It is estimated that there are as many as 5.9 million dogs in Canada and 35% of Canadian households have a dog.  Dogs make great pets.  But, owning a pet is a big responsibility. Dog owners are not only responsible for the health and safety of their pet, but also must ensure that their pet does not cause any harm to other individuals.  If damages result from a dog bite or attack, the law is clear that an owner of the dog is responsible for those damages. 


Dog attacks and dog bites can be quite serious.  They may result in permanent scars, and often cause emotional and psychological scarring as well. 

It is important to seek medical attention after a dog bite, even if the injuries seem minor.  Dog bites run a high risk of infection and antibiotics may be necessary.

Dog bites may lead to the following injuries that require immediate treatment:

  • Puncture wounds and cuts;
  • Broken bones;
  • Dislocations;
  • Amputations;
  • Nerve damage; and/or
  • Avulsion (skin or tissue being ripped away).

Children are the most likely victims of dog bites and may suffer permanent scarring or disfigurement as a result. Plastic surgery may be required to heal noticeable scars, which can be expensive.  In most cases, plastic surgery for children is postponed until the child has reached puberty.  This may damage the child’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-image.

In addition to physical injuries, there is also the risk of psychological difficulties resulting from the attack, which can range from post-traumatic stress disorder to a long-term fear of dogs.  Injuries, such as these can lead to extensive medical costs, financial losses, and pain and suffering. 


In Calgary, pursuant to the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, dog owners are responsible for ensuring that their pets do not bite, injure, chase, threaten, attack or disturb anyone.  Furthermore, dog owners must ensure that their dogs do not cause damage to property or animals, scatter garbage or chase or attack any animals. 

Dog owners must also comply with all other Calgary by-laws related to dogs.  These include:

  • All dogs must have and wear a licence as soon as they reach three months of age.
  • All dogs must be on-leash at all times, unless posted signs indicate otherwise or on property where the owner has the right of occupation.
  • Dogs may not be left unattended while tethered.
  • Dog owners must pick up all of their animal’s feces on and off their property.
  • All dogs must be under control in designated off-leash areas and must be in sight of their owners at all times.


In Alberta, the Dangerous Dogs Act sets out that dog owners are responsible for their dog’s behaviour.   

A judge in Alberta has the authority to determine if a dog is dangerous and has not been kept under appropriate control by its owner.  If the dog is deemed dangerous, a judge can order a dog to be destroyed.


Here are a few simple tips to lower your risk of receiving a dog bite:

  • Never pet dogs without allowing them to smell you first and without asking permission from the dog’s guardian first;
  • Do not approach a dog that you do not know;
  • Do not approach a dog that is barking, growling or scared;
  • Do not turn your back on a dog or start to move away from one if you feel threatened.  In this situation, dogs sometimes have a natural instinct to chase you;
  • Stay away from a dog that has been tied up and left alone in a public place;
  • Avoid disturbing a dog that is sleeping or eating, as dogs are more likely to bite if they are startled or frightened;
  • Leave dogs alone when they are playing with toys or caring for their young;
  • Do not reach over or through a fence because you are invading that dog’s territory; and
  • Educate your children about the risk of dog attacks and approaching familiar and unfamiliar dogs.


If you have found yourself in the unfortunate situation of being injured or attacked by a dog, it is important that you follow these steps:

  • Stay calm and seek medical attention immediately;
  • Collect information, such as the size, colour and breed of the dog, and attempt to obtain contact information of the dog’s owner;
  • Report the attack to the authorities;
  • Document your injuries (take photographs of any wounds) and take notes throughout your recovery and keep track of any lost work hours;
  • Contact anyone who may have witnessed the attack; and
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious personal injuries as a result of a dog bite or attack, the award winning and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help obtain the compensation that you deserve. Regardless of whether this dog in particular has been deemed dangerous in the past, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact our office online today or call 403-571-0555 to speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss your case.