What are the Laws About Dog Bites in Canada?
  • Monday, 22 February 2021

What are the Laws About Dog Bites in Canada?

In Canada alone, it is estimated that thousands of people get bitten by dangerous dogs yearly. What’s more alarming is that a majority of the cases involve children under the age of 10. That is why we must always be on the lookout for violent dogs in our neighborhood.

Dog bites don’t only bring problems to the victim but also the owner. We have listed the issues that the bite victim may experience after the incident.

  • Injury – A bite is the most common type of damage that a victim may get in a dog attack. Other types of injury include scratches and knock-downs
  • Medical expenses – Getting treated after a dog bite may cost you money. The payments may include vaccines, tests, and professional fees. However, if the dog owner has pet insurance, you may get compensation for these expenses.
  • Pain and suffering – The victim may experience emotional trauma after the terrifying incident.
  • Complications:
  • Sepsis – Untreated animal bites can sometimes lead to sepsis, a severe reaction to infection. If left untreated, this may lead to death. The symptoms of this are high or low blood temperature, confusion, extreme daytime sleepiness, and severe pain or discomfort.
  • Tetanus – A dog bite may allow the tetanus virus to enter your body. Signs of tetanus include cramping in the jaw, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing, and muscle stiffness.
  • Rabies – If the dog that bit you has rabies, then there is a high chance that you will get the rabies virus. Early signs of rabies in humans are headache, fever, weakness, and itching or prickling around the bite area. If you experience these signs after the bite, then you should immediately seek medical assistance. 
  • Capnocytophaga – Another infection that you can get from a dog bite is Capnocytophaga. This infection may lead to kidney failure, heart attack, and gangrene if left untreated.

Ontario’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act

Historically, dog owners in Ontario have been charged and convicted of criminal negligence and criminal negligence causing bodily harm in relation to incidents of dog bites and attacks. Before, there were no laws that focus on how to hold the dog owner liable for the actions of the dog. 

In 1990, the Dog Owners’ Liability Act was introduced to protect the victims of dog bites. This law aims to hold a dog owner liable for the damages if their dog bites or attacks another person or domestic animal. If there are two owners, then they are joint and severally liable for the damages.

However, suppose the incident happened within the owner’s property and the dog bite victim intended to commit criminal or illegal activity. In that case, the owner is not liable for the damages. 

A proceeding may be commenced in court against the dog owner if it is alleged that:

  • the dog has bitten or attacked another domestic animal
  • the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals
  • the owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from:
    • biting or attacking a person or domestic animal, or
    • behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals

If the court finds that the allegations against the dog are true, then they may order that the dog be destroyed in the manner specified in the order or that the owner take measures specified in the order. 

Here are some of the measures for more effective control of the dog:

  • Confining the dog to its owner’s property
  • Restraining the dog by means of a leash
  • Restraining the dog by means of a muzzle
  • Posting warning signs on the property

In making an order, the court will usually take into consideration the dog’s past and present temperament and behavior, the seriousness of the injuries caused by the biting or attack, the unusual contributing circumstances tending to justify the dog’s action, the improbability that a similar attack will be repeated, the dog’s physical potential for inflicting harm, precautions taken by the owner to preclude similar attacks in the future, and any other circumstances that the court considers to be relevant.

Dog Owners’ Liability Act and Pitbulls

Dog Owners’ Liability Act and PitbullsThis act also restricts owning, breeding, transferring, and importing Pitbulls within Ontario. If a person owns a restricted pit bull, they must comply with the requirements in the act. Pitbull includes:

  • a pit bull terrier,
  • a Staffordshire bull terrier,
  • an American Staffordshire terrier,
  • an American pit bull terrier.

Should I Go to Court for a Dog Bite Injury?

Should I Go to Court for a Dog Bite Injury?When dealing with dog bites, the victim can choose between settling the case outside of the court system or through the legal system. If a dog has injured you or your loved one, you should know when to resolve the case outside and through the court system. We have also included some advantages of each in the list below. 

Outside the Court System:

  • If you know the person or he/she belongs to your family and friends.
  • You only sustained minor injuries.
  • The case can be resolved more quickly, and you will receive compensation sooner.
  • Get a better sense of closure and move past the trauma caused by the incident faster.
  • Lower legal fees (if there are), and you will immediately know how much money you may receive.

Through the Court System:

  • If you don’t know the person personally.
  • You sustained severe injuries.
  • You may receive a larger settlement.
  • A judicial procedure enforces the decision.
  • You would get a greater sense of satisfaction from winning the case, especially if your encounter with the dog’s owner were confrontational.

When dealing with legal matters related to dog bites, hiring a personal injury lawyer will offer great relief from stressful procedures and paperwork. To get a FREE case evaluation, contact Diamond & Diamond Law now!

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You

The first thing you should do after a dog bite incident is to seek medical attention immediately. Once you’ve recovered, you should find an excellent personal injury lawyer that will help you maximize your claims.

You can send your case on our website to get a FREE case evaluation or dial 1-800-567-HURT to contact Diamond & Diamond Law.

Pro Tip

“Always hire a lawyer when dealing with legal matters so that you always get the most of what you deserve.”

FAQs for What are the Laws About Dog Bites in Canada

What if I am close to the dog owner?

If you’re close to the owner of the dog, it is not necessary to sue them. What you can do is to file a claim to the insurance company with the help of a dog bite lawyer so that he can deal with negotiating a settlement before filing a lawsuit becomes necessary.

Will I be held liable if a person I don’t know trespasses my property and gets bitten by my dog?

It is incredibly rare for a trespasser to successfully sue a property owner for the damages he sustained while on the property. However, if the owner knows that his dog is violent and may bite another person, and he did not put up signages that will warn trespassers, he may be held liable for the damages.

How can I effectively control a dog that has bitten someone?

To effectively control your dog from biting again, you should employ preventive measures. This includes using a leash so that the dog won’t escape your property, putting a muzzle on your dog, making your fence higher so that passersby won’t get bitten accidentally, and create signage to inform people about your dog. 

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