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Alberta Law: Dog Bites, Scienter and Negligence

Ever wonder what the law is related to dog bites? There are two ways a dog (or any animal) owner can be liable. For dogs the test is set out in the case of McKinlay v. Zachow, 2018 ABQB at paragraph 43, where the courts said:

 For the Defendant to be found liable under the doctrine of scienter, the Plaintiff must establish that:

(a) the Defendant was the owner of the dog; (b) the dog had manifested a propensity to cause the type of harm occasioned; and (c) the owner knew of that propensity.

Another way of looking at it is, under scienter, every dog is entitled to one free bite. If Scienter is unsuccessful, (and it can be if there was no prior bite) there is still potential liability for negligence.

The test for negligence for dog owners is also set out in Mckinlay v. Zachow at 55:

 To succeed in an action based on negligence against Mr. Zachow, Ms. McKinlay must prove on a balance of probabilities that:

(a) Mr. Zachow knew or ought to have known that Junior was likely to create a risk of injury to third persons, including Ms. McKinlay; and (b) Mr. Zachow failed to take reasonable care to prevent such injury...

56      An owner of an animal may be liable for damage done by that animal if the owner allows it to be in such a position that it is reasonably foreseeable that damage may result.

If you have been injured by an animal attack, please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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