Changes to ‘dangerous dog’ policy in Independence causing issues for some owners

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Original Post

Should a dog that’s labeled “dangerous” be considered a menace forever? An Independence family says no, but the city’s ordinance says yes.

No matter the circumstances, the city of Independence just updated its dangerous dog ordinance, and it includes a 10-year-old husky mix who doesn’t even have teeth anymore.

“She’s a scaredy cat. She’s a big baby,” Tina Henson said of her 10-year-old dog Lily.

Henson said back when Lily was a puppy, they ran into a problem.

“She stood at the end of the driveway of our old neighbor’s house, and he pulled up, and he couldn’t get out of the car because she was barking there,” Henson said. “And he was afraid she was going to charge her, and he pressed charges.”

According to a judge in Independence, Lily is a dangerous dog.

“At that time, she only had to make sure that she had rabies shots every year, micro-chipped, dog on premises sign, and she couldn’t be on a long leash. It had to be a certain length,” Henson said.

About a week ago, Henson got a letter in the mail about an update to the dangerous dog ordinance.

“Now we now have to send in four pictures,” Henson said. “She has to have a caged muzzle, a 6-foot leash, and a $300,000 insurance policy.”

That policy is new to Independence dog owners but not for other owners around the metro. Lee’s Summit has the same requirements. KCMO’s ordinance requires a little less insurance at $250,000. KCK requires a $1 million policy.

A manager with the city of Independence said the change was for uniformity between the cities’ ordinances, and if you add it onto your homeowner’s insurance, it’s inexpensive.

But it’s not that easy for Henson.

“If I had homeowners insurance or renters insurance, she could just be added, and it wouldn’t be a big deal. I don`t have any of that, because I don`t own my own home,” Henson said.

Now that Lily is reaching her golden years, she’s less dangerous and more docile.

“She has no teeth now. She has bad bones. She don’t bark hardly ever. She’s not a dangerous dog, and she has no bite history,” Henson said.

She thinks the ordinance requirements are a bit much for a dog without a bite.

“If you have a dog that has never bitten, doesn’t have a history of bites, is old and doesn’t get out of the house — she has no teeth — I think it should be done on a dog-by-dog basis,” she said. “You know, not just we`re going to blanket this over every dog that`s had an issue.”

The city said it’s willing to work with residents as updates go into effect. Residents are asked to comply by the end of the month.

Elderly KC woman looking for help to keep her nearly 100-year-old home from falling apart

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

About 30 years ago, Brenda Baker found her dream home. But now it’s falling apart, and the Kansas City woman hopes someone can help.

“I felt it around me when I walked in,” Baker said of her KC home. “You know, when you look at houses for so long, when you walk in to one, you can feel it. This is the one I want.”

The five-bedroom, three-story home was built in 1920 with a den, rooftop porches and intricate woodwork.

“People would say, ‘Oh, I love it. I love it.’ They love it. They say people don’t do woodwork like here in homes like this anymore,” Baker said.

She and her husband bought the home on East 68th Street back in the 1990s, and for years they filled it with memories.

“About three years ago, three years ago — that’s when it started going downhill,” Baker said. “My husband, he got Alzheimer’s and put in a nursing home, so I didn’t have anything to work with.”

She tried to keep up with it, but the citations started coming.

“For the first two years it was, ‘Oh, look at that gorgeous house!’ Now I drive by it, and it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s too bad. What an eyesore it is now,'” neighborhood president LeRoy Glover said.

Glover is helping, but its not enough.

“The city`s been good at trying to work with us,” he said. “They understand the condition of the house. The problem is all the repair that needs to be done is over their budget.”

They’re hoping someone out there can help restore the home to the way it once was.

“We desperately need help here. Sister Baker is here all by herself in this great big house with very little income, and the house is basically falling in with her,” Glover said. “I’ll accept any help that is willing to help, restore the house and then I would work on getting the house on the national registry.”

Baker said she doesn’t know what else to do to keep her nearly 100-year-old house standing.

“I really don`t know what to do. This is my last resort. After this, I`m going to leave. I don`t want to give it up,” Baker said.

But Glover said he has faith that her home can stand strong once again — even if the porch is falling, paint is peeling and lights are dimming.

“Sad, but with hope. Nothing wrong with sad as long as there’s hope, and there’s definitely hope,” Glover said.

If you would like to volunteer to help Baker with her home, please reach out to Glover at 816-217-1305 or Baker at (816) 363-1858.

4 Johnson County siblings adopted together by foster parents

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Original Post

Monday was a chance for a new life for four Johnson County kids.

Alisia, Emma, Cody, and Bradley Watson have been waiting two years for the day they could officially be a family. On March 12, that dream came true.

“I’m really excited,” Alisia said.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day about two and a half years,” Emma said.

“I knew it would come one day,” Cody said.

“Now having this, I can’t express how much I appreciate just having a family, to be loved and be with a family,” Bradley said.

The four kids, ranging in ages of 11 to 17, have always been siblings, but it hasn’t always been easy.

“Leaving from my dad’s home into foster care, those were the only people I knew, and I really wanted to be with them just to have some comfort,” Cody said.

When they went back into the system, brand new foster parents Eric and Phylis Watson opened their doors.

“We took all four of them, and it’s been really good. It’s been really great,” Eric Watson said.

“I can’t imagine what that would feel like, and being an adult, I can’t imagine, and being a child or a teen, I can’t imagine,” Phylis Watson said. “I’m just glad that we stepped up and did it.”

Thanks to the Watsons, they’re no longer foster children. They’re a family.

The courtroom was standing room only with friends, family, schoolmates and loved ones lining the walls. Judge Kathleen Sloan has been there all the way.

“The court first finds that it is very much in these beautiful children’s best interest to approve these adoptions,” Sloan told the court.

She takes a picture with kids when they first come in her courtroom, and looking back knowing what they went through, Monday was a clean slate.

“It means hope. That’s what it means,” Sloan said.

However, although the Watsons went home Monday night as a family, there are hundreds of kids waiting for a place to call home.

“To give them a home means everything to us. I would say go for it and be a help,” Eric Watson said.

“They could be somewhere right now without a family, without hope, and I say, if you think you can do it, then go for it. Change someone’s life. Help them. I think that’s great,” Cody said.

If you are not able to adopt or foster, another option is to sign up to be an advocate through your local CASA organization. Sloan said she wishes every case she worked on had an advocate and believes its something these kids need.

Little boy prone to seizures needs your help getting service dog

WELLSVILLE, Kan. — Original Post

A 5-year-old boy in Wellsville, Kansas, south of Edgerton in Franklin County, needs your help.

After years of health issues and seizures, his family says it’s time to try something new.

FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt sat down with his mother about what could be a life changing move.

“I couldn’t imagine life without him,” said Amy Beam.

Five years ago she gave birth to twins, Dylan and Derek.

Derek was perfectly healthy, but from the beginning, Amy knew it wouldn’t be easy for Dylan.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, but I think its also taught me to be very grateful for my children,” Beam said.

At five weeks old Dylan’s heart stopped.

“Dylan actually passed away in my arms and had to be resuscitated on the NICU floor,” Beam said.

He’s been through heart surgery, and later his parents learned about the cyst in his brain.

“His regulatory systems don’t work right. Sweating, hunger, sleep. Then we found out that the cyst was also causing epilepsy – what caused the seizures,” Beam said.

Seizures that happen every week, and make it impossible for Dylan to be alone.

“The dog will also provide him that safety net. It will alert us that he has to come inside, or that he needs to be cooled down or warmed up, because he’s not able to say, ‘mom, I’m too hot,’ or ‘mom, I’m too cold,” Beam said.

A seizure dog from SIT Service Dogs in Ava, Illinois.

Their program director, Lex Dietz, says these dogs are first responders.

“There’s a lot of these kids who have never slept in their own beds, ever, and they can do that because of these dogs. They maybe want to walk to the mailbox on their own, and it gives these kids a lot of autonomy, because these are things they can’t do without a dog,” Dietz said.

The problem is that they are expensive.

Beam says she’s about $8,000 dollars away from her $12,000 dollar goal.

“It’s hard to understand why a dog should cost that much, but at the same time, that much training and that much time put into an animal is incredible,” Beam said.

“They see this life changing tool that could help their child in life changing, almost ways that they’d never let themselves dream. Unfortunately, insurance companies, even though service dogs have been a thing since the late seventies still deem them as something experimental,” Dietz said.

Beam says she will keep dreaming of the day her little boy can just be a little boy.

“I just don’t know how to explain the freedom that it would give a little boy, and the fact that it could be very well what saves his life,” Beam said.

The dog would be able to do much more than get help. It would also be able to break the boy’s fall during a seizure, pull him out of water if he falls, and roll him onto his side until help can arrive.

If you would like to help this family they are accepting donations through their GoFundMe page.

One year later: 5K heart attack survivor crosses finish line with med students that saved his life

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

A milestone for one Kansas City man after suffering a heart attack during the Big 12 5k race last year.

He almost died, but today he crossed the finish line.

One year ago David Houchin woke up in a hospital bed not knowing what happened.

Houchin learned three KU medical students saved his life when they stopped running the race and administered CPR.

“I probably wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for those guys,” Houchin said from his hospital bed in 2017 not knowing who saved his life.

A few days later he was reunited with the students when they stopped by his hospital room, and now, they are walking him across the finish line.

Sebastian Schoneich, Kelly Lembke, and Dakota Bunch jumped into action that day, and Truman Medical Center doctors say without their help Houchin probably wouldn’t have made it.

“Its super special. We’re thrilled that we’re all here together, and its not snowing. We’re going to walk it this year,” Schoneich said.

“When I think about it I still get speechless, and when we talk to Dave he still tears up, and is so thankful,” Lembke said.

“I’m just glad that we could be there, and everything worked out the way it did. It’s just great,” Bunch said.

“I always had faith in the human spirit, human kind, there’s just no words to it. People you don’t even know stop to help,” Houchin said.

He believes finishing the 5k is a triumph.

“Today is more about just celebrating life, you know, its still pretty emotional, but celebrating life and being thankful for people you don’t even know, and my son, and my wife especially, just my whole family. Its been a great year,” Houchin said.

“After a year of his recovery, and who he still is, I’m just so glad my dad’s still here with us,” said his son Reagan.

This year the Houchin family grew by three.

“He’s kind of like our crazy uncle, I guess,” Lembke said.

“It feels like family. It’s bizarre, but its been a really blessing getting to know him and his family,” Bunch said.

“I love ‘em. They’re great kids, they’re going to be great doctors. They mean the world to me, and my wife, and my son,” Houchin said.

Houchin says thanks to them he has a new start in the race of life.

His doctor says Houchin has a clean bill of health.

They did have to put a stint in his heart, but the only restriction Houchin says he has is that he can’t buy life insurance.

‘Our flag flew’: 70 years later, heroes from Battle of Iwo Jima honored at Leavenworth ceremony

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Original Post

It’s been more than 70 years since the Battle of Iwo Jima, and on Friday in Leavenworth, people came out to thank those who laid their lives on the line.

“We don’t give up, and I’ve never given up in life, and the Marines taught me that a long time ago,” Iwo Jima veteran Jerry Ingram said.

He was just 15 years old when he lied about his age and went to war.

“I lied about my age then, and I haven’t quit lying since,” Ingram said. “No one could have imagined how the savage battle for Iwo Jima, how savage it would become after the first waves landed.”

Ingram remembers the difficult moments he faced on the island in the Pacific.

“Like any battle, its kill or be killed. War is not nice. There’s nothing nice about war at all,” Ingram said. “Every battle you never expected to survive, and the more battles I went through in the Pacific the less chances I thought I’d have of coming home.”

“The raising of the flag over Mount Suribachi on the 23rd of February would also become an iconic symbol for America, for their resolve, and it would come to epitomize the fighting spirit of the United States Marine,” keynote speaker Marine Corps Col. Steve Lewallen said.

Ingram wrote a poem to honor his friends he lost during battle:

“Our flag flew, our flag flew, on the hill called Mount Suribachi.

As we overcame the enemy we knew, we knew.

You’d see freedom become victorious, and it was – you see.”

At 90 years old, Ingram visits Leavenworth National Cemetery each year to honor his brothers and sisters lost years ago.

“The only time I cried in all the years I was in battle is when I walked over to the cemetery at Iwo Jima and saw those thousands and thousands of crosses,” Ingram said. “It’s very very emotional. You don’t forget, and as Americans we must never forget that our freedoms aren’t free. We had to sacrifice and pay the price for our liberty.”

George Westbrook, a 20 year Army veteran who came to recognize Ingram’s bravery, certainly hasn’t forgotten.

“Its an honor and a privilege to be able to stand up here with these people,” Westbrook said. “We call them brothers and sisters because that`s what they are. They’re brothers and sisters to us.”

More than anything, Ingram said, it’s important for people to remember what happened on Mount Suribachi for years to come.

“I think that’s the only reason I’m here,” he said. “I’m firmly convinced that God’s left me here so I can share my experience that with faith and belief in our country you can face anything.”

The battle of Iwo Jima went from Feb. 19 to March 26 in 1945. About 6,800 servicemen died, and nearly 25,000 were wounded. One in three in the battle were killed or wounded, and the Medal of Honor was awarded to 22 Marines and 5 Navy servicemen.

Mill Valley archaeology teacher digs a little deeper to help students learn in creative ways

SHAWNEE, Kan. — Original Post

Most students use their desks to write, but some students at Mill Valley High School in Shawnee are using them to discover history.

That’s all thanks to one archaeology teacher’s creative way of helping students learn.

Even before you walk into Keil Hileman’s classroom, you can tell it’s different by the glass case of artifacts waiting outside.

When you walk inside, it’s a trip back in time with suits of armor, black and white photos, telephones from every age and Egyptian figures lining the walls.

“I was a little overwhelmed when I walked in here,” junior Derek Widener said. “I immediately went straight to the back of the room. I’m not back there anymore.”

“It’s cool. You just look around, and you see history and people’s memories,” junior Grace Johnson said.

The students pull off the top of their desks to reveal a sandy inside with artifacts waiting to be uncovered.

Hileman said by teaching this way, students can dig a little deeper into the past.

“Some need to see it; some need a story told to them,” Hileman said. “Some students physically have to touch it, take it apart and put it back together. They all learn differently.”

“I think it’s pretty refreshing,” Widener said. “It’s getting away from the bland stuff that we do every day, and I think students enjoy this more than anything else. I know I look forward to it at the end of the day.”

Most of the items in his classroom were donated by students, parents and grandparents, but some of the items Hileman found on his own.

Hileman’s way of teaching not only has his students appreciating the past, but also looking towards their future.

“It’s helped me learn, and it’s also kind of help me learn what I want to do with my life because I want to be a teacher,” Johnson said. “It’s teachers like him who inspire me to be able to teach. So I probably wouldn’t be the person I am and want to be if it wasn’t for teachers like him.”

“That’s awesome,” Hileman said of his student’s future goals. “Teaching is a profession you can believe in 110 percent, but its not for everybody. So when I hear that, it makes me feel good.”

Even though his walls can’t hold any more artifacts, Hileman will keep collecting.

“I don’t see an end to it,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be caught up — not even in 15 years. There’s a lot of good work to be done.”

Although all of his students have a favorite object in the room, Hileman’s favorite is a little different.

“The most important thing in this room is actually my students,” he said. “Some of them will tease that I have connected them and inspired them, but they inspire me every day. Right back at ya.”

Hileman said if you have something historic in your home, don’t get rid of it. Call your local school instead, and see if it can help kids learn in a creative way.