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Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D.

Website author

Expert Witness for the defense

Animal Behavior Counseling Services, Inc.

Los Angeles, CA.

Q. Did the defendant’s rescue Bane and Hera from an abusive situation on Janet Coumbs’ farm?

A. Surely, this must have been the case. Basically, after having received Bane and Hera as puppies, Coumbs kept them chained and confined for her own convenience . She provided no obedience training nor did she make any meaningful attempt to adequately socialize the dogs to people. Is it any wonder why Hera was aggressive towards strangers, and that both Bane and Hera were unruly, aggressive towards farm animals, and generally out-of-control? Hence, Noel and Knoller’s claim that they rescued the dogs from an abusive situation has merit. In my opinion, the seeds for Bane and Hera’s territorially aggressive nature were planted on the farm of Janet Coumbs.

The significance of this is that given the kind of dogs Noel and Knoller adopted, they did a reasonably commendable job in keeping Bane and Hera under control and, for the most part, non-aggressive towards people. The defense cogently pointed out that the dogs were well behaved with many people (e.g. the so- called good dog witnesses) and that even within the apartment complex there were hundreds of non-eventful interactions with strangers (i.e. particularly in the lobby near the elevator).

Thus, given the dog’s upbringing on Coumbs’ farm, and coupled with the inherent predispostion of this breed for territorial aggressive behavior, it is not difficult to understand why Bane and Hera, on occasion, displayed aggressive behavior towards strangers. These instances, or “warnings” as the prosecution argued, were obviously given more weight by the jury when compared with the hundreds of non-aggressive and friendly encounters these dogs had with strangers both in and outside their territory.