Report dog bites or attacks to Toronto Public Health by calling 416-338-7600 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.

If a dog bites or attacks you and breaks the skin

  • Seek medical attention (call 911 if serious).
  • Obtain the dog owner’s name and address.
  • Obtain 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 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

  • It’s not necessary to contact Toronto Public Health.
  • However, the dog may still 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 from causing further threats.
  • Provide 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 (call 311) as soon as possible.

There are different bite levels that determine the severity of the dog bite or dangerous act. An 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.

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.

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

  • initiate an investigation within 24 hours
  • assist the healthcare provider in assessing the level of risk associated with the exposure
  • provide rabies vaccine upon request of the healthcare provider
  • confine the dog for a 10-day observation period, usually at home with their owner
  • ensure the dog is up-to-date for their rabies vaccination, which is required by law in Ontario.

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 but
  • 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
  • request the victim and any witness prepare a statement detailing the incident
  • request medical documentation (if applicable)
  • take photographs
  • collect any other evidence pertaining to the incident

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

If the dog committed a dangerous act

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

  • A written warning will be issued when the dangerous act is the first on record with the City and the dangerous act is not found to be severe.
  • A dangerous dog order will be issued when the dangerous act is found to be severe or was the second or subsequent dangerous act on record with the City.
  • A dangerous dog 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
    • dog is prohibited from using the City’s dogs off-leash areas
    • owner must obtain a dangerous dog tag
    • dog must be microchipped
    • City keeps a photo of the dog on file
    • dog owner must ensure the dog receives socialization/obedience training within 90 days of issuance of the order.

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.

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.