Ultimate Guide: Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act


Ontario Dog Owners’ Liability Act 101

Adopting a dog can be one of the most amazing experiences, and can lead to cherished memories formed by years of unconditional love and affection.

But, with one bite, that can all change.

Despite the unwavering loyalty and love your dog constantly exudes, one bite can lead to serious injury, permanent physical and emotional scarring and, in some cases, death.

Dogs of all sizes and breeds can cause serious harm to human beings. There has been much debate with respect to which breeds have an innate proclivity for aggression. This has resulted in certain protective legislation targeting certain breeds. For instance, in Ontario, with few exceptions, pit bulls are banned pursuant to the Dog Owners’ Liability Act and Public Safety Related to Dog Statute Amendment Act, 2005.

But why do dogs bite?

There isn’t a clear-cut answer. And there isn’t a way of predicting when, where or why a dog will bite a person. But there are ways to help train your dog to not bite early on. Check out this helpful video.

Just like dog bites, The Ontario Dog Owners`Liability Act (DOLA) is difficult to explain and understand completely.

This article will attempt to break down DOLA into digestible bites to serve you better.

Who is considered a dog owner?

A dog owner smiling at her dog

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the DOLA, it would be appropriate to first examine who is considered a dog owner (the one who is considered at fault in the case of a dog bite).

Section 1 of the DOLA defines dog owner as including any “person who possesses or harbours a dog and, where the owner is a minor, the person responsible for the custody of the minor.”

To sum it up — under the DOLA — a dog owner is:

1. Someone who legally owns a registered dog

2. Someone who looks after, or “babysits” a dog for the owner

3. The parent of a minor who is babysitting a dog

Statutory Obligations and Strict Liability

Dog Bite Attack InfographicIf you’ve been bitten, attacked or otherwise injured by a dog, the province of Ontario bestows certain rights and remedies upon you through the various legal principles that apply to dogs and their owners. This means that you have the legal right to press charges, as the dog owner is strictly liable.

Check out this infographic which outlines the types of breeds, and their potential to bite or attack:

Section 5.1 of the DOLA provides that “each owner of a dog shall exercise reasonable precautions to prevent it 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.”

In summary: dog owners are strictly liable for any damage or injury caused by their dogs.


What to do if you have been bitten or attacked by a dog?

Dog angrily barking with teeth out

To break it down, if you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog, this is what you need to do:

  • Seek medical attention immediately, as dog bites can cause infections if not properly treated
  • It is crucial take photographs at the time of the attack, and document the wound overtime to show the stages of healing and the onset of potential scarring
  • After receiving treatment, contact the dog owner, as he or she is at fault, and they need to pay in damages
  • Also ensure your medical treatment is well-documented. Scrutinize the records and make sure they reflect the injury caused by the attack
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer who’s familiar with this type of liability claim

Being the victim of a dog attack can be a traumatic experience, and remembering to adhere to the above procedures is tough, especially attempting to get the dog owner’s contact information recorded promptly and accurately.

Just remember: your health and safety should be the number one concern.

Who is financially responsible to pay damages arising from a dog bite injury claim?

The dog owner and anyone else found responsible for the injuries sustained by the victim will be held liable to pay the damages.

Dog being held up by man in bedAll dog owners need to understand the potential harm your dog can cause others. Even though she may be a lovable, trustworthy part of the family…

…you have be aware of the liability.

Even a single bite or dog attack can cost a dog owner tens of thousands of dollars. Litigation alone (aside from any award of compensation) can cost tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes as much as one hundred thousand dollars.

If You Were Involved in a Dog-Related Incident, Call Conte & Associates

There is no risk in consulting a personal injury lawyer. If you’ve been bitten or mauled by a dog, it’s difficult to know exactly what to do, or where to turn. If you have legal questions that need answering, don’t hesitate to contact a knowledgeable, compassionate and trustworthy law firm.

Every injury victim deserves to know their legal rights.

At Conte & Associates Personal Injury Lawyers, we know the hardship you’re going through, and we will fight to get you the settlement you deserve. Conte & Associates Personal Injury Lawyers specializes in helping people with serious orthopaedic, brain or spinal cord injuries.

We work in conjunction with the best medical experts in Ontario including neurologists, neuropsychiatrists, neuropsychologists, psychologists, case managers and occupational therapists. We ensure that your condition is properly and fully assessed.

Based in Vaughan, Conte & Associates works with clients in Vaughan and in the surrounding cities of: Thornhill, Woodbridge, Concord, Kleinberg, Maple and Richmond Hill.

Contact Conte & Associates at 1-877-614-0008 for all your legal needs.

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