Toronto City Council Approves Measures to Enhance Public Information on Dangerous Dogs

by Lisa

In response to concerns over escalating dog-related incidents, Toronto City Council unanimously approved recommendations aimed at improving transparency regarding dangerous dogs within the city. While the new measures facilitate access to information about such incidents, the privacy of owners’ names will be maintained.

Councillor Paula Fletcher, who championed the motion, highlighted a surge in dog bites as a key motivator behind the initiative. The impetus for action stemmed from an incident in July 2023, where one of Fletcher’s constituents was severely mauled in a dog attack.


Fletcher underscored the importance of holding irresponsible dog owners accountable, asserting that while there are relatively few inherently aggressive dogs, negligent ownership poses significant challenges.


The proposed measures seek to address instances where dog owners fail to comply with existing regulations, particularly concerning dogs already subject to dangerous dog orders. The establishment of a new dangerous dog registry will provide detailed information about dog attacks, including the dog’s name, breed, severity of the bite, and the first three digits of the postal code of its residence. However, the owner’s name or address will not be disclosed. Additionally, a mandatory warning sign indicating the presence of a dangerous dog must be displayed at the dog’s residence, a move colloquially termed as a “name-and-shame approach.”


Council also allocated $500,000 to launch a public education campaign and bolster enforcement of dangerous dog orders. An amendment to the motion urged the province to explore the implementation of higher fines as penalties for dog owners.


The new measures reinforce existing regulations concerning dangerous dogs, which include holding owners accountable for their dog’s actions, potential criminal charges for serious attacks, and the imposition of dangerous dog orders on both the owner and the dog. Dogs under such orders are required to be licensed, leashed, and muzzled when outside their homes, with owners receiving additional training on handling their pets.

According to Dr. Esther Attard, Director of Animal Services at the City of Toronto, there are currently 450 dogs subject to dangerous dog orders in the city, with 15 involved in serious attacks. While most owners are compliant with the orders, challenges primarily arise concerning licensing and training compliance, which the city is actively addressing through audits and enforcement efforts.


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