Dog Owners’ Liability Act

 In Blog, Mitchell, Jennifer A., Uncategorized

Dog owners have responsibilities to their furry friends. They also have responsibilities to others to ensure that their dogs do not bite or attack any person or domestic animal.

Civil Liability

Under the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA), in most circumstances, the owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by the dog on another person or domestic animal. This is the case regardless of whether the owner knew the dog had a propensity for that behaviour or if the owner was at fault or negligent. However, the court can proportion damages to the degree to which the plaintiff caused or contributed to the damages.

An owner may also claim contribution and indemnity from any other person in proportion to the degree to which the other person’s fault or negligence caused or contributed to the damages.

Proceedings under the Provincial Offences Act

Proceedings may be commenced against a dog owner in the Ontario Court of Justice if the DOLA or a court order or regulations made under the DOLA are contravened.

Proceedings can also be commenced if it is alleged that:

  • The dog has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal;
  • The dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals; or
  • The owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog 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.

Other Notable Provisions of the Dog Owners’ Liability Act

Pursuant to the DOLA, dog owners must exercise reasonable precautions to prevent their dog 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.

The DOLA also includes provisions relating to pit bulls, search and seizure of dogs, offences and penalties for committing said offences.

If you have questions about your dog, a dog in your neighbourhood, or you have been injured by a dog, contact the team at Brown Beattie O’Donovan — we’ll help you understand your rights and obligations.

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