Dogs are often hailed as man’s best friend. However, that friendship can sometimes turn sour. Dog bites and dog attacks are unfortunate incidents that can lead to serious physical and emotional injuries, particularly when a vulnerable individual, such as a child, is involved. While most dogs are gentle and loving companions, any dog, regardless of breed or temperament, has the potential to bite or attack under certain circumstances.

If a dog attack has injured you or a loved one, it is important to understand your rights and legal options when it comes to a personal injury claim. This blog aims to shed light on the complexities surrounding dog bites and attacks in personal injury law. It will explore legal and legislative nuances involved in dog bite claims and offer insights into effectively navigating the claims process. 

Alberta Pet Ownership Legislation 

Calgary has a Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO) Bylaw in place, which requires dog owners to adhere to certain requirements and restrictions designed to reduce the risk of injury. Some of the key provisions include:

  • Not leaving a dog unattended while tethered;
  • Keeping a dog on a leash in public, unless otherwise indicated;
  • Prohibiting a dog from engaging in threatening behaviour; and
  • Reporting a dog bite or attack within 24 hours of the incident.

Acting contrary to the Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO) Bylaw is an offence, and, as a result, a dog owner may face significant fines. However, despite this legislation imposing numerous duties and potential consequences on dog owners, this does not automatically entitle an injured individual to compensation for injuries resulting from a dog attack.

Under the provincial Dangerous Dogs Act, a judge may order a dog to be destroyed if it has attempted to bite, has bitten a person, or is considered dangerous and is not being kept under proper control by its owner. 

Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim After a Dog Attack 

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of a dog bite or dog attack, it is crucial to seek legal advice from a trusted personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine your options and assess whether you have a claim. 

Several potential avenues for recourse may be explored for those who have been injured in a dog attack. As such, it is important to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you identify the best strategy for your circumstances. 

Possible options may include advancing a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy or taking action against the dog owner for negligence. For example, if the attack and resulting injuries occurred on the dog owner’s premises, the injured party may pursue a claim under the provincial Occupier’s Liability Act. If a plaintiff is successful in their claim, they may be entitled to recover compensation for pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, and to cover costs of future care depending on the injury.

Injuries Resulting From Dog Attacks

A dog bite or dog attack can result in serious injuries, ranging from lacerations requiring stitches to damage to muscles, nerve tissue, and internal organs. Beyond the physical injuries, a dog attack can cause, an injured individual may also sustain severe psychological trauma from the incident.

Edmonton Dog Attack Results in Child’s Death

In a tragic incident on April 1, 2024, an 11-year-old boy from British Columbia was recently attacked and killed inside an Edmonton home by two large dogs. A CBC article references a statement from a police spokesperson, which noted that the responding police officers found the severely injured boy “had been attacked by two very large dogs” and attempted life-saving measures until emergency medical services arrived. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead on the scene.  

The child was visiting a home in the Edmonton neighbourhood, and the dogs belonged to a person residing in the home. A spokesperson for the City of Edmonton indicated that Animal Control peace officers had responded to two attack complaints inside the private residence in 2024, with one still under investigation. In the last year, it was noted that Animal Control officers had also responded to the same residence for “multiple barking complaints which resulted in warnings and one ticket.” Following the incident, Animal Control peace officers seized the dogs, and they are currently at the Animal Care and Control Centre. 

Since boosting funding to address animal-related issues and complaints in April 2023, the city has “taken significant steps to address and investigate dog attacks and restricted dogs.” The city indicated a “dedicated Animal Licensing Team comprising five members was formed, which now focuses on public education regarding the importance of licensing, restricted dog licensing and enforcing compliance with licensing regulations.” Their work includes monitoring dangerous dogs with dog attack records and implementing measures to prevent future incidents.”

Contact the Calgary Injury Lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie for Advice on Dog Attack Injuries

At Cuming & Gillespie, our trusted personal injury lawyers routinely help injured clients navigate the claims process to recover compensation for their accident-related injuries. If you, your child, or a loved one has been seriously injured due to a dog bite or dog attack, it is important to seek legal advice to learn about your potential options moving forward. Our lawyers will assess your circumstances and manage your claim so that you can focus on your health and recovery. To schedule a confidential consultation with one of our team members, contact us online or at 403-571-0555.