By Ileana Diaz
PAOLI, Pa., (CBS) — In Chester County, there’s concern among neighbors that rescue dogs belonging to a local woman might be a threat to their pets and children.
They say the dogs have escaped from the woman’s Paoli home, attacking cats, other dogs, and even neighbors themselves.
CBS’s Ileana Diaz spoke exclusively with those on both sides of the debate.
These dogs – Onyx, Sunday, Trinity and Cooper – are Joanna Knapp’s best friends. All of them are rescues. Neighbors like Colleen O’Connor, who lost her cat, says the dogs are anything but friendly.
“The cat jumped into the backyard when she had just let them out and they immediately killed Whiskers,” O’Connor said.
Neighbors say the dogs killed Whiskers, attacked four dogs and even bit a neighbor recently after the gate was left open and they ran out.
“It put a lot of ‘what ifs’ in our head. What if that was our two-year-old or our five-year-old,” neighbor Brooke McNabb said.
“I don’t want any more victims. I’m tired of being terrorized in my own neighborhood,” another neighbor said.
Neighbors say it’s nothing new. Even Joanna tells us her neighbors took her to court a few years ago and she was fined with a $500 citation because her dogs got out.
“I have a criminal record now,” Knapp said.
But Joanna tells us she did take action after a dog she was fostering acted out. She says her others dogs are all kind-hearted and that she is willing to work with neighbors and listen to the concerns.
“The dog that nipped I got rid of him the day he did that. I’m not a bad person and these aren’t bad dogs and it just hurts,” Knapp said.
But neighbors say with so many dogs and little ones walking the streets and playing outside, they want reassurance their families are safe.
“What we don’t want is a child to get attacked. Someone has to intercede to make us feel safe,” Jerry O’Connor said.
Neighbors have reached out to the Township’s Board of Supervisors in hopes to get legal reassurance that steps will be taken to make the neighborhood safe.