Prevent dog attacks while running

Think your usual running route is safe? When Run-at-home mom blogger Jennifer Pinarski and her dog were attacked by their neighbour’s unleashed bulldog she learned the hard way to be prepared for the worst

By Jennifer Pinarski
Prevent dog attacks while running

I now carry dog-deterrent spray with me when I run

The last thing I expected on my Wednesday morning stroller run was to have our family dog attacked by a neighbour’s bulldog, but that’s exactly what happened as I was wrapping up an 8K.
When we first adopted Murphy, I made a point of knowing which dogs on our running routes are fenced and which ones are friendly. This particular dog (an intact male that is not fenced and never tied) had met Murphy many times and had shown no prior signs of aggression. So when the bulldog came charging from the front yard and onto the road we stopped to say hello as we always do. When he grabbed Murphy by the throat and threw her down - no small feat, she’s over 80 pounds - I stood there stunned. Gillian started crying and the dog’s owner tried her best to break up the fight. Finally her dog let go. Gillian was still crying, Murphy (uninjured!) was still panting and I was still standing there stunned when the dog’s owner apologized to us.
“I’m sorry, he always does this,” she said.
Too shocked to do anything, we finished the last few kilometres of our run in silence. It wasn’t until I got home and replayed the dog attack to Mr. P that I realized how dangerous our encounter was and how angry I was that this dog owner leaves her knowingly aggressive dog loose. This dog attack could have ended much worse - Gillian and Isaac often get out of the stroller to play and run and I run past this house several nights a week. Needless to say I haven’t run past that house since. I am far too scared.
Our cottage community is so small and now even smaller since our summer residents have returned to the city for the winter. I don’t want to make an enemy of one of the few year-round neighbours we have, but when it comes to the safety of myself and our children, this isn’t a situation I take lightly. I’ve bought dog pepper spray, but I’m not sure whether to call our municipal bylaw officer to see if there have been other complaints about this dog. I would also like to speak again to our neighbour to explain that I now have spray and also to see if there is a chance they would consider installing fencing or tying their dog.
On my end, I know I did everything right to avoid and reduce any injuries that might have occurred:
- I stayed calm
- By staying out of the dog's territory and remaining on the road, we didn't provoke him
- I didn't run away from the attack
- I let go of my dog's leash so that I wouldn't get pulled into the dog fight
- I moved the running stroller away from the dog fight
- I let the owner get involved, instead of me (though I dread to imagine what it would have been like if the owner wasn't home)
Has this happened to you? How have you dealt with the safety aspect, but also the delicate neighbour relationship aspect?
This article was originally published on Nov 05, 2011

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