Wilkins Lane, from MM Highway on the north side of Oronogo.

After a serious attack, Oronogo neighbors ask council to review vicious dog ordinance

Bob Foos

The threat is over now, but Billy and Christi Hare told the Oronogo Board of Aldermen Monday they shouldn’t have had to live in terror for 24 hours wondering if two vicious dogs in their neighborhood would get loose again and cause more injury.

Police Chief Steven Weaver explained the dogs had to be left with the owners after the dogs bit the Hares’ next door neighbor because the Joplin and Carthage animal shelters were unable to house them and his department has no dog pen.

“I don’t care if we have to call Denver, Colo.,” Billy Hare said. “Our neighborhood was held hostage for fear the dogs would get out. No one should have to feel the way that we did.”

It would have been another 24 hours if the dogs’ owners, Mark and Nicole Taylor, 251 Wilkins Lane, had not had a veterinarian come to euthanize all three of their dogs after they were fighting each other.

Sgt. Michael Weston went to the Taylors’ residence at 5:40 p.m. April 11, the day after the attack, to inform them they would be cited because of the seriousness of the victim’s injury and that the dogs would have to leave the city within 24 hours.

Weston reported the owners decided to go ahead and have the dogs euthanized immediately. A veterinarian came to the house and euthanized all three dogs, with Weston and Weaver present.

City Attorney Derek Snyder said Weaver was “very effective at communicating to the Taylors that the dogs would have to be put down if they were running loose again.”

He added, “Before you take property, you have to go through process.”

He also noted there had not been a previous complaint about the dogs.

Billy and Christi Hare asked the board to review its vicious dog ordinance to make it better, especially the enforcement aspect.

Weaver noted that his department’s animal control calls have risen 30% above what they were last year.

Mayor Charles Wilkins said the police need to be made aware of vicious dogs. “If people see a problem, we need to let police know so they can do something about it.”

‘They came at me with full intent of ripping me apart’

Wilkins Lane is on the northwest edge of Oronogo. Christi Hare said she and her husband, who live at 214 Wilkins Lane, had been leery when the Taylors and their dogs moved in down the street about two months ago. She said they addressed their concerns to the Taylors because there are no fences in the neighborhood. Billy Hare said he had seen the dogs outside twice before the incident on April 10.

Oronogo’s dog code is not breed specific. The Taylors’ dogs were pit bulls, who apparently were let loose accidentally by a visitor.

Tiffanie Moore-Crouch, also lives across the street from the Taylors, at 251 Wilkins Lane. At about 7:35 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, she was walking between the two houses on her property when she heard a noise. This is her statement to police after that:

I looked left to see what it was. I saw one of the dogs coming at me full speed. I froze in place and as it lunged at me, I kicked at it with my left leg. It bit the back of my leg. At the same time I turned my head and the second dog was coming straight at me. It leaped up towards my face. I put my arm with my elbow out and the dog latched onto my arm. It ripped a huge chunk out of my arm. It fell backwards and both started to come back at me when my son came out. They ran off. I just remember screaming and peeing my pants after that. I have been around dogs my entire life and dogs have never scared me. Normally a dog will stop, bark and go back and forth. These dogs never stopped. They came at me with the full intent of ripping me apart. I am so grateful my son came out or who knows if I would be alive to give a report.

The doctors were unable to sew my arm since there was no skin left. I will have to see a wound doctor and have skin grafts.

Officer Derrick Richards was dispatched to the scene at 7:44 p.m. As he arrived, he reported stopping a black car that was backing out of the Taylors’ driveway. The driver denied having a pit bull, saying they belonged in the Taylors’ house.

Richards reported that after Nicole Taylor provided the dogs’ registration and shot records she asked him to apologize to the victim for her.

By then, responders from the Oronogo Fire Department had wrapped up the victim’s arm, and she was waiting to be taken by her family to the hospital.

Richards’ report also says that another person on the scene told him that he heard the commotion and when he got outside Moore-Crouch was bleeding and crawling down the hill between her houses.

Richards wrote that “the family asked if I was going to go back over to the house and shoot the dogs and I was told I could not do that. I asked them again to get me pictures of the injuries and a copy of the hospital bill.”