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Connecticut Law on Dogbites

By Divorce Attorney Marcia Blake, Jul 9 2016 06:03PM

With the recent surge of dogbites, one resulting in the tragic death of a New Haven resident, dog owners and keepers should update themselves on the laws governing dogbites in the state of Connecticut. It is also prudent for keepers and owners obtain insurance coverage specifically for their dogs even if they have not displayed any vicious tendencies. But most importantly, it is advisable that owners and keepers pay keen attention to their dog’s propensities and protect unsuspecting persons from potentially dangerous attacks.

The following is from OLR Research Report. 2004-R-0308:

Connecticut has a variety of laws aimed at controlling dogs. Regarding leashes, it is illegal to allow your dog to roam; create a disturbance; or growl, bite, or otherwise annoy anyone using the highway. (Local governments may create leash ordinances.) A 14-day quarantine is required when a dog bites a person. An animal control officer (ACO) or the Department of Agriculture (DOAg) commissioner may also order a biting dog restrained or killed. A dog's owner or keeper is liable for any damage caused by his dog. Dog bite victims are immune from civil and criminal liability for killing the dog during the attack.


Roaming Dogs

The general statutes do not mandate that dogs be on leashes at all times. But (1) 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 and (2) local governments may create leash ordinances. Violating the state roaming law is an infraction punishable by a fine of $92 (CGS § 22-364). Additionally, the Environmental Protection Department requires that owners keep their dogs leashed in state parks.

Vicious Dogs. By law, an owner or keeper of a vicious dog who intentionally or recklessly allows the dog to roam and the dog physically injures another person who was not teasing, tormenting, or abusing it, is subject to a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both. For the penalty to apply, the dog's owner must have been convicted in the preceding year of allowing the dog to roam (CGS § 22-364).


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 owners or keepers are jointly and severally liable for the entire damage (CGS § 22-356).

Reporting and Killing

The victim of a dog bite must report the attack to a state, town, or regional ACO responsible for the town where the attack occurred. The ACO must immediately investigate the attack. Anyone who is bitten by a dog or who shows visible evidence of having been attacked may kill the dog during the attack if it happens off the animal owner's or keeper's premises. The law exempts anyone killing a biting dog in accordance with this law from criminal or civil liability (CGS § 22-358).

Public health regulations require health care providers to report to the local health director or authority anyone they treat or examine who has or is suspected of having a “reportable disease,” which includes rabies. (Conn. Regulations §19a-36-A3)

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 (CGS § 22-363). 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. Section 22-362 of the Connecticut General Statutes 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.

This information was originally written by Joseph Holstead OLR Research Report. 2004-R-0308. Please check specific statutes for updates.

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Attorney Marcia P. Blake

"You Have Rights. I Protect Them".