OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5151

AN ACT CONCERNING THE AUTHORITY OF ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICERS IN COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITIES.

SUMMARY:

This bill allows (1) municipalities to adopt ordinances prohibiting anyone owning or keeping a cat from allowing the cat to substantially damage the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community and (2) animal control officers (ACOs) to impound such cats ( 1 & 2).

It also provides that certain laws concerning dogs (e.g., dogs causing damage, roaming, or near guide dogs) apply when the dogs are in the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community ( 3 & 5-7).

Additionally, the bill specifies that the premises of an animal's owner or keeper does not include the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community, allowing an animal to be killed or quarantined for biting or attacking while in such areas ( 4).

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

1 & 2 – CATS CAUSING DAMAGE

2 – Cat Damage Ordinances

The bill allows municipalities to adopt ordinances prohibiting anyone owning or keeping a cat from letting the cat cause substantial damage to the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community. A violation of such an ordinance is an infraction.

By law, municipalities may adopt ordinances making it an infraction for a cat's owner or keeper to allow it to substantially damage property, other than the owner's or keeper's property, or cause unsanitary, dangerous, or unreasonably offensive conditions.

1 – Impounding Cats Causing Damage

The bill allows ACOs in municipalities with cat damage ordinances to impound cats doing damage to the common areas of condominiums or other common interest community. By law, ACOs may impound cats for doing damage to other people's property or creating an unsanitary, dangerous, or offensive condition. But ACOs cannot impound feral cats under the care of a registered feral cat keeper and cats under an owner's control. If a licensed veterinarian determines that an impounded cat should be euthanized because of injury or disease, the ACO may have the cat mercifully killed.

An ACO who impounds a cat from the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community must follow the statutory procedures for impounding cats generally. This includes immediately notifying the cat's owner or keeper, if known, or publishing the cat's description in a lost and found column of a local newspaper. If the cat is not claimed and released to its owner within seven days of publishing notice, the ACO may have the cat spayed or neutered and sold to someone suitable.

An impounded cat's owner or keeper, or his or her agent, can redeem the cat with proper identification. He or she must pay the municipally set redemption fee of up to $15 and pay the cost of publishing the newspaper notice. If the owner or keeper does not redeem the cat within 24 hours after receiving notice, he or she must also pay the cost of the cat's care and impoundment. Failure to redeem a cat within five days of receiving notice is an infraction.

3 – DOGS CAUSING DAMAGE

By law, a dog's owner or keeper is liable when the dog hurts a person or damages property, unless the person was trespassing; committing a tort; or teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog. The bill specifies that the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community are included in the definition of “property” for which an offending dog's owner or keeper is liable for damages.

4 – BITING OR ATTACKING ANIMALS

Under the bill, the premises of an animal's owner or keeper does not include the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community with respect to a biting or attacking animal, thus allowing such an animal to be killed or quarantined.

By law, anyone who is bitten or attacked by a dog, cat, or other animal when he or she is not on the premises of the animal's owner or keeper may kill the animal during the attack. Also, an ACO may quarantine an animal that bites or attacks. If the animal bit or attacked while on the premises of its owner or keeper, the ACO may quarantine the animal on those premises. If the animal bit or attacked while not on the premises of its owner or keeper, the ACO must quarantine the animal at a public pound or other place the agriculture commissioner approves (e.g., a veterinary hospital or kennel).

5 – ROAMING DOGS

By law, a dog's owner or keeper cannot let the dog roam on another's land while it is not under the owner's or keeper's control. The bill specifies that another's land includes the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community. A dog's presence in the common areas while unattended is prima facie evidence of a violation, which is an infraction by law.

6 – RELEASE OF A DOMESTIC ANIMAL

By law, a person commits an infraction when he or she intentionally or recklessly releases a domestic animal that enters some else's property and causes over $100 in damage. The bill provides that “property” includes the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community.

7 – CONTROL OF DOG NEAR GUIDE DOG

The bill requires a dog's owner or keeper to restrain and leash the dog when near a guide dog in the common areas of a condominium or other common interest community. By law, a dog's owner or keeper must control the dog on a leash when near a guide dog but not on the owner's or keeper's property.

Violators are guilty of an infraction. If the dog attacks or injures the guide dog, the dog's owner or keeper is liable for the damage, including costs of veterinary care, rehabilitation or replacement of the guide dog, and attorney's fees.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

29

Nay

0

(02/24/2016)