I have a cuddly, loving, fluffy white Maltese and despite him recently turning 3 years old, he’s still a puppy in my eyes. Dog owners, like me, know the happiness a dog brings to one’s life with simple pleasures like when you walk into the house and are greeted by nothing but sheer joy and excitement or when you are on the sofa and your dog decides to be your teddy bear and snuggle up to you, but there are a few legal details about dog ownership that may be less known than they should be.
According to the Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act, “The owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by the dog on another person or domestic animal.” If, however, a person is attacked by a dog on a premises when they have the intention or are in the process of committing a crime, then the dog owner may be absolved of civil liability.
This means that if you have sustained injury or impairment as a result of a dog bite or dog attack, you may be able to successfully sue the dog owner for damages. If the dog owner has a home insurance policy at the time of the incident, the insurer will likely respond to the claim.
According to the City of Toronto’s statistics there was a 39% increase from 2021 to 2022 in dog attacks and a 19% increase during the same time period in altercations involving dogs and other animals. Although some horrific incidents are reported on the news or found on social media, many are never made known. In the City of Toronto, there were 1316 dog attacks in 2022.
In these unfortunate situations, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. It’s also important to obtain the name and contact information of the dog owner, obtain witness information, document a timeline of events, take pictures of the injury and if possible, of the dog involved.
If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, the incident should be reported to the city in which the incident occurred. In Toronto, contact Toronto Public health at 416-338-7600 or at www.toronto.ca/BiteReport as well as Toronto Animal Services by calling 311.
A reminder that according to the Animals Bylaw, dogs must be kept on a leash when off the premises of the owner except when in designated areas of city parks. In addition, dog owners are required to purchase a pet license from the city and renew it annually.
If you have been injured or impaired by a dog bite or attack, please contact us for a free initial consultation.