Fairfield changing policies after dog mistakenly euthanized

The Fairfield Police Department headquarters on Reef Road.

The Fairfield Police Department headquarters on Reef Road.

/ Josh LaBella

FAIRFIELD — Changes will be coming to the town’s policies regarding wildlife calls after a family’s dog was mistaken for a coyote and euthanized, officials say.

Having a senior police officer join animal control on wildlife calls and more training for animal control officers were among the changes First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick announced in her weekly newsletter.

Kupchick said many residents have called and written her to express their sadness and concern about how the tragedy on Nov. 13 occurred, while also asking what the town is doing to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

“I met with the Police Department the very next day to review what transpired, and have continued to meet with law enforcement to update our town’s policies regarding wildlife calls,” Kupchick said. “I have also been in contact with animal welfare groups and several ACOs from other towns, that I worked with when I served as co-chair of the Animal Welfare Caucus in the state legislature.”

Kupchick said the town is drafting new policies and practices, adding they will be shared with the community as soon as they are completed.

The changes stem from an incident that took place on Nov. 13, when the police department was called to assist Fairfield Animal Control to investigate an animal in “severe distress” in the area of Lawrence Road around 9 p.m.

“The animal, which was found at night during adverse weather conditions, was identified as a young coyote by multiple individuals, including two Fairfield Animal Control officers,” Police Chief Christopher Lyddy said in a release at the time.

After animal control was advised by the state that there were no rehabilitation facilities that could treat the animal, which appeared to be “suffering from prolonged exposure to the elements,” it was taken to the local animal shelter and euthanized.

Police Lt. Antonio Granata said the investigation into the incident is almost complete. He said the animal control officer was “separated from service almost immediately,” working their last day on Nov. 20.

The part-time officer was originally placed on leave pending an investigation, according to the earlier release when the incident happened.

Kupchick said the incident was devastating for the family who lost their dog and for the community.

“I reached out to the family and shared my sincere and heartfelt apologies as did our Police Department,” she said. “I vowed to the family who lost their dog that I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again.”