Many cities and towns have animal control ordinances to protect the general public. At times, some of these municipalities and cities may revisit their local laws in the aftermath of an especially terrifying dog attack. Unfortunately, many in Connecticut have suffered serious injuries from animal bites.
Two years ago, a woman died after a terrifying dog mauling. Recently, the New Haven City Council passed a change in its ordinance with the intention of preventing anyone from suffering a similar fate in the future. The changes were proposed by an alder who was an eyewitness to the vicious attack on the woman. The victim lost both of her eyes, a leg and eventually her life due to the ferocity of the encounter. The changes are related to how potentially dangerous animals are classified and gives animal control workers the authority to label a dog as being a potential threat.
The changes also provide for different levels of regulation and interventions that may be applied to those dogs that are believed to pose a danger, though the penalties were not described. The law makes clear that service animals are exempt from the ordinance, but emotional and therapy animals are not. It also states that dogs must be under control at all times and have required vaccinations. Most of the council members voted in support of the changes.
The amended ordinance is meant to hold dog owners accountable for their animals. The state of Connecticut already has a strict liability dog bite law on the books, specifying that owners are liable for any unprovoked attacks. The city ordinance confers more authority on animal control officers. Anyone who suffers serious injuries as a result of animal bites may have grounds to pursue a claim for monetary damages through the state's civil justice system.