I've read a lot of conflicting opinions recently about whether 'Beware of the dog' signs are a legal requirement in the UK. Some have told me if you have a sign and someone on your property is injured by your dog, you are exempt from prosecution.Please could you clarify this?
Andy, via Facebook
Neil Burton, chairman of the National Dog Warden Association advises...
The Guard Dogs Act 1975 requires that should a dog be used as a guard dog then each entrance to that property or premises should have a sign that informs that guard Dogs are there. If a dog or dogs are being used at a location the dogs must be under the control of a handler. If there is nobody at the location, the dogs must be secured and not roaming free.
The use of signs at residential properties warns callers that there is a dog present but there are many types of signs available, some of which are humorous. Would a sign that says 'The Remains Of Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted' be treated as a legal warning? The use of signs that make a caller aware that a dog is at the property, or 'dogs running free' is more advisory than 'Beware of the Dog' which may be seen as an admission.
As a safeguard I would personally use a sign that advised rather than stated in case of any possible legal interpretation that may result should there be an incident.