Do You Need a Dog Bite Accident Lawyer?

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Do You Need a Dog Bite Accident Lawyer?
Toronto is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country. All over the downtown core, dogs are welcomed into public spaces and stores, allowing us to shop contentedly with our pooches by our side, safe and sound. Try walking your dog through a department store in Montreal, and you’ll likely be on the receiving end of a few disapproving glares, maybe even a polite request to remove the offending animal. When it comes to tolerance for dogs in public spaces, Toronto is the city to emulate. 

With so many animals living in a tight space (especially in some neighbourhoods like Liberty Village and Cityplace with a high concentration of dog-friendly condo buildings), people are bound to run into a few bad eggs once in a while. For the most part, Toronto dog owners are responsible enough to have properly trained and socialized their dog. But, too often are our potentially wonderful pets turned into vicious animals with a long list of behavioural problems because of our negligence, naiveté, or abuse. While it would be simple to just steer clear of those dogs and stay friendly to the well-mannered ones, just remember that even well-behaved dogs can bite.

If you are one of the unlucky victims of a dog bite, there are a few things you might be interested to know before consulting with a dog bite accident lawyer.

How Bad Was the Bite?

Some dogs are naturally mouthy. If they’re excited and playing around, your hand might accidentally slip into an open mouth. You will realize very quickly the difference between a bite and mouthiness, especially if the bite was accompanied by aggressive warning signs, which can include growling, rigid tail wagging, and direct eye contact.

Did the dog break the skin? Toronto Animal Services has two levels of responses to dog bites: when the the dog bites through the skin or when the skin is left intact (for more information about TAS’s response, click here). Although some teeth are sharper than others—like puppy teeth, which feel like little needles that can easily rip the surface of almost anything—it takes a lot of force for an adult dog to puncture your skin. 

If the dog broke the skin, find out from the dog owner or handler if the dog is up-to-date on its shots, especially rabies. You should see a doctor regardless of that fact, but knowing what the dog is immunized against will give your doctor a better idea of what kind of treatment you need. Considering the uncleanliness of a dog’s mouth, you will likely be given a tetanus shot.

The Consequences

Depending on the severity of the bite and the type of dog that bit you, the incident may lead to serious consequences if you decide to report it to Toronto Animal Services. If the dog is banned by the province, such as a pit bull or pit bull mix, there is a strong likelihood that the owner will have to surrender the dog to Animal Services where the dog will be destroyed. For many victims of dog bites, this fact alone may cause a moment’s hesitation. No matter what side of the pit bull debate you’re on, there is a lot to be said about the owner who is responsible for raising an aggressive dog, no matter what the breed. By reporting a pit bull dog bite, it is the dog and not the irresponsible owner that will get the worst of the punishment.

For dog bites involving dogs allowed in the province, the punishment will depend on the severity of the attack, but the dog owner will likely be issued an order to muzzle.

The Aftermath of a Dog Bite

Getting bit by a dog can be a traumatic experience, one which will alter the way you treat dogs and other animals in the future. You may be permanently altered by the incident, both physically and mentally. If the dog bite was serious, it will leave you with scars, and you may have a hard time trusting dogs again. And, in a city so dog friendly, your quality of life could be affected if you’re too nervous to leave your home.

Dog Bites and the Law

If you’re seeking compensation for damages from a dog bite, remember that you, as the victim of the dog bite, are protected under Ontario law. The Dog Owner’s Liability Act states that every owner living in Ontario is responsible if their dog bites or attacks another person or domestic animal and that they are liable for damages resulting in a bite or attack. If the owner did nothing to prevent the bite or attack from happening, like letting their dog off-leash in an unauthorized area for example, they can be taken to court. If you decide to sue the dog owner, consider booking a free consultation with a dog bite accident lawyer at Sokoloff Lawyers.