Your rights when it comes to dog attacks

By Robert Kram | May 2, 2019

The spring is here and in no time parks and patios will be filled with dogs and their owners enjoying the warmer weather. It is, therefore, a good time to remind dog owners and custodians about their obligations, and the victims of dog attacks about their rights.

If a dog a causes harm by biting or attacking a person, or another domestic animal, the dog owner can be sued for the damages caused to the person or the animal under the Ontario Dog Owners Liability Act.  

These compensable damages can include treatment for everything from veterinary bills to psychological remediation for the shock suffered by the individual.

What is defined as a dog attack can be as simple as being knocked over by a dog and suffering a wrist injury. Meaning, it does not have to be a fierce dog attack. It also does not have to be from malicious intent by an aggressive or unpredictable dog.

Moreover, liability of the owner is absolute and applies whether or not the dog has yet to show propensity for this behaviour. It is also important to remember that an owner is someone defined as having custody and control of the dog. This means there can be more than one dog owner and all owners can be held jointly, and separately, liable.

In addition to being sued for damages, if the courts determine that the attacking dog was a menace to the safety of people or domestic animals, for the protection of the public, it can order that the dog be:

  • Put down;
  • Confined to the owner’s property;
  • Restrained by a leash or muzzle; or
  • Kept in areas with warning signs.

It is also worth noting that the Act (Section 15) allows for Peace Officers to seize a dog in a public area if the Officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that the dog has bitten or attacked a person or animal in the past. The Peace Officer can also confiscate the dog if it has behaved in a manner that poses a safety risk, or if the owner has failed to exercise reasonable precautions to avoid an attack.

If you have been a victim of a dog bite or attack, call Pace Law today.

Robert Kram is a litigator with Pace Law. His practice focuses on plaintiff personal injury litigation, mediations, arbitrations and insurance coverage disputes. He has significant experience in both jury and non-jury trials. Robert can be reached at rkram@pacelawfirm.com.