In a dog owners liability case, who is considered an owner of the dog. That question is answered specifically in the Dog Owners Liability Act of Ontario. Section 1 of that act defines owner as “when used in relation to a dog, includes a person who possesses or harbours the dog and, where the owner is a minor, the person responsible for the custody of the minor”. The definition is reasonably wide and will include any persons who have control over a dog. Moreover, section 2(2) of the Act provides that where there is more than one owner of a dog, the owners are jointly and severally liable. In reading the definition of owner under the Act, it includes a person who harbors a dog. What is considered harboring was discussed by the court in a case called Purcell. In that case, one of the defendants in the court action occasionally stayed overnight with his dog at his brother’s home. His brother was also a defendant. On one occasion, the dog attacked the plaintiff and the plaintiff commenced a court action against both the dog owner and his brother. The main issue in this court case was whether the homeowner was harboring his brothers dog on the date the dog attacked the plaintiff the court found that the homeowner had not harbored the dog. The court provided the following comments to assist in assessing who would be considered a harbor of dogs: “liability for injuries caused by a dog rests with owner for an individual who has put himself in the position of the owner… The intention of the legislature was to impose absolute liability on owners of dogs… It is clear that a person does not harbor a dog within the ordinary meaning of harbor unless he or she exercises some degree of care or control over the dog (paraphrased)”. If a person exercises a reasonable degree of care and control over a dog, they may be considered an owner of the dog despite the fact that they are not the “true” owner of the dog. In dog liability cases, it is extremely important to identify the owner of the dog. It is the owner that is strictly liable to pay compensation to an injury victim for injuries they sustained in a dog bite or dog attack. Our lawyers have handled hundreds of dog bite cases and have obtained fair compensation for hundreds of clients in injury cases. If you or someone you know has been bitten or attacked by a dog, contact us for a free consultation. Our lawyers work on the basis of charging no fees until a settlement is obtained. Call us at 613-315-4878. Marc Quinn, Ottawa dog bite lawyer.
January 15th, 2016