Dog Attacks in Ontario – Who’s Liable?

Dog attacks are fairly common, and can result in serious physical injuries and psychological trauma. Knowing what the law requires from you as a dog owner and what to do when you or someone you know becomes a victim of a dog attack is crucial.

A dog owner is facing multiple charges after police say her dog attacked a child causing serious, life altering injuries. As Caryn Lieberman reports, the dog had already been deemed dangerous – Mar 25, 2024, Global News


Who’s Liable?

The term ‘dog owner’ refers to anyone responsible for the dog’s care at the time of the incident. For example, if a hired dog walker fails to control a dog, resulting in an attack, they can also be held liable.

Responsibility of the Dog Owner

Recent incidents, such as the high-profile dog attack mentioned above, serve as a reminder of the legal liabilities that come with dog ownership in Ontario. Under Ontario’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act, dog owners are “strictly liable” for any damages resulting from a bite or attack by their dog to a person or a domesticated animal. Strict liability means that the dog owner will be responsible for the damages caused by the dog bite even if the dog owner did nothing wrong.

The reason there is strict liability for dog bites is because:

  1. Dog bites can cause significant injuries to humans
  2. Dogs are inherently unpredictable
  3. It is in the interest of fairness and justice to hold the dog owner who chooses to keep the dog responsible for its actions
  4. It protects the public at large
  5. It encourages dog owners to properly train their animals.

What Should You Do After a Dog Attack?

If you or someone you know is attacked by a dog, certain steps must be taken. 

  1. Collect the information of the dog owner. It is important to take a picture of the owner’s ID and get the contact information of any witnesses present. 
  2. Seek immediate medical attention following a dog attack. Even if the wound looks minimal, there is a high risk of infection or complications with dog bites or scratches. Ask the dog owner about the dog’s history of rabies immunization.
  3. Contact the proper authorities (police or animal control) to report the incident. Make the report as detailed as possible and provide the authorities with the contact information you collected.
  4. Take photos of any injuries, as well as the date, time and location where the attack happened. This plays a key role in both treatment and potential legal actions later on. 

Finally, contact an experienced lawyer specializing in dog attack cases to discuss the best course of action for seeking compensation.

Emotional & Psychological Impact

Victims of dog attacks often suffer more than just physical injuries, as such incidents can also have emotional and psychological impacts. Fear and anxiety can linger for a significant period of time after the attack. For instance, victims may no longer want to go to places with dogs around, fearing that an incident may happen once again. Victims can show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experiencing flashbacks from the time of the incident. Coping with the aftermath requires not only care for the physical injuries but also the trauma of the attack. 

Get Legal Help

Seeking professional help is important for victims to navigate their injuries and fully recover. With dog attack cases, a personal injury lawyer can help secure compensation for both the physical and psychological damages to the victim, providing significant support during a difficult time. Advocai LLP is dedicated to offering guidance to help victims navigate the complexities of legal proceedings and receive the compensation they deserve.

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