Since the Dog Owners’ Liability Act has been implemented in Ontario, it is wholly the dog’s owner who is held liable for the consequences of their dog’s attack on another person or another person’s domestic animal. Even if the dog has no history of violent behavior, and even if the owner has not expressed any negligent behavior, they will still be held liable under this Act.However, if the victim can be proven guilty of provocation or negligence themselves, then the damages they are owed can be significantly reduced.
Vagueness of The Legal Term “Owner”
Under the aforementioned Dog Owners’ Liability Act, the term “owner” is stated to also refer to anyone who either harbors or possess a dog, which means that a person does not have to be a legal dog owner to be considered one under this Act. What this means is that, even if you are only walking somebody else’s dog, you can be held legally liable if said dog were to attack someone.
The reasoning behind this is that, since you were the one in control of the dog at the time, you could have done something to prevent the attack. This is especially true if you were expressing negligent behavior at the time, i.e. maybe you weren’t keeping the dog on a leash, or maybe your hold on the leash was slacking, or maybe your thoughts were elsewhere and you failed to recognize the warning signs of an imminent attack.
So how can you protect yourself against such liability? For one, you can go ahead and review any insurance policies you may have to check whether or not you are covered in the event of a dog attack. The majority of home insurance policies will provide coverage for such circumstances, so rest assured, but you can further reassure yourself by reaching out to your insurance broker to let them double check for you. Additionally, you need to consult with an injury lawyer in Huntsville to safeguard your rights.
Even if you are only temporarily providing a home for a dog, it is still important that you know how to protect your assets in the event of a dog attack. After all, a large portion of dog attacks have resulted in the owner shaking their head in disbelief because they never expected their pet to be capable of such violence.
While dogs are referred to as “man’s best friend”, in the end, they are still their human’s responsibility, especially in the legal sense. Your dog will not be the one held accountable for an attack. It will be you. Because of this, you will need to ensure that you take all physical and legal precautions to protect yourself against potential attacks in the future.
This can be achieved by scheduling extra training sessions for your dog, putting extra insurance coverage policies in place, and trusting your pet with only a small selection of people who you know are strong enough to hold your dog back should the dog pull at the leash with all its might.