I really do like dogs, just not the ones chasing me down the road, blocking my path, or of course, biting. Sadly, I’ve been bitten twice by pets that “don’t bite” according to their owners. I no longer trust the word of the owner as they shout out “he doesn’t bite!” above the bark and growl of the rapidly approaching dog.

We do have the freedom to be in a public place without fear of harm from a residential animal, so I do carry and have used, non-toxic pepper spray numerous times. When I am in a rural setting, I also carry a BB Gun. It doesn’t have enough power to do permanent damage, but it would sting enough to get a dogs attention and hopefully slow it down.

Windy days create problems for pepper spray use as it could end up with more in your face than in the approaching animal, the BB gun provides a greater range and resilience against the wind.

Other creatures I have seen on country runs include Coyotes, cats, skunks, opossum, fox, and deer, plus a horse and a cow out of their fenced area. I have heard there are some bobcats in the areas I run, but I haven’t seen any. Here again, the BB gun may provide some additional leverage and time for sprinting away.

If there is an Animal Control Department where you run, be sure to reach out to them if you have been chased/attacked or to report repeat offenders who let their animals roam free. One county I run in regularly does not have such a department, but I have emailed the Sherriff’s office to address some particularly aggressive animals, and it has resolved some issues.

I also have a knife and a cell phone with me at all times.