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Plainfield dog attack case shows limits of police authority

Connecticut law is pretty clear, as we've said before, that dogs are supposed to be under control of their owners or keepers at all times. If they are not, those responsible for the animals can be held liable for the extreme consequences that can result.

Not only can vicious dog attacks leave victims with physical injuries, the scars of which remain for the rest of their lives, but there can be emotional trauma associated with the memory. In addition, the disfiguring results may erode the victim's self-image and personal relationships may suffer.

Such suffering and loss, including that which leads to financial strain because of repeated surgeries or ongoing health care needs, should not be borne by the victim or the victim's family. The law makes it possible to seek to hold the responsible parties accountable.

It's not often that a single dog attack ends up becoming something of a political football. That appears to be what's happening, though, with a case out of Plainfield.

The attack happened back in December. A home health aide was with an elderly client providing her care at her home. Also in the home were six large dogs, including five Rottweilers. According to a lawsuit filed in the case, the victim was sitting with the patient when one 130-pound dog attacked from out of the blue. The suit claims that others of the pack than joined in.

The victim's face was nearly ripped off. She spent half a month in the hospital, has scars all over her face, shoulder breasts, legs and arms. She doesn't feel she can be seen in public and still faces more surgeries in the future.

Police in Plainfield put all six dogs into quarantine back in December, but earlier this month announced that euthanization orders on four had been lifted and that they could return to their owners. Officials say the other two are the only ones they can prove took part in the attack and remain in custody, suggesting there are limits to what they can do under the law.

That's done little to ease the fears of people in the neighborhood where the owners live. Concerned citizens have started posting fliers around the area and informing residents about the situation and a group of about 22 people say they plan to protest at an upcoming town hall meeting to demand better government action.

They say it's time to speak out.

Source: The Bulletin, "2 dogs in Plainfield attack still face euthanization," John Penney, Aug. 11, 2015

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