We have discussed the dog issue in Kentucky on the TransAm numerous times in the office, and have listened to various solutions. The most suggested one has been to change the route. The difficulty in doing that is that we can't guarantee a cyclist won't run into dogs if we move the route to Maryland or West Virginia or Pennsylvania or North Carolina. Rural areas are more likely to have dogs that are left to run loose. Dogs are used as an "early warning" if someone approaches a house, and are used to protect property. As someone said, this happens in other states, and not just in the Appalachians.
Carla - I have 100,000 miles touring and I must say that while there may be dogs in many rural areas, they are worse in the South, and worst in Appalachia. I am a historian of rural communities and have spent plenty of non-cycling time in rural Kentucky and West Virginia, as well. I believe that there are two reasons that help create a more serious dog problem for cyclists in Kentucky.
First, physical. Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and western Virginia have limestone topography with deeply incised valleys or "hollers". The houses are often right up against the road - so the dogs are closer to begin with. And because there is so little buildable land, the country roads are a solid string of little houses.
Second, cultural. Poverty. Many of the coal areas were classic "company towns" where the miners' families didn't own anything and were in hock to the company store. If you don't own the house, why put up a chain-link fence? Especially if you don't have the money to begin with. Then you add loss of jobs and the meth/oxycodone epidemic and it makes for a challenging environment.
I biked cross country this past summer thru Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Penna and cannot recall a single instance of being chased by a dog. Yes, that is one person. But when I biked thru south Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi a few years back, I had to deal with dogs every day - many times packs of roaming dogs. When I got to the courthouse in one Alabama town, I mentioned that there had been a pack of about 10 dogs out in the county and I asked what I should do. She said, "Jus' shoot 'em." Without so much as a raised eyebrow.
That, to me, indicates a mindset where people don't care if their dogs get hit by cars or if they chase cyclists.
And that's why it is far easier to cycle outside of the South.
Best wishes for the new year - John
Kentucky County Overdose Death Rate - National Rate in 2010 - 12 per 100,000
Thus, parts of Eastern Kentucky have an overdose death rate 5 times the national average.
(Southern West Virginia is worse.)