I want to post a Beware of Dog sign by our front door and back door area. But I have heard it makes me more liable that it says I'm admitting a dangerous dog. I mainly want it to deter someone from breaking in or stealing since we have had problems in the neighborhood lately.
The posting of the "Beware of Dog" sign will probably make you less liable. As a homeowner or tenant you have a duty to warn of know hazards. That is what positing the Beware of Dog sign is a notice to anyone entering your propoerty that you have a dog.
Here an excertpt of the statute: "174.02 Owner's Liability for Damage Caused by Dog; Penalties
"... (1) Liability for Injury. (a) Without notice. Subject to § 895.045 [the comparative negligence statute] and except as provided in § 895.57(4) [granting immunity to dog owner for unauthorized release of confined animal], the owner of a dog is liable for the full amount of damages caused by the dog injuring or causing injury to a person, domestic animal or property."
You are strictly liable under Wisconsin's Dog-Bite Statute regardless of the sign. However, posting the sign or a no trespass may impose more responsbility on the person bitten. If you have a concern about your dog biting a visitor, put the dog in a kennel or other room. You may also want to review your insurance to make certain dog bites are covered.
Some states actually have a "strict liability" rule for dog bites (i.e. if your dog bites someone, you are liable no matter whether or not you knew of the dog's dangerous propensities). If this is the case, it may not matter but, you should consult with an attorney licensed in WI to know for sure.
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