A Hartford attorney said irresponsible dog owners in Connecticut can affect people's lives in many different ways, citing three recent incidents in the state involving dog attacks.
"In recent weeks, we've seen a child sent to the hospital, a family pet attacked, and an entire neighborhood inconvenienced," said Hartford personal injury attorney Joseph Morelli of the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli. "When owners can't control their dogs, others pay the consequences."
In Bridgeport last month, a 1-year-old was taken to the hospital after being attacked by a pit bull while at his grandparents' house. The child reportedly suffered scratches and bruises from the dog, which had lived with the grandparents and was taken away by animal control.
Later that month, a family's dog was viciously attacked by another dog while they were out on a public hiking trail in East Haddam. The owner of the dog that was attacked said his pet needed surgery that cost upwards of $5,000. The owner of the attacking dog was cited, and the dog put under a 14-day quarantine.
And in Manchester, the post office informed residents of a neighborhood that it would no longer deliver mail to their doors because of a neighborhood dog that had previously attacked a mail carrier. Neighbors told a reporter that the dog escapes into the neighborhood quite a bit. A letter sent to residents said only those with curbside mailboxes would be eligible for home delivery.
Morelli said he could not comment on the specific details of any of the incidents, but said that in general, owners are responsible for keeping their dogs restrained and are considered liable for damages caused in an attack.
"Some owners claim their dog had never been violent before, but that does not excuse them from responsibility if the attack was unprovoked," he said.
But as with any personal injury claim, Morelli said building a strong case is key to recovering damages from irresponsible owners. He noted it's important for victims of dog attacks to collect evidence as soon as possible.
"Identify the dog and the owner, get medical attention and call animal control - and emergency services if needed," he said. "This helps document the attack. If it's safe to do so, take photos of the dog, attack location, and injuries. Then call an attorney to protect your rights."