Dog Bites: A Warning to Runners and Walkers

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An average of 4.9 million people annually are bitten by dogs, according to the Center for Disease Controls. Some of them cause people to visit the emergency room, and many of the victims are small children. But, adults too, can encounter dogs in the neighborhood, especially dogs that are not specifically provoked, but are compelled to attack to protect their territory. Runners and joggers beware: you could be particularly at risk for a number of reasons.

Many runners love the solitude of the activity, transporting them to a place that takes them away from the stressors of work. If you have ever encountered anyone who runs, you know when that person is “in the zone.” This very zone can cause runners to be less aware of their surroundings when running in a neighborhood or on a trail where animals might frequent. In addition, devices for training and music often accompany runners while they listen to segments on a headset. This alone can prevent them from hearing an approaching dog or other animal.

If you are a runner, here are a few things to keep in mind, no matter how comfortable you are with your surroundings.

  • Always be on the alert for loose dogs or other animals if you run. Dogs can be stealthy and wait to lunge or approach an unsuspecting person.
  • While it may not be the most convenient, always take one earplug out of your ear so that you can hear any outside surrounding noises with the other. You’ll still be able to hear your music.
  • If you do wear both earphones, keep the volume on low enough so that you can still hear an approaching animal.
  • If you encounter a dog, move slowly and avoid running away quickly. Many times they want to know if you are a threat.

If you have been bitten by a dog while running in a favorite neighborhood, you may nor may not have met the owners of the dog. Were they at work? Did the dog have tags? Did the dog get loose, or was he simply allowed to run around? Many cities have leash laws. Many questions will have to be answered when the situation presents itself as a dog bite or animal bite. When you know the rules of your neighborhood, it helps you to choose your courses wisely and pay attention to your surroundings.