I love dogs. However, I don’t like being chased by ones I don’t know and that has been happening a lot lately. Every owner thinks his or her dog is wonderful and wouldn’t hurt a flea. I beg to differ. When I go for my afternoon runs, I don’t appreciate being chased by up to four dogs on a given day. These dogs are just walking around their yard minding their own business until they zone in on me. In their mind, I’m a threat. (Trust me Fido, there are worse things.)

It is very scary to have a strange dog bark and growl at you incessantly. And as luck would have it, there is never an owner in sight. If you happen to hear someone yelling at the top of their lungs, “Go home, go home,” that would be me.

A couple weeks ago a large dog, about 100 pounds, chased me through a local cemetery. “Fido” ran across the road from his house directly at me. Unfortunately, yelling, “Help me, help me” in a cemetery doesn’t work very well no matter how many people you know there. He finally gave up and went back home, but I can honestly say that my heart rate stayed up there for a while. After that incident, I did go to a local retailer and purchased pepper spray. I really hope that I never have to use it.

Dog bite statistics are alarming. According to www.onlinelawyersource.com, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Of this 2 percent of the total U.S. population, 800,000 seek medical attention for their injuries. I don’t want to be part of that statistic.

The Web site also pointed out that even though most dogs are not likely to bite unless provoked, dogs are unpredictable. The site said dogs bite when they are fearful, protecting property, threatened, eating or sleeping, trying to establish dominance, treated badly or chained up.

You never know what a dog will do. Even former President George Bush’s dog, Barney, is no exception. According to ABC news, he bit the finger of a Reuters reporter at the White House.

When I was in grade school, my neighbor’s dog bit me in the heel. I don’t think my friends ever thought their dog would hurt me but he did. He was an old dog, mostly blind and deaf. I can remember feeling extreme terror when he wouldn’t let go. I didn’t want to go back to their house until the dog died. I was scared for a long time — the only dog I trusted was my old collie, Kelly, at home.

I highly encourage owners to treat their pets with respect so they don’t lash out at someone else and for heaven’s sake, put up a fence. Fences are a wonderful thing.

I wish more pet owners would use the popular Invisible Fence measure. There is only one home on my route that has it — too bad.

On the flip side, I have met many nice dogs who are accompanied by their owners. And I love them for treating their pooch right.

As a dog owner, I never let my canine roam in the yard unattended; she is always on a leash. I have a feeling she would probably just lick someone to death but you never know. And trust me, with her breath that could be deadly. I have rescued her from my neighbor’s dog who gets out from time to time. I end up carrying her. There is something definitely wrong with this picture don’t you think?

So, come on dog owners, do the right thing and restrain your pooches. If you don’t, there could be worse things on the horizon — like a lawsuit. No one needs that during a recession, except a lawyer.

Angie Bicker is the lifestyles editor with the Clinton Herald. She has been with the Herald since 2001.