My children love animals, dogs in particular. We have a dog and at one point not long ago we had two dogs. My parents have a dog who my children adore and my uncle has a huge, but friendly, rottweiler who my children have recently grown attached to. (My daughter loves her because she looks like Carl). So, needless to say they are not afraid of dogs and I would like to keep it that way. A traumatic childhood experience with an animal can make one fearful for life and that is the last thing I would want.
This evening my husband and I took our children for a walk around our neighborhood. As we rounded a corner three big dogs charged us. I picked up my daughter and held her over my head and my husband did the same with our son. The owner yells over, "Oh, they're friendly; they just want to play" and proceeds, in no great hurry, to try to round them up. She manages to get two dogs back on the leash when the third suddenly turned back and lunged at my daughter (who was no longer over my head), scaring her badly. I was furious. The woman then said, "I really should get them back on a leash." It took every ounce of restraint in me not to choke her with the damn thing. The bigger part of me said, "Yes, you should. There are leash laws." She continued to let the third dog just run around as my husband and I stood there with our children.
I don't doubt that those dogs were friendly. I don't think they were lunging to attack. I think they were excited and wanted to play. However, they are unknown dogs to us and regardless of how wonderfully behaved we think animals to be, they are still animals and animals are unpredictable. Plus to a child, friendly or not, a dog twice his/her size coming at him/her is frightening.