I pointed this out not too long ago. In the winter, very few, if any incidents. It seems like those who break the rules and don’t show consideration to the comfort and safety of others are the same people who don’t want to face the discomfort of exercising their dogs in inclement weather. Of course, as you pointed out, there are always exceptions to every trend. That’s why they are trends and not absolutes.
Until Saturday, I could say the same thing. Saturday, I carried pepper spray for my first time ever during a run. I didn’t like it at all but I also felt just a bit safer when entering the park than I had in the past. No more less alert but more ready to defend myself in case of an incident.
I’ve always been told facing the dog and giving a stern “NO” usually works. Usually being the key word. Don’t get me wrong, the pepper spray is still a last alternative for when I truly feel threatened. It’s just that there are dogs out there that nothing but physical action works for. The pepper spray is the safest form of physical action for myself and, likely, for the dog also.
Unfortunately, telling the dog owner the rules usually doesn’t work (at least around here) because the owner knows there are leash laws and simply doesn’t care. Also, telling the owner the rules doesn’t help when the dog is closer to you than the owner and running fast enough to be on top of you within a couple of seconds. This is when a stern “NO” is attempted, followed – if needed – by whatever means of personal protection are deemed necessary. I’ve talked with animal control people and they stated they prefer pepper spray to physical action (kicking, throwing a rock, etc.) because physical action can result in injury both to the person and the dog, while pepper spray rarely results in any injuries. I’ve also talked with a former police officer (maybe PSKI can verify this) who stated the police could consider throwing a rock or kicking to be an act of aggression or an attack while using pepper spray is more of a form of self defense. In this sense, legally speaking, you can avoid trouble by using pepper spray instead of acting more physically.