Family Of Toddlers Mauled By Pit Bull Mixes Relieved And Frustrated After Ban

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The parents of the toddlers who were attacked by pit bull mixes a few months back, said that they are relieved Springfield City Council passed the pit bull ban, but at the same time they are frustrated with some of the things people say to and about them online.

Four-year-old Evy. as well as 3-year-old Lane were attacked while playing in their backyard by two dogs belonging to a neighbor. Their Mother, Christin, was also injured by the dogs.

The incident occured just as a council committee began considering a bill which would ban new pit bulls from city limits.

Last week that bill was narrowly approved by City Council.

It was definitely a relief for that part to be behind us,” dad Travis Atwell said. “I was glad it passed but wish it had been a landslide.”

Mayor Ken McClure and council members Phyllis Ferguson, Jan Fisk, Craig Fishel and Tom Prater all voted to begin phasing out ownership of pit bulls starting from Jan. 1.

Under the new decree, pit bulls registered before the deadline would be allowed to remain in Springfield.

The Atwells have attended two council meetings when the issue was discussed. Travis Atwell spoke at both of the meetings, urging city leaders to pass the ban.

In the months since the attack, Travis and Christin said that they’ve received a number of nasty messages and Facebook comments from pit bull owners and advocates.

“I had a message last night saying, ‘Because of your ban, think of all the bodies that are going to be in the freezers at the shelters,‘” Christin Atwell said.

“I’ve had countless messages accusing us of being bad parents and many saying we falsified the attack,” he said. “I was petrified sitting on the front row (at council meetings), feeling 200 people breathing down your neck.”

The Atwells said that no one ever confronted them at the meetings, however, a city official insisted they be escorted to their car by police officers both nights.

Travis Atwell said people have accused him of “having an agenda” against pit bulls or that the children’s injuries weren’t caused by pit bulls in the first place.

Travis Atwell also added that his social media accounts are not set to private because he has nothing to hide and he wants people to see he is a good parent.

He said that he continues to have dialogue with people who disagree with him, as long as it’s a civil, intelligent discussion.

“I’m a gun owner and with the recent Las Vegas shootings, man, I’m not for gun control but if I believed that forfeiting my guns would save human lives, I think I’d do it,” he said. “It seems like that option is not even on the table for pit owners. And that is the sad thing.

“The threats and the boycotts and the accusations just confirm that mindset — that I want my dog at all cost.” Atwell said he’s been warned a few times by a local news station saying “we are getting vulgar emails and you guys need to be very careful.”

“It’s almost as if our fault is our kids weren’t mauled as bad as other pit bull victims,” he said.

After the attacks, the children and Christin Atwell were treated in the emergency room. The wounds were cleaned and dressed.

Lane received bites to his face, ears and back while Evy had a bite on her upper thigh.

Their mother had bites on her side and arm.

Travis Atwell said his wife and kids have all recovered physically, but have a few scars. Emotionally, though, the kids still struggle with fea and he said the kids’ bad dreams are not nearly as common as they were a few months ago.

The attack happened when the toddlers were playing in a kiddie pool in the backyard. Christin Atwell was watching them through the kitchen window and then he heard the dogs barking.

Christin then ran out the back door to save them and was also bitten. Travis Atwell, who was inside the home at the time of the attack, heard the commotion and came outside. He was able to kick the dogs away and put a stop to the attack.

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The dogs were placed under quarantine with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and were eventually put down after the dogs’ owner signed them over.

Since the ban was passed earlier this week, many pit bull owners and supporters have expressed their disapproval on social media

Some local residents have even threatened to boycott Mexican Villa and other businesses associated with the five City Council members who have voted in favor of the ban.



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