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Posted on Wed, May 19, 2010 : 3:45 p.m.

Loose dog runs into Milan bicyclist, causing serious injuries

By Lee Higgins

A Milan woman was injured in Monroe County Tuesday night when a large dog ran into her bicycle on Milwaukee Road, knocking her to the pavement.

Dawn Spack, 49, was released from St. Joseph Mercy Saline Hospital early this morning after receiving nine staples to close two cuts on her head.

“I have nothing against the dog,” Spack said. “I’m an animal person. I just want the owners to have it under control when people are riding by.”

Linda Benson, director of Monroe County Animal Control, said an officer is investigating. It’s illegal to allow a dog to stray beyond its property if the dog isn't leashed and under control, the county’s animal control ordinance says. The owners could face a ticket ranging from $50 to $200, Benson said.

“The owners are the ones at fault,” Benson said. “That dog should have been restrained. (Spack) could have been killed.”

The owners have not yet been identified.

Spack said she was traveling east on Milwaukee Road at about 15 miles per hour at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. She was in the middle of her 12-mile daily bicycle ride on the same route she has taken for six years.

Spack said she was wearing earphones, listening to music. She wasn't paying extra attention to the house where she's seen a large mixed-breed dog running loose on several occasions, she said. The dog appears to have some Rottweiler in it and weigh more than 100 pounds, Spack said.

The dog bolted from its property and ran across the road toward the left side of her bicycle.

“I heard this bark and I looked up and I screamed, ‘No!’ as loud as I could.”

“He hit that bike going full force enough to knock it out from under me. I went up and slammed down on the pavement.”

Spack was not wearing a helmet. A driver stopped and helped her, getting a rag from the dog owner's house for Spack to put on her head, which was bleeding.

Spack does not recall anyone from the owner's house checking on her. The woman who stopped to help Spack gave her a ride home. Spack's boyfriend drove her to the hospital.

In addition to cuts on her head, Spack suffered bruises to the left side of her body, including her hip and elbow. Her ribs hurt when she breathes, she said.

Spack was wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt when the incident occurred, which she said protected her from suffering too many scrapes. Spack, who is an office manager at an Ann Arbor dental office, missed work today.

"I could hardly move this morning," she said.

Spack has been riding bicycles for 30 years and said she has never been in an accident. She is hopeful the dog's owners will agree to cover any medical expenses that aren't covered under her health insurance. And she hopes they'll address the issue.

“I want to ride by that house and not be attacked again," she said.

Lee Higgins is a reporter for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at



Sat, May 29, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

I am a dog owner and I completely agree that the dog's owner in this case is responsible for any non-insured expenses. If the dog can not be controlled/trusted then it should not be loose in an unfenced yard. Off topic: However, I also think that many dog owners are very responsible and train their dogs well enough to be off-leash in the parks. This doesn't mean letting your dog run wild all over the place, but if the dog wants to trot beside you or even maybe 10ft. in front of you while you walk it ~shrug~ so what? For a well trained dog, the owner's voice is their leash and for a dog that is untrained, no false sense of security little piece of rope is going to stop it if it truly decides to run after and attack someone or something. As for the 'keep your dog away from me' crowd, believe me, I completely understand your sentiment. I don't want your whelps anywhere around me either. Unfortunately I have to hear them screaming at the top of their lungs on a regular basis in public (you don't hear my dog barking - which I would call the equivalent of your screaming kids), or running all over the place and getting in everyone's way (my dog walks beside me), or just being a general pest by trying to engage me in one of their inane conversations (my dog won't approach you unless I specially say her name and turn toward you in greeting; my sign to her that 'this person wants to meet you'). And as for taking up space on the side walk, I assure you that those pompous all-terrain strollers do the same thing and are just as annoying. So, I guess the bottom line is that we all have to exist here and so, teaching your pups to behave in public - whether human or canine - and attempting to be a little bit tolerant of people who may not feel those 'pups' are as interesting and special as you do, just might make us all live a happier lifestyle here.

John Hritz

Mon, May 24, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

The "contributory negligence" is a good add, but I'm skeptical that an average bicyclist can outrun a dog. Particularly one charging you at a right-angle to the roadway. The injuries might have been mitigated by a helmet, but in the end, the dog assaulted the bicyclist and by extension the owner is responsible for the actions of their dog. The failure to render assistance is particularly disturbing. Still no update on the results of the investigation or the identity of the owners...


Sat, May 22, 2010 : 9:45 p.m.

folks: michigan is what is called a 'contributory negligence" state - meaning a trier of fact can apportion blame to either party. i'd argue that wearing the headphones may have caused biker to have not heard the charging (barking?) dog. further, what if a squirell had run in front of her? we can choose to bike as speedy as we want, but could she have stopped safely at 12 mph? having said all that, but for the negligent owners- no accident. so all have a bit of blame here. for the dog owners, if your dog escapes, there's a good chance either this will happen, or the dog will get killed by a car. not a good situation either way.


Sat, May 22, 2010 : 8:54 p.m.

And while we are on the subject,,,,Keep your dog, ON or off the leash, out of my yard while you walk by my yard. My dog will not leave my yard because of the invisible fence, but will bark when you let your dog wander on the outer edge of my yard. I love my dog but not yours. I don't want to clean up your dog's mess or listen to my dog bark.


Sat, May 22, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

A lot of people think that just because their dog is 'friendly' and doesn't growl and snap at people - they are 'safe' to be loose. Obviously if the dog in the article had wanted to attack the rider it would have done much more than knock her off her bike. But even so, the rider ended up injured. People who defend their dog/s and get all miffed about others who complain about them running the neighborhood really make me wonder. Okay - so you don't care or respect your neighbors enough to keep your dog under control; but don't you care enough about your own dog to realize that not controlling it can be just as dangerous for the dog? I have two dogs - I love them and I am well aware of the fact that just because I love my dogs - other people my not appreciate them the way I do. As for the bicyclist - while she should have been wearing a helmet and left the headphones at home, she is not responsible for what happened to her, the dog's owner is. The dog jumping her bike caused her injuries, not her lack of gear or her headphones. Now had she ridden infront of a vehicle and gotten injured as a result of not hearing what was going on around her - it would be her fault. But a dog running out into the street is not 'normal' traffic or expected. Not so sure about a law suit - can see where the dog's owner would be responsible for the medical bills incurred and any damages to the bike, but a huge award (or even seeking one) is more about greed than being reimbursed for real damages.

Jay Allen

Fri, May 21, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

To cathym "For those who didn't read closely: 1) this took place in Milan, not Ann Arbor 2) she was riding in the street, not the sidewalk." Are you being serious? Really? So A^2.Com is now exclusive to Ann Arbor residents? So A^2.Com can only report "news" as it pertains to Ann Arbor? And if you could please take the time to read what I wrote, its NOT a street, its a farm road. More tractors and cows than cars. And sidewalks? You're kidding again, right? There is BARELY a shoulder on that road. It would take a skilled rider to even attempt to ride on that road and with the Ms. Spack stating she has rode there for six years, I would think she knows the road and conditions far better than a person who does not even KNOW the area. Milwaukee road runs east-west and is almost directly 1/2 way between Milan and Dundee. It crosses US-23 near the Dundee Cement factory which is visible from the highway. This does not excuse the no helmet as I wear one and this also does not excuse the use of head phones. Yes, these are contributors to the accident but these are not WHY the accident occurred. It occurred because owners of a dog did not have the sense to properly have their canine attended to. Whether that be supervised in the yard or leashed. Their call, but none the less they did nothing. I 100% agree with pfrance and their take of a few folks who contribute on the internet.


Fri, May 21, 2010 : 12:58 a.m.

Hi Pfrance, Thanks for fighting the good fight! I believe you can buy pepper spray at Meijer. You can also probably pick it up at sports places like Gander Mountain. I wonder if bike stores carry it, too...


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 8:01 p.m.

Thank you for the comments on the rudeness of some of the people in Ann Arbor. I moved here almost 2 years ago and couldn't believe what I was experiencing. So many people here have a superior attitude. It took some getting used to. My reason for moving here was because I was told it was a good place to raise children and a good place for seniors. I really go out of my way, more than usual, to say thank-you and excuse me, etc. Hopefully, I am setting a good example and a new way for others. By the way, where can I get some pepper spray? Is this legal?


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

@sh1 and jcj, I don't know if it can be attributed to the cell phone generation. I noticed this phenomenon as soon as I moved here in 1996 (before cell phones became so prevalent). I think there's something more to it. As an example, Ypsilanti is only 10 miles away. Though I don't go there often, I do notice that people there are a lot friendlier, even to strangers. And if the sidewalks were ever crowded enough, I bet I'd see people yielding for one another.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

If she has been riding 30 years she should know to always wear a helemt and never ride listening to music. One of the major defenses you have on a bike is your hearing.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, May 20, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

@retskips I find the attitudes towards dogs in Ann Arbor to be really weird too and I have lived in this area since I was a kid. I like to think that people in Ypsilanti are a bit more relaxed. My dog is really old and a bit deaf so I walk her on a leash for her own safety but on our walks, we see groups of people in Riverside Park playing with their dogs off leash all the time. The dogs don't generally bother anyone. Almost always they seem to be very responsible dog owners who are just exercising their dogs and I can't recall ever hearing any of my neighbors complain about off leash dogs in the park. I also seldom ever encounter loose dogs any place else in town. But as far as law suits are concerned. Even the best dog owner can sometimes have a dog which gets away from them. When that happens, the dog's owner should be 100% liable for any damages that occur. In this case, the dog's owners need to pay up for sure so that the bicyclist is compensated for her medical expenses and any time she had to miss from work as well as perhaps some extra amount for her pain and suffering.

Cathy M.

Thu, May 20, 2010 : 12:27 p.m.

For those who didn't read closely: 1) this took place in Milan, not Ann Arbor 2) she was riding in the street, not the sidewalk.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

re deterrance... a spray bottle of simple vinegar is less harmful to an over pushy dog than pepper spray and can be effective... also fastening playing cards to the bike wheels with clothespins ( ala 1950's kiddie hood)to make that faux -motor noise can work too....unless the dog is one of those that likes to play poker, as depicted in barroom art...

Jay Allen

Thu, May 20, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

While I very much understand riding a bike w/o a helmet on the road is not a wise choice, it's not against the law. While I very much understand that using head phones while riding a bike is not a wise move, it's not against the law. Letting your dog run freely is against the law. So it is my choice to focus on the issue here rather than point fingers that really do not need to be pointed. I grew up in Milan and have driven on Milwaukee Road hundreds of times. Cars are few and far between, more farming than anything. I can understand as to why a person who is very familiar with that road (area) would do what she has done. I do have issues with dogs being let run. I have been bitten as I was running. Out off of Huron River Drive by Delhi. The owner of the dog laughed and said I should not have been running there. Go to Gallup Park and the Arb. Far too many people do not have their dog leashed and when you say something you'd think that you/yourself are in the wrong. I now carry the same mace that Postal workers carry. I have used on the Mitchell - Gallup path one time. The dog ran up to me, growled and then tried to mount me. I was like, really? So I sprayed the dog and of course the dog whimpered. I love dogs but after being bit, it won't happen again. The owner of the dog called the A^2 Police on me. I stopped and waited and I was advised that I had done the right thing.

Duane Collicott

Thu, May 20, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

Headphones while riding a bike?


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 6:43 a.m.

btw How would most of you dog owners react if my grand kids came up to you with their sticky fingers and snotty nose pawing you? Well I don't want your dog sniffing me. I will keep my grand kids away from you. Keep your dog away from me unless i invite it into my space! Don't assume I want to pet your dog.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 6:37 a.m. your sort of laid back attitude: im a long time dog owner, and this incident IS significant. if a baby had been riding in a carrier seat, or the rider was hurt even more there would be, and should be, hell to pay for an owner who evidently repeatedly let this mutt run loose... there's also the fact that individual loose dogs can and do 'pack up', ala wolves, and can become truly lethal. over the years i had my share of complaints directed toward me and the large exuberant husky-type breeds i like ( although never involving a 'life and limb ' incident)...and i was in the wrong then, admitted it, and rectified the situation via better obedience training, restraints etc...and ultimately shifting to cats.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 6:23 a.m.

@Joe I agree with you Joe. It seems very few people have had any upbringing in terms of manners. People used to say excuse me, thank you, hold a door open. Now to those of you that think we need to chill. I am going to forget my manners for a minute. I am sick and tired of all the dog lovers that think everyone should poo poo over their stinking dog. I mean that literally! How do dogs generally greet each other? And how do dogs clean up after relieving themselves? People carry wipes and wipe their shopping cart handle. And then you let your dog lick you in the face. @brightsib2001 I have said this before. Let there be a case of animal cruelty and there will be 100 comments about it.( I do not condone animal cruelty) and everyone is outraged! But if a child is abused there might be 10 comments! Most people are not interested in my grand kids. I am not interested in Your dog!


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 6:22 a.m.

Joe, funny, I live downtown and notice the same thing. Often there are groups walking toward my husband and me that take up the entire sidewalk. We actually have to move OFF the sidewalk as they seem completely unaware that we are there. Is this the cell phone generation, completely unaware of their surroundings?


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 3:25 a.m.

@jcj, In this town, it's not just dog walkers -- it's any group of two or more people. I can't count how many times my friend and I have had to move aside for groups of people walking in the opposite direction on the sidewalk, who make no attempt at yielding whatsoever. In this town, it seems that everyone expects the "other" group to yield. I've often wondered what would happen if I decided not to yield, and the inevitable collision occurred. Of course, I'm afraid to try that. Don't get me wrong -- I always yield for other people, but I'm sick and tired of the other group never reciprocating.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 2:13 a.m.

When the bicyclist hit my dog on the sidewalk, no one was outraged. No one wrote an article on us, probably because my dog was not killed. Not for lack of trying. Talk about not paying attention. I was also under the impression that the "sidewalk" was just that, not a "sideride". That's what the bicycle lanes I paid for are to be used for.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 11:30 p.m.

I guess also it's worth noting that most people should ride their bikes on the street and not on the sidewalk. Of course Ann Arbor has such great bike paths and lanes on all the streets, oh wait AA doesn't. That would be just about every other town or University town other than AA that accomodates bicyclists like the University of Illinois, and Indiana and Wisconsin, etc., I guess that story about how drivers around here not stopping for crosswalks and the blind - goes to show you the great quality of people the area has. If their rude drivers, just wait to you actually see them face to face on the sidewalk.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 11:22 p.m.

Would there be a story on Ann if someone on one bike ran into someone else on another bike? Or what if my child runs into somebody on a bike? If yes or no, why? Do these really merit publication in a news website? So amazed at what news we get, how about internation news, important things.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 11:18 p.m.

I agree that that this incident is unfortunate. If I was the one on the bike I would be shocked and a bit freaked out, and likely angry, though short term. I agree that the doggie probably caused the accident. But for god's sake I am so sick and tired or Ann Arbor, Michigan and everybody's almost anti dog, anti pet anxiety. Also the coverage that every doggie incident gets on Ann - how about real stories like progress with the fires on umich campus that killed a fellow classmate of mine. I hate even addressing this pet issue on this forum, I do have much better things to do. I find it so amazing how uptight people are here in this state, this town. I come from out west, and quite truthfully am looking forward to my upcoming move back to the Western part of the country - it's so much more laid back. I'm so amazed I was sitting at the park in Durango, CO last week by the Animas River reading the paper and had 1/2 dozen people come by with their dogs leashed and unleased. I enjoyed everybody's dog that came by and said hi and I had at least a 1/2 dozen great conversations with great people, all so relaxed. People here are just to uptight about suing for this or that or making sure their reimbursed, it's so wierd how people around walk by owners with their leashed pets in this area - almost as if their going to catch a disease, everybody just chill and relax a bit.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 10 p.m.

Helmets for drivers?... Knew of a surgeon in Illinois who wore a helmet and driving gloves whenever he drove. Always thought he had his priorities about right. You read of vehicle deaths but what of the lifelong disability of a severe brain injury. Helmets for bicyclists?... if you care Cellphones and /or music while pedaling?... if you dare and don't care Dog owners whose carelessness results in injury?... Experienced cyclists fear dog encounters. Death is not an unknown consequence. The law suit?... may well be the dog owner suing the cyclist for their & the dog's pain, suffering and inconvenience.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 10 p.m.

Who would have thought this is where we would find common ground!


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 9:54 p.m.

@jcj, totally agree with you and I am an animal lover myself. Just tired of rude owners. OMG, in agreement with David as well, that's a first. Good Day

David Briegel

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 9:41 p.m.

jcj, I totally agree!!


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

I have moved aside for the last time for someone walking their dog! Why does someone out for a walk have to get off to the side while rude ignorant dog walkers take the whole sidewalk? From now on I will announce to the dog walker THEY will take their dog out of my path!

Amy Dittmar

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 8:24 p.m.

Please Please Please keep your dog on leash. I can not count how many times a perfectly friendly dog has run in my path while I am jogging and tripped me or approached my dogs when they are on leash and startled them in an unfriendly way. We all love A2 for its parks and outdoors but not everyone can enjoy them if people don't obey the leash laws.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 6:14 p.m.

I agree that this is an appropriate use of a lawsuit, even though I really, really think there are too many suits these days. She's obviously suffering quite a bit from this accident, and it will undoubtedly change her future behavior. Hopefully she will enjoy biking again soon. However, I wouldn't assume the dog owners will be covered by insurance. These days, most insurance companies have an out-clause. If you don't indicate that you have dogs and that you have taken steps to ensure they can't run loose, they will not pay this type of claim. I still encourage the suit, but it might not be easy to get any reimbursement.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

@Adam Jaskiewicz Yes, that is the way to go. The home owners can then make a claim against their home owners policy and there is no need to involve the courts. My bad.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

This may be off topic... But I once read that people are much more likely to suffer head injuries as a result of an automobile accident than they are to suffer head injuries as a result of a bicycle accident so really we should not only all be wearing helmets when we ride our bikes but also when we drive our cars. I had to laugh though because even if that is true, I am not about to start wearing a helmet when I drive my car. I hope the dog's owners will make a better effort to keep the dog contained and also that this woman considers suing the owners of the dog. They should have home owners insurance to cover this exact sort of thing and there is nothing like a law suit to make one understand the importance of controlling one's pets.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 3:38 p.m.

I carry a little can of pepper spray when I bike, and I use it often. There are few dogs that run at the sight of me.


Wed, May 19, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

I'm totally not going to blame the victim, obviously the dog should have been restrained, but was I the only one who had it drilled into his head from an early age that you should never ride a bike without a helmet, and probably should leave your ears open so you can hear what's going on around you? Especially going 12 mph... that's pretty fast.