Public Safety and Security Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-802

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE CAUSED BY A POLICE DOG.

Vote Date:

3/17/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/17/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Public Safety & Security Committee

Co- Sponsors: Sen. Leone & Rep. Adams

REASONS FOR BILL:

To create the presumption that a household member of a police officer who is assigned a service dog is not the keeper of such police service dog under the dog bite statute.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None Heard

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Kathryn Emmett, Director of Legal Affairs for the City of Stamford, testified in favor of the bill citing that the proposed legislation seeks to amend the current dog bite statute in two ways. 1. To clarify that K-9 police officers who are required by their assignment as K-9 officers to care for and house their K-9s in their homes are not subject to strict liability under the dog bite statute, C.G.S. 22-357; and 2. To clarify that the members of K-9 police officers' households are not “keepers” of the K-9s who can be held strictly liable under the dog bite statute. Emmet says this legislation is necessary because the strict liability dog bite statute imposes liability not only on owners but on their “keepers”. According to statute, a keeper is defined as “any person, other than the owner, harboring or having in his possession any dog.”

Thaddeus Jankowski, Director of Public Safety in the City if Stamford, testified in favor of the bill, emphasizing that K-9s are one of the most important tools for law enforcement nationwide, crediting the dogs with 137,000 calls for service, 38,000 motor vehicle stops, and 3.000 arrests annually in his city. Jankowski stated that as currently worded the dog bite statute threatens the viability of not only the Stamford PD K-9,unit but units across the state. Without passage of SB-802, the current dog bite statute, C.G.S. 22-357 exposes K-9 police officers and members of their households to personal strict liability.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

CT Trial lawyers Association submitted testimony in opposition of the bill, claiming that the bill extends unfair immunity to the family of police officers. They go on to state that “…we do not believe that municipal immunity should shield the keeper of a police dog when the dog is not performing official duties.”

Reported by: Jamie Hobart, Committee Clerk

Date: 3/20/15