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Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D.

Website author

Expert Witness for the defense

Animal Behavior Counseling Services, Inc.

Los Angeles, CA.

Description of the fatal dog attack

About 4:00 pm on January 26, 2001, Knoller had arrived at the doorway of her 6th floor apartment after having taken a short excursion to the rooftop of the building with Bane. She had taken Bane to the rooftop to eliminate as an emergency measure because he was sick with diarrhea. She had the responsibility of taking care of Bane late into the day because Noel was out of town on business and had become delayed in arriving home due to mechanical problems with his car.

When Knoller returned from the rooftop and opened her apartment door, her other Canary dog, Hera, was at the doorway waiting. Hera noticed Whipple in the hallway entering her own apartment approximately 60 feet away. Whipple had just returned from grocery shopping. According to Knoller, Hera started growling at Whipple. Knoller had Bane restrained on leash attached to a harness. Despite this restraint, Bane became aroused upon hearing Hera’s growling, he too turned his attention to Whipple, and then he began pulling Knoller down the hall towards Whipple.

As Bane advanced towards Whipple, Knoller was dragged on the floor behind him. At this point, it is likely that Knoller lost the ability to control the 125 lb. Bane. After Bane reached Whipple, according to Knoller, he stood on his hind legs and pinned the 5’3″, 110 lb. Whipple against the wall, straddling her shoulders with his forelegs. Knoller claims that she then tried to push Whipple into her apartment in an attempt to get her away from Bane. Whipple resisted. Words were probably exchanged between Knoller and Whipple. The confrontation was hostile. In the struggle Knoller claims that Whipple hit her in the eye. Both Knoller and Whipple fell to the floor. Moments later Knoller’s other dog, Hera, came onto the scene. Whipple now may have tried to crawl away. However, at this stage, Bane’s aggressive reactivity towards Whipple spiraled out of control. He starting attacking Whipple in a sustained, uninhibited and frenzied manner. Knoller claims she tried to cover Whipple with her body to protect her from Bane and that every time Whipple moved from underneath Knoller, Bane would attack. Within a period of about 6 minutes Bane, and possibly Hera who may have joined the attack, stopped attacking. There was no need for further attack by the dogs because Whipple was nearly motionless, stripped of nearly all her clothes, and she laid dying and naked on the hallway floor.

Whipple sustained a total of 77 bite wounds, the most serious ones being severe bites to her neck. Some of the punctures in Whipple’s neck were so deep that they nearly severed her vertebrae.

No one, not even Knoller, came to the immediate aid of Whipple. Knoller says she went to look for her keys. Others in the apartment building also heard commotion but took no action. A terrified elderly neighbor, who witnessed part of the attack through the peep-hole of her apartment door, phoned 911. Within 10 minutes, police and paramedics arrived and they transported Whipple to San Francisco General Hospital where she died 5 hours later from massive blood loss (due to injury to the jugular vein and carotid artery) and asphyxiation (due to a crushed larynx).