Neighbor's pit bulls attack mom, 2 kids in their own backyard

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Kristin Atwell didn't see them coming. After all, the nightmare unfolded when her two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter were in the family's backyard playing; Atwell was just a few feet away inside the kitchen when the shrieking and snarling started.

"I've never screamed like that in my life. I was just screaming 'get out of here.' And I was just so scared for my kids," Atwell said.

Two full grown pit bulls were attacking her son, Lane. They had him pinned against a shed when Kristin bolted to her boy and pried him from the dogs.

"I was screaming at the dogs to get out of here, and I was kicking at them, and they just were relentless and lurching at us," she explained.

She thought they were in the clear until the dogs pounced on her daughter, Evy. "But they started attacking us again, and my daughter was still in the pool. One of them jumped in the pool and bit her on the thigh. So I just grabbed up both my kids and huddled down and started screaming, and one of them bit me on the arm and was tugging and bit me on the side," Atwell said. "And then my husband heard what was going on. He ran outside and was able to scare them off."

The animals finally scurried away, but they left Atwell and her children bloodied, bruised, and bitten. Wounds cover Lane's back, arms, and face. A deep gash mars Evy's leg, and several punctures span Kristin's arm. The three of them combined incurred 15 dog bites.

"It's obvious these dogs are trying to kill something," said the kids' father and Kristin's husband, Travis Atwell.

Their ordeal isn't over. After A ten day observation period for rabies, the dogs will likely go back to their owners who live in the same neighborhood.

Springfield's city ordinance requires pit bull owners to register their pets and leash and muzzle the dogs when they're off the owner's property.

The Atwelles say the law isn't severe enough to protect people and needs to be tougher. "Nobody should have to worry about their children being attacked," exclaimed Travis Atwell. Both the husband and wife agree the two pit bulls should be euthanized to prevent a future attack on not only their family but others, as well.

"I think they should have to be put down. I don't think there should be any question about it," Kristin Atwell said. The couple wants to meet with city leaders to try to strengthen the ordinance.

The investigation is still underway in this case and, at this point, there are no plans to euthanize the dogs, according to the public information officer for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. The dogs' owners will have to pay a quarantine fee and possibly a ticket fine.