OLR Research Report

September 12, 2005




By: Joseph R. Holstead, Research Analyst

You asked what the law is concerning vicious dogs that attack and kill livestock and other animals.

By law, a livestock (e.g., hog or cattle) or poultry owner, or his agent, who observes a dog pursuing or worrying his animals, may kill the dog without civil or criminal liability (CGS 22-358).

If a dog has killed livestock, the livestock owner may report the loss to the town's chief administrative official within 24 hours, and the town must reimburse him (the law provides a process for determining the amount, with the burden of proof being on the person making the claim) for the estimated value of the animals lost. The town may recover that amount plus other expenses from the dog's owner or keeper. If the town pays more than $100 and it cannot collect reimbursement from the dog owner, it can forward information about the case to the Agriculture Commissioner who may request that the Treasurer reimburse the town (CGS 22-355).

In less extreme instances, a livestock or poultry owner who sees a dog at large may report the dog to the local animal control officer (ACO), as the law prohibits dogs from roaming at large on someone else's land or a public road. The ACO may impound the dog and issue the owner an infraction (CGS 22-332 & 364).

Specifically addressing vicious dogs, an owner or keeper of a vicious dog is subject to a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both, if (1) he has violated the law by allowing his dog to roam at large on someone else's property or a public road during the prior year; (2) he intentionally or recklessly allows his dog to roam again; and (3) the dog physically injures another person who was not teasing, tormenting, or abusing it. However, for the penalty to apply, the dog's owner must also be aware of the dog's propensity for violence (CGS 22-364). We have attached OLR report 2004-R-308, which contains information about quarantining and disposing of dogs that bite people.

Additionally, a dog owner or keeper is liable if his dog damages anyone or their property, so long as the injured person was not (1) trespassing or committing another tort or (2) teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog (CGS 22-357).