excommunicated or denounced by a church tribunal, they were fair game for slaughter with no guilt attached. The lucky ones were simply exiled — caught and released elsewhere.

200 Animal Trials on Record

A record of 200 animal trials can be found in the 1906 book The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, by E.P. Evans.

One case in the 1480s involved the Cardinal Bishop of Autun in France ruling against slugs which had despoiled estate grounds under his supervision. He ordered three daily processions in which slugs were commanded to leave or be cursed. After that, exterminating these “God’s creatures” was permissible.

Other cases involved a pig who was burned in public in Fontenay-aux-Roses, near Paris, in 1266 for mutilating a child. Another pig was sentenced in 1386 to be mangled and maimed and then hanged for attacking a child.

Can Animal Trials Be Believed?

Should we believe these or other such accounts? One lawyer, at least, would say no. A notorious tale of rats on trial may have been a fanciful invention, made up to cast a bad light on the lawyer who reportedly defended the vermin.

Jim Adler & Associates does not defend rats — or anyone. We are a plaintiffs’ law firm.

That means we stand for justice when human beings are injured by anyone who’s at fault. These tend to be individual companies or persons — perhaps the owners of attacking dogs, rather than the animals themselves. But with our help, justice can be served, just the same.

FREE Case Review


Erick Becker
Erick Becker
01:20 06 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.
Tierra Clark
Tierra Clark
18:52 19 May 17
My lawyer Bill Adler and case manager Iris Sanchez are amazing! They constantly call and check on you . They keep you up to date through the process. They care about you as a person and not just a client. The wreck was a life changing experience that I've never been through before. I'm just glad I had the right people like Bill Adler and Iris Sanchez to help me through it. Truly satisfied.Thanks and God bless y'all!
Lorenzo Preston
Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
Jim Adler only offer nothing less than a great experience. They are a very well-established organization. They are outstanding on keeping you up to date with cases. There's no beating around the bush with this organization as they are only straight forward with the whole process. They treat their customers like family as well as go above and beyond to fight cases for you only leaving you with nothing but the best experience. Easy 5-star rated organization. I would highly recommend this one organization you not look over.
Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I was dropped from a previous law firm regarding my case before I called Jim Adler. They immediately took up my case and worked hard on it - I was always up to date with each step they took and the benefits or consequences of each. In the end, I am highly satisfied with the outcome and would not have it any other way. It took some time but I truly appreciate and want to thank everybody who helped me on this journey and worked tirelessly on it.
Bernard Orozco
Bernard Orozco
17:16 23 Feb 17
I am very happy with Jim Adler & Associates. I did not know anyone who has ever used the Law Firm before. The staff is very friendly and treated me as if I were family. At times it got very stressful being without a job. They helped me when I was confused about the process. Mrs. Theresa Rodriguez stayed in contact with me constantly. Checking on me to see how I was doing and to let me know how things were going on there end. The Attorneys that handled my case know exactly what they are doing to take good care of me. Thank You so much Attorney's Mr.Michael Gomez and Mr.Trey Smith.
See All Reviews
If you’ve been seriously injured, get The Tough, Smart Lawyer! ®
Get Help Right Now
Principal Office Houston, TX