New Dog Owners Liability Act (plus Pit Bull Ban)

Pit Bulls and the Dog Owners Liability Act (DOLA)

In 2005, the Province of Ontario amended the Dog Owners' Liability Act (DOLA) to include broad powers to deal with dangerous dogs in general, as well as a ban on new pit bulls and restrictions on existing pit bulls.

The amendments prohibit anyone from owning, breeding, transferring, importing, fighting or abandoning pit bulls in Ontario. The definition of a pit bull under the Act includes: pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier or a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to any of the aforementioned dogs.

Pit Bulls owned prior to August 29, 2005 or born within 90 days of August 29, 2005 were “grandfathered” and permitted to remain in Ontario provided that the owner can prove that the pit bull was in Ontario prior to, and pit bull owners must also comply with all other regulations under the Dog Owners' Liability Act.

City of Ottawa

The City of Ottawa does not enforce the provincial ban on pit bulls. Within the City, the Animal Care and Control By-law (By-law 2003-77) is the primary tool to govern dogs of all breeds. Pet owners should be aware of their responsibilities under this by-law and must register their animals accordingly. This includes all types of pit bull or pit bull mixes.

Pet registration and licensing provides a means by which any pet can be identified and returned home safely if it becomes lost.

Dog Attacks

Restricted pit bulls must be leashed and muzzled in public, and spayed or neutered. The onus of proof that a dog is not a pit bull, or that it is a restricted or "grandfathered" pit bull, will lie with the owner of the dog.

Charges can be brought against any dog owner whose dog has bitten or attacked or behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals or where the dog owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent a dog from doing any of the aforementioned.

If a pit bull owner is found to have contravened a provision of the Dog Owners' Liability Act or their dog has bitten, attacked or posed a menace to public safety, a mandatory destruction order will be issued by the Court.


Penalties under the Dog Owners' Liability Act include:

  • $10,000 fine and or six months in jail
  • $60,000 fine for corporations
  • Restitution orders requiring convicted persons to make compensation to the victims.