Report dog bites or attacks to Toronto Public Health by calling 416-338-7600 or at www.toronto.ca/BiteReport and Toronto Animal Services by calling 311. If you are transported to the hospital, report the bite or attack as soon as possible after treatment is complete.

The City issues dangerous dog orders for dogs involved in dangerous acts. The order includes the following requirements:

  • Dog must be muzzled except when on the owner’s premises.
  • A warning sign must be posted on the owner’s premises.
  • The dog is prohibited from using the City’s dogs off-leash areas.
  • The owner must obtain a dangerous dog tag.
  • The dog must be microchipped.
  • City keeps a photo of the dog on file.
  • Dog owner must ensure the dog receives socialization or obedience training within 90 days of issuance of the order.

If someone observes a dog they believe to be a dangerous dog without its muzzle or in an off leash dog park, a complaint can be made to 311 and the matter will be investigated.

If a dog bites or attacks you and breaks the skin

  • Seek medical attention (call 911 if serious).
  • Get the dog owner’s name and address.
  • Get information about anyone who witnessed the bite.
  • Immediately wash the bite or wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Apply an antiseptic to the wound, if available.
  • Take a clear photo of the bite injury – document the date and time of the photo.
  • Make clear and concise notes on the date, time and location where the bite occurred, what happened, and a clear description of the dog as soon after the incident as possible.

If a dog attacks or menaces you, but does not break the skin

  • Consult medical attention for an assessment of rabies exposure where skin is not broken and there is a possibility of either of the following:
    • A dog’s saliva entering an open wound.
    • A dog’s saliva entering the mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Since the dog may have committed a dangerous act, call 311 and provide:
    • A clear description of dog (if possible).
    • Dog owner’s name and address.
    • Date, time and location of where the incident occurred including witness information (if possible).

If your pet has been bitten or attacked by a dog, report it to Toronto Animal Services by calling 311 as soon as possible.

If you are the owner of a dog that has bitten:

  • Leash your dog and isolate them from causing further threats.
  • Give your contact information to the owner of the dog who was bitten.
  • Make clear, concise notes of the incident.
  • If the dog’s skin has been broken, isolate your dog until contacted by Toronto Public Health.
  • If necessary, consult an expert about your dog’s behaviour.

If your pet has been bitten or attacked by a dog, report the bite or attack to Toronto Animal Services by calling 311 as soon as possible.

Toronto Animal Services

Once Toronto Animal Services receives information about a dog that has committed a dangerous act, 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.

Staff from Toronto Animal Services will walk you through the process after you’ve had a negative encounter with a dog. An officer will:

  • Investigate the incident.
  • Interview the victim, dog owner and any witnesses.
  • Ask the victim and any witness prepare a statement detailing the incident.
  • Ask for medical documentation (if applicable).
  • Take photos.
  • Collect any other evidence related to the incident.

The officer will collect all evidence as part of the investigation.

Toronto Public Health

Depending on the details of the incident, Toronto Public Health may:

  • Initiate an investigation within 24 hours.
  • Assist the health care provider in assessing the level of risk associated with the exposure.
  • Provide rabies vaccine upon request of the health care provider.
  • Confine the dog for a ten-day observation period, usually at home with their owner.
  • Make sure the dog is up-to-date for their rabies vaccination, which is required by law in Ontario.

If the dog committed a dangerous act

If it’s determined that the dog committed a dangerous act, one of the following actions may be taken:

  • When the dangerous act is not found to be severe and is the first on record with the City: education will be provided to the dog owner and depending on the circumstances of the act, a written warning may be issued or no further action may be needed.
  • When the dangerous act is found to be severe or is the second or subsequent dangerous act on record with the City: education will be provided to the dog owner and a dangerous dog order will be issued.

When the dangerous act is the first on record with the City, an officer will examine all of the circumstances of the specific dangerous act when determining if the dangerous act is severe.

A dangerous dog order issued by the City includes the following requirements:

  • Dog must be muzzled except when on the owner’s premises.
  • A warning sign must be posted on the owner’s premises.
  • The dog is prohibited from using the City’s dogs off-leash areas.
  • The owner must obtain a dangerous dog tag.
  • The dog must be microchipped.
  • City keeps a photo of the dog on file.
  • Dog owner must ensure the dog receives socialization or obedience training within 90 days of issuance of the order.

If someone observes a dog they believe to be a dangerous dog without its muzzle or in an off leash dog park, a complaint can be made to 311 and the matter will be investigated.

If the dog was acting in self-defence

During an investigation into a dangerous act, an officer will consider whether the dog was acting in self-defence at the time of the dangerous act. If the officer determines the dog was acting in self-defence, the officer may determine that the dog is not a dangerous dog.

When determining if a dog was acting in self-defence, the officer will consider whether:

  • The dog was defending itself from a bite or attack.
  • The severity of the injury was necessary for the dog defending itself from a bite or attack.
  • The victim was committing a criminal act on the premises of the owner and incurred injuries as a result of being bitten or attacked.

Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal

The Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal provides an independent review of Dangerous Dog Orders issued by the City.

The Tribunal hears appeals from dog owners who are served with an order to comply with a Dangerous Dog Order and has the authority to confirm the determination of a dangerous dog order or rescind the determination and exempt the owner from compliance. In making a decision, the Tribunal may consider whether a dog was acting in self-defence when the dangerous dog act occurred.

If you wish to apply for a hearing to the Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal to appeal an officer’s determination of a dangerous dog, please review and complete the Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal Request for Appeal Form, following the Appeal Procedure set out in the Form.

There are different levels that may determine the severity of a dangerous act once a dangerous act has been confirmed on record. A Toronto Animal Services officer may use one or more of these levels to determine the severity, as required by the Animals Bylaw. Any dangerous act at Level 3 or above will generally be considered severe.

Level 0

Obnoxious or aggressive behaviour but no skin contact by teeth and no injury. Dog growls, snarls, lunges, but no teeth touch skin.

Level 1

Skin contact by teeth. Includes skin nicks, scrapes, redness and welts caused by movement of teeth; may also include movement of dogs nails and claws against the skin. Mouth and teeth touch skin and there are pressure marks or indentations that leave scratches or abrasions and there may be slight bleeding caused by forward, backward or lateral movement of teeth against skin – no distinct punctures.

Level 2

One to four punctures from a single bite with no deep punctures (less than one half of the length of the dog’s canine teeth). There may be skin tearing (abrasions or shallow lacerations) in a single direction, caused by the victim pulling or owner pulling dog away, or gravity (e.g. dog jumps up).

Level 3

One to four punctures from a single bite with at least 1 deep puncture (deeper than one half of the length of the dog’s canine tooth. May include deep bruising around the wound (dog held on for a number of seconds and bore down) or lacerations in both directions (dog held on and shook its head from side to side). With this type of bite, the dog clamps down and there is not a quick release (bite and hold). Lacerations will often occur as the individual pulls away while the dog has a hold with their teeth.

Level 4

Multiple-bite incident with at least two level 3 bites or multiple-attack wounds with at least one level 3 bite in each. Includes severe injuries as a result of an attack (e.g. fracture). Dog bites multiple times in a row, connecting with the skin, causing punctures and often tears. Some bites may be bite-release and some may be bite and hold. The dog does not bite and back away but instead bites, releases and then lunges forward again immediately often directing the bite toward vulnerable areas. These are serious bites that can be life threatening.

Level 5

Victim (human or animal) is deceased as a result of bite or attack.

Download a tip sheet about Canine Bite Levels by Dr. Sophia Yin.

Information about severe dog attack or bite incidents in Toronto, where the dogs or the dog owners involved have not been located, will be made available in this section. Residents can provide information to help investigations via email: tasemru@toronto.ca.

Most negative encounters with dogs result from dogs being off-leash. As a dog owner you are responsible for your dog’s actions and need to prevent your dog from engaging in dangerous acts. Please always keep your dog on a leash, unless you are in an official dogs off-leash area. The leash cannot be longer than two metres. The City recommends that you securely attach the leash to a collar or harness.

February 13, 2024

The City is aware of the horrific dog attack that occurred to a woman in Rexdale. We hope that she recovers well from her injuries. Toronto Animal Services is working closely with the Toronto Police Service, who issued a public safety alert on February 9 for public help into their investigation.

The City identified an increase in attacks last year and staff in Toronto Animal Services and Toronto Public Health undertook reviews of their respective procedures and processes for dangerous dog incidents, as well as a serious dog attack that occurred in July 2023, and have identified areas of improvements. These recommendations were adopted with amendments by City Council on March 20.

Learning to understand how to interact with dogs – and how they interact with each other – is like learning a new language. Approach and interact with dogs in a safe manner by:

  • Presenting your side to the dog from a standing or squatting position. Do not lean over the dog.
  • Letting the dog come to you rather than approaching the dog.
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and don’t stare the dog in the eyes.
  • Extending your hand toward the dog.

If a loose dog comes charging, you can appear less threatening by:

  • Stopping all movement.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Turning sideways.
  • Speaking to the dog in a calm and friendly voice.

Tips to keep dogs and children safe

Encourage safe interactions between dogs and children by:

  • Educating young children on how to interact with dogs in a gentle, respectful way. Show this behavior every chance you get.
  • Never leaving a young child unsupervised with a dog, even if that dog happens to be the beloved family pet.
  • Making sure your children do not disturb an eating or sleeping dog.
  • Allowing a crate or other small, enclosed shelter to be the dog’s sacred space and ensuring your children do not enter that space.
  • Avoiding unnatural and uncomfortable poses for your dog for the sake of a photo.

Socialize your dog

Socializing is important for puppies as they can learn to meet and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places and things. Done properly, socializing helps puppies feel comfortable and friendly in various situations.

  • The main rule for effective socializing is to let your dog progress at their own pace and never force them to be around someone or in a situation when they’re clearly fearful or uncomfortable.
  • Always supervise your dog while they’re outdoors – even in a fenced yard. Don’t allow your dog to roam alone or without a leash.
  • Don’t wait for a serious accident to happen. The first time your dog shows aggressive behavior toward anybody, even if no injury occurs, seek professional help.