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How protected are you if your pet is attacked?

Last Updated Nov 15, 2016 at 7:12 pm EDT

A Toronto couple is worried sick about its three-legged cat Blackie which was mauled by a dog and is now stuck at the veterinarian receiving treatment and incurring a large bill.

The incident happened around 3 p.m. Sunday in the couple’s very own backyard.

“The hardest part is the anxiety of not know if he is going to be OK,” Tara Krystompol said. “Then the anxiety of trying to pay these vet bills.

“I am so angry at this person who won’t take any responsibility [for] his dog when it is the law.”

On the day of the attack, Krystompol heard a noise coming from her backyard and, when she looked out an upstairs window, noticed a medium-sized dog, off-leash, mauling her cat. The dog’s owner was across the street.

“I just happened to look out the window and see this dog attacking my cat like it was a squeaky toy,” she said.

Krystompol’s boyfriend Cory Balash described the incident as “such a violent scene.”

The couple said the dog owner did help get Blackie into a cage and provided his name and phone number. But he denied any responsibility and told Krystompol he didn’t have money to help pay the vet bills.

Under Ontario’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act, “The owner of a dog is liable for damages resulting from a bite or attack by the dog on another person or domestic animal.”

The couple does not have animal insurance and said the bill, more than $2,500 and growing each day, will be coming out of their own pockets.

Blackie has a deep puncture wound, at least five inches deep, a hernia and other injuries.

Krystompol said the couple called Toronto Animal Services (TAS) but was told more information was needed about the dog owner.

“I feel like if they have the name and number that is enough,” she said. “If it doesn’t go anywhere, they haven’t done enough.”

The couple tried to call the dog owner multiple times but has not heard from him. CityNews reached out to the man as well, but did he did not respond.

“We will do everything in our power to obtain the information,” said Animal Services manager Elizabeth Glibbery. “If we don’t know where the person lives we will look at our database. We will talk to witness at the scene and we will do everything in our power to obtain that information.”

Glibbery said the incident is still under investigation and she can’t comment specifically on it.

“I cannot comment on that but I want to insure the citizens of Toronto that we do have good investigation powers,” she said.

Balash said when he called police, they asked if it was a human or animal that was bitten. When he said it was an animal, police told him to call Animal Services.

“What if somebody’s kid got bit by that dog? I think there would be a lot more intervention if it was a kid,” Krystompol said.

blackie3
Blackie seen lounging in the grass before being attacked by a neighour’s dog.

 

Personal injury lawyer Andrew Iacobelli said the Dog Owners’ Liability Act establishes absolute liability for owners of dogs that cause injury to a pet.

“It makes it very easy for the owner of the animal that was attacked to recover a civil remedy,” said Iacobelli.

The owner of the dog would need to come forward or in this case, the couple would need to know where they live.

“Most claims are covered by homeowner insurance,” said Iacobelli, adding if Krystompol and Balash want their veterinarian bills covered, it would be settled in civil court.

“The owner of the dog, if the claim is advanced, is typically paid by their homeowner’s insurance policy if there is one.”

But even if the dog owner has home insurance, some insurance companies will not cover claims for certain types of dogs.

Iacobelli said it’s important to that your insurance company knows you have a dog.

“It is important that you are honest with your insurance company and, if there are any questions if you have a dog, that you are forthcoming,” he said. “Because if they do have an exclusion in the policy, they can exercise it even after a claim has been made.”

Animal Services said if a severe bite is confirmed, they can lay Dog Owners’ Liability Act charges, including muzzling a dog at all times and banning a dog from public parks.

“I think we have the appropriate level of power for the job that we are expected to do for the public,” said Glibbery.

Every incident is a process, she added, and it could take a while to gather information. Without the dog owner’s information, “it is a longer process.”