During my 42 years as a Woodsman, Hunter and Trapper I have come across many strange and disturbing sights in the Great Outdoors. After years of being in this environment, one develops a 6th sense, Intuition or that still, small voice inside that tells you when something is not quite right. The hair on your neck stands up and you realize that potential danger is near. I have experienced this sensation many times while scouting, hunting or hiking.
I was raised in the country and roamed the hills and swamps of every landowner around. I knew them all and was not required to have written permission to cross their property. Most landowners at that time allowed their dogs to run free and I would encounter many of them in my excursions. The greater majority would bark at me from some dense cover and I would call to them and they would come out wagging their tails. I would give them about 5 minutes of loving and they would go their way and I would go mine. The problem with allowing dogs to run wild is that they become "Feral." That is, they begin to rely less and less on humans to provide food and shelter for them. With this independence comes a loss of the innate "fear of man." The "family dog" that is sweet around it's owner during the day can become a vicious livestock or pet killer if allowed to roam and pack up with other dogs at night.
The state of Georgia has already designated several dog breeds as "vicious" and requires anyone who owns one of these breeds to purchase liability insurance. What people don't understand is that if you own a vicious animal, one attack on another person involving mutilation or death can financially devastate you! I came across a female bitch Feral on my Trapline last year. She had no collar, no Rabies vaccination tag and I believe she was intentionally put out or allowed to roam freely. Nearly all of the Coyotes I trap show a submissive posture when I walk up to them. Not this canine. She was very aggressive popping her teeth and lunging at me. I had my catch pole and was intending to release her, but the more I tried, the more aggressive she became. Other than the largest Bobcat I have trapped, no other animal I have walked up on made me more nervous than this Feral. There was NO DOUBT in my mind if I did release her that she would have turned and attacked me. She was slobbering at the mouth and I was also concerned that she also was Rabid. I have been bitten by a dog before and will not allow it to happen again. Irresponsible pet owners that allow their dogs and cats to run free are perpetuating the Feral dog and cat problem exponientially.
Most counties, including Walton, have leash laws and control laws. The problem is, many people could care less. Walton County Animal Control was recently getting 20 or more feral cats in a day. Feral Dogs kill many times just for the pleasure of killing. Without constant human interaction, they revert back to their primitive behaviors. I leave you with several links about vicious dog attacks and one article concerning Ferals and the huge problem it has become all over the world.