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Becoming a dog owner fills us with excitement and pride, but it also requires considerable dedication and effort. Alongside providing our furry friends with the necessary care, support, resources, and love, we must also ensure the safety of everyone who enters our property.

Even the calmest dogs can have moments of aggression. What should you do if your dog unexpectedly bites someone on your property? If this happens, you need to be prepared to handle the liability and potential legal claims. This blog will explore the legal and financial implications of dog bites and provide essential guidance on how to manage such situations effectively.

Legal Consequences

A dog bite is a serious issue with significant legal implications. Previously, Canadian law did not specifically hold dog owners accountable for their pets’ actions. However, the introduction of the Dog Owners’ Liability Act has addressed this gap, providing protection for victims of dog bites. This statute establishes that dog owners are liable for any injury or property damage caused by their pet. In situations involving multiple dog owners, they share joint and several liability for the damages incurred. Additionally, the act covers instances where a dog harms another domestic animal.

In instances where a domestic dog causes harm to someone, the owner bears responsibility for the damages incurred by the victim. In jurisdictions that uphold strict liability standards concerning dog bites, plaintiffs are not required to prove the owner’s negligence. They are entitled to seek compensation for a range of losses, including property damage, medical bills, and intangible harm.

In severe cases, an application must be sent to the court to euthanize a vicious dog. Considering the severity of the injuries, the court can also order the dog owner to provide better animal control by ensuring it is on a leash, muzzled, confined to a secure area with warning signs, or prohibit them from owning a dog for a specific time. 

Dog bite victims may incur several expenses and losses after an animal attack. The following are some of the most common expenses:  

  • Medical expenses, including medications, hospitalization, etc.
  • Physical therapy and mental health care
  • Lost income due to  time off work for recovery and medical treatment
  • General pain and suffering
  • Property damages 

It’s important to note that if your pet has a history of biting or attacking others, also called the bite rule, the victim can obtain double or triple the compensatory damages in such cases. Discretionary fines may also be awarded as punishment against the dog’s owner. On the other hand, if injuries are relatively minor and the compensatory damages are less, a court case may not be the best option for victims. Countless individuals opt to settle a dog bite case prior to heading to court. The benefits of receiving a quick settlement include: 

  • Receiving compensation faster
  • Preventing an unpredictable decision
  • Avoiding additional dog bite lawyer’s fees
  • Removing multiple court proceedings and appearances

What to do If Your Dog Bites Someone on Your Premises

If your pet bites someone on your premises, the following are the immediate steps that you need to take: 

  • To control the situation, immediately isolate the dog in a separate room to prevent any further incidents. 
  • Assess the severity of the bite, and if required, consider opting for medical assistance. Remember, even minor bites carry the risk of infection, so prioritize medical attention. 
  • After the dog incident, exchange contact information with the bitten victim. Consider acquiring their name, phone number, and address and provide them with your contact information as well. 
  • If the bite is minor, you can provide basic first aid, including cleaning the wound with soap and water or applying an antiseptic.
  • Take photos of where the bite occurred, the injury, and other relevant evidence. If there were witnesses, request for their contact information.
  • If animal control/law enforcement becomes involved, cooperate fully. Make sure to provide any requested information and comply with any directives.
  • Consult a dog bite lawyer, mainly if concerns about potential legal consequences exist. They can advise on protecting your interests and navigating any legal implications.


If your dog perpetrates an attack on an individual within your premises, you could be held responsible and may face legal action. In these circumstances, it’s imperative to engage with a professional. Their expertise can aid in delineating and safeguarding your rights, advocating your case against the opposition, and offering assistance to you and your loved ones in this demanding phase. Reach out to MacIsaac Gow LLP for expert legal guidance following a dog bite. We will help you learn more about your case and evaluate the options available to you.