Visitor Question

Children taunting dogs…

Submitted By: Judy (USA)

We have some children on our avenue who persistently annoy our dogs when they are in the front lawn. They put their hands through the railings in the fence. We keep an eye on the dogs when they are in the front, but when we are gardening, we may go into the back and leave them in the front briefly.

If our dogs nipped their hands, would we be liable?

These children have been asked to leave the dogs alone, but they will woof at the dogs and stand and stare at them. The dogs are good tempered and well behaved, but we are concerned how we stand legally should something happen.

The parents are unapproachable – they moved into our small cul-de-sac 6 months ago and are totally unfriendly. They have hardly spoken to anybody. We are concerned as we are both elderly and do not want to get into conflict.

Any suggestions on how to minimize our liability, and/or how to stop the children from taunting the dogs? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Judy,

Your first action should be obvious. While the parents of the children are unapproachable, you still have every right to knock on their door and ask them to keep their children from taunting your dogs. Doing so will serve two (2) important purposes:

First: Like all parents, if if they know their children are at risk, the parents will do whatever is required to protect them. In this case, it is altogether possible the parents are unaware of the taunting and resulting danger. Once they become aware, it’s likely they will admonish their children against taunting the dogs.

Second: By notifying the parent, you are in effect insulating yourself from liability. That’s so because it goes to show you warned the parents. Therefore, the parents can’t say they didn’t know about the dogs or the fence. This is especially true if one of their children is injured.

Finally, in an effort to be sure you are protected, place your dogs on a leash so they can run free, but are stopped just short of the fence. While you may not like the idea, it is the best way to avoid a lawsuit or the need to file a homeowners claim in the event a child is injured.

While the children’s parents may not prevail in a lawsuit, it’s still not worth taking the chance you will have to hire an attorney or file a homeowners claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 16, 2016

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