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Holding Dog Owners Accountable: Suing for Dog Attacks in Canada


dog bite claims

In an ideal world, all dog owners would be responsible, their pets properly trained, and dog attacks would be a non-issue. Unfortunately, reality paints a different picture. Across Canada, incidents of dog bites and attacks have been steadily increasing, leaving victims with severe injuries, psychological trauma, and mounting medical expenses. When negligent ownership leads to such tragic events, the law provides recourse for holding those owners accountable through civil lawsuits.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricate world of dog bite liability laws in Canada, the grounds for suing after an attack, the process of pursuing legal action, and the vital role that prevention through responsible pet ownership plays in creating a safer society for all.

Understanding Canada’s Dog Owner Liability Laws

The legal responsibility of dog owners varies slightly across Canada’s provinces and territories, but one commonality exists: strict liability for dog bites and attacks. This means that even if the owner wasn’t necessarily negligent or reckless, they can still be held financially responsible for any harm inflicted by their pet.

In addition to strict liability provisions, most regions have specific statutes and bylaws outlining the legal obligations of dog owners, such as:

  • Keeping dogs on a leash in public areas
  • Muzzling aggressive or dangerous dogs
  • Maintaining proper control and supervision at all times
  • Ensuring dogs are properly licensed and vaccinated

Property owners, like landlords or businesses, may also share in the liability if they failed to take reasonable precautions to protect others from a dog they knew or should have known was potentially dangerous.

Negligent Dog Owners Accountable

Grounds for Suing After a Vicious Dog Attack

Dog attacks can leave victims with a wide range of damages, both physical and emotional. In Canada, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses: Ambulance fees, hospital bills, ongoing treatment, rehabilitation costs, and more.
  • Lost wages: If the attack caused you to miss work during recovery.
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and discomfort endured.
  • Emotional distress: Covering the psychological trauma and mental anguish caused by the attack.
  • Disfigurement or permanent scarring: For any lasting physical impacts on appearance.

To successfully sue a dog owner, you’ll typically need to establish that the owner was negligent in their handling or control of the animal. Examples of negligence could include:

  • Failing to properly leash or restrain the dog
  • Leaving the dog unattended in a public area
  • Provocation or encouraging aggressive behavior
  • Ignoring posted warnings or local leash laws

However, it’s important to note that in some provinces like Ontario and British Columbia, strict liability applies regardless of whether the owner was negligent or not. As long as the attack occurred in a public place or the victim was lawfully on private property, the owner can be held liable.

The Legal Process of Suing a Negligent Dog Owner

If you’ve been the victim of a dog attack, time is of the essence. Each province has a strict statute of limitations (typically 1-2 years from the incident date) for filing a lawsuit, so acting quickly is crucial.

The first step is to gather as much evidence as possible, including:

  • Photos or videos of the attack and visible injuries
  • Witness statements and contact information
  • Veterinary records identifying the dog and owner
  • Detailed medical records outlining the extent of your injuries

It’s also advisable to send a demand letter to the dog owner, clearly outlining the incident, your injuries/damages, and a reasonable compensation amount to settle out of court.

If the owner refuses to negotiate or the insurance company denies your claim, you may need to pursue litigation by filing a civil lawsuit. This is where working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can be invaluable.

“Dog bite cases can quickly become complex, especially when dealing with uncooperative owners or insurance companies,” says Toronto-based personal injury attorney Sarah Thompson. “Having proper legal representation ensures your rights are protected and you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.”

The Benefits of Hiring a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer

While you have the option of representing yourself, taking on a dog bite case alone can be an uphill battle. A skilled personal injury lawyer can:

  • Investigate the incident thoroughly and gather evidence to strengthen your case
  • Ensure you meet all filing deadlines and procedural requirements
  • Handle negotiations with the owner’s legal team or insurance provider
  • Represent you in court and fight for maximum compensation if a settlement can’t be reached

Most reputable law firms work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay any upfront costs. Instead, they take a percentage (often around 30%) of any settlement or court award. This arrangement allows victims to pursue justice without worrying about hefty legal fees.

When choosing a lawyer, look for someone with specific experience handling dog bite injury cases in your province. You can check online reviews, ask for referrals, and schedule consultations to find the right fit.

The Importance of Responsible Dog Ownership and Attack Prevention

Of course, the ideal solution is to prevent dog attacks from happening in the first place through responsible pet ownership. All dog owners should:

  • Properly train and socialize their dogs from a young age to discourage aggressive behavior.
  • Follow all leash laws and keep dogs securely restrained in public areas.
  • Supervise closely when children are present to avoid any accidental provocation.
  • Maintain control at all times, using muzzles if necessary for aggressive dogs.
  • Report dangerous dogs to local authorities to prevent future attacks.
  • Ensure dogs are properly licensed, vaccinated, and microchipped as required by law.

It’s also crucial to educate children on how to safely interact with dogs, such as:

  • Avoiding sudden movements or loud noises around unfamiliar dogs
  • Never approaching a dog that’s eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies
  • Asking the owner for permission before petting
  • Standing still and avoiding eye contact if approached by an unfriendly dog

By prioritizing responsibility and prevention, we can create a safer environment for everyone while still enjoying the companionship of our beloved four-legged friends.

Case Studies: Dog Attack Lawsuits in Canada

To better illustrate the legal process and potential outcomes, let’s examine a few real-life case studies of dog attack lawsuits in Canada:

Case Details Outcome 
Sabadash v. Garcia (2019, BC)A young boy was attacked by a neighbour’s dog, suffering severe facial injuries and psychological trauma.The dog owners were found negligent for failing to control their aggressive dog. The family was awarded $1.2 million in damages. 
Dye v. Robinson (2017, ON)A woman was bitten by her friend’s dog while house-sitting, requiring surgery and ongoing treatment. Due to Ontario’s strict liability laws, the dog owner was found liable despite claims the victim provoked the attack. A settlement of $180,000 was reached.
Webb v. Vokes (2015, AB) A woman was attacked by a dog while lawfully on the owner’s property, suffering lacerations and nerve damage.The dog owner was found 100% liable under Alberta’s Occupiers’ Liability Act. Damages of $125,000 were awarded.

As these cases demonstrate, the outcomes can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances and province. However, one constant remains: negligent dog owners can and will be held accountable, both legally and financially, for the harm their pets inflict on others.


If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to a dog attack, you deserve justice and fair compensation. Don’t let negligent owners escape accountability – protect your rights and exercise your legal options.

Get the Legal Support You Deserve

Turn to our experienced network of personal injury lawyers at Claim Settlement for assistance. Our team of legal experts boasts over 30 years of collective experience in successfully handling personal injury and accident cases, securing millions of dollars in settlements for our clients.

Benefit from our complimentary initial consultations and rest assured, you won’t incur any fees until our network of lawyers has secured the compensation you rightfully deserve.

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If you’ve suffered an injury or been involved in an accident, reach out to us at  1-833-892-5246 for a no-obligation consultation, or email us at Our dedicated team is here to guide you through the entire legal process, ensuring your rights are protected every step of the way.


The statute of limitations (time limit) for filing a dog bite lawsuit varies by province but is generally between 1-2 years from the date of the incident.

Potential damages include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement or scarring, and more.

While you can represent yourself, having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side greatly increases your chances of a successful outcome and maximum compensation.

Most reputable law firms work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don't pay any upfront costs. They take a percentage (often around 30%) of any settlement or court award.



Claim Settlement is here to help guide you through every step of the process. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for free claim review.
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