Mitchell Spencer was bitten by a dog recently while running on a county road in Shannon, and William Mason was bitten while on a Sunday jog on Jackson Street in Tupelo.
Spencer said he knows he risks encounters with dogs while running in the county since there is no leash law and dogs run free. However, Mason said he should feel safe jogging in Tupelo because there is a leash law.
"That little dog came out of nowhere and just snagged me right on the leg," Mason said. "It wasn't a bad bite. But the fact that someone wasn't obeying the law, which resulted in me having to pay for it, is what made me mad."
Tupelo-Lee Humane Society Executive Director Debbie Hood said encounters between joggers and dogs increase during the warmer months. She said problems also arise with walkers, bicyclists and anyone outdoors.
Hood said if you have a neighbor who does not follow the leash law, talk to an animal control officer at TLHS. She said animal control enforces the city's leash law, which states all dogs in the city limits should be confined.
The owner of the dog can be held responsible for any injuries the animal causes. Hood said it's also common for the shelter to get calls of loose dogs attacking those who are following the law and walking on a leash.
If you are running, walking or cycling and a dog comes after you or actually attacks you, there are steps you can take to minimize injuries or prevent the attack.
Adam Goldfarb, spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, said the No. 1 rule for avoiding bad encounters is when avoiding encounters is to simply not approach the dog.
"Runners and cyclists should just try to avoid dogs, especially in areas they aren't familiar with," said Goldfarb. "If you are running and come up on a dog and he seems aggressive, the best thing to do is to put a barrier between you and the dog. That could be a car, garbage can, fence or even a backpack. Putting something in between you and the dog can prevent bites."
Goldfarb said he wouldn't recommend running away screaming and flailing your arms because this could excite the dog.
If the dog does happen to attack you and get you on the ground, protect your head and face first.
"Roll up into a ball and cover your head," said Goldfarb. "Usually the dog will lose interest and move on."
Call 911 if you are attacked by a dog. To report a loose dog, contact animal control at (662) 841-6500.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.