Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D.

Website author

Expert Witness for the defense

Animal Behavior Counseling Services, Inc.

Los Angeles, CA.

Welcome to San Francisco Dog Mauling

The San Francisco dog mauling is about the tragic death of 33-year-old all-american lacross player and coach, Diane Whipple. Whipple’s death immediately became a national news story partially because of the bizarre nature of the circumstances surrounding the case, the fact that Whipple was a popular and attractive gay person in a socially reactive and pro-gay city like San Francisco, and also because of the brutal manner in which two massive Presa Canario dogs, Bane and Hera, took Whipple’s life. Moreover, the case became of significant legal interest because second-degree murder charges were filed against one of the owners of the dogs.

Bane and Hera were owned by neighbors of Whipple: a married couple, 60-year old Robert Noel and 46-year old Majorie Knoller. Noel and Knoller, both practicing attorneys by profession, had been keeping Bane and Hera in their sixth floor, 800 sq. ft. apartment in the upscale Pacific Heights section of San Francisco for about 4 months prior to the incident. Whipple lived on the same floor as Noel and Knoller with her partner, Sharon Smith.

Prosecutors argued that during the time the dogs resided with the defendants, the dogs behaved in a manner that must have given Noel and Knoller sufficient knowledge to realize that Bane and Hera were dangerous by nature and that they could kill a human. Prosecutors also argued that Noel and Knoller callously disregarded the safety of others and that they did not take any steps to reduce the grave danger the dogs presented. In a nutshell, this is what this case is about.

Many of the issues in this case are similar to the issues found in other civil and criminal litigation involving dog attacks. As such, the issues in this high-profile case illustrate the interesting interplay between dog behavior and the law.

This site is the creation of Los Angeles applied animal behaviorist, Richard H. Polsky. Dr. Polsky developed a strong interest in this case after having been retained by the defense as an expert in animal behavior. Throughout the course of the proceedings Polsky worked closely with the defense, particularly San Francisco attorney Bruce Hotchkiss, counsel for Robert Noel.