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.
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.
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.
Were it not
for witnesses noting
license plate, his
identity would never
have been known.”
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,” 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.