PA 17-12—sSB 888

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE CAUSED BY A DOG ASSIGNED TO A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

SUMMARY: The stateʼs dog bite statute (see BACKGROUND) creates a rebuttable presumption that a member of a law enforcement officerʼs household where the officer keeps a dog assigned to him or her by the town, state, or federal government is not the dogʼs keeper. This act specifies that the statuteʼs rebuttable presumption applies to the members of the household of any officer, employee, or other person paid by or acting as an agent of the State Police, State Capitol Police, municipal police, or Department of Correction. Thus, in an action against these household members for damage done by a dog, the plaintiff must prove that the household member was the dogʼs keeper and had exclusive control of the dog when the damage was sustained.

(A “rebuttable presumption” is an assumption of fact accepted by the court until disproved.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

BACKGROUND

Dog Bite Statute

The law imposes strict liability on the owner or “keeper” of a dog for any damage to a person or property the dog causes, except in cases where the damage was done to someone who was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog or committing trespass or another tort (CGS 22-357). By law, a “keeper” is any person, other than the owner, harboring or possessing a dog (CGS 22-327(6)).

If the owner or keeper of the dog that caused the damage is a minor, the minorʼs parent or guardian is strictly liable. If an action is brought under this statute on behalf of a minor younger than age seven, it must be presumed that he or she was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog, and the burden of proof is on the defendant.