Warning…Dog Ahead!

Dogs in the road

Dog owners break TN law if their dog goes uncontrolled upon a public road.

Dogs and bikes do not mix! Unfortunately, it is obvious that some dogs really love bikes. Apparently, dogs are attracted to the spinning of the wheels and feet of the cyclist. Dog lovers who are also cyclists are appalled that dog owners do not keep their beloved animal under control; letting them run wild and into the roads, thus bringing harm to the animal and also harm to cyclists, runners, and other motorists. Hopefully, the tips below will help you know what to do when incidents occur. Together, I hope we can get the uncontrolled dogs off the road.

Due to the frequency of dogs causing cycling wrecks in our area, we have decided to get serious about this issue. We’ve done some homework about laws in Tennessee, contacted the authorities, added animal control phone numbers to our phones, bought a video camera for the bike, and tried to stay calm about the influx of dogs in the roads we ride. Remember even a friendly dog can cause you to fall over. It hurts; trust me! It seems every incident is as unique as the dog, so here are some tips to put in your arsenal to protect yourself and those around you from animals in the road.

Tips For Your Safety

  • Watch for and announce dogs that chase.
  • Use a hand signal to warn other riders about a dog in the area. (Point to where the dog usually comes out, then open and close your hand similar to a biting motion.)
  • Be very alert and keep both hands on the handlebars.
  • Sometimes, you can ignore a dog.
  • In some cases, try a firm, loud “NO” or “STOP.”
  • Some guys do a kind of cowpoke “Ya” that works. (I have not mastered this one yet.)
  • Hold your line in a group, if possible, so other cyclists do not crash into you.
  • If the dog doesn’t stop, some riders squirt the dog with water, ammonia, or pepper stray. (Beware pepper spray and ammonia can come back on you or other cyclists.)
  • At times you may have to dismount your bike and put it between you and the dog.
  • Make a note of where the dog came out at you: get an address or a landmark.
  • Wear your road id every time you ride.
  • Print and carry this summary of Dogs and Tennessee Law to give to dog owners.

It really is sad that we have to deal with this issue. It can sour a great ride by having an incident with a dog. If you have a reoccurring issue with a dog or a really dangerous encounter, please contact the authorities.

Contacting the Authorities

When you call, try to have the following:

  • Address of incident
  • County of incident (map with counties)
  • Kind/color of dog
  • If at all possible, call the authorities the day of the incident or the day after.
Coffee County Animal Control (931) 723-2730
Franklin County Animal Control (931) 967-5389
Moore County Sheriff Department (931) 759-7323
Bedford County Sheriff Department (931) 684-4566
Lincoln County Sheriff Department (931) 433-9821

What to do if Serious Injuries or Damages Occur

  • Call 911 or the local police
  • Determine where you are-give a cross road if possible
  • Get them to send an ambulance if you need it
  • Get the name and phone number of the owner of the dog
  • If no one owns up, get the address where the dog came out at you.
  • File a police report: this documentation will come in handy if you need to file charges. There may be more personal or property damage that you discover later.
  • Keep receipts for expenses related to the incident
  • Rest and recover and don’t let dogs keep you from doing what you love…riding your bike!

Laws in Tennessee Specifically for Dog Owners

What follows is a very brief summary. This summary along with the actual text from the Tennessee Code Annotated can be downloaded as a PDF, DOGS AND TENNESSEE LAW.

compiled by Tim Harrison May 26, 2015

The owner of a dog (person who regularly harbors, keeps or exercises control over a dog) has a duty to keep their dog UNDER REASONABLE CONTROL AT ALL TIMES, and keep it from running at large. The owner breaks the law if their dog goes uncontrolled upon a highway, public road or street. The OWNER CAN BE HELD LIABLE regardless of whether the dog has shown any previous aggressive tendencies. The owner is subject to CIVIL LIABILITY for any damages suffered by an injured person.

A violation is a misdemeanor PUNISHABLE BY UP TO $2,500 or a FELONY if there is serious bodily injury or death.


Enough about dogs…I need to get my heart rate back to normal…

The next article will include tips on hydration.
Teaser… Drink before you are thirsty and eat before you are hungry!