Who is a dog’s keeper?

The Connecticut Supreme Court just ruled on a case that helps to further clarify who is the keeper of a dog in Connecticut. To be strictly liable for damages under the dog bite statute one must be deemed to be the keeper of a dog.

In Auster v. Norwalk United Methodist Church the Supreme Court held that a church, who allowed an employee to own a dog and live on church grounds, was not the keeper of a dog;  even when the church instructed the employee to keep the dog inside between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. and chained at all other times. 

The court in Auster relied on longstanding precedent that a landlord is not a keeper of a dog  because a tenant owns a dog and keeps the dog on the premises.

In determining who is the keeper of a dog the court looked at who fed the dog, gave the dog water and housed the dog. The Court found that the defendant Church did not house, feed, or provide the dog water and thus was not the dog’s keeper.

In my opinion, the Supreme Court reached the right result in this case based on existing case law. 

My dog Brady is pictured above, and I house, feed and give her water (and the occassional treat) so I have no choice but to make sure she is well trained and doesn’t bite people.

Ryan McKeen is a trial attorney at Connecticut Trial Firm, LLC in Glastonbury, Connecticut. In 2016, he was honored by the CT Personal Injury Hall of Fame for securing one of the highest settlements in the state. He is a New Leader in the Law. ABA 100. Avvo 10. 40 under 40 for Hartford Business Journal. He has been quoted in Time Magazine, the New York Times, Hartford Courant, Wall Street Journal Law Blog and the Hartford Business Journal. He focuses his practice on Connecticut Personal Injury law. He loves what he does. Contact him ryan@cttrialfirm.com or 860 471 8333

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