SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield officials have narrowly approved a controversial ban on pit bulls.

The ordinance approved Monday night will phase in the ban starting Jan. 1. Owners who register their pit bulls before then could keep the animals in the city. No new registrations would be accepted after Jan. 1 and any unregistered pit bulls found in the city could be seized and disposed of.

The Springfield News-Leader reports opponents of the ban said they plan to immediately begin collecting signatures to put the issue to a popular vote.

Since the debate began, council members have been inundated with hundreds of emails, with most coming from dog lovers and pit bull advocates.

Mayor Ken McClure and other supporters say the ban protects Springfield residents from dangerous animals.

Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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