How Three Cases of Animal Attack Could Lead to a Dog Bite Lawsuit

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How Three Cases of Animal Attack Could Lead to a Dog Bite Lawsuit

As much as we love and trust our pets, we know that they can be somewhat unpredictable. For the most part, we’re pretty good at anticipating a dog’s reactions. We know what triggers them to bark, what makes them scared or happy or stressed out. Unfortunately, we don’t always know what can make a calm and well-rounded dog without any history of aggression suddenly turn and bite someone. When it comes to dog bites, the main thing that the owners of the attacking dog claim is that the attack or bite was completely out of character. Most of the time, these dog bites are the first offence.


A dog bite can come without warning or provocation. In dog-friendly cities like Toronto with an extremely high dog-per-household ratio, incidents of attacks are more common, and dog bite lawsuits are on the rise. To demonstrate how quickly a situation can escalate, read on to learn more about these three dog bites that happened in the Greater Toronto Area in the last year.


Maryanne Leishman in East York


On June 22nd, the 58-year-old Maryanne Leishman and her dog were walking down the street when a dog ran out of a nearby house and attacked Leishman and her dog. Although the owner quickly ran out and separated them, Leishman and her pet still sustained injuries that were later treated at the hospital.


The police responded to the incident, but, according to Leishman, failed to charge the owner under the grounds that dogs are allowed off leash on their owner’s property. While the injuries sustained weren’t life threatening to either Leishman or her dog, Leishman felt that justice wasn’t properly served that day. According to Section 4 of the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, “A proceeding may be commenced in the Ontario Court of Justice against an owner of a dog if it is alleged that, (b) the owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from (i) biting or attacking a person or domestic animal.” Based on the fact that the dog ran out of the house and onto the sidewalk, one could argue that the owner did not exercise reasonable caution to keep his dog from escaping his property.


Toni Baxter at Woodbine Beach


Toni Baxter and her dog were walking the boardwalk at Woodbine Beach when a man set his pit bull on them and allowed the dog to lunge after them while he stood back and watched (apparently amused by the situation). Although the police were called, the man had already taken control of his dog and removed himself. Baxter had to get a tetanus shot from a bite sustained while trying to protect her dog which was, coincidentally, a pit bull mix.


As part of the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, pit bulls are strictly banned in Ontario. If the man were ever identified and his dog apprehended, the law would require it to be destroyed. The issue of breed-specific legislation has always been a contentious one, but this incident clearly shows that a dog’s behaviour, no matter what its breed, is dictated by its owner’s training. The owner of the attacking pit bull conditioned his dog to be aggressive, while Baxter’s dog of a similar breed was scared and submissive like most other breeds would be in that situation. Regardless, the ban applies to all pit bulls, no matter how well-mannered they are.


Copper the Dog in Thompson Memorial Park


On August 19, while playing in the off-leash area of Thompson Memorial Park in Scarborough, Copper, the 11-year-old toy poodle, was mauled and killed by a bull terrier mix. While the park had designated sections for small, medium, and large dogs, Copper was allegedly in the large breed area of the dog park when he was attacked, which there is technically no law against. Copper’s owners, David Hardy and Maime Gould were bit in the process of trying to remove the dog from Copper, but were unable to save their little dog.


The bull terrier mix was with its dog walker at the time. Although the police were involved, no charges were laid. The Act protects people as well as their pets against dog attacks such as Copper’s. A dog bite lawsuit is not out of the question for Hardy and Gould, who may decide to pursue legal action against the dog’s owner for the bites sustained while trying to help Copper, but also on behalf of Copper himself.


In the Event of a Dog Bite


If you or your beloved pet have been severely injured by a dog bite, remember that the law is on your side. Seek medical attention immediately and call 311 to report the incident. If you see a dog attack, call the police. After the incident, the scars on your body may not be the only ones left behind. In cases like Copper’s, the loss of a pet can be just as harrowing and traumatic as the loss of a relative. Booking a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer at Sokoloff Lawyers will help you get the peace of mind you and your family deserve.



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