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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. Was Bane’s bite to Noel’s hand reflective of a dog with a vicious nature?

A. Hammer argued during closing arguments that Noel must have know of Bane’s vicious nature because Bane had previously bit Noel severely on the hand during Noel’s attempts to break-up a dog fight in which Bane was engaged. The incident happened in a park about 6 weeks prior to the mauling.

Hammer’s use of this incident to infer Bane’s vicious nature was extremely misleading. Bane’s aggression towards Noel probably was probably “accidental”: that is, based on the details of this particular incident, it came about not because Bane targeted Noel but because Noel had simply place his hand between two dogs who were already engaged in a fight.   And,  there was no conclusive evidence that Bane was  the dog who actually inflicted the bite.

The incident was used unfairly by Hammer to suggest that Bane was vicious towards humans.  In fact, this was the only occasion prior to the mauling where Bane had ever bitten anyone, whether it be a person or another dog, in a severe fashion.  Unfortunately the prosecution was not challenged on this point. Thus, even though there was no expert testimony on this matter, Hammer’s argument may have impacted the jury favorably for the prosecution.