Skip to main content
Legal Tips

Dog Bite Laws in British Columbia

Though dogs and humans have always had a special connection, there are times when that connection is broken. Dogs can act unexpectedly in a protective and primal manner causing injury to humans or other pets. Finding a dog bite lawyer who understands your unique situation is critical. It is also beneficial to have a basic idea of the dog bite laws in British Columbia.

What You Should Know About Dog Bite Laws

The Animal Legal & Historical Center states that approximately 500,000 dog bites happen in Canada per year, with about 1 in 16 being an incident when a dog bites a human. More than just physical harm comes from dog bites. They can also cause long-term psychological trauma for the victim, owner, and even for onlookers.

Different Provinces, Different Laws

As the second largest country in the world, it makes sense for Canada to have a variety of laws sprinkled across the many provinces. Animal laws differ across Canada and many provinces have a unique take on common law in regard to dog bite claims. British Columbia and Vancouver even have their own laws regulating dangerous and combative dogs. These legislations cover what is considered an aggressive dog, what muzzling requirements may be, and how animal control professionals deal with combative animals.

Tell your dog bite lawyer the location where the dog bite incident took place. This information will assist your legal team.

“Negligence” Versus “Scienter”

Negligence and scienter are two different approaches to dog bite laws in British Columbia. Negligence is the more straightforward approach, stating the owner did not think about the potential risk posed by their dog. If they had acted reasonably, they may have kept their dog muzzled or away from busy sidewalks. When the owner does not take reasonable measures to protect others, negligence is often the chosen approach.

Though an older term, scienter is the approach that focuses on the owner being completely at fault for the dog’s actions. This is when the owner is wilfully blind to any potential harm. Both of these approaches may be helpful to your case.

Pet and Owner Consequences

The consequences following a dog bite incident can be significant. Not only may the owner face serious ramifications, but the pet can also face heavy consequences. Though these laws differ from place to place, the Vancouver Charter and Community Charters give communities the power to implement bylaws concerning control of dogs. These bylaws give animal control officers permission to take the aggressive dog from the pet owner. The onus is then on the dog owner to convince the court that the dog is a safe member of the community. Otherwise, the Provincial Court may order that the dog be euthanized. Alternatives to ending the animal’s life may include attending training or rehabilitation with the dog, depending on the severity of the case. The owner may also face fines and be civilly liable for both human and pet injuries as well as any property damage that may have occurred.