Dog attack prompts 
concern over leash laws

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Police: Funding, manpower, facilities present barriers

A Cassville resident is questioning why there is no leash law in the city after her dog was attacked by another dog during a routine walk, resulting in her dog's death.

According to the police report filed by dog owner Tracy Youngblood, on March 19, she and her sister were walking her chihuahua, Molly, on a leash on Chinquapin Street when the front door of a residence opened, two dogs ran out, and one, a pit bull, charged and attacked her dog. She began kicking the dog to stop the attack. Two women appeared from the residence and tried to get control of the dog.

At one point, when they got the dog free from the pit bull, Youngblood's sister picked up the Chihuahua and turned against a tree for refuge, but the pit bull continued trying to attack the dog, biting at her hands, Youngblood said.

The dog was rushed to the Barry County Veterinary Clinic, but it was decided she had a slim chance of survival, and its demeanor an quality of life would change drastically. Therefore, Youngblood euthanized the chihuahua.

"Her injuries were so severe that, to hope that she would have recovered would have left her in unnecessary suffering," she said.

While at the clinic, Youngblood said a female and male, Cassville City Council member and business owner Cindy Carr, and her son Aaron Carr, arrived and told her it was their dog that had attacked. They apologized and covered the medical bills. Youngblood stated in the report she was not pressing charges, but was concerned the dog might attack a child or someone else.

"I can't bring Molly back," she said. "But my 5-year-old niece often takes that walk with me. That day, I do feel lucky I did not have my niece, and that my sister was there with me."

Youngblood said the Carrs had an electronic fencing system and a shock collar on the dog, but it is unknown if it malfunctioned, was not on, or if the dog ran through the shock warnings to attack. They also had other fencing on order. Youngblood said when she was walking, she was in the street on the opposite side.

"I was on the far side of the fence," Youngblood said. "That dog breached the fence. [There were no flags to identify where the fence was], and came into the street. There was no stopping it. It happened so quickly, there was no time for me to pick up my dog to protect it."

Youngblood said she had seen the dog on previous walks, and was afraid of it. Carr expressed remorse and said it was an unfortunate accident.

"She was walking in our neighborhood and for some reason, our dog ran out there and grabbed her dog," Carr said. "We went to the vet and I paid the bill. Our animal is not a vicious dog. He has been into it with the neighbor's dog, and that's when it was on our turf. I don't know what happened, to be honest. We're heartbroken that she had her little dog put down. We've complied and done everything we could do to make it right.

"Our dog plays with other dogs and we've never had a problem. [My daughter, Caroline], came home from college, the dogs wanted out, and she didn't see the people out there and when she opened the door, he went out. It's upsetting. We're dog lovers. I just hate it."

Youngblood said according to her research, an electric fence is not enough for a pit bull.

"Why, knowing that, did they let it out without a leash or without anyone with it?" she said. "I'm not out to demonize pit bulls or large dogs. My dog is never outside alone, she is five pounds and always on a leash. I did that to protect her and respect my neighbors."

Leash laws have been discussed at Cassville's city council meetings, but have never gained traction, primarily due to a lack of funding and the manpower for enforcement.

"If we got called with every dog that was at large, we would be busy all the time," said Cassville Police Officer Danny Boyd. "It boils down to the of funding not just a dog catcher, but to have a place to put these animals. It's going to be expensive any way you go. We need to take care of something prior to it happening."

Chief Dana Kammerlohr questioned the affordability of the process, addressing the lack of manpower, facilities or vehicles to round up strays. She said there was one call last month for a dog bite, and that Fair Street and Ivey Street seem to have issues.

City Attorney David Cole said charging licensing fees would only defer some of the cost, and the rule of thumb in Municipal Court is that the the city does not want biting dogs in town.

"It's been a divided situation," Kammerlohr said. "There are concerns both ways. Dogs that run loose usually get in trouble. They're a prey animal. But, there's dogs that never get in trouble. I've always said 'A dog with a mouth can bite.' It's not breed-specific. The [Carr's] dog has been removed by the city."

"In this day and age, it's barbaric that a city does not have proper ordinances in place so that we can have pets and our children be safe, and it can be considered negligent oversight of a city," Youngblood said. "I think the dog is vicious and the best result is for it to be euthanized, not out of angst, but out of being a responsible owner and to show proper stewardship of the creatures we've been given. At the very least, where this dog has been moved to the county, surrounding residents should be notified. I know it was traumatizing for the owners, too, but the dog is being allowed to live, knowing it has attacked previously, and mine had to die? That's not responsible ownership, or responsible oversight of the city.

"People complain about too many laws, but when we're not considerate of our neighbor and of their life and well-being and property, its unfortunate that we have to have laws to guide our consciousness. We're very lucky not to have a loss of human life or serious injury and that is why I'm doing this, so it doesn't go to that level. What I'm after is tightening up our ordinances so interpretation is not so loose, and for adding leash laws to our city."

Carr said even after the incident, she would not support a leash law.

"Where would the city find the money for it?" she asked. "It was an isolated incident. It was horrible, and I was sorry, but does that mean every dog in Barry County needs to be on a leash? No. To pass a leash law for one isolated incident is extreme. I understand her feelings. I wish I could turn back the page. I can't change [what happened]."

Youngblood brought her concerns to the city council on Monday, asking the body to address the lack of animal control in the city.

Mayor Bill Shiveley said the city would take her concerns under advisement and see what it could do.

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  • "...our dog ran out there and grabbed her dog," Carr said. "We went to the vet and I paid the bill. Our animal is not a vicious dog."

    Let me get this straight, her dog killed a pet in an unprovoked brutal attack and she is not intelligent enough to comprehend that that pretty much defines a vicious animal.

    This is exactly why there is a pit bull problem. sure they paid the vet bill, how does that compensate for the loss of a precious life? Can her checkbook pay the bill if the dog kills a neighbor?

    -- Posted by n0kjf on Wed, Apr 13, 2016, at 8:16 PM
  • I must say that I am beyond livid right now! I just read the article in the Cassville Democrat concerning the city council meeting where my sister, Tracy Youngblood, addressed the need for leash laws in the city. Tracy used great discretion from day one when telling the story of the vicious Pitbull attack that led to the death of her little dog, Molly, and then turned and attacked my sister, Shelley. We now know that the owner of the dog that attacked them actually has a seat on the city council! I am shocked and dismayed to read that Council-woman, Cindy Carr, was unwilling to truly take responsibility for her Pitbull's murderous attack. If Tracy had been walking alone, I believe that dog could have easily killed her. Carr stated that her dog does great with other dogs, and then admitted in the previous sentence that that she had the dog living with her because he was "getting into it" with another dog in the neighborhood. That does not sound like a dog who always "does great with other dogs." I find this ironic.

    Council-woman Carr, your attitude and denial of this whole situation is shocking to me. You said you had no idea how this happened. Really? It happened because Your dog wasn't on a leash! It took four people to pull Your dog off of my sister. Why is your dog still alive after such a brutal attack? Is he on a leash now? If not, it's just a matter of time before this happens again. Have you notified the neighbors in Barry County of the presence of your dog and why you moved him/her out of the city? They should at least be aware of this situation.

    I believe Tracy has been very discreet and careful not to vilify you for what I consider unconscionable neglect. Molly meant the world not only to Tracy, but my parents and other family members. I know that Tracy and Shelley were traumatized by this experience. They aren't sleeping well. Imagine trying to quiet your mind to fall asleep when all you hear are the horrific cries of your little dog being brutally and viciously attacked... and you were completely powerless to protect her. Then imagine that dog attacking your own sister. Imagine that movie playing over and over in their heads. Although they are recovering, those memories will not fade easily. I do not believe this was an "isolated incident." If it was, then it's "one Isolated incident" too many!!

    You are in an honored position to serve and create positive changes for the City of Cassville. It would be wise of you and those serving the city to seriously reconsider the seriousness of this issue. You can't afford not to. Sadly, it's just a matter of time before something like this happens again, and it's tragic to think that it could have been prevented. A law suit against the city will cost much more money than it would to implement a leash law. For goodness sake's, you wanted a seat on this council and you got it. So, Do Your Job! I'm stunned that you actually said you wouldn't vote for a leash law to be enforced in the city in spite of the role You played in this situation. This is incredibly foolish and disturbing. I pray you wake up and learn from this. If your unwilling to help create change for a safer city, I believe it would be prudent of you to relinquish your position on the Council. It's time for someone else to step up who cares more about the City's well being than their own. #MollysLaw

    -- Posted by Julie Youngblood on Thu, Apr 14, 2016, at 3:51 PM
  • I feel the need to add my sister, Shelley Youngblood Western's personal account of the vicious dog attack that led to the death of Tracy Youngbloods little dog, Molly, and also attacked her. Cindy Carr, who is on the Cassville City Council is the owner of the dog states that she would vote against an ordinance for leash laws to be required in Cassville MO. I find this ludicrous. This not Acceptable!#MollysLaw

    Shelley Western Youngblood:

    I've recently been taking a FB break but feel the need to share this. ...and I give you fair warning for it is disturbing.

    I was with my sister Tracy walking her little dog, Molly, on the day of this attack. I've been a nurse for 27 years and have seen a lot of horrible injuries and sickening traumatic situations during my career but I can honestly say that nothing prepared me for the level of unprovoked viciousness and violence of this attack. The pit bull was let out the door of his home, ran through an electric underground fence despite the shocks, and was on our little 5 pound dog so fast we didn't have a moment to reach down to pick her up in an attempt to protect her. Despite our combined efforts of punching, hitting, and kicking at this pit bull it did absolutely nothing to deter him. Once this dog bit into Molly he held her and shook his head repeatedly with her in his mouth. The strength and brutality of this animal was unreal. In a quick moment when the pit bull momentarily let Molly go I was able to scoop her up while Tracy and 2 other adults tried to hold him back. Even then it broke loose from them and came back at me holding Molly. My only defense was to turn to a nearby tree to hide my face and Molly in the fork of the main branches to prevent the dog from injuring my face or hurting Molly further as the pit bull repeatedly jumped on me still trying to get at Molly. It finally took 4 adults to force the dog back to the home. Unfortunately Molly's injuries were devastating and grave and Tracy's only humane choice was to have her euthanized due to her suffering.

    I don't write this to share gory details of some story but to tell you this was very personal, very traumatic, and has affected my family deeply. Sleep is not coming easily for my sister or I as the uninvited sounds of Molly's screaming and visions of this savage attack remain at the forefront of our minds. I write this to ask everyone who has an animal to please be responsible pet owners in order to maintain the safety of the community. Although this family had known the dog was aggressive it failed to maintain proper control resulting in this senseless attack. Although I am still feeling anger about his situation I do fully understand this could have ended so much worse and feel quite fortunate that our 5 year old niece, who often takes this walk with Tracy, was not with us and not harmed. I feel fortunate Tracy was not alone but together with me on the walk this day, and I know we are fortunate that other than some soreness and minor dog bites we were not injured.

    I took this picture of Tracy and Molly as a memento but it clearly shows a level of grief I don't want any of you to ever experience. No matter what breed of dog you own you must realize YOU are ultimately and solely responsible for it's behavior and the consequences of that behavior, good or bad.

    I don't know how to load the photo of Tracy and Molly on here. I will post it as soon as I can.

    Julie Youngblood

    -- Posted by Julie Youngblood on Fri, Apr 15, 2016, at 2:50 PM
  • Shelley was extremely brave to pick up Molly and hold her during a pit bull attack. I've seen first-hand how aggressive and violent pit bulls become while they're attacking, and it is very impressive that she tried so hard to save the good dog's life. It is a terrible end to Molly's life, and I'm so sorry for how traumatizing that attack was.

    It's interesting that the police and other authorities seem cautiously receptive to the idea of a leash law (if realistic about the reasons one hasn't been enacted in the past) while the councilwoman who profited recently from the lack of a leash law is adamant that it's just an impossible, hugely expensive idea that simply won't work. Convenient conclusion on her part.

    Leash laws aren't expensive. In areas which have them, they're enforced almost exclusively when a dog is behaving aggressively. An off-leash or loose dog that's just noodling around doesn't trigger 911 calls for police response. It's violent dogs that are rushing and charging people, attacking animals, and otherwise behaving in scary ways that get police calls. Isn't it better to have someone handle the situation before the dog gets to the point where it attacks and kills?

    -- Posted by miladuncan on Fri, Apr 15, 2016, at 10:18 PM
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