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  1. #1

    Default Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: PA

    I was walking on a public roadway. A group of medium-sized dogs came running towards me off of someone's property. The dogs came into the public roadway, circled around me, barking. The apparent owners of the dogs were probably 20-30 yards away calling to the dogs, but the dogs weren't responding.

    Eventually, some of the dogs returned to the property. One came back out into the road, continued to bark, and touched my hand with its nose or mouth, but it did not bite. The owners made light of the situation and said the dogs would not harm me. I was very uncomfortable with what happened.

    Questions:

    1. I want to write a letter to the homeowners stating my frustration with what happened, and reminding them of the various civil and perhaps legal liabilities they are exposed to if their dogs get loose and bite me or any other neighbors. I think they need to be reminded of the serious risk they place themselves in by allowing this to occur. What guidelines should I follow for this? I was also thinking of including a copy of our State's dog laws, which clearly state dogs must be under the owner's "direct control".

    2. Self-defense: I sometimes carry defense spray when I walk as its a semi-rural area and there could be any number of animals encountered. I also usually walk with a cane or walking stick. What duty to retreat does someone who is walking on a public roadway have if they are approached by barking (threatening) dogs who do not respond to their owner's commands and are not physically restrained? What self-defense is reasonable in a situation like this? What would be considered excessive?

    I hope I never have to encounter these dogs again. However, I walk constantly for health issues and this is not the only time I've had a close call with dog(s). I don't want to hurt any dogs, but I also don't want to be hurt (or worse) myself.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: PA

    I was walking on a public roadway. A group of medium-sized dogs came running towards me off of someone's property. The dogs came into the public roadway, circled around me, barking. The apparent owners of the dogs were probably 20-30 yards away calling to the dogs, but the dogs weren't responding.

    Eventually, some of the dogs returned to the property. One came back out into the road, continued to bark, and touched my hand with its nose or mouth, but it did not bite. The owners made light of the situation and said the dogs would not harm me. I was very uncomfortable with what happened.

    Questions:

    1. I want to write a letter to the homeowners stating my frustration with what happened, and reminding them of the various civil and perhaps legal liabilities they are exposed to if their dogs get loose and bite me or any other neighbors. I think they need to be reminded of the serious risk they place themselves in by allowing this to occur. What guidelines should I follow for this? I was also thinking of including a copy of our State's dog laws, which clearly state dogs must be under the owner's "direct control".

    2. Self-defense: I sometimes carry defense spray when I walk as its a semi-rural area and there could be any number of animals encountered. I also usually walk with a cane or walking stick. What duty to retreat does someone who is walking on a public roadway have if they are approached by barking (threatening) dogs who do not respond to their owner's commands and are not physically restrained? What self-defense is reasonable in a situation like this? What would be considered excessive?

    I hope I never have to encounter these dogs again. However, I walk constantly for health issues and this is not the only time I've had a close call with dog(s). I don't want to hurt any dogs, but I also don't want to be hurt (or worse) myself.
    Personally? I would just not walk by that property again. If you mace or cane a dog who is barking but not attacking, you will likely make them more likely to bite you out of pain, fear and defense. I doubt that writing the owner a letter would change anything.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    1. I want to write a letter to the homeowners stating my frustration with what happened, and reminding them of the various civil and perhaps legal liabilities they are exposed to if their dogs get loose and bite me or any other neighbors. I think they need to be reminded of the serious risk they place themselves in by allowing this to occur. What guidelines should I follow for this? I was also thinking of including a copy of our State's dog laws, which clearly state dogs must be under the owner's "direct control".
    Don't waste your time. Unless those people have been living under a rock they know their responsibilities and just don't care to comply with them.

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    2. Self-defense: I sometimes carry defense spray when I walk as its a semi-rural area and there could be any number of animals encountered. I also usually walk with a cane or walking stick. What duty to retreat does someone who is walking on a public roadway have if they are approached by barking (threatening) dogs who do not respond to their owner's commands and are not physically restrained? What self-defense is reasonable in a situation like this? What would be considered excessive?
    You have no duty to retreat when it comes to animals. Buy the pepper spray that has at least a 10' range. Carry two on belt clips so you can wield one quickly. Spray when the dog gets to the 10' mark. The dog isn't likely to be coming any closer after being sprayed but keep spraying if it does and use your cane or stick if it gets too close.

    I don't like the idea of injuring dogs any more than you do but self defense is self defense and negligent dog owners need a lesson in what they risk by letting their dogs run loose.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    I want to write a letter to the homeowners stating my frustration with what happened, and reminding them of the various civil and perhaps legal liabilities they are exposed to if their dogs get loose and bite me or any other neighbors. I think they need to be reminded of the serious risk they place themselves in by allowing this to occur. What guidelines should I follow for this? I was also thinking of including a copy of our State's dog laws, which clearly state dogs must be under the owner's "direct control".
    I don't really understand this question. There are no legal "guidelines" for writing letters that will serve no useful purpose.


    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    What duty to retreat does someone who is walking on a public roadway have if they are approached by barking (threatening) dogs who do not respond to their owner's commands and are not physically restrained? What self-defense is reasonable in a situation like this? What would be considered excessive?
    Questions about the reasonableness require knowledge of all relevant facts and can't be answered in the abstract. Based on your description of what happened, it sounds like you would have been justified had you used your "defense spray." The concept of "retreat" doesn't really work when you're dealing with an animal.

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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Questions about the reasonableness require knowledge of all relevant facts and can't be answered in the abstract. Based on your description of what happened, it sounds like you would have been justified had you used your "defense spray." The concept of "retreat" doesn't really work when you're dealing with an animal.
    I don't really agree with the bolded. However, I can tell the difference between a friendly bark and a hostile bark.

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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    I don't really agree with the bolded. However, I can tell the difference between a friendly bark and a hostile bark.
    The OP felt they were hostile. That is pretty much enough.

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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    I don't really agree with the bolded. However, I can tell the difference between a friendly bark and a hostile bark.
    Umm...ok, dog whisperer.

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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting PayrolGuy
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    The OP felt they were hostile. That is pretty much enough.
    They did not attack him, they only ran around him. OP basically admitted that he was somewhat hypersensitive to the overall issue. Look, I dislike the idea that someone should mace a dog that may never come closer than 10 feet to him. I also know that a dog who might never bite anyone ever, might bite someone if they were suddenly in serious pain. Its a defense mechanism. Therefore I would never advise someone to mace a dog that was still 10 ft away.

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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Personally? I would just not walk by that property again. If you mace or cane a dog who is barking but not attacking, you will likely make them more likely to bite you out of pain, fear and defense. I doubt that writing the owner a letter would change anything.
    I disagree because that is not how and when you use bear spray on a bear. You do not wait until the dog has you by the nuts.

    If mace is effective on bears, it would be effective on a dog. It is used proactively, not after the fact. Besides, If that dog learned that a person could hurt him badly from a distance, he'd think twice about charging people for fun anymore...and so would the owner.

    I would mace them if they got within my comfort zone and a cop would shoot them.

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    Default Re: Approached by Group of Barking Dogs on Public Roadway - Options

    Quote Quoting Harold99
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    I disagree because that is not how and when you use bear spray on a bear. You do not wait until the dog has you by the nuts.

    If mace is effective on bears, it would be effective on a dog. It is used proactively, not after the fact. Besides, If that dog learned that a person could hurt him badly from a distance, he'd think twice about charging people for fun anymore...and so would the owner.

    I would mace them if they got within my comfort zone and a cop would shoot them.
    Bear spray is only marginally effective against bears though I carry it in bear country.

    Mace and pepper spray is often effective against everyone in the vicinity including the sprayer and may also induce attack. It's hard to say but I'd call it, again, a last ditch effort.

    To be clear, this is definitely the case of poor husbandry by the owner, not the fault of the OP. That said, aggressive dogs attack, these dogs, for the incident description, did not attack. In fact one came close enough to touch the OPs hand with their nose. This is not aggressive behavior though it would take someone experienced in canine behavior to recognize that.

    So, to the point, you can write a letter, if it'll make you feel better, but nothing will come of it.

    You can contact Animal Control but, unless the dogs are roaming the streets biting others, nothing will come of it.

    You can take your walks with some sort of aerosol (key word) protective spray or bludgeoning instruments if it makes you feel better but, as noted above, aerosols may blow right back at you, may elicit a defensive response by the dog (they're not stupid like a hamster) and bludgeoning a dog is also a bad idea as it can also elicit an attack.

    You have no legal duty to retreat before a dog, true, but common sense would dictate, to me, that I should be cautious about any animal that has pointy teeth, is a predator, is fat and vastly stronger than you think. Dogs are no joke, as an animal, despite having been domesticated thousands of years ago. If you land that first blow you better make it count because you may find the next opportunity they are far inside your guard and maybe attached to you. Even if you're not legally liable you will still be the one to suffer the wounds and serious dog bites suck, I know.

    I'm sorry this happened to you. As an ardent and passionate dog person (I have two, an old lab and a 5 month old pitbull who is demolishing a rubber 'indestructible' chew toy at this moment at my feet as her adult teeth come in) it makes me angry to hear of such stories. There are many that don't realize that the laws about controlling your dogs, with a combination of fences, leashes, verbal commands et al, is about protecting others form your dog, that the dog derives protection from it is beside the point. This type of scofflaw behavior also impacts my dogs, my neighbors dogs and how all other gods and their owners are perceived. I hate hearing, from the owner of an off leash dogs "don't worry! He/she doesn't bite!" followed by complete unconcern or hurry to come and fetch their animal. Perhaps I bite, more, more likely, my dog bites. Perhaps I'm deathly afraid of dogs. It's such a selfish act that I've publicly upbraided people for it on the street.

    By the way, thank you for not wanting to hurt the dogs. They don't deserve it, generally. If you must, Mace the owner. That

    That last bit was not legal advice. I am not an attorney, I'm an electrician that has a notably bad attitude when faced with stupid.

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