Can anyone answer a legal question please?

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    Can anyone answer a legal question please?

    This is something i am asking on behalf of a friend who is a Council Tenant & wanted to put a very small (8cm) beware of the dog sign on her gate, but was told by her neighbour such signs are Illegal. I thought this was a likely place for an expert opinion on this. I'll post what she asked below & ask if anyone would know the Legal view please? Thank you in advance.

    ..well i wanted to put one of those small ones with just 'Beware of the Dog' but was told they were illegal because the wording can be construed in law as an acknowledgement that i knew my dog was likely to attack and i can be prosecuted if an intruder is bitten because i admitted by displaying the sign that the dog needed to carry a "Warning". It cannot say "Caution" "Beware" or "Warning" but can say things like "please shut gate, dog lives here"? I found tonnes of speculation and hearsay online of people again and again stating they are illegal but not one person seems able to quote this elusive Law or even give a single example of anyone being prosecuted for having one.. I cannot find one single case or even the actual 'law' it is that aparently outlaws those signs? Bit bemused really that such an inoffensive notice seems to have the internet community up in arms..

    #2
    I have seen these signs on council house and private gates in my area and historically I can remember them way back into the late 50's. In my lifetime I can't remember a law being passed to say they are illegal.



    Freedom at the point of zero............

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      #3
      I don't believe for a moment that such signs are illegal but reading the concern's of Brenda's friend that's not really the issue.

      The question is whether if the dog attacks someone it renders the owner more vulnerable to prosecution if they have publically acknowledged that the dog is dangerous, by having posted such a sign. I have read about that in the context of farmers and "Beware of the Bull" signs - whether that is true or not I have no idea.

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        #4
        Thankyou Interlaken, that is my view also but i am quite surprised to see for myself on Google just how many people seem convinced they are illegal and can lead to dog owners being prosecuted af anything happens and they had a sign in place at the time. It almost smacks of one big hoax if i'm honest. I just can't find anything beyond speculation & hearsay which actually gives this any 'teeth' if you will excuse the pun.

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          #5
          Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
          I don't believe for a moment that such signs are illegal but reading the concern's of Brenda's friend that's not really the issue.

          The question is whether if the dog attacks someone it renders the owner more vulnerable to prosecution if they have publically acknowledged that the dog is dangerous, by having posted such a sign. I have read about that in the context of farmers and "Beware of the Bull" signs - whether that is true or not I have no idea.

          And therein lies the problem, no such prosecution ever seems to have resulted unless i am not looking properly? That is what seems so curious about this and almost makes it seem like a hoax fuelled by armchair Lawyers, because all i have so far found is rumor and speculation, but no hard facts or actual cases or examples of where a dog owner has been prosecuted for having such a sign.

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            #6
            I think the point is this: If you know your dog is dangerous and it bites someone you are liable whatever precautions you take. Putting up a sign will not make you "more liable" or for that matter "less liable".

            In most cases the point of the sign is of course to deter intruders rather than alert legitimate visitors to possible danger.

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              #7
              Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
              I think the point is this: If you know your dog is dangerous and it bites someone you are liable whatever precautions you take. Putting up a sign will not make you "more liable" or for that matter "less liable".

              In most cases the point of the sign is of course to deter intruders rather than alert legitimate visitors to possible danger.
              Solution : put up a sign saying 'Beware of the Really Vicious Dog' and at intervals through the night play a sound recording of an Alsation or Rottweiler barking, but keep no dog.
              'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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                #8
                Thank you very much Lawcruncher. I believe this is exactly what my friend wanted to do, just deter intruders but she is now worried about possible implications and liabilities by doing so, although I am sure if it were the contentious issue that Internet legend would have us believe then at least one person would have found themselves in the dock by now charged with having a notice which contravenes the rights of burglars.

                Mind the gap, i like your thinking. I actually saw a dog notice while browsing which said 'PLEASE GIVE BLOOD - TEASE THE DOG'. I think i know exactly where that one would get you!

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                  #9
                  Your friend is a council tenant: The gate presumably belongs to the council. What answer did she get when she asked the council housing department if she could put the sign up?? (always assuming you can get through/get a reply to your letter/deal with anyone with 1/2 a brain...).

                  Think they'll say "No"..
                  I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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                    #10
                    Whilst there may be an argument about the effect of a notice, I cannot for the moment think how putting up the notice could be illegal (i.e.criminal).

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                      Whilst there may be an argument about the effect of a notice, I cannot for the moment think how putting up the notice could be illegal (i.e.criminal).
                      The owner of the gate (ie the council) might I suppose claim that it had been damaged. A bit tenuous.
                      'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                        Your friend is a council tenant: The gate presumably belongs to the council. What answer did she get when she asked the council housing department if she could put the sign up?? (always assuming you can get through/get a reply to your letter/deal with anyone with 1/2 a brain...).

                        Think they'll say "No"..

                        Why do you think that? Would be interested in your reasoning? Is it really any different to putting a sign on the shared door to tell people which doorbell to press for you? They don't say 'NO' to that.

                        The gate belongs to her by the way, she had her own installed because the garden is divided in half and the Council do not repair internal boundaries which seperate gardens, the tenant has to pay for thier own.

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                          #13
                          Lawcruncher i agree. I think where the supposed issue is being seen is in that 'if' something did happen to an intruder & a sign was being displayed, this could be construed as an admission that you knew you had a dog that was likely to attack, and that people needed to 'Beware' of for thier own safety. That is how i read it anyway.

                          I am almost mided to think it is a red herring if i am honest because of all the conversations i found online by people proclaiming the signs as 'illegal', not one person seems able to substantiate that with legal fact or provide any proof that they are indeed 'illegal'. All i see is speculation and hearsay. I wonder if i should refer my friend to the Kennel Club?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I very much doubt that such a sign would be illegal - the original story was regarding farming warnings and has yet to be tested in court, to my knowledge.
                            However a workaround could be gained by having a sign which politely reminds 'visitors' that a large dog is present and to ensure they close the gate so that it can't go wandering. You thereby inform visitors of the presence of a large dog and put the onus on them to keep the gate shut (possibly by not coming through it in the first place). You could then pursue them for letting your dog out in the first place.
                            I may be a housing professional but my views, thoughts, opinions, advice, criticisms or otherwise on this board are mine and are not representative of my company, colleagues, managers. I am here as an independent human being who simply wants to learn new stuff, share ideas and interact with like minded people.

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                              #15
                              I own 5 german shepherd dogs both male and female. They have the run of the rear garden but are restrained therein by a 6 ft 6 wall all round and a large electrically operated gate with a keypad to which only house occupiers and a few trusted visitors have the pass number. Warning signs are prominently displayed that dogs are loose and not to go past the sign unless escorted. The GSD's cannot get into the front garden to pester postmen and other lawful visitors but they can see visitors and alert us before they even get to the front door.
                              I dont use Beware of the Dog signs as such - the signs simply say that dogs live here and not to enter past this point.
                              You must realise that certain visitors such as postal employees have an implied right to walk up to the door unmolested in order to deliver mail - same applies to leaflet delivery and indeed Jehovah's witnesses. If they are met with a snarling dog, or even bitten, then the owner is in trouble even though its on their own peoperty. Apart from that, putting a Beware of Dog notice on the front gate might result in warning off the people you would not wish to warn off like postal service/courior delivery/free newspapers etc. as well as having an effect of stopping potential wrongdoers.
                              Also, a householder might well still be liable if the dog gets loose through a visitor not closing a gate as requested by a notice.
                              Dogs can be dangerous whether they are ankle biters or the full monty like GSD's or Rottweilers and it is wise to have that thought at the front of the mind in deciding how to make sure the dogs cannot interfere with people who have a right to enter your premises but at the same time deter people who you do not wish to enter.

                              BTW shameless plug - pm me if you want a pedigree GSD puppy - expecting birth circa end March and for rehoming mid to end May. £300 be quick though - they sell like hot cakes!!!

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