As a dog owner in British Columbia, you are responsible for properly training and socializing your dogs, keeping them restrained on a leash in public spaces unless in designated off-leash areas. By keeping dogs on a leash, owners can prevent potentially dangerous situations and minimize the risk of their dogs causing harm to others or themselves.
Additionally, dog owners are responsible for taking prompt and appropriate action if their dog shows signs of aggression or poses a threat to others. This may include muzzling the dog in public, seeking professional training or behaviour modification, or taking other necessary precautions to prevent incidents. Dog owners must proactively address any potential risks associated with their dogs to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Furthermore, dog owners must comply with licensing requirements and clearly identify their dogs. This includes obtaining a valid dog license from the local government and ensuring the dog wears a visible identification tag with the owner’s contact information. By fulfilling these requirements, dog owners can ensure that their dogs can be easily identified and returned if they go missing or are involved in an incident.
Under BC law, dog owners are liable for dog bites if:
- they are negligent;
- the dog had a propensity for harm and the owner knew of the dog’s propensity; or
- liability can be established under the Occupier’s Liability Act.
In dog bites or attacks, the focus is on the dog’s actions and the resulting harm rather than the owner’s intentions. In the case of dog bites, the injured party can seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income, and other damages resulting from the dog bite or attack. The owner may also be liable for any property damage caused by the dog.
Breed-specific legislation, often called BSL, which targets certain breeds or types of dogs, is not in effect in BC. This means that the law in BC focuses on the behavior and actions of individual dogs rather than generalizing based on breed stereotypes.