Dogs in the City
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Toronto: 2.8 million people. 230,000 dogs. With so many people who love dogs (and many others who don’t), here’s how we can all work together to live in harmony.
- Leash and control your dog in public.
- Stoop and scoop.
- Exercise, train and socialize your dog.
- Spay/neuter and license your dog.
The City is currently testing the use of Green Bins (organic waste) in 20 parks across the city. In parks that are not part of the Green Bin pilot, residents are encouraged to dispose of organic waste in garbage bins.
Dog owners in Toronto must comply with the Animals Bylaw.
Your dog must be licensed.
- Dogs go missing every day and a licence helps to bring them home.
- The licence must be renewed yearly and the licence tag must be worn.
- Automatically become a BluePaw member and receive exclusive offers and discounts on pet-related products and services.
You can have up to three dogs.
- The maximum numbers of pets that you can own is six cats and three dogs.
- You cannot walk more than three dogs at once anywhere in the city (sidewalks, parks) without a commercial dog walker’s permit.
Stoop and scoop.
- Pick up after your dog on private and public property.
There is a one-hour maximum for tying up your dog at home.
- If you are tying up your dog on your own property, there is a time limit of one hour.
- The tether used to tie your dog must be more than three metres long.
- You cannot use a choke collar, choke chain or pronged collar for your dog at any time. Martingale collars, which are consider a humane choke collar are still permitted.
Be aware of weather conditions.
- Your dog must be protected from the cold and/or heat.
- Leaving your dog in the yard without shade or water in the summer and adequate shelter in the winter is risking your dog’s life.
Respect your neighbours.
- If your dog is continuously barking or whining and disturbing your neighbours, you can be charged under the Noise Bylaw.
Leash and control your dog in public.
- Some people fear dogs – respect their feelings and concerns.
- Your dog must be kept on a leash no more than two metres long.
- You must be holding on to the leash – leashing your dog to a pole or bike rack is not allowed.
You are responsible for your dog if it bites a person or another animal.
- Dog bites should be reported to Toronto Public Health (416-338-7600) and 311 as soon as possible.
- In the event that the bite victim is transported to the hospital, a bite complaint should be made as soon as possible after treatment is complete.
- If your dog has bitten, attacked or poses a menace, your dog may be deemed a “dangerous dog”.
- If your dog is deemed a “dangerous dog”, there are special requirements that you must follow.
Owning a pet is a long-term commitment. Although the following information is not part of the bylaw, the City encourages following these steps to make sure that you have the best experience possible with your dog.
Spay or neuter your dog.
- It prevents and reduces a number of serious and expensive health problems
- It reduces unwanted behaviour related to mating and
- It prevents pet overpopulation.
Microchip and vaccinate your dog.
- The City’s Chip Truck offers a microchip/rabies vaccine and a pet licence for $35.
- If your pet has a current City of Toronto licence, the cost of your microchip is $10.
- No appointment is necessary.
Exercise, train and socialize your dog.
- Walk your dog often and on a leash (no longer than two metres).
- If you would like to give your dog additional exercise, consider visiting one of the city’s off-leash dog parks.
- Some dogs are excluded from off-leash areas, including unlicensed dogs, female dogs in heat, and dogs that must be muzzled or leashed under order from Toronto Animal Services.
Provide veterinary care for your dog.
- Keep your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date.
- Visit a vet yearly for a check-up.
- Report dog bite or attack to 311 as soon as possible. You may also be required to report the incident to Public Health.
- If the bite or attack victim is transported to the hospital, contact 311 as soon as reasonably possible.
If a dog bites or attacks you and breaks the skin:
- Seek medical attention (call 911 if serious).
- Report the bite to 311.
- Try to provide a clear description of dog.
- Obtain the dog owner’s name and address.
- Write down the date, time and location where the bite occurred.
- Information about anyone who witnessed the bite.
- Take a clear photo of the bite injury – document that date and time of the photo.
- As soon as practical, in your own handwriting, make clear concise notes on what happened and document the date of the notes.
If a dog attacks you and causes injury other than a break in the skin:
Call 311 and provide:
- A clear description of dog (if possible)
- Dog owner’s name and address
- Date, time and location where the bite occurred
- Witness information, if possible
If you are the owner of a dog that has bitten or attacked:
- Leash your dog and isolate it from causing further threats.
- Provide your contact information to the victim.
- Make clear, concise notes of the incident in your own handwriting.
- If the person’s skin has been broken, isolate your dog until contacted by Public Health.
- If necessary, consult an expert about your dog’s behaviour.
What happens next?
Toronto Public Health will:
- initiate an animal to human exposure investigation
- contact the person who has been bitten to take a Rabies Exposure Report
- contact the dog owner (if known) and issue an order to confine and isolate the animal
Once Toronto Animal Services receives information about a dog bite, the following happens:
- If the dog is still on the loose, an officer will respond within two hours.
- If the dog is with the owner and under control, an officer will respond within 24 hours.
An Animal Care & Control Officer will confirm the bite, and request the following information:
- Witness statements from the victim, dog owner and others involved in witnessing the incident
- Medical documentation describing the bite wound or injury
- Photographs of the bite wound or injury.
This information will form part of the investigation. It is important to note that all information collected during an investigation may be disclosed in the event a Dangerous Dog Order is issued and the dog owner appeals the order.
A public health inspector will respond within 24 hours of receiving the report to quarantine the offending dog.
The following are actions that may be taken:
Issue a Written Warning
- Where this is the first dangerous act, first bite or dangerous act on record and the officer has determined the dangerous act is not severe.
Issue a Dangerous Dog Order
- If the dangerous act is the second or subsequent on record with the City or is determined to be severe
- If the dog is under a muzzle or notice of caution order, and a bite occurs.
- The City needs to balance, manage and address dog owners’ responsibilities, dog behaviour, protect the safety of people and their pets and public safety across Toronto.
- The City has introduced restrictions and requirements for owners of a dangerous dog, as well as tougher penalties to deal with owners of dangerous dogs.
Definition of a Dangerous Dog
Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 349 defines a dangerous act as any bite, attack, act of menacing behaviour (injures or threatens a human without biting them) or a combination of the above. A dangerous dog is defined as:
- a dog that has severely bitten a person or domestic animal (pet)
- a dog that has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal and it is the second bite or attack on record
- a dog that is subject to a Notice of Caution, Muzzle or Control Order
What You Can Do If Served with a Dangerous Dog Order
You can request a hearing by the Executive Director, who can
- confirm the determination or a dangerous dog, or
- rescind the determination of a dangerous dog and exempt the owner from compliance with the dangerous dog order.
To receive a hearing, you must mail or deliver a request in writing within 30 days of receiving the dangerous dog order to:
Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards
c/o Toronto Animal Services
Enforcement & Mobile Response, Unit 146
The East Mall
Toronto, ON M8Z 5V5
Attention: Court & Records Clerk
You will appear before the Dangerous Dog Tribunal. Read the Dangerous Dog Tribunal Rules of Procedure.
- The Province of Ontario’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA) is a piece of legislation in relation to dogs, including pit bulls, intended to increase public safety.
- If a dog owner is found guilty of an offence under DOLA, a court could issue a control order, fine or a destruction order for the dog.
- You can read DOLA here.
- Your dog should be sheltered inside your home if at all possible.
- Dogs kept outside may be unintentionally exposed to bitter cold temperatures in the winter and scorching heat in the summer.
To protect your dog from harsh weather, provide a well-constructed dog house. Proper outdoor shelter for dogs must meet the following standards:
The shelter must be well constructed, have a roof, enclosed sides, a doorway and a solid level floor raised at least two inches from the ground. There should be no cracks or openings other than the entrance. The shelter must be insulated. Rainproof openings for ventilation are required in hot weather.
Protected/weather proof entrance – the entryway must be protected by a self-closing door, an offset outer door, or covered by a flexible flap.
Bedding – a sufficient amount of dry bedding such as cedar shavings or straw must be provided to protect against cold and dampness. The bedding should be changed weekly to prevent mold and to keep the doghouse sanitary.
The shelter should be small enough to allow a dog to warm the interior of the structure and maintain body heat, but must be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around comfortably and lie down.
The shelter should be placed where it will be adequately shaded in the hot weather and have the best protection from the wind in cold weather. In addition ensure your dog has:
- open/adequate access to fresh, non-frozen water
- adequate food
- continuous access to an area (e.g. kennel, run, backyard) with space for exercise, daily lighting cycles of either natural or artificial light
- appropriate veterinary care.
If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them inside quickly because they may be showing signs of hypothermia.
Frostbite is harder to detect and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Winter is a fun season, but can present some hazards for your dog. Here are some helpful tips so you both can enjoy the season safely.
Number one tip: if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside when possible.
- Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm. Talk to your veterinarian to see if your dog needs extra food during the cold weather months.
- Try not to shave your dog down to the skin in winter. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a warm coat or sweater.
- Consider putting booties on your dog to protect paws from salt and chemicals. Or try massaging a protectant into paw pads, and bring a towel on long walks to clean off any irritated paws.
- Antifreeze is a lethal poison for your pet. When possible, consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Always clean up any spills from your vehicle.
- Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet. After walks, wash and dry your dog’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals, and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
- Washing too often can remove their essential oils and can give them dry, flaky skin.
- Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. Think cozy dog bed.