Ottawa Law Firms Weigh in on Dog Bite Law in Ontario

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What Every Owner Should Know

When you make the decision to get a dog, you're doing more than just acquiring a pet. Not only do these furry friends quickly become beloved members of the family - they're also a big responsibility. If you're one of an estimated 32% of Canadian households who own a dog, you know that keeping a pet encompasses feeding, grooming and caring. But what you may not is that it also means ensuring that they are well-trained and controlled.

According to dog bite law in Ottawa, it is the owner who is liable for the dog's behaviour and it is an offence under the City's Animal Care and Control By-law to allow your dog to bite or attack a person or a domestic animal without provocation. Dog bite law in Ontario, also known as the Dog Owner's Liability Act (DOLA) of Ontario, states that dog owners are liable for any damage or injury caused by their dogs and permits dog attack victims to make a claim against the owner of the dog. Even though the owner is not technically at fault, this action is permissible under strict liability. In tort law, strict liability means someone can be held liable for a situation where they were not at fault or negligent. This means that the dog bite victim usually does not even have to prove the dog owner was negligent and liability can be imposed even the owner acted within reason.

In Canada and Ottawa, law firms are no strangers to dog bite cases, as they are unfortunately quite common situations. The Canada Safety Council estimates that there are around 460,000 dog bite incidents per year. Should a dog bite victim pursue a personal injury case against the owner, dog bite law in Ontario states they are eligible for monetary damages as assessed by a court or settled through Ottawa law firms. Under the DOLA and dog bite law in Ontario, the court is also authorized to make additional orders, including:

  • Destroying the dog
  • Mandatory sterilization
  • Fines
  • Specific control measures (i.e. a muzzle or leashing order)
  • Banning the owner from dog ownership for a predetermined amount of time

In Ottawa, law firms can assist dog owners with these charges. In some cases the monetary damages can be reduced if the court finds the injured party acted unreasonably. Section 3 of the DOLA further states, "The Court shall reduce the damages awarded in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the damages." It should also be noted that some home insurance policies cover these damages. As a dog owner it's important to review your policy coverage.

To report a dog bite or a dog at large call 3-1-1 and take the following steps. If you are a dog owner concerned with learning more about dog bite law in Ontario, contact a specialized personal injury lawyer today. While dogs are certainly called man's best friend for a reason, it's important not to underestimate the responsibility you, as a dog owner, face.

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