Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Dog Owner

Whether you’ve had a run-in with an aggressive dog or sometimes worry that your own dog might start something, you should understand the legalities.

According to the Ontario Dog Owner’s Liability Act, a dog owner is liable for damages that result from their dog biting or attacking a person or another dog. That means that if your dog is injured, you have the right to demand that the dog owner pay the vet bills. And vice versa.
You should also be aware of our Municipal by-laws regarding dogs. The Township can levy a $500 fine against a dog owner for a “potentially dangerous dog not under the control of an adult.”

If you’re worried about your liability, you might want to look into your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, which may contain personal liability coverage that protects you from having to pay damages out of pocket for dog injury claims. Your policy might also have medical payments coverage, which gives you further protection if your dog bites or injures a person. Finally, your insurance policy likely has property damage coverage. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to make sure you’re covered, just in case.

Municipal By-laws
The Dog Control By-law covers all matters related to dog ownership in the Township of Centre Wellington, including:

  • The licensing and registration of dogs
  • The rules about picking up after your dog
  • The two-dog limit on dog ownership
  • The definition of a “dog running at large” and the role of the Animal Control officer in dealing with stray dogs
  • A full listing of the fines that can be levied against a dog owner for contravention of the Bylaw (see Highlights of Fines below).

Highlights of Fines

Please refer to the official Dog Control By-law or a full listing.


Reference in By-law


Potentially dangerous dog not under the effective control of an adult

Section 4.2


Not securely attaching a muzzle to a potentially dangerous dog

Section 4.3


Dog not registered and licensed

Section 6.1


Dog tag not securely fixed on dog

Section 6.6


Using a dog tag for a dog other than the dog for which the tag was issued

Section 6.8


Not disposing of dog waste (includes the Fergus Dog Park)

Section 8


Keeping more than two dogs per household

Section 9.1


Pit Bull Ban
Amendments to the Dog Owner’s Liability Act concerning restrictions on pit bulls came into effect on August 29, 2005. The amendments prohibit anyone from owning, breeding, transferring, importing, fighting or abandoning pit bulls. The definition of a pit bull includes pit bull terrier, staffordshire bull terrier, american pit bull terrier or a dog that shares the physical characteristics with any of them.

If you currently own a pit bull, you can keep your dog provided you can prove that the dog was in Ontario prior to August 29, 2005 or born within 90 days of that date. The best way to ensure proof of ownership is to register your dog with the Township of Centre Wellington.
The regulations stipulate that restricted pit bulls must be spayed or neutered and leashed and muzzled in public. The onus to prove that a dog is not a pit bull lies with the owner of the dog.

To register your pitbull, contact the Clerk’s Department at 519-846-9691, ext 243.

Read the full Dog Owner’s Liability Act.

Comments are closed.