The Connecticut General Assembly
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH
September 22, 1995 95-R-1224
FROM: Susan Goranson, Associate Analyst
RE: Dog Bites—Connecticut Law
You asked for a summary of the Connecticut law on biting dogs.
Connecticut has a variety of laws aimed at controlling bothersome dogs. It is illegal to allow your dog to roam; create a disturbance; or growl, bite, or otherwise annoy anyone using the highway. If a dog bites someone, it must be quarantined for 14 days. An animal control officer or the Department of Agriculture (DOA) commissioner may also order a biting dog restrained or killed. Anyone who is bitten by a dog is allowed to kill the dog during the attack. The law exempts the victim from criminal or civil liability for killing it. The dog's owner or keeper is liable for any damage caused by his dog.
A dog's owner or keeper must not allow it to roam on another person's land or on a public highway, including sidewalks, if it is not under his control. The penalty for violating the law is an infraction (CGS § 22-364). Another law prohibits anyone from owning or harboring a dog which is a nuisance because of a vicious disposition, excessive barking, or other disturbance. The courts may make any order necessary to restrain or dispose of the dog. The penalty for violating the law is an infraction for the first offense and for subsequent offenses the violator may be fined up to $100, imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both. CGS § 22-362 makes it a crime to own or keep a dog which habitually goes out on a highway and growls, bites, snaps at, or otherwise annoys any person or domestic animal using the highway or chases or interferes with any motor vehicle on the highway. Violators may be fined between $25 and $50, imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both for the first offense and for subsequent offenses they may be fined between $50 and $100, imprisoned for up to 60 days, or both.
Biting Dogs. The law requires an animal control officer to quarantine a dog that has attacked someone off its owner's property. The dog must be quarantined for 14 days in a public pound, veterinary hospital, or place approved by the DOA commissioner. The owner must pay $5 a day board. The officer may quarantine the dog on the premises, if it has bitten someone on its owner's property. The officer must give the person bitten by the dog and the commissioner notice of the quarantine within 24 hours. The commissioner or his designee must examine the dog on the 14th day of the quarantine to determine whether it should continue.
An officer or the commissioner may make any order concerning the restraint or disposal of the biting animal as he deems necessary. Notice of the order must be given to the person bitten by the dog within 24 hours. Anyone aggrieved by an order made by an officer may request a hearing before the commissioner with 14 days of its issuance. The commissioner after the hearing may affirm, modify, or revoke the order.
If the owner does not comply with the quarantine or restraining order an animal control officer may seize the dog to insure compliance. The owner may also be fined up to $25, imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both.
Anyone who is bitten by a dog or who shows visible evidence of having been attacked may kill the animal during the attack, if it happens off the animal owner's or keeper's property. The victim must report it to a state, town, or regional animal control officer responsible for the town where the attack occurred. The officer must immediately investigate the attack. The law exempts from criminal or civil liability anyone killing a biting dog in accordance with the law (CGS § 22-358).
Liability. A dog's owner or keeper is liable for any damage caused by his dog to a person's body or property, unless the damage was sustained while the person was committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, abusing, or tormenting the dog. The law presumes that anyone under the age of seven was not committing a trespass or teasing the dog unless the defendant can prove otherwise (CGS § 22-357). If damage has been caused by two or more dogs at the same time, their owner's or keeper's are jointly and severally liable for the damage (CGS § 22-356). In other words, each owner is responsible for the entire amount of damages, although he may be able to sue the other owner to recover a portion of the damages he was found to pay.