Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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Fatal dog mauling in Red Bluff, California

People vs. Schneider is a case that went to trial in 2003 which involved the fatal mauling of a seven 7 year-old boy by two Rottweiler mix dogs. The defendant in this case was an ex-police officer who the maintain these two dogs, along with another Rottweiler dog, on his property in the rural town of Red Bluff, located in Northern California.

The incident happened when the victim entered the backyard of the property adjacent to the defendant. A chain-link fence separated the defendant’s yard from the yard where the boy had entered. The Rottweilers were loose in the defendant’s yard. It was unclear why the boy entered the yard. At the time his father was outside across the street in front of his own home chopping firewood. The defendant’s chain link fence was in need of a repair and this allowed the dog to slip under the fence and attack the victim. This attack was eventually stopped by the victim’s father who came running from across the street after hearing a commotion.

Discovery in this case revealed that the subjects dogs had been loose in the neighborhood previously and according to witnesses displayed aggressive behavior towards them. No previous accounts about these specific dogs had ever been filed with animal control, however.

Issues in this case centered around the temperament of these dogs and whether the defendant knew about his dog’s aggressive tendencies. Another key issue was a reckless manner in which the defendant maintained these dogs (e.g..the chain link fence in need of repair). The prosecutor in this case, Gregg Cohen, had been involved in other dog mauling cases. He is best known for the impetus behind California’s “Cody’s Law.” Cody’s Law makes it a felony to own a dog with vicious propensities that a severely injures or kills someone. In this particular case, the defendant was found guilty of manslaughter and the lesser felony of owning a mischievious dog that killed a person.


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