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Steps to Enforcing Vicious Dog Ordinance Relies on Witnesses

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- After a number of vicious attacks on family pets, one Springfield neighborhood wants something done before someone gets hurt.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- After a number of vicious attacks on family pets, one Springfield neighborhood wants something done before someone gets hurt.

Becky Campbell says it's terrifying to think a vicious animal is responsible for killing family pets in her neighborhood.

"I came out to try to get my cat away from it, it dropped it several times, but just kept going after it. It lunged at me," explains Campbell.

She's a licensed day care provider and wants something done before one of her children is hurt.

"You try to do all you can to prevent somebody getting killed by this dog, how far does it have to go?"

Brittney Pasco is a mother of two in the neighborhood and says it worries her, if any type of dog is out loose, which they say is not uncommon on their street.

"It worries me knowing that dog could easily bite them and tear my kids up, considering the fact that its about the same size they are," says Pasco.

Randy Barnts is the Supervisor for Animal Control and says enforcing the Vicious Animal Ordinance depends on help from witnesses.

"We really need the victim's help, if they aren't willing to cooperate with us, we can't go anywhere with it because whatever has happened, happened before we got there and we can only issue a summons for a violation that we witnessed."

Springfield's City Ordinance 5975 says any animal, no matter the breed, is vicious if it attacks a person or animal without being provoked or there is evidence of being vicious by growling, charging, snapping, etc.

"The vicious dog ordinance usually comes into play when we have a repeat incident."

He says if you fall victim to this, a person must provide enough evidence for a prosecutor to take the case to court before the dog can be seized.

"Once they have a statement, photographs, etc, any evidence they have, then we can look into pursuing it as a vicious dog," says Barnts.

Becky says that is the last thing she had in mind while her cat was attacked.

"I didn't think to grab anything as I went out the door because it had my cat and I was just so scared to death it was going to kill it."

If the case is taken to court, the witness must be willing to testify. If not, the case could be dismissed and another complaint for the same incident can not be filed.
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