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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
    Location
    NW Louisiana
    Posts
    5,190

    Default Neighbor's child wandering into pasture? Liability?

    I've put bigger and more difficult locks on the gates, and the 5-yo child still gets thru. I found her today just standing in the pasture. She said she squeezed thru the gate, and then started screaming when I told her she needed to go home.

    The actual issue is a bit complicated, and I don't want to go into much more detail than that. Short of calling child services, what else can I do? I'm not sure how much tighter I can get my gates to latch without them being just impossible to open. I have all the proper signs posted as per my state. I've asked the adults repeatedly not to allow the child into my yard because of the horses, and I send her home when I do find her.

    I just really don't want to end up getting sued if something happens to her.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    2,638

    Default

    Sorry, but it does sound as if it is time for a call to child protective services.

    The parents are clearly not attending to the safety of their child and you (and the child) run the risk of paying dearly if your horse decides s/he doesn't want company some day.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 3, 2006
    Posts
    11,568

    Default

    Why can't you put child proof locks on your gates or electric fence tape and perhaps suggest she calls to see you BEFORE she goes in.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    Location
    The rocky part of KY
    Posts
    9,151

    Default

    Okaaaay, I'll treat this as how to keep an animal out. Little kids can squeeze through amazingly narrow spaces if they just turn sideways. They don't have to mess with the latch if you have say 6" of space between the gate and the post. You may have to nail a 2x4 or even a 4x4 to the post in such a way that the latch won't be affected but the opening is narrower. If she is squeezing between the bars on a gate then you need to investigate lining the gate with no-climb or some other mesh. If you have electric fence or board fence you'll be out of luck, and may have to involve authorities.
    I did that when I was that age, got up at the crack of dawn and visited the neighbor horses in my pj's. Luckily for me the horses belonged to my babysitter and she found me feeding them mudpies, put me up on her shoulders and "cantered" me home. It just worked out well for me and I understood not to go back. If I had been more headstrong and less supervised it would have taken serious threats and that is never fun, for anybody.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 22, 2000
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    14,886

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RainyDayRide View Post
    Sorry, but it does sound as if it is time for a call to child protective services.

    The parents are clearly not attending to the safety of their child and you (and the child) run the risk of paying dearly if your horse decides s/he doesn't want company some day.
    I'd have to agree, especially as it sounds like she's a repeat visitor, and you've already tried to get the parents involved, to no avail.

    Would it increase or decrease your future liabilty if her trespassing tendencies are documented by the authorities? That might be a good question for a lawyer.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006
    Posts
    3,300

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hampton Bay View Post
    I've asked the adults repeatedly not to allow the child into my yard because of the horses, and I send her home when I do find her.
    What about giving the adults WRITTEN notice that you will call child protective services the next time she comes over unattended? Sadly, that may be the nicest thing you could do - not to only protect her from the horses but from someone who may not send her home.

    Recently, in our neck of the woods, there was a little little girl that went missing walking home from school and was found to have been murdered. Very, very awful.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2007
    Posts
    9,018

    Default

    Watch out for the "attractive nuisance laws" in your state.

    I agree that you should call DFACS as it is called here (child protective services).

    If your animals hurt the child accidentally, you might be sued...........whether or not you win or lose, it's emotionally and financially exhausting.
    Make sure your ins. policy is up to date.
    Put in writing to the child's parents that their child is not to enter your property without your permission. Make sure both parents get the letter.

    Now, without knowing what the unspecified issues are, can you maybe work with his child so she only comes over when you will let her pet the animals?

    Bonus points if you can get videos and audios of the child coming onto your property and of you taking child back to parents and telling them not to let child come over again. You do have to be proactive, enforcing fence and gate locks, no climb fencing, etc., to protect yourself from lawsuit.

    Go read kookicat's "child in my pasture" thread. It is entertaining and informative, the UK version.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 22, 2000
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    14,886

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Come Shine View Post
    Sadly, that may be the nicest thing you could do - not to only protect her from the horses but from someone who may not send her home.

    Recently, in our neck of the woods, there was a little little girl that went missing walking home from school and was found to have been murdered. Very, very awful.
    Ugh. How horrible. I never would have thought of that, but it's too true.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,182

    Default

    I would call the police next time, and have them report it to CPS. That way you have a paper trail. I wouldn't ever allow the child on my property by invitation either, or the parents (and their lawyer) will claim that she had your permission. It would be your word against theirs, and you will lose. I would also see this as a chance to check my insurance coverage and update if necessary. Plus, the kid doesn't have to get injured by an animal to get you sued-if she trips and gets a broken arm you're toast too-to the tune of a lot of money. Parents who don't properly raise and supervise their child are the first to sue you a$$ off. In today's legal climate I would call the cops anytime I see the child on your property, and document everything as Cloudy says. I find it appalling that a parent with half a brain allows their child to go on a stranger's property unsupervised-you just never know who someone is, or what their visitors may be like. It certainly isn't the world we grew up in, but it's the world we have to live with now.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    13,981

    Default

    C&C is right - such things as swimming pools, ponds, horses, etc. are an attraction to children and it is your responsibility to keep them out. You might have a geriatric Shetland, or a raging stallion - same rules. You are, and should, take it seriously.

    How old is the child?

    Funnily enough, if you were a rancher, on an isolated road, in open rangeland, and a car hit your horse - you could sue - it would be the driver's responsibility because he should have known there might be livestock on the road. In urban area not so much. (in Canada, that is.)



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2007
    Location
    Pen Argyl PA
    Posts
    3,716

    Default

    Yes, Call the police to protect yourself. Damn neighbor issues.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 22, 2007
    Location
    South of Georgia, North of Miami
    Posts
    1,117

    Default

    I would call the police hoping if an officer showed up, with lights flashing, the child would get scared enough to stay out of the pasture. I think a nice friendly call to the cops explaining the situation would be in order...and I would have a batch of cookies for the officers to take home with them in thanks. If she comes back, then I would call child services.

    Sadly, it sounds like the little person is desperate for attention. Even the wrong kind. Her parents must be winners.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2004
    Location
    Pottstown, PA (East Coventry)
    Posts
    3,007

    Default

    Check with you homeowners insurance agent since they would likely be on the hook to pay to defend you they may have suggestions on how to protect yourself.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 17, 2003
    Location
    Fort Myers, Florida
    Posts
    2,667

    Default

    I've had the opportunity to work around youngsters while in uniform. My purpose is to encourage them to go to a police officer if they are ever in trouble, or frightened for any reason. I know that certain types of parents tell "johnny" that the lawman is going to take them away and that is so wrong!! It would be bad if this young child was frightened by an officer.

    Instead, perhaps you could speak with someone at the Dept..explain the situation and "arrange" to have an officer talk to the parents without the tyke around or...have an officer gently explain (to the child) that the horses could hurt her accidentally and how sad it would make everyone.

    Either way you HAVE to CYA! We had just this sort of thing happen when I was a child. The young neighbor boy grabbed the back legs of a foal who promptly leg go with a kick that landed in the child's face...a glancing blow to the chin which took the side of the face to his ear! Had it been a direct hit to the chin he would have died immediately! Fortunately, the neighbors were very close friends and recognized their error.
    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
    Location
    NW Louisiana
    Posts
    5,190

    Default

    I have called the cops, so the paper trail has been started.

    The idea of nailing a 2x4 or larger to the post is a good one. I actually hate where the gate is anyway, so moving it and decreasing the spacing sounds like a good idea. There is only about 4" of space between post and gate, but that is still enough apparently.

    All of the fencing in front is wire field fence. Thus far the child has not tried to climb over it, but always aims for the gate (she finally told me today how she was getting in). Have been trying to get the hotwire working for a year now with no luck. Not sure if our soil is just too sandy or if I cannot find somewhere that it is grounding out.

    Insurance is up to date and they do know I have horses, so I am covered there.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2009
    Posts
    5,360

    Default

    Be mean. Seriously. I don't have horses on my property, but I DO have a few obnoxious neighbor kids, ages 5-8, who have never been taught respect for others' property.
    After a few nicely put requests, including a visit to parents, I gave up one afternoon. I shouted and yelled at them to leave, not to think of even setting foot on my property anymore. (No, I didn't cuss at them, but was pretty forceful).
    Now I'm "the mean lady who hates children" and they hide from me when they see me coming. At least it keeps them out of my yard.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec. 22, 2000
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    14,886

    Default

    I would be nervous about putting up a hot wire at this point. What if the kid gets zapped now and you're accused of putting it up to "trap" her or some such nonsense?

    Sorry you have to go through this.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2008
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,026

    Default

    We have a really obnoxious 5 year old neighbor who came up to my DH while he was weeding near our gate the other day. Kid says to DH "hey, what's your name?" DH gets all basso profundo on him, turns his scruffy bearded face to the kid and says "son, my name is SIR!" Kid runs home and hasn't darkened our door again. The nerve...

    We have four kids, and none of them was ever such a pain, but I agree with the kid-proofing and calling the cops. I knew my boundaries as a child and didn't go in the neighbor's yards, especially the ones across they street. They may have had ponies but then they also had a really deep voiced and mean father. DH isn't really mean, but he can play mean really well.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2007
    Posts
    9,018

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by birdsong View Post
    I've had the opportunity to work around youngsters while in uniform. My purpose is to encourage them to go to a police officer if they are ever in trouble, or frightened for any reason. I know that certain types of parents tell "johnny" that the lawman is going to take them away and that is so wrong!! It would be bad if this young child was frightened by an officer.

    Instead, perhaps you could speak with someone at the Dept..explain the situation and "arrange" to have an officer talk to the parents without the tyke around or...have an officer gently explain (to the child) that the horses could hurt her accidentally and how sad it would make everyone.

    Either way you HAVE to CYA! We had just this sort of thing happen when I was a child. The young neighbor boy grabbed the back legs of a foal who promptly leg go with a kick that landed in the child's face...a glancing blow to the chin which took the side of the face to his ear! Had it been a direct hit to the chin he would have died immediately! Fortunately, the neighbors were very close friends and recognized their error.
    Right kids should not fear cops.........many atlanta and fulton co cops gave candy to kids so they would remember that cops are their friends. Let the parents fear you but don't let kids fear cops.

    and invest in no climb fencing and better locks on gates. Will protect your animals from dogs and humans as much as it will protect you from lawsuits.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2007
    Location
    Westchester County, NY
    Posts
    5,732

    Default

    Be sure to document each incident with the police, and do anything you reasonably can to keep the kid out.



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