Survivors of dog attacks support proposed new city ordinance

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Three weeks after a gruesome dog attack, a Springfield family continues to recover, and they hope a city ordinance in the works will keep other families from experiencing what they did.

"Until you go through something like that you can never know how frightening it was and how horrific it was to see two animals tearing at your children," said Christin Atwell, a dog attack survivor.

The Atwell family spends a lot more time indoors than they once did.
This is where their two young children feel the most safe. They are dealing with emotional and physical scars following a dog attack in their own backyard just weeks ago.

"I'm just asking people to try to relate to that and think about your neighbors," Atwell said.

The city ordinance being drafted would toughen penalties for those pit bull owners who don't register their dogs and follow a set of guidelines, according to city council member Jan Fisk.

Fisk said eventually registration would be no more, meaning while current registered owners would be grandfathered in, new pit bulls would eventually be banned.

"As sad as it is to say we've euthanized dogs, these dogs are no longer a threat to the community," said K-9 behavioral specialist Carrie Galvan.

Galvan said she contributed to an existing ordinance that mandates dogs to be put down following certain attacks, but she believes a pit bull ban could make things worse.

"My biggest concern as someone who focuses on behavior is people are going to take their dogs into hiding which causes the dogs not to get socialization, and that causes fears and anxiety and can cause aggression," Galvan said.

Galvan said she believes education is the only real solution, but for the victims and the survivors like the Atwells, measures in place now are not doing enough.

"I never felt anything about a pit bull until three weeks ago," Travis Atwell said.

"I see her on the ground covering the children with two large animals tearing at what I hold most dear in the world," he said. "I'll never forget that picture."

The ordinance is still being drafted. Fisk said she believes at least eight members are in support of it. It will likely be introduced next month.