City launches campaign to address dog attacks and responsible pet ownership in Toronto

Officers deliberate over an off-leash dog in the Beach in a Bill Suddick cartoon from 1981 illustrating that the issue has been around for decades. After a surge in incidents involving off-leash dogs across Toronto, the city is reminding pet owners about their responsibilities for owning a dog and emphasizing the importance of keeping their dog leashed and under control at all times.


After a city-wide surge in incidents involving dogs that are off leash, the city held a press briefing in the Beach last week urging dog owners to be responsible for their dog’s actions.

Jasmine Herzog-Evans, the manager of the enforcement and mobile response unit at Toronto Animal Services, met with the media at foot of Lee Avenue to discuss the recent surge in off-leash dog attacks across the city.

According to a city-issued press release, the number of dogs attacks has surged by 39 per cent compared to 2021. Moreover, 2022 witnessed a 19 per cent increase in confrontations between dogs and other animals.

This year, the city has imposed more than 44 dangerous dog orders and 168 written warnings for bylaw violations.

These latest violent attacks encompass not only violent encounters with dogs but also incidents involving unleashed dogs, even those concerning children.

Last month, an East York mother of two was left with serious injuries after being mauled by a dog she encountered near her home. The owner was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

In 2021, a 69 year old man in the Beach was hospitalized after breaking his pelvis when his bicycle collided with an unleashed dog on a section of Martin Goodman Trail. The owner of the dog in that case did not remain at the scene of the incident.

Beach-area residents have expressed numerous complaints about inadequate enforcement of leash laws. The city says “bylaw enforcement officers regularly monitor parks for off-leash dogs and respond to complaints and issues involving dogs.” Herzog-Evans said bylaw enforcement is challenging because officers do not have the authority to demand identification from dog owners and they are often given fake or incorrect name and addresses.

The fine for allowing a dog to run off-leash, with the exception of one of Toronto’s 75 designated areas for off-leash dogs, is $365.

In Toronto, all dog owners are required to keep their dog leashed, and the leash cannot be longer than two metres in length and must be attached to a collar or harness and held securely.

According to the city, when Toronto Animal Services receives information about a dog that has committed a dangerous act, they will respond within two hours if the dog is still on the loose, or within 24 hours if the dog is with its owner and under control.

In those cases, residents are encouraged to report dangerous incidents involving dogs. The city needs people to come forward and share evidence in order to take enforcement action, said Herzog-Evans.

For more information regarding who to call and how the city responds to dangerous incidents, visit the city’s dog attacks or bites website at

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