Fairfield family’s dog euthanized after animal control officers mistook it for young coyote, police say

Zach Murdock, Hartford Courant
·2 min read

A Fairfield family’s dog was mistaken for a small coyote this week and euthanized, prompting an apology from the police chief and an internal investigation of the department’s animal control procedures.

Police were called to help animal control at about 9 p.m. Wednesday night to help with an animal in “severe distress” near Lawrence Road, police Chief Christopher Lyddy said in a statement Friday.

“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,” Lyddy said.

Those officers contacted the state, per wildlife procedures, but were told there were no available rehabilitation facilities that could care for the animal, Lyddy said. The animal was in severe distress after “prolonged exposure to the elements,” so the officers brought it to a local animal shelter to be euthanized per the department’s usual procedures, he added.

“Upon subsequent review, it was determined that the animal was a small dog, not a young coyote,” Lyddy said. “The department has met in person with the family and offered its sincere and deepest condolences and apologies for the family’s loss.”

The police department oversees the local animal control division, so officials are reviewing the departmental procedures to try to prevent any such mistake in the future, Lyddy said.

Fairfield detectives also are investigating what occurred and one part-time animal control officer has been placed on administrative leave, Lyddy added.

“This is a tragic and heartbreaking situation, and as a dog lover, my heart goes out to this family,” First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said. “I know emotions are high, but I am asking our community to please allow time for the police to investigate the full circumstances of what transpired.”

Zach Murdock can be reached at zmurdock@courant.com.


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