Acts Affecting ‘Fido’

March 7, 2011

As the warmer weather approaches and the days get a little longer, we all start feeling that spring fever! The outdoors once again becomes more enjoyable and we can’t wait to be outside with our families and our pets. But this year, there are a number of proposals before the legislature that may affect ‘Fido.’

Most of these proposed bills are aimed at protecting dogs and their owners. There are two bills being proposed this session that would better the quality of life for people relying on guide dogs. Often times folks who use dogs for medical reasons are denied many privileges and this legislation corrects that inconsistency. Proposed legislation would ensure that people using assistance dogs in connection with a physician-documented health condition are able and permitted to utilize public transportation and also have access to all public places.

Another proposed bill stems from a constituent case. ‘Max’s Bill’ was brought about after a Goshen family’s dog was attacked by another dog. Sadly, that family’s dog suffered many injuries and the family incurred large veterinary expenses. This year, ‘Max’s Bill’ has been proposed to provide compensation for injuries to a dog or other animal caused by another person’s animal. The compensation associated with this bill would include expenses for veterinary care, the fair monetary value of the animal and/or the burial of the animal. Our pets become a part of our families and we want to be certain they are protected. Presently, the only alternative is to sue in small claims court or file an insurance claim.

Another proposed piece of legislation would serve to safeguard our families from aggressive dogs. Just as we have concerns about criminals living in our neighborhoods, many of us have concerns about how friendly our neighbors’ pets are. This bill would establish a registry of dogs that have bitten an individual so people are aware of any dangerous dogs in their community.

While most of the proposals concerning dogs serve to better our quality of life, some go too far. Specifically, there is a proposed bill that would provide animal control officers with the authority to order a dog to be muzzled even if the dog is kept on the owner’s property. Although it is necessary to protect people from dangerous animals, intruding on an individual’s personal privileges is not part of the legislative process. Animal control should have the authority to enforce the muzzling of dangerous animals when they are in public settings, but should not be allowed to enforce that when the animal is on someone’s personal property. Every pet owner takes a risk in owning an animal – harmful or not – but state government has no place telling folks how to live their home-lives. While I see the good intent behind the bill, I will not support this, or any legislation that encroaches on a person’s or pet owner’s rights.

So as spring approaches and the legislative session continues I encourage you and your families to follow the proposals affecting our family pets. I am hopeful that the handful of proposals improving life for resident s and theirs pets will be passed, and remain committed to only support legislation that truly benefits Connecticut.

Visit the links below to track these proposed bills: