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Bill would require dog owners to stay on scene of attacks, provide personal info

State Senator Matt Pouliot, sponsor of L.D. 485 “An Act To Require an Owner of a Dangerous Dog To Remain at the Scene of an Assault by the Dog”

AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold a work session on March 20th on a proposal from Senator Matt Pouliot (R – Kennebec) that would require the owner of a dog that has attacked a person and caused serious bodily injury to stay on the scene of the attack until they have provided their name and address.

During the public hearing for the bill on March 11th, bipartisan testimony from lawmakers was presented in support of the bill.

The bill is in part the result of dog attack in Gardiner in July of 2018 where Cynthia Roodman was viciously attacked by two dogs in the Arcade public parking lot in downtown Augusta.

Roodman herself testified in favor of the bill, recounting the trauma, both physical and emotional, of the attack. She told the committee that as soon as the dogs that attacked her were pulled away, the owner of the dogs fled, leaving her alone and injured on the ground.

As soon as the dogs that mauled me were pulled off of me, the owner of the dogs left me on the ground, alone, and departed from the scene with the dogs and never identified himself.

Cynthia Roodman of Gardiner, testifying to the criminal justice and public safety committee, march 11, 2019

“As soon as the dogs that mauled me were pulled off of me, the owner of the dogs left me on the ground, alone and departed from the scene with the dogs and never identified himself. Were it not for witnesses noting this man’s license plate, his identity would never have been known.”

Roodman also testified that after being transported to the hospital by ambulance, she required multiple stitches in both arms, 17 stitches in her ear and 9 staples in her head. She also suffered a concussion and other injuries.

She said she was required to undergo an expensive series of rabies shots because she did not have the information on the dogs’ owner to know if the dogs were up to date on their shots.

The ACLU of Maine testified against the bill, saying the ACLU opposes the expansion of Maine’s criminal code and that the punishment on the bill would create “collateral lifelong consequences” for dog owners who leave the scene of an attack and saying Maine’s courts are backlogged.

The Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers submitted testimony suggesting that the penalties for violating the law in the bill be scaled back to civil offenses instead of criminal.

Simply put, it is negligence when someone is in a situation where their dog attacks someone to simply walk away and leave that person to fend for themselves.

Senator Matt Pouliot, March 11, 2019

“Simply put, it is negligence when someone is in a situation where their dog attacks someone to simply walk away and leave that person to fend for themselves,” said Senator Pouliot, testifying in support of his bill after referencing the attack on Cynthia Roodman.

The work session on L.D. 485 “An Act To Require an Owner of a Dangerous Dog To Remain at the Scene of an Assault by the Dog” will be held on March 20th at 10 AM in the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Room 436 in the Maine State House.

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