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Definition of “owner” pursuant to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, RSO 1990, c D. 16

Under the 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 (s. 2(1)).  According to the Act, an owner of a dog includes a person who possesses or harbours the dog and, where the owner is a minor, the person responsible for the custody of the minor (s. 1).  In Purcell v. Taylor 1994 CarswellOnt 127, the Court clarified that in order to be found to harbour a dog within the meaning of s. 1 and to be jointly and severally liable with the dog’s actual owner, the intention of the person who provides a home for the dog incidental to providing hospitality for the dog’s owner must be to take care of it. In other words, there must be a measure of control exercised over the dog, as the harbourer must temporarily assume those responsibilities (such as feeding it and exercising it) that one would expect of the dog’s actual owner.

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