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Beware of Dogs: Frequently Asked Questions and Regulations

Q. What does "beware of dog" really mean?

A.
Beware of dog is a warning that a dog is present on the property and might attack if threatened or provoked. The idea is to warn and deter potential intruders and alert other people and/or visitors to exercise caution while approaching the property. The warning by the owner also cushions legal liabilities to certain extent in case of accident.

Q. Do intruders or burglars really avoid homes with dogs?

A.
Dogs are one of the most effective deterrents for intruders and burglars, according to several reports based on interviews with burglars serving sentences. While CCTV cameras rank on top for most, dogs, particularly big and loud dogs, come a close second.

Q. What are the responsibilities/liabilities of a dog owner?

A.
Becoming a dog owner has a fair share of liabilities and responsibilities. You shall be liable for any injuries and/or property damage done by your dog. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to be aware of any laws and local ordinances around pets, ensuring your dog is vaccinated and neutered, providing the right environment and facilities necessary for his/her well-being, and making proper arrangements when you can’t look after him/her.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has some useful resources on pet ownership. You may also find some useful information and safety tips here .

Q. Are owners of pets other than dogs also required to post signs?

A.
Dog owners post beware of dog signs for multiple reasons, including warning intruders and alerting visitors. These signs can also help prevent any accidents by creating general awareness, and communicate behaviors or activities that must not be carried out or encouraged. You may also post relevant pet signs in the interest of your pet as well as of the people around you.

Q. Are there any risks associated with posting beware of dog signs?

A.
Like most things, there are pros and cons to posting beware of dog signs. While the sign may act as a defense in a legal situation involving the dog biting someone, it may also be used against you depending on the situation and the applicable law. Posting a beware of dog sign can be construed to mean that you were aware of your dog’s aggressive nature and knowingly put other’s life at risk.

Q. Are there any laws that dog owners should know?

A.
Pet laws differ from state to state and city to city. These cover things like vaccination, licenses, pet waste, injury/damage liability, and more. There may also be local ordinances in place as well as neighborhood rules and/or homeonwer’s association regulations that pet owners are required to abide by.
You may read further to get more clarity. Please contact your local authority and/or association for more information.
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