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City of Toronto seeks to curtail dog bites by tagging them as ‘dangerous’ offenders

Dog owners in Toronto who have ever had their pets bite or attack another animal or person may soon be required to have them tagged as a “dangerous” offender.

A new city staff report to be debated at the Licensing and Standards Committee next week is suggesting amendments to the current dog ownership bylaw to “increase responsibility and accountability of dog owners.”

“The proposed changes are intended to strengthen the City’s ability to identify and limit dogs that are deemed dangerous,” the report states. “In total, these amendments will increase public safety and decrease the risk.”

Some of the proposals include requiring repeat dog offenders to be muzzled, tagged and microchipped.

The pets will also be labelled “dangerous dogs” and will no longer be allowed in off-leash parks. Owners will be required to provide proof of training and must place a sign outside their property notifying the public of the dog’s presence.

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There will also be increased fines for those who don’t comply with the new changes.

According to Toronto Animal Services, there were 1,049 recorded incidents of dog bites in 2015 — 754 dog to human bites and 295 dog to animal bites.

The proposed amendments were developed following a review of the current bylaw and after a public consultation meeting on June 23 where 25 people attended and another 20 submitted feedback via email.

The staff report indicates it also wants to set a firm definition of what a “dangerous dog” designation should be.

“Currently, there is no definition of dangerous dog in the bylaw. During public consultations in 2015 and 2016, many residents indicated that Toronto should include a definition of a dangerous dog in its bylaw,” the report said.

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The proposal lists a set of circumstances under which the dog should be labelled as dangerous. These include having severely bitten a person or domestic animal, a dog which has bitten or attacked more than once and ones which are already under a muzzle order.

The public is encouraged to provide further feedback on the amendments with a draft bylaw to be reported back to the licensing committee later this fall.

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