Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Owner liability when dogs are off their leashes in Connecticut

Dogs, like other animals, need mental stimulation and exercise to stay healthy. People who live in developed areas may not have enough room in their house or yard to allow their dogs adequate exercise. For these individuals, visiting parks, nature preserves and other public areas is a great way to let their dogs stretch their legs.

Unfortunately, the tendency of owners to indulge their dogs can create some risk for others, especially when a dog is off its leash. While most dogs are friendly and well-behaved in public settings, it is possible for a dog to suddenly turn aggressive or violent with little provocation. Owners who let their dogs run free can endanger anyone the pets encounter.

Dogs running loose can become excited and erratic

Letting a dog off a leash can lead to joyful exuberance. Many dogs will run around, potentially engaging in some hunting behavior. They may chase squirrels or dart off into the bushes after the smallest sound.

That instinct can result in an injury to another animal or a person. An excited, unrestrained dog can easily injure or kill another dog or cause severe bites to humans. Any kind of dog, from the smallest laptop pet to massive dogs bred for protection, can pose a risk to others in a public setting.

The bites dogs inflict can cause broken bones, severe lacerations, blood loss, scarring and infection. The people who wind up hurt by an unrestrained canine have the right under Connecticut law to hold the dog's owner responsible, especially because the law requires that dogs be kept on a leash at all times while in public.

Injuries caused by dogs can be expensive

Serious dog attacks often lead to traumatic wounds that require anything from sutures and bone setting to surgery. If the bite is in a conspicuous location, such as the hands, neck or face, cosmetic surgery may be necessary for a full recovery.

As if those medical costs weren't enough, victims of dog bites can also have psychological wounds that need treatment. A fear of dogs or open spaces can result from an attack in a public place. Victims may require years of therapy to overcome the trauma of a single incident.

Victims, as well as the parents of children who are attacked, can take action in civil court against irresponsible dog owners. By bringing a personal injury lawsuit, families can recover the costs of a vicious attack. They can also hold the owner accountable for their poor decision and, hopefully, deter other people from endangering the public in the same way in the future.

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