Family and friends of a home health-care worker mauled by dogs while on the job in Plainfield last December are protesting the town’s decision to return four of the dogs to their owners.
In the eight months since, Lynne Denning has undergone more than a dozen surgeries and is taking legal action against the town.
Plainfield officials returned four of the six dogs in question to their owners last week. Denning’s supporters say the decision violates her rights – and the law – since the state Department of Agriculture has not held a hearing on the case.
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"(It's) heart wrenching because you don't want something to happen to somebody else," said Denning's daughter, Bridgett Labrecque. "You know, this is tragic enough, and I think it needed to end here and not go any further."
Protesters gathered at Plainfield Town Hall for Monday night’s board of selectman meeting and vented their frustrations.
"The dogs literally tore Lynne’s face off and ripped chunks of her body off all over her entire body," said Liz Marsden of Connecticut Residents Opposing Unsafe Dogs. "This is not a little garden variety bite."
First Selectman Paul Sweet addressed the crowd at Monday’s meeting, limiting public comment on the decision to send the dogs home. He pointed out that the town sought legal advice before releasing the dogs and said the owners agreed to unspecified stipulations.
"If the state Department of Agriculture would have had this hearing sooner, most likely these four dogs would have been released a lot sooner,” Sweet said. “Because this has been going on with the sideshow with the state, we’re in the position that we’re in, but what we’re doing, we believe is 100 percent lawful."
Officials with the Department of Agriculture declined to comment Monday, only saying they’re finalizing a hearing date.
"We cannot comment on this case because we are the adjudicating agency in the appeal of the order," said department spokesman Ray Connors.
In the past, the department has said it’s not uncommon for hearings to be held more than a year later.