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Dog Owners Need to Understand the Seriousness of a Dog that Attacks or Bites

In the province of Ontario, there are a lot of dogs and a lot of opportunities for dogs to cause problems. If you decide to buy a dog, you need to understand your responsibilities as a dog owner. No matter how well you think that you know your dog, there is still the potential for your dog to suddenly bite or attack someone or someone’s pet. Since you cannot always predict your dog's activities, you need to protect yourself.

The overriding legislation in the province of Ontario that lays out the responsibilities that dog owners have is the "Dog Owner's Liability Act." This legislation is extremely comprehensive and covers just about any kind of scenario that may arise. For example, the act differentiates situations where there is one recognized owner of a dog and when there is more than one recognized owner of a dog. The act treats dog attacks on people the same as dog attacks on other domestic animals. That means that you can be liable for your dog's attack on a person or on that person's pet.

When a judge is faced with a dog attack case, he has several options to choose from. The most common options a judge will consider include:

  • Ordering the owner to construct something that keeps the dog on the owner's property.
  • Having the dog spayed or neutered to attempt to curb its aggressive behavior.
  • Forcing the dog to wear a muzzle when out in public.
  • Mandating that an owner have his dog on a leash at all times when in public.
  • Stating that signs warning people about the dog must be posted on the owner's property.
  • The destruction of the dog, in extreme cases.

The act goes on to point out a specific breed of dog where there is a zero tolerance for aggressive behavior – pit bulls. If you own a pit bull in the province of Ontario, then your dog only needs to be involved in one attack or biting incident to become a prime candidate for being destroyed. It is best to take all of the necessary precautions before an event happens.

The law does allow some benefit of the doubt to be given to the dog and its owner. If a dog is properly restrained but unnecessarily antagonized by a victim, then the responsibility for the attack can fall with the victim.

Dog owners must also remember that a victim can sue for damages caused by a dog. That is why all dog owners must have renter's or homeowner’s insurance with provisions for potential dog issues. If you have insurance, then you are able to absorb the financial damage cause by your dog's attack. If you do not have insurance, then the victim can sue for your personal assets and cause you a great deal of financial harm.


For assistance with a personal injury and/or insurance claim, please email David Himelfarb at or call 1-855-446-7765, for a free case evaluation.

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