Connecticut Seal

House Bill No. 5606

Public Act No. 04-239

AN ACT CONCERNING PENALTIES AND THE RECOVERY OF DAMAGES FOR THE UNLAWFUL KILLING OR INJURING OF A COMPANION ANIMAL.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2004) (a) For the purposes of this section, "companion animal" means a domesticated dog or cat that is normally kept in or near the household of its owner or keeper and is dependent on a person for food, shelter and veterinary care, but does not include a dog or cat kept for farming or biomedical research practices.

(b) Any person who intentionally kills or injures a companion animal, except in defense of such person or another person or as otherwise authorized by law, shall be liable to the owner of such companion animal for economic damages sustained by such owner including, but not limited to, expenses of veterinary care, the fair monetary value of the companion animal and burial expenses for the companion animal.

(c) In addition to any economic damages awarded pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, and except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, the court may award punitive damages in an amount not to exceed the jurisdictional monetary limit established by subsection (d) of section 51-15 of the general statutes, together with a reasonable attorney's fee.

(d) The court shall not assess punitive damages and a reasonable attorney's fee pursuant to subsection (c) of this section against: (1) A veterinarian licensed pursuant to chapter 384 of the general statutes while following accepted standards of practice of the profession, (2) the state or any political subdivision of the state or any employee, officer or agent thereof while acting within the scope of such employee's, officer's or agent's employment or official duties, or (3) an employee of or volunteer for a nonprofit organization or nonprofit corporation organized and operated exclusively for the prevention of cruelty to animals or the protection of stray, abandoned or mistreated animals while acting within the scope of such employee's or volunteer's employment or duties.

Sec. 2. Section 22-351 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2004):

(a) Any person who steals, confines or conceals any [dog] companion animal, as defined in section 1 of this act, or who, with the intention of stealing such [dog] companion animal or concealing its identity or the identity of its owner or with the intention of concealing the fact that the [dog] companion animal is licensed, removes the collar or harness or tag from any licensed [dog] companion animal, or who unlawfully kills or injures any [dog] companion animal, shall be fined not more than [two hundred] one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than six months or both. [, and shall also be liable to the owner in a civil action. ] For a second offense, or for an offense involving more than one [dog] companion animal, any such person shall be fined not more than [five hundred] two thousand dollars or imprisoned not less than one year nor more than three years or be both fined and imprisoned.

(b) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be liable to the owner in a civil action, except that, if such person intentionally kills or injures any companion animal, such person shall be liable to the owner in a civil action as provided in section 1 of this act.

Approved on June 8, 2004