As a dog owner, you have a deep and beautiful connection with your dog. Here is essential information you need to know if your dog bites or attacks a person or domestic animal. [1]

A legal dispute for a dog bite or attack is governed by statute. The Dog Owners Liability Act provides that where damage is caused by being bitten or attacked by a dog on the premises of the owner, the liability of the owner is determined under this Act and not under the Occupiers’ Liability Act”. [2]

Currently, dog bites or attacks are held to a strict liability standard. Essentially, this means that the victim of a dog bite or attack only has to prove that they were bitten or attacked by your dog. They do not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent in any capacity. The owner’s liability for the dog’s actions is not reduced even if the victim knew the dangers involved in approaching the dog and even if the owner of the dog was not negligent. [3]

Unfortunately, a dog bite can cause several serious physical issues and diseases. [4] A claim for damages could include costs for the following:

  • Medical Treatment
  • Plastic Surgery (to correct severe scarring or disfiguration)
  • Emotional Trauma
  • Lost income
  • Pain and Suffering

Courts are permitted under provincial law to take into consideration the conduct of the victim in provoking the bite or attack. This is a promising way you could successfully defend a claim against you. The damages awarded to a Plaintiff could be reduced based on the degree of the Plaintiff’s conduct contributing to the bite or attack. [5]

The circumstances of the bite or attack may matter in your dispute. If a person is on your premises with the intention to or while in the process of committing a criminal act then there is no owner liability for injuries caused by your dog. [6]

Your home insurance could help you contest a claim. Standard home insurance policies include “third party liability” coverage which ensures the insurance company will could respond to a claim that your dog harmed someone. It is essential that you read your home insurance policy carefully. You should notify them immediately if your dog does harm someone.

All dog owners will be held jointly and severally liable in cases where more than one party is identified as the dog owner. Effectively, all dog owners are all equally responsible for their dog’s actions and to pay damages when necessary. [7]

We urge you to seriously consider the legal and financial implications of dog ownership.  Dealing with an injured third party and your dog can be a stressful and a potentially financially damaging situation. If you have a dog attacked or bitten a person or animal, it can be crucial to obtain legal assistance early. Gartner & Associates has successfully defended numerous dog bites cases in Ontario. Gartner & Associates recognizes that this is a difficult time and will defend you and your dog diligently and passionately.

For more information, contact us by phone at 416-836-9971 or via email at


[1] Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 1990, s.2(1)

[2] Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 1990, s.3(1)

[3] Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 1990, s.2(3)

[4] Moretto v Nicolini-Femia, 2017 ONSC 3945

{5] Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 1990, s.2(3)

[6] Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 1990, s.3(2)

[7] Dog Owners’ Liability Act, 1990, s.2(2)



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