Thea Digiammerino

New Haven Working on New Rules Regarding Dangerous Dogs

In the two years since a deadly dog attack in New Haven, the city’s Board of Alders Public Safety Committee has been working on new rules to hold owners of dangerous dogs accountable.

New Haven fire, police and EMS have already changed how they respond to dog attacks. All animal 911 calls in the city are now considered Priority 1 calls. Now, the alders are looking to make changes to how dogs are classified as dangerous based on the laws in another Connecticut city.

Two years ago 53-year-old Jocelyn Winfrey died after being mauled by two dogs in an attack on Ella Grasso Boulevard. This week, the New Haven Board of Alders Public Safety Committee reviewed proposed changes to the city’s ordinance that regulates animals and pets.

“We looked at a number of different ordinances around the state, the one that stuck out really was from New Britain,” said New Haven Alders Public Safety Committee Chair Gerald Antunes.

Under the New Britain law, a dog or animal that has bitten, injured or attacked a human with provocation would be deemed vicious or dangerous. This definition would not apply to dogs that were defending a person from attack.

“We don’t want to go by breed, we want to go by the individual animal and their characteristics because any breed can be vicious or violent at any particular time,” Antunes explained.

In addition to registering their dogs with the Animal Control Division of New Haven police and making sure they’re micro-chipped, owners of dangerous dogs would be required to post a beware of dog sign in a highly visible manner at their homes and place a muzzle on the dog when not inside the house.

Owners would also not be allowed to leave the dog unattended outside, or allow the dog access to children.

Jennifer Stock, who has owned her dog Sebastian for eight months, said she thinks the regulations make sense.

“I know from owning Sebastian that dogs go through phases sometimes where they can become shy or aggressive but I think there’s a lot owners can do to make sure that their dogs don’t harm other people,” Stock said.

New Haven’s alders also want to adopt new regulations that crack down on uncontrolled breeding. The public safety chair is confident the city’s corporation counsel will approve the proposed changes.

There will be a public hearing on the animal issues at a later date.

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