Dog bites and animal attacks have long been a concern in Canada, and in the past two decades, many different provinces and municipalities have taken legal action to attempt to decrease the risk of an attack. In 2005, the province of Ontario banned Pit Bulls and mixes from living within the province, citing extreme risk of injury.
Though Pit Bulls were painted as an aggressive breed, responsible in many cases of dog bites, the province has only seen instances of dog and animal attacks increase since 2005 – despite a law banning the dog supposedly primarily responsible for these attacks.
Canada is a country that loves pets, especially dogs. There are an estimated 7 million dogs living in Canada, with over 40% of households including at least one dog. With these statistics, it is no wonder that dog bites and dog attacks are a serious concern.
Dog Attacks in Ontario
The province of Ontario has been a leader in attempting to minimize these attacks from dogs, and have introduced the Dog Owners’ Liability Act. Under the Act, owners are responsible for covering damages if their dog attacks a person, or other domestic pet.
This means that owners need to be responsible for their dogs, their training, and their behavior at all times. While many of us have good reason to trust our loyal dogs, Ontario law leaves very little room for error. There is no defense under the Act for owners who did not expect their dog to become aggressive or bite – owners are responsible even if it is the first time a dog has acted out.
There is one piece of good news for dog owners. In Ontario, courts are instructed to consider the conduct of anyone attacked by a dog, questioning whether their behavior would have encouraged a dog to attack, or left it with very little recourse. If your dog attacks someone who has been abusing or teasing it, the damages awarded to the person attacked may be significantly reduced or voided.
When a Dog Attacks
If you’ve been attacked by a dog owned by another person, you already know how frightening the experience can be. Beyond violated trust, it can be shocking to see just how much damage our beloved dogs can do. If a dog attacks, there are certain steps you must take to protect yourself:
1) Go to the hospital or doctor immediately: Even if injuries do not seem too extensive or severe, it is important to be examined to avoid infection, and document injuries for legal action
2) Report the Attack: It is important that you report the attack to local police, or your local animal services division. This will include documenting the whole incident and interaction and providing the information to authorities
3) Witness Information: Attempt to get the names and contact information of any witnesses who may be able to attest to how the attack happened
4) Contacting the owner: Try to get contact information for the dog owner. IF this is not possible, photos of the owner and dog may be helpful
Suffering a dog attack can be shocking and traumatic, and it can be difficult to know how to respond immediately. Reporting a dog attack to the authorities allows for an investigation to take place. Though you may feel guilty for getting a dog or its owner “in trouble” it is important to remember that you may be protecting other people in future.
Seek Legal Advice
If you’ve been attacked by a dog or other domestic animal, it is essential that you seek legal advice before moving forward with any claim. A personal injury lawyer in Trenton can provide insight into your rights, your responsibilities, and what you may be entitled to after suffering an attack.