The “pandemic pet pandemonium” boom hit Canada in a big way, as many Canadians turned to pet ownership for comfort during the coronavirus pandemic.
With so many people feeling isolated, as social interactions were dramatically curtailed, dogs really did become a human’s best friend more than ever before.
According to a survey by the Ontario SPCA, about one-third of Canadians welcomed a new pet into their homes during this time. Interestingly, nearly 31 percent of those were first-time pet parents. And of course, dogs were one of the leading new furry friends.
All of this is warm, fuzzy news for the new pandemic puppy parents. But are all those new dog owners aware of their responsibilities under the law? Are they aware that they’ll be held liable for any bites or attacks their dog perpetrates on other people—or even other dogs or pets?
What happens if my dog bites someone?
Something all of these new canine companions should be fully aware of is Ontario’s Dog Owners Liability Act. Most notably:
Liability of owner
2 (1) The owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by the dog on another person or domestic animal. R.S.O. 1990, c. D.16, s. 2 (1).
What’s more, the dog owner need not even be aware of any such attack or have done anything at all to cause it; simply, whoever’s name is listed as the owner of any dog perpetrating an attack is the person who shall be held responsible, and liable.
“The civil law in Ontario imposes strict liability on the dog owner for an attack on a person or domestic animal,” notes personal injury lawyer Brian A. Horowitz. “Strict liability means that the victim does not have the burden to prove that the dog owner was negligent in any way, so long as there was an attack.”
This is not to say, however, that the victim of a dog attack is always completely absolved of any liability. “There could be an issue as to whether the victim provoked the dog, or otherwise caused or contributed in some way to the attack,” explains Mr. Horowitz.
“One example might be that the victim disobeyed a warning from the dog owner and proceeded to pet the dog in any event. Such conduct could result in a reduction in the damages awarded to the victim.”
Does insurance cover a dog bite attack?
Insurance coverage is another key determinant in compensation. “Whenever there is a lawsuit for personal injury, the availability of insurance to cover the losses and damages to the victim is extremely important,” said Mr. Horowitz. “The presence of an insurance policy will guarantee recovery in most cases. Fortunately, most homeowner’s policies will cover the dog owner for damages caused by a dog attack.”.
It’s essential that new dog owners are aware of the onus on them to properly train their dogs so that such an unfortunate event does not occur. There are many resources for learning how to choose a dog trainer.
In Canada, there are 500,000 victims of dog bites per year, and a majority of the victims are young children. In fact, there is one dog bite attack in this country every 60 seconds, according to the Humane Society of Canada, and about one in every 70 people will suffer this fate.
What are the injuries associated with a dog bite attack?
The results of a dog attack can be harrowing for the victim, and can range from anything from scarring and surgeries to disabilities and emotional trauma. The most severe of these cases can even result in death.
In conclusion, for dog owners, the need to be responsible is imperative for the safety of others. And, it’s the law.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or dog attack, contact Horowitz Injury Law immediately. Brian A. Horowitz has been an expert in these types of cases for 35 years, and he can see that you get the compensation you deserve. For a free no-obligation consultation, call 416-925-4100.