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.
Every interaction with a dog is different; learn about general tips to stay safe around dogs. If you have specific concerns about your dog, please consider consulting a professional in dog behaviour and safety.
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:
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.
There are different bite levels that determine the severity of the dog bite or dangerous act. An Toronto Animal Services officer may use one or more of these bite levels to determine the severity, as required by the Animals Bylaw. Any dangerous act at Level 3 or above will generally be considered severe.
Obnoxious or aggressive behaviour but no skin contact by teeth and no injury. Dog growls, snarls, lunges, but no teeth touch skin.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Once Toronto Animal Services receives information about a dog that has committed a dangerous act, the following happens:
Staff from Toronto Animal Services will walk you through the process after you’ve had a negative encounter with a dog. An officer will:
The officer will collect all evidence as part of the investigation.
Depending on the details of the incident, Toronto Public Health may:
If it’s determined that the dog committed a dangerous act, one of the following actions may be taken:
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.
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 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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:
If a loose dog comes charging, you can appear less threatening by:
Encourage safe interactions between dogs and children by:
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.