Spring hasn’t exactly started yet, but a lot of folks are taking advantage of every reasonably mild day to get outside for a little fresh air and exercise — including folks who like to walk their dogs.
Unfortunately, nearby walkers, runners and bicycle riders can fall victim to attacks by anxious or aggressive dogs who aren’t well-controlled by their owners.
What can you do to avoid a dog attack while you’re outside?
You probably keep a sharp eye out for any known dangers while you’re out getting your exercise — just make sure that you add “dogs” to the list of possible hazards. Here’s how to handle a few commonly encountered situations:
- Leashed dogs. If the dog is being kept by its owner’s heels, that’s good. If the owner is giving the dog a long leash, you could easily wind up in trouble. The dog may rush you, you could get tangled in the leash and be down on the ground (and in the dog’s jaws) before you know it. Ask the owner to rein in the dog before you pass.
- Fenced-in dogs. A fence isn’t always a firm barrier to a determined dog. If the dog is spry enough (or the fence is weak enough) the dog could easily escape its confines and come after you in a misguided attempt to protect its territory. Steer clear of sidewalks and alleys where there are fenced-in dogs growling and snarling at every passer-by.
- Stray dogs. If a dog has gotten loose, resist the temptation to try to apprehend it on your own. It may be scared or hurt — and that can cause it to lash out at you with its teeth. Call animal control if you must.
Despite your best precautions, you may still end up the victim of a dog attack. The consequences can be both physically and financially devastating. Make sure that you speak with an experienced advocate about the possibility of recovery for your losses as soon as practical.