Archive for August, 2013

Dog Signs

Beware of dog 1An owner with a protective dog may post a “Beware of Dog” sign, letting outsiders know the dog won’t throw a welcome party if they open the gate.  The signs may also serve as a warning to intruders that a dog protects the home – whether she actually does or not!  Do such signs also protect the owner from legal claims if the dog hurts someone on the property?

“The signs do serve to warn people, so owners may have a defense if the warning is not heeded,” says Kenneth Phillips, an animal-law attorney in Beverly Hills, Calif.  “Just about everywhere you can defend against a dog-bite case by saying the victim assumed the risk of injury when he failed to heed the sign.”  Further, displaying such a sign is a defense to statutory civil liability in Florida, Phillips notes, and to criminal charges in the state of Washington if the dog is fenced in.

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If owners post a sign and their dog bites, will the sign be held as an admission the owners knew about the dog’s tendency to bite?  “In states such as New York, the courts have ruled that a sign of this nature isn’t considered an admission that the dog will bite,” Phillips says.  “To put it simply, the sign does not make your dog a biter in the eyes of the law.”

images[8]Other signs, typically posted on the front door, let first responders such as paramedics and firefighters know a dog lives inside.  The signs won’t make firefighters liable for the dog, but they can be helpful.  The more visible the sign, the better the chance first responders will notice.  “Our priority is always the people,” says David Bacino, a firefighter and paramedic in Rolling Meadows, Ill.  “But if we’ve seen a pet sign and know the people are out, as well as determined the fire’s been contained sufficiently for the building to be structurally safe, we can consider going back in for pets.”

A sign can help in other emergencies as well.  “If the owner is injured and can’t speak, we then know how many pets may be in the house,” Barcino says.  “Also, if the owner lives alone and is taken to the hospital, emergency responders will know an animal may need care.”

L.M.H.  DogFancy magazine, February 2013 edition

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August 7, 2013 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment