I certainly echo your sentiment. Keeping them on leashes is necessary but not sufficient. The one time I was bitten by a dog, the dog was on a leash.
I was orienteering, running on the right side of the trail, in the opposite direction of a woman walking on her right (my left) of the trail. The dog, for some reason, perceived me as a threat and bit me.
I'm always wary of dogs when running and keep a close eye on them if I don't drop to a walk (which is more often than not). A few extra seconds of not-running is better than tending to a bite. Yes, they should ALWAYS be leashed on public property, but that doesn't "make it so."
We were running trails and came upon two women walking two dogs on leash. We stopped, chatted and continued. I made it by. Lyn was passing when one lept up at her face. Fortunately she was able to duck back but still got bitten in a sensitive chest area. The woman was very apologetic and claimed she was young and friendly! She even ran back to her car to write out her contact info in case there was a problem. All healed, so was well. But we still are very cautious coming upon any dogs. They are still animals.
I wonder how many dog owners know that they are liable for any damage or injury caused by their dogs.
Do American dog owners ignore dog leash regulations as flagrantly as their Australian counterparts? I occasionally amuse myself during intervals sessions by observing the on-leash compliance rate (the park where I do them is an on-leash zone, except for a section which I don't go into) - don't think it's ever been as high as 50%, and it's often close to zero.
Yes, American dog owners completely ignore leash laws. There is slightly better compliance about picking up the dog poop, but often they'll just make a pile of bags full of poop rather than actually finding a trash bin for it.