The most famous defendant in a dog bite case has been found guilty again. Marjorie Knoller was the woman whose Presa Canario dogs savagely killed Diane Whipple in 2001. A jury in Los Angeles found Knoller guilty of every charge she was indicted for, including second degree murder. After the trial judge threw out the murder conviction, the case went back and forth on appeal. Once more, however, the courts have ruled against her. By taking her dogs out of her apartment on that fatal day, she "deliberately engaged in behavior that was a danger to human life." On that ground, her conviction was upheld, and she faces 15 years to life in prison.
Knoller's dogs had never bitten anyone. However, they had lunged, snapped and exhibited clear signs that they possessed a vicious temperament. Additionally, these were Presa Canario dogs — large, cattle-herding dogs that are regarded by many as being dangerous. The prosecutor conducted a "breed specific prosecution" in which he told the jury that Knoller's crime happened minutes before her dogs attacked Whipple; he said the crime consisted of just taking those dogs outside Knoller's apartment.
Those of you who own pit bulls and other dogs regarded as being dangerous have to take note of the Diane Whipple case. Even if your dogs have never bitten anyone, but have lunged, snapped and exhibited signs of aggression, you can find yourself facing the wrath of your community if they hurt or kill a person. In my book, there is no reason to take such a risk.