BILL M 239 – 2017


HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:

This Bill will ensure that owners of animals are held liable for the actions of their animals.

Part 1 – Definitions


1  In this Act:

"animal" means any creature that is not human;

"common-law partner" of a person means a person who, not being married to the other person, is cohabitating with him or her in a conjugal relationship of some permanence;

"generally accepted agricultural practice" means a practice that is conducted in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards as established and followed by similar agricultural operations under similar circumstances, including the use of innovative technology combined with advanced management practices;

"owner", in relation to an animal, includes a person who harbours the animal;

"peace officer" means a constable or a person who has a constable's powers;

"running at large", in relation to an animal, means that the animal is not

(a) under the direct, continuous and effective control of a person competent to control it, or

(b) securely confined within an enclosure or otherwise so that it is unable to roam at will;

"livestock" means

(a) animals kept for the purpose of

(i) production of meat

(ii) production of other products from the animals, or

(iii) herding, protection of livestock or draft work,

and breeding stock of such animals; and

(b) animals kept for the purpose of improving or preserving any species or kind of animal that may be kept for a purpose set out in subparagraph (a) (i), (ii) or (iii)

and, without limitation, includes animals that are of a species or kind prescribed in the regulations as livestock for the purposes of this Act and that are kept for any purpose set out in paragraph (a) or (b) or for a qualifying purpose prescribed in the regulations in relation to that species or kind of animal or to livestock in general;

"prescribed animal" means an animal of a species prescribed in the regulations for the purposes of this Act.

Part 2 – Animal Owner's Liability

Liability of owner

2  Subject to section 4, the owner of an animal is liable for damages resulting from harm that the animal causes to a person or to property, but in an action in the Provincial Court of B.C. to recover damages under this section, the court shall reduce the damages awarded in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the harm.

Liability not dependent on knowledge or fault

3  Except as provided in section 4, liability under this section does not depend upon the owner's knowledge of any propensity of the animal or upon any fault or negligence by the owner.

Defence to claim re damage by livestock

4  In an action brought under this section against the owner of livestock for damages for harm alleged to have been caused by the livestock while running at large, it is a defence for the owner to prove that

(a) his or her control of the livestock was in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices; or

(b) the livestock was at large due to an act of God or the act or default of a person other than

(i) the owner,

(ii) an employee of the owner acting within the scope of his or her employment, or

(iii) the spouse, common-law partner or child of the owner, who is not estranged from him or her.

Calculation of damages

5  Damages awarded under this section shall be calculated in the same manner as in the tort of negligence.

Joint and several liability

6  Subject to section 4, where there is more than one owner of an animal, they are jointly and severally liable under this section.

Contribution and indemnity

7  An owner who is liable to pay damages under this section is entitled to recover contribution and indemnity from any other person in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the other person's fault or negligence caused or contributed to the harm.

Cause of action not exclusive

8  The cause of action created by this Act is in addition to any other cause of action that exists at common law or by statute.

Scienter and cattle trespass abolished

9  No person shall bring an action or recover damages in the common law torts of scienter and cattle trespass where the cause of action arises after this Act comes into effect.

Application of the Occupiers' Liability Act

10  Where damage is caused by being bitten or attacked by a dog on the premises of the owner, the liability of the owner is determined under this Act and not under the Occupiers' Liability Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 337.

Part 3 – General Provisions

Offence and penalty

11  Any person who contravenes a provision of this Act or the regulations for which a penalty is not otherwise provided is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction

(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not more than $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months; and

(b) for each subsequent offence, to a fine of not more than $10,000, or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year.


12  The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) prescribing species of animals that are livestock for the purposes of this Act;

(b) prescribing species of animals for the purposes of this act;

(c) respecting the regulation of animals and providing for the impounding of animals found running at large and for causing them to be sold or destroyed if not claimed within the time prescribed in the regulations or if damages, fines and expenses are not paid in accordance with the regulations;

(d) respecting the establishment and operation of facilities for holding impounded animals;

(e) respecting compensation to be allowed for services rendered in carrying out the provisions of this Act or the regulations;

(f) defining any word or expression used but not specifically defined in this Act;

(g) respecting any matter that the minister considers necessary or advisable to carry out the purpose of this Act effectively.


13  This Act comes into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Explanatory Note

This Bill will ensure that owners of animals are held liable for the actions of their animals.