Judge denies Norwich woman's request to reconsider dog destruction order

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Norwich — A New Britain Superior Court judge on Thursday denied a request by the owner of two pit bulls, held at the Norwich dog pound for more than five years following an October 2013 attack on a family, to reconsider her May 6 ruling in favor of the state Department of Agriculture’s decision to affirm the city’s dog destruction order.

Hours after dog owner Sheri Speer filed her motion Thursday asking Judge Sheila A. Huddleston to reconsider her ruling, the judge filed an order denying the request.

Huddleston on May 6 dismissed Speer’s appeal of the state agricultural commissioner’s ruling that the two female pit bulls — Skyler, now 10 years old, and Skyler’s daughter Dolly, now 6 — should be destroyed. The dogs allegedly attacked a grandmother and her three small grandchildren on Oct. 8, 2013, on Talman Street.

One 4-year-old girl suffered a badly torn and broken arm after she put her arm out to protect her younger brother in a stroller. The second dog chased their sister, who ran to a neighbor’s house for protection.

In her three-page motion asking for reconsideration, Speer argued that Huddleston’s decision “relies heavily on (the) terror of the attack and ignores evidence that suggests that Skyler and Dolly did not cause the attack.” Speer has argued that city and state officials failed to consider that other pit bulls roaming the Talman Street neighborhood could have attacked the family. She also argued that responders and witnesses could not determine which of the two dogs, similar in appearance, attacked the family and which one chased the child.

Several witnesses at the state Department of Agriculture hearing testified that the two dogs ran from Speer’s yard and returned there when they were called back by a contractor working at the house. Huddleston said the destruction order was reasonable on both dogs, citing the second dog’s intent to attack the child and the vicious disposition of both dogs when they were taken into custody.

Speer also called the state statute governing the dog destruction orders “unconstitutionally vague” and said the state Department of Agriculture never established rules and policies for enforcement of the statute.

The dogs have been held at the Norwich dog pound with orders of minimal contact since they were taken into custody, and the city has been paying for their daily care.

c.bessette@theday.com

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