Dog bite expert & animal behavior specialist

Richard H. Polsky, PhD, CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

Dr. Richard Polsky - The Dog Expert

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Fatal dog attacks topic on Montel Williams Show

Guests describe their experiences with dogs who have injured or killed

Transcription from Montel Williams Show: February 20, 2004WILLIAMS: Welcome, welcome, welcome, and thank you so much for joining us today. You know, would you know if your pet was capable of, let’s say, harming someone or even killing another person? Take a look at this.

WILLIAMS: Vicious dog attacks are on the rise.

Unidentified Woman #1: Just ripped her cheek.

Unidentified Man #1: One of the worst bites that I have seen.

WILLIAMS: It seems as though every time we turn around, a new case has made headlines.

Unidentified Police Officer: We had four pit bull dogs come across the fence, un–they were totally unprovoked, and they started attacking her. They dragged her approximately 100 feet down the street, chewing on her the whole way.

WILLIAMS: According to the Center for Disease Control, 4.7 million dogattacks were reported last year; 800,000 of these cases needed medical attention.

Unidentified Man #2: It’s tragic what the little girl now has to grow up with.

WILLIAMS: So what has triggered the rise of man’s best friend turning on man? Many in law enforcement pin it on irresponsible dog owners raising their dogs to unleash their killer instincts.
Unidentified Attorney #1: (In court) And she, too, saw Diane Whipple naked, covered in blood, in a pool of blood, pushing herself up with her throat ripped out.

Unidentified Woman #2: She’s just very protective of the property and the owner. And, unfortunately, the woman was too close.

WILLIAMS: One thing is for sure. The disturbing trend has left authorities in a quandary as they try to determine who’s at fault: the dog or the dog owner?

WILLIAMS: In 2001, a woman by the name of Diane Whipple was mauled to death by dogs her neighbor owned. I want you to take a look at this.

Attorney #1: (In court) There is nothing more preventable than the death of Diane Whipple.

WILLIAMS: It was the dogattack case that unleashed a firestorm of controversy. On January 26, 2001, 33-year-old Diane Whipple was cornered and savagely mauled to death by two Presa Canario dogs. The dogs were eventually euthanized, and their owners, Marjorie Knoller and Richard Noel, were charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Unidentified Woman #3: Marjorie, from what I could see, never took any responsibility.

WILLIAMS: The trials would captivate the public for months as the pair were the first in San Francisco to ever face murder charges in a dogmauling death.

Unidentified Attorney #2: Diane Whipple was killed in a hallway of her building by a family pet.

WILLIAMS: While the defense tried to portray Knoller and Noel as innocent dog owners who were unaware of their pets’ aggression, the prosecution provided damaging evidence linking the couple to a white supremacy group known to raise killer attackdogs.

Offscreen Voice: (In court) We, the jury, in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Marjorie Knoller, guilty of the crime of murder in the second degree.

WILLIAMS: The verdict shocked many. Knoller and Noel’s conviction brought closure to Whipple’s loved ones.

Unidentified Woman #4: It’s been very hard. It’s been a long 14 months.

Unidentified Woman #5: I feel like, today, Diane’s finally free.

WILLIAMS: Well, please welcome the best-selling author of five books, including the book, “All She Wanted,” which was turned into a movie called “Boys Don’t Cry”–her most recently released book is called “The Red Zone,” which really chronicles the behind-the-scenes story of the San Francisco dogmauling–true crime writer Aphrodite Jones. Welcome her to the show.

How are you? Good to see you. Good to see you. Have a seat. This–this was an incident where, when you first look at its surface, it looked like a family pet had just gone a little nuts and injured a person, hurt a person. But let’s–let’s back up and talk about what you were able to find out when you were researching this book. What’d you find out?

Ms. APHRODITE JONES (Author of “Red Zone: The Behind the Scenes Story of the San Francisco DogMauling”): Actually, I’ll tell you, here–here’s what happened. These two people in San Francisco are attorneys that owned these dogs. And it wasn’t one dog. It was actually two.

WILLIAMS: And as a matter of fact, they deliberately tried to hide the fact that they had multiple dogs in their apartment by walking one individually. Let’s talk about what these dogs were. What breed of dog this is.

Ms. JONES: A very unusual breed called a Presa Canario, which is a fighting dog from the Canary Islands that’s part mastiff. These dogs were used to pull down bulls in Spain.

WILLIAMS: These are vicious dogs, dogs that are used for protection. They are not the family pet that you go out and have your kids go hang out with.

Ms. JONES: No one had ever heard of–when I was in the courtroom, Marcia Clark was there. And the two of us sat there and looked at each other. ‘Who ever heard of a dog from the Canary Islands? What are you talking about, a Presa Canario? What are these animals?’ They turned out to be described as pit bulls on steroids.

WILLIAMS: We later found out that the person who actually owned the dogs was selling these dogs to Mexican or to foreign drug cartels to protect their wares. That’s how big these dogs are. I’m going to take a break. When we come back, let’s talk about what happened that day. You chronicled it pretty well. Diane was–was coming home?

Ms. JONES: She was on her way home with her groceries to make dinner on a Friday afternoon.

WILLIAMS: And the woman…

Ms. JONES: Marjorie Knoller.

WILLIAMS: …Marjorie Kno–Knoller, was in the doorway holding one of these dogs by a leash, correct?

Ms. JONES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Now, supposedly–supposedly–I guess Diane made a move towards Knoller?

Ms. JONES: That’s her claim.

WILLIAMS: Her claim. But…

Ms. JONES: But I think there’s a different story there.

WILLIAMS: And then supposedly, this dog that is your pet was so uncontrollable that, on a leash, it dragged Miss Knoller halfway down the hallway, broke free, and then began to–and I–and I can’t say it any other way, because we use the term “maul,” I’m going to say it straight up–began to eat this woman.

Ms. JONES: Alive. Two dogs.

WILLIAMS: Alive.

Ms. JONES: Both dogs. Her second dog came out and was released from the apartment, so it became two dogs.

WILLIAMS: Packed on and truly–well, dogattack, and they’re not trying to bite. They are biting and swallowing, folks. Let me take a break. We’ll be back right after this.

RHONDA (Daughter Was Nearly Killed by a Neighbor’s Dog): He tore her ear off. It was open like a barn door. Tore the ear canal away from the eardrum, split open her cheek, took a si–a baseball-size chunk of skull away from her, scraped the fluid sack around her brain, punctured her brain.

WILLIAMS: So, OK, let’s back up and talk about that day. So, again, supposedly Diane was returning from grocery shopping or out, she had been out that afternoon.

Ms. JONES: She was at work, and she was coming home from work. She had bought groceries to make dinner. She was making a taco dinner for herself and her partner. And she gets to her apartment door. Now, you have to understand, they live in a very swanky apartment building.

WILLIAMS: And we saw a picture of the hallway. Do we still have that hallway?

Ms. JONES: Well, there it–there–there it is. That’s an important picture right there, because that is a photo of–you see, Diane was trying to get in her doorway. Do you see the keys in the doorway? That’s an exhibit at the trial. And do you see the groceries on the floor?

WILLIAMS: Right.

Ms. JONES: Now, the owners of the dogs claimed that Diane Whipple had the opportunity to go into her apartment and close the door.

WILLIAMS: Oh, so she was hanging out just to get eaten?

Ms. JONES: Yeah, that’s what they claimed in court.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Ms. JONES: But as you can see from that photograph, this woman had no opportunity whatsoever to go anywhere, because there are her keys in the door and her groceries all on the floor.

WILLIAMS: And once again, let’s go back and discuss the fact that this woman was attacked by a 120, 25-pound animal. We’re talking about a dog. An animal who’s…

Ms. JONES: And the second dog joined the first.

WILLIAMS: Joined in the attack.

Ms. JONES: So the alpha male began it, and then the female joined in, so that the alpha male was at her throat, and the female was at her feet.

WILLIAMS: And they–she was completely dressed when she arrived at home.

Ms. JONES: Of course.

WILLIAMS: These dogs ripped every piece of clothing off of her. She was found naked in the hallway, completely covered with bites from head to toe, correct?

Ms. JONES: Yes. Yes. Yes.

WILLIAMS: I mean, and–and–and I can’t even–I can’t–it’s daytime television. I can’t even describe the horror that this woman went through. But even after having been attacked, having had her throat ripped, having various parts of her body, she was still making an attempt to get out.

Ms. JONES: And here’s the thing, Montel. This woman was an athlete. She was a lacrosse coach. She was a really strong woman who had the ability not only to, you know, be agile and get away from the animals, but she loved animals. She was an animal lover. And yet, these particular dogs were so mishandled by their owners–they were given steroids, they were–one was on morphine. And ultimately, 34 people came forward to testify that they had had serious run-ins with these two dogs.

WILLIAMS: And anything from being attacked, having the dogs lunge at them, barking at them, attacking their other dogs, all kinds of things. But no one really got bit. No one was–was–was physically injured.

Ms. JONES: But two animals were injured. Two animals–two other pets were injured and had to have stitches and had to be rushed to vets and animal hospitals.

WILLIAMS: The trial lasted what, three months, four months? How long was the trial?

Ms. JONES: Oh, a couple months. Three–about three months, yeah.

WILLIAMS: Couple of months. And during the trial, there were all kinds of other things that were implied and stated. But the truth of the matter is, the–let’s go back and talk about the two people who actually owned them. They owned them–they didn’t own these dogs. These dogs were on loan to them, correct? They were baby-sitting the dogs. They claimed to have owned them. And these dogs were owned by a guy who was in prison who was the head of the Aryan Nation at Pelican Bay.

Ms. JONES: That’s correct.

WILLIAMS: So, he was running a business and getting people outside of the prison to run a business to raise these dogs and then sell them. So that in itself is criminal. Please welcome Vicky to the show.

Vicky, stay right where you are, Vicky. You work with–give us your exact title, so I have it right.

VICKY: I’m the captain in charge of animal control for San Francisco.

WILLIAMS: Animal–you got called in on this case, right?

VICKY: Right. I was actually sitting at the dispatch area when the call came in that night. My officer said when the elevator doors opened, it was incredible, the scene. Diane’s clothes were all over the hallway. There was blood on the walls, on the floor. And then her body. And it was just a sight that–it–it really hurt my people, and it changed their lives.

Ms. JONES: But do you know that they had to use tranquilizer guns on those two dogs and that a team of animal care people went in there? That particular unit that went in there to get those two animals had so much trouble darting those two dogs. And those dogs were banging against the walls and banging against–I mean, blood all inside the apartment, as well, from those two animals–that they couldn’t be contained. They couldn’t be let out. And the owner could not bring her own animals anywhere out of that apartment. Yet she still wanted to keep the female animal alive after she killed Diane Whipple.

WILLIAMS: The male dog was put to death immediately, or euthanized.

VICKY: Right.

WILLIAMS: We’ll use that term.

VICKY: Right.

WILLIAMS: Shot, OK? Right? That day. Then the–the other dog was put in custody.

VICKY: Correct.

WILLIAMS: What does “the red zone” mean? One of you guys explain that.

Ms. JONES: It’s–it’s an e–it’s a term used by behaviorists for animals where–when dogs go into the mode of attack, and they cannot be controlled. That they have decided on a particular prey, and that they are going to kill that prey, they call that the red zone.

WILLIAMS: And there’s no stopping them?

Ms. JONES: No. And the owners of this dog–these dogs claimed–the female owner, the lawyer Marjorie Knoller, who was up for second-degree murder–the jury gave this woman second-degree murder, and the judge took it back and reduced it to manslaughter.

WILLIAMS: So why did the judge reduce this?

Ms. JONES: Because the judge decided that she could not be held responsible for the action of her animal. Both only got four years. He’s already out. He is already out.

WILLIAMS: So there’s a woman who lays dead because someone wasn’t responsible enough to lock up their gun–I’ll put it that way–or to keep their gun locked up and helped pull the trigger, because obviously they were ho–so, you only get four years for that?

VICKY: But, Montel, we forget that the fact is that a jury of 12 people found her guilty of second-degree murder. We are trying to hold her responsible, so we need–we need the public to help us in getting to these judges and say, ’12 people of her peers found her guilty and held her responsible for this.’ And he overturned it.

WILLIAMS: In working on this book, “The Red Zone,” at the end of the day, when you get finished–you finish this, and you stop reading it–did you feel that laws may change soon enough to protect another person from this happening to them?

Ms. JONES: I think that’s the hope. And, really, with the memory of Diane Whipple, who was such a tremendous athlete and such a tremendous role model to so many young women, where she taught at a college–to look at her death and say, ‘Listen, don’t allow vicious animals to just get away, and the owners must be held responsible.’ It’s not just the animals, but it’s the owners. We have got to start looking at this. There’s an Elijah law here in New York right now that they’re trying to get passed from a young boy whose face was scarred for life by an animal. We’ve got to start holding people responsible. They’ve got to be held criminally responsible.

WILLIAMS: We got to get this under control, folks. Thank you so much, Aphrodite, for being here. Thank you. Vicky, thank you so much for being here. The book is called “The Red Zone.” I’m going to take a break. When we come back, we’re going to meet a 10-year-old girl who was mauled–I’m sorry. We’re going to meet the family of a 10-year-old girl who was mauled to death by six rottweilers, and it could have been prevented. Let’s take a break. We’ll be back right after this.

JIM (His 10-year-old Daughter Was Mauled to Death by 6 Rottweilers): There was blood all over the place. A head of hair laying by the front door. Walked in a little further and seen Alicia laying there.

WILLIAMS: In 2002 a 10-year-old girl was mauled to death by six rottweilers. I want you to take a look at this.

WILLIAMS: Alicia Lynn Clark was a bright girl who was full of life. That’s why family and friends in the town of Elroy, Wisconsin, are stunned about the tragic circumstances surrounding her death. On Valentine’s Day, 2002, the fourth-grader was looking forward to having a sleep-over with her best friend. She followed her friend home to get clothes for the evening. Shortly after entering the house, Alicia was savagely mauled to death by six rottweilers.

Unidentified Man #3: When we found out there was six of them in the house, you know, I was just stunned and just sad when I found out a 10-year-old girl lost her life.

WILLIAMS: One of the dog owners, Sandra McKracken, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and her boyfriend–the actual dog owner–was sentenced to two years.

Ms. SANDRA McKRACKEN: (In court) I want everybody here today to know how sorry I am for what happened to Alicia. I know “sorry” is not enough.

Unidentified Woman #6: It’s never going to bring Alicia back. We’ve suffered a great loss.

WILLIAMS: While some believe justice was served in this case, the Clark family will always mourn the untimely passing of their little girl.

WILLIAMS: Please welcome Tammy and Jim to the show. Welcome them.

This family that your daughter went over to, somebody that she had played with–the little girl in the family–that she had played with a couple of times, right?

JIM: Yes.

WILLIAMS: She had been over to this house a few times.

JIM: Multiple times.

WILLIAMS: Multiple times. Did she come home and talk to you and say, you know, ‘They’ve got some dogs,’ or ‘The dogs were cool,’ or whatever? Were there comments about the dogs? Did you ever address the dogs with her?

JIM: She pretty much didn’t lead that there was any aggression or anything at the house with the dogs.

WILLIAMS: And the parents never gave you any idea that the dogs were aggressive or anything, correct?

JIM: Correct.

WILLIAMS: So this night when she came over and said, you know, ‘I want to be able to–to go spend the night at a friend’s house, this wasn’t something that was atypical, so you said, OK.

JIM: Yes.

WILLIAMS: She left your house, went over to their house? How long was she gone before the mother came and knocked on your door.

JIM: Oh, about two hours.

WILLIAMS: So two hours later, Mom comes and knocks on your door, she said what to you?

JIM: She said, ‘Grab your stuff and come with me.’ And I said, ‘What’s the problem?’ And she said, ‘Just get in the car.’

WILLIAMS: ‘Just get in the car.’ And what are you thinking when you get in the car? What’s going through your mind? Tell me.

JIM: I just thought maybe she had some problems at home with her boyfriend or something. I didn’t, you know…

WILLIAMS: Trying to get help from you.

JIM: Yes.

WILLIAMS: You’re driving–how far away is the house?

JIM: About two blocks.

WILLIAMS: Two blocks. This is just a jump down the road. She took you to the front door of her house. (Jim nods) And did she stop at the front door?

JIM: She stopped at the front door.

WILLIAMS: And what does she do for you? Does she tell you to go in, does she say…

JIM: I open the door and then it was clear there was blood all over the place, a head of hair laying by the front door.

WILLIAMS: So you said “a head of hair” laying by the front door?

JIM: Yes.

WILLIAMS: You thought it was like a wig. (Jim nods) Go ahead.

JIM: Walked in a little further and seen Alicia laying there. Ran up by her, and gave her a hug, and turned around, ran out the door, said, ‘Did anybody call the ambulance?’ And she said, ‘You know we don’t have a telephone.’ I said, ‘You were just at my house.’ And she didn’t say anything, so I ran down to the bar and made the phone call.

WILLIAMS: All right. Let’s stop here. This woman came to this man’s house, his child is lying dead on her floor, having been attacked by her dogs. She doesn’t even say to the father of this child, ‘There’s been an accident at home, at our home.’ She doesn’t say, you know, ‘I’m sorry,’ nothing. She takes him up to that front door, opens the door and, ‘Here.’

Obviously you called the ambulance. Your daughter’s already gone

JIM: Yes.

WILLIAMS: When did you find out, Tammy?

TAMMY: I had a call from a friend of ours when I was at work. And they didn’t tell me on the phone. They didn’t–which I’m glad. I work at a hospital, and so I had asked if they had called the ambulance, because he didn’t tell me how severe it was. And he says, yeah. And I says, ‘All right. Then I’ll just wait for the ambulance to come. And no ambulance came, but the sheriff’s department came and told me that Alicia was dead.

WILLIAMS: Alicia was dead. (Tammy nods)

Let me take a break, and when we come back, let’s just fir–what was your first reaction when you–do you feel, of course, that charges were pressed? And–well, let’s tell what happened. The two girls–what grade again? Fourth grade.

TAMMY: Fourth and fifth grade, yeah.

WILLIAMS: Fourth and fifth grade, show up at the little girl’s house. The mother is so busy and–and–and–and hurry to do something that she says to the two girls, ‘Watch the dogs for a minute, I’ll be back.’ And she leaves two fourth-grade girls in the house with six rottweilers. We’ll take a break. We’ll be back right after this.

RHONDA: He tore her ear off. It was open like a barn door. Tore the ear canal away from the eardrum, split open her cheek, took a size baseball-size chunk of skull away from her, scraped the fluid sack around her brain, punctured her brain.

WILLIAMS: What happened to the people who owned these pets, can I ask you?

JIM: Sandra received 18 months in the county jail, and Wayne got two years in prison.

WILLIAMS: Were they–did they ever apologize to you? Did they ever come to you and say they were sorry?

TAMMY: They never came to us directly. Wayne apparently that night, when he was making a statement, apologized to the police department. The only other time we heard any apologies was when it was sentencing.

WILLIAMS: But that two years and 18 months doesn’t do anything.

JIM: Right.

TAMMY: No. And–and no, you know, supervision for a few years, and then they can’t own animals while they’re on supervision, but they can certainly own them when they’re done. I mean, there’s no law stating that they can never own these animals again.

WILLIAMS: What do you think should happen?

TAMMY: Well, a lot of different things. I mean, I don’t believe that they truly left their kids there knowing that this was going to happen.

WILLIAMS: Right.

TAMMY: You know. I don’t believe that they had an idea that something could happen, but that’s hard to prove. I don’t believe they should ever own animals again. They don’t know how to take care of them.

WILLIAMS: Well, she was just four years old when a neighbor’s pet attacked this young girl. I want you to take a look at this.

WILLIAMS: No toddler should have to face life with severe disfigurement. But that’s what happened to Khara. At age four she was attacked by this wolf hybrid while playing with her friends. The dog grabbed on to Khara’s head and swung her around like a rag doll. When the dog’s grip was finally loosened, part of Khara’s brain was exposed. Her ear and eyelid were almost ripped off. The tiny toddler was also left with three feet of scarring over her body. Khara would not only suffer physical pain, but emotional pain as well. She had to endure scrutiny from kids who made fun of her disfigurement for many years.

WILLIAMS: Please welcome Khara and her mother, Rhonda, to the show. Welcome them.

You know what, you just–you just started crying as we were introducing you to this. Now what part of this–was it seeing the pictures of you when you were a child?

KHARA (Was Attacked by a Neighbor’s Dog at Age 4): Yeah.

WILLIAMS: How much of this do you really remember?

KHARA: I don’t remember a lot. I re–the only thing I remember is feeling my teeth going up and down my throat. And I was told that I was pretty much looked like a rag doll in the dog’s mouth. He was whipping me around and…

WILLIAMS: Mom, why don’t you–let’s back up for a second. Explain what happened. Where were you?

RHONDA: I was working in the kitchen making lunch, and–and this is the first time Khara and my son had been allowed outside without us. We were on a dead-end street. There was–you saw the picture. We thought it was a Husky. There was no traffic. There was no pit bulls. There were not rottweilers. There were no, what I thought, vicious dogs. There was nothing that could harm my child. And I…

WILLIAMS: And this animal is a what, again? Half wolf, half what?

RHONDA: This is half wolf, half Husky, half some–some have them with shepherds. This is Tundra. It was 100 and–150-pound dog.

WILLIAMS: So you look out the window, they’re fine. Then you..

RHONDA: They’re fine.

WILLIAMS: Then you hear something, right? Is what turned you…

RHONDA: I went to the front door to check them. Because really, they’d never been outside without me. And they were there, they were fine. And then I went to the–back to the kitchen window and couldn’t see my daughter. And I was focusing in on what happened to my daughter, the little boy, the 12-year-old that was out with them was screaming behind me that it had ahold of my daughter and there was blood all over the place.

WILLIAMS: You come running out. There was this dog with your daughter’s face in his mouth.

RHONDA: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: Her head.

RHONDA: Her whole head.

WILLIAMS: In his mouth.

RHONDA: Mm-hmm.

WILLIAMS: And he is going down the yard, just…

RHONDA: He’s shaking her.

WILLIAMS: …shaking her around as if she’s a rag doll.

RHONDA: Mm-hmm.

WILLIAMS: Fortunately he didn’t break your neck.

KHARA: No.

WILLIAMS: Fortunate here. So by the time he released her, he had done damage–look at me for a minute–he had done damage to your eye, to your cheek–you can barely see these scars, though. I hope you know that, right? You do know that, right? They’re almost gone. To–to the side of her face, ripped open the side of her face.

RHONDA: These three and a half feet of scarring on her scalp. He–he didn’t damage the main vein at the top of her head. He tore her ear off. It was open like a barn door. Tore the ear canal away from the eardrum, split open her cheek, took a si–a baseball-size chunk of skull away from her, scraped the fluid sack around her brain, punctured her brain.

WILLIAMS: And–again I say, lucky to be alive. Now, how many–you have had to undergo how many surgeries here?

KHARA: Five reconstructive, and one laser surgery.

WILLIAMS: One laser surgery. Well that–well that–OK, see, I–I’m smiling at you because I’m telling you, you have some amazing doctors, girlfriend. Your face is beautiful. I mean, I don’t see–you can barely see it. I think you should be very happy. You still have to undergo some more.

KHARA: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Why? Do you know how many yet?

KHARA: All I know right now is two, and I want to go through them. One is to redo my eye because I can’t cry out of this eye. My tear duct was damaged, and when I cry it blotches.

WILLIAMS: It blotches in your skin. Your tears go into your skin, is that what happens?

KHARA: Mm-hmm. And to fix this–my piece of lip right here. I have a piece of lip that the dog had taken and they had to fix it. And…

WILLIAMS: I–I got to go to a break. And–and I know, looking back at yourself from before, probably what that evokes are the fears of what some other people said to you when you were a child.

KHARA: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: And things that happened as a child. I got to go to a break, but please, Khara, do me this favor. Look in that camera back there. There are a lot of other young people going to school today that have may have just been in a car accident, they may have had–they may have had something terrible happen, they may have an illness that required something to be done with their face. And kids do not understand how cruel this is. Why don’t you for one second tell them that–what–what they put you through, and what they shouldn’t be putting other kids through.

KHARA: It–it hurts. It–it’s like–I–I can’t explain it, but it–it just tears and it rips until you don’t think you can make it anymore. And I’ve been through so much. It just hurts.

WILLIAMS: So maybe people ought to be a little bit more understanding? (Khara nods) A little bit more compassionate. You know what, at least–you know, one of the things that you can really truly do, I think, is look back at all those people who made fun of you, and say, ‘How do you like me now?’ Because I’m telling you, darling, you can’t see them, it’s beautiful, and really–really what’s in here. You already accomplished what you need to accomplish, I think. It’s easy for me to say, because I’m not living inside and looking, but you’re way more beautiful than you think, and just by coming out here to help other kids, just being on the show.

KHARA: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Got to take a break. When we come back, the owner of three killer pit bulls speaks out. She’ll be here with us in a minute. We’ll be back right after this.
WILLIAMS: Well, last year three pit bulls mauled a woman to death in Arkansas. Please welcome one of the dog’s owners, Kim, to the show. Welcome her.

KIM: Hey.

WILLIAMS: Eight months’ pregnant right now.

KIM: Mm, yes. About ready.

WILLIAMS: Yes. It’s going to happen right now as we’re talking. Don’t get too tense.

KIM: Yeah, right.

WILLIAMS: No. Let’s talk about this for a minute, because you live where? Explain where you live first of all, because this is very important.

KIM: It’s north of Russellville in a small community called Hector, Arkansas.

WILLIAMS: And it is a very rural South.

KIM: Rural. Yes. Very.

WILLIAMS: No matter how…

KIM: Just one little store.

WILLIAMS: How many houses on your road?

KIM: Well, it was a dead-end dirt road and there was three, all total.

WILLIAMS: And how long was that road?

KIM: Did–not even half a mile. About a quarter of a mile, maybe.

WILLIAMS: Quarter of a mile. And there’s only three houses there.

KIM: Yeah. All total.

WILLIAMS: And when you get to the end of the road, you look down the road, how many houses down that way?

KIM: You can’t–that’s it. You can’t–you can’t see your neighbors at all.

WILLIAMS: Anywhere.

KIM: No.

WILLIAMS: You’ve lived in this for how long now?

KIM: Six years.

WILLIAMS: Six years. You have signs all over your property.

KIM: All over.

WILLIAMS: What does your signs say?

KIM: “No trespassing,” “Beware of dogs.”

WILLIAMS: What kind of dogs do you own?

KIM: Three pit bulls.

WILLIAMS: Pit bulls. Big ones?

KIM: N–well, no. Not really.

WILLIAMS: Because they don’t have to be that big.

KIM: No. No. That’s true.

WILLIAMS: Now, you own these pit–let’s–let’s tell the truth–you own these pit bulls for what reason? For protection.

KIM: Right. My…

WILLIAMS: Because…

KIM: Because my husband was disabled, and we lived in the woods. There was bears, there was deer, there was wild animals out there. There was wolves.

WILLIAMS: There are wolves around your property all the time.

KIM: Right. So, I mean, they were out there for the protection of our children.

WILLIAMS: And just so we understand, pit bulls don’t jump down from a wolf. You know, a pit bull will step up to a wolf, a pit bull will step up to just about any animal.

KIM: A bear.

WILLIAMS: A bear. They’re not really afraid of animals. So you have them on your property for that reason.

KIM: Right. Exactly.

WILLIAMS: OK. This particular day, you’re driving home. You came home with your husband?

KIM: Right.

WILLIAMS: You’re coming home from where?

KIM: We’re coming home from the hospital, from seeing his brother. He had been in an accident. And we had been out of town all day. And we got home about 5:00 in the afternoon. And–and we came in the back way of our property because we had just put some fresh dirt on–on the main driveway, so it was–and it was still wet. So we came in the back of our property. And there was a body in our yard in pieces.

WILLIAMS: Laying in your yard.

KIM: Right outside our bedroom window.

WILLIAMS: You jumped out, of course. Looked out the car, you go take a look. Did you know who this person was? Could you identify the person.

KIM: At the time, no.

WILLIAMS: You couldn’t identify them.

KIM: No.

WILLIAMS: Because it was very clear and obvious that they had been…

KIM: They–there was pieces missing. There was–it was the dogs.

WILLIAMS: Dogs. Did you think it was your dogs, or your thinking it may have been those wolves? Or did you know it was your dogs?

KIM: We didn’t know. I didn’t know. I just freaked. I just seen a body, I seen pieces gone. I called 911. I didn’t even know what happened. And…

WILLIAMS: You immediately took your dogs and put them inside the house.

KIM: Right. Right. Immediately.

WILLIAMS: The police came.

KIM: Right.

WILLIAMS: They saw the scene.

KIM: Right.

WILLIAMS: What was the first thing the dog–the police said to you?

KIM: That something–they thought the dogs had done it.

WILLIAMS: And you brought the dogs out…

KIM: You know, something, they had attacked everything.

WILLIAMS: You had to bring the dogs out individually.

KIM: Yes. Yes.

WILLIAMS: The dog–the police looked at each dog.

KIM: Right. And took pictures.

WILLIAMS: No blood on any dogs. No blood in your house.

KIM: No blood…

WILLIAMS: No blood on–around your front steps. None of that.

KIM: None at the scene, none on her. Nothing. No blood no where.

WILLIAMS: So the police said to you, ‘I don’t think anything’s going to come out of this.’

KIM: Right. Exactly.

WILLIAMS: And they left.

KIM: No. We–I offered the dogs up that night. I said, ‘Please take them, because I don’t know what happened.’ And if you got children, you don’t want to take a chance, you know? I didn’t–I don’t know what happened, but I didn’t want to take a chance. So I offered the dogs up just for general, you know, just take them.

WILLIAMS: When you say you offered them up, you wanted to the police to go and put those dogs to sleep that night.

KIM: Just take them. Well, no, I wanted them to take them with them…

WILLIAMS: Just take them.

KIM: …to find out what happened, you know, because I didn’t know.

WILLIAMS: OK. It wasn’t until, what, six months later?

KIM: A year later. Ten months, 10 months later they came to our house, and I was weeding the yard, and they got me and charged me and my husband with manslaughter.

WILLIAMS: And took the two of you away.

KIM: Right.

WILLIAMS: Your husband is now sitting in jail right now.

KIM: Yes he’s in prison right now.

WILLIAMS: For–for how long?

KIM: He got sentenced for six years, three years suspended, and minimum three years.

WILLIAMS: Three years for manslaughter.

KIM: For manslaughter.

WILLIAMS: You were also charged with manslaughter.

KIM: Yes. I got five years probation because I’m pregnant.

WILLIAMS: Because–because you’re pregnant. Do you think your husband should be in jail?

KIM: No. Because our dogs weren’t vicious. Our dogs never bit anybody. We never trained them to bite anybody. Our dogs would play on the trampoline with the kids. They weren’t out there to hurt anyone.

WILLIAMS: Aphrodite, again, even though these are not these dogs from the Canary Islands that are trained to be killers, these are pit bulls. I’m going to just play devil’s advocate for a second.

KIM: Right. Right.

WILLIAMS: So they’re pit bulls. And they’re pit bulls on a person’s property, and you haven’t–you know that a pit bull can freak out. So should I say they should have had these pit bulls chained, tied up?

Ms. JONES: I think–I think one of the big lessons here for anybody who’s been a victim of a dogattack or is concerned about dogattacks is really that people have to start taking more responsibility for their animals on their property. And also, any visitors to that property–whether it be a 10-year-old child or whether it be a 40-year-old adult–has to take precautions in getting near a barking, angry dog. We can’t afford any longer to think that a pit bull or a rott–rottweiler or even a German shepherd–these large dogs that are aggressive–are–are harmless. Because we are finding out more and more that they are not harmless and that they are certainly capable of causing tremendous damage.

WILLIAMS: And you know, the damage that they cause is not–it–it is, in no way, shape or form do I want to say that a person’s life is equal to what you’ve lost.

KIM: Right.

WILLIAMS: But you and your family have lost everything, right?

KIM: Everything.

WILLIAMS: Everything. (Kim nods) And you will now have a record for the rest of your life.

KIM: Yes. You cannot get anything when you are a felon. You can’t–the jobs are limited.

WILLIAMS: Do you think this…

KIM: I’m pregnant. I’m having trouble. My husband is in prison. He will not see his son born. Yeah, we’ve lost a lot. And we offered anything that we could for the family. We wouldn’t go through it again in–no way, no how.

WILLIAMS: Looking back at it now, though, if I can just ask you this, Kim, there’s a lot of people sitting at home right now that own pets, own dogs, and they’re looking here at you and thinking, ‘Oh, my God. This woman didn’t do anything wrong, and her life is completely torn up.’ Now, what could you have done different? Is there anything you could have done different, even living out there in that rural area that you lived in, could you have–could you have put a fence up? Could you have–have, you know, put the dogs on long enough perimeter chains so that they could have been able to run 50, 60 yards from the house, which would have helped you keep animals away? I mean, what–what is it that you could have done. I want somebody else at home to not wind up in the same place that you’re in, or would it be just not buying those particular kind of dogs?

KIM: Don’t buy those dogs because you think they’re fine. You honestly think everything’s great. The–these are not dogs that’s going to do anything. Just like a Chihuahua. Wrong. Until you come home and you see what I saw, and you do not want to do it, believe me. It’s been two years now, and I still see it every day. Don’t buy these dogs.

WILLIAMS: Well, once, the book is call–the–well, once again the book is called “The Red Zone: The Behind the Scenes Story of the San Francisco DogMauling” by best-selling aufor–author, Aphrodite Jones. Go out and pick up a copy today.

Vicky, you know, I–I saw the look on your face when Kim said, “Don’t buy these dogs.” And–and I don’t think this is an indictment against pets. When I–this show is not about indicting people for owning animals. And this is not a show about, you know, telling people who are responsible, who understand the nature of a vicious animal like that–I’m not going to knock you for owning a dog like that if you can control that dog. But it’s those people who can’t control these dogs, and go around thinking that they don’t have to put any extra effort into it, that I’m worried about. She made a bold statement. “Don’t buy these dogs.” I–I got to ask you, I’m sorry, I keep seeing these breeds of pit bulls you think–here in Manhattan. There are some people walking around with–with dogs here that look like they flew in on a space ship. I’ve never seen things like this before in my life. Dogs with jaws that are bigger than my head, and the dog’s no bigger than my foot. That dog was obviously bred to do one thing, and that’s to have a bite that has, you know, some 50,000 pounds’ worth of pressure or something. Why can’t we just outlaw the breeding of these kinds of animals?

VICKY: Well, I mean, I suppose we can, if that’s what we want to do. And I think that, you know, the room would be split. I work, I dedicate my life to saving animals, but obviously people come first to me. And what we need to–to–to hit on is the responsibility level of these people who own these dogs. And you know, we have to license our dogs in San Francisco, California, here. I think people should be licensed. I think there should be stricter–we have very strict guidelines for adopting pit bulls in San Francisco. We, too, have these same problems. But we have to work harder and make sure these pets go into the right homes. If we start banning one breed, it–you know, it–it really gets into then the people who feel that the rottweilers, this wonderful family behind us, then rottweilers should be banned because they have the same potential. Wolf hybrids are illegal, but Akitas can do the same thing. So the reason I flinched like that is because it’s not just a pit bull who can inflict serious bodily injury or death. It’s not.

WILLIAMS: Well then maybe it should–then maybe we should stiffen the penalties…

VICKY: Absolutely.

WILLIAMS: …for those people who allow an animal that is that kind of an animal at birth, who we know it’s that vicious–you own it, you bought it because it’s that vicious…

VICKY: Right.

WILLIAMS: If your dog makes a mistake, I’m sorry. I don’t want to hear the mistake. Go away, not for–terrible. Go away not for three years. But I’m sorry. There’s a person dead. What would I give you if you shot that person with a gun, even by mistake.

VICKY: And we heard that there’s–we have probation three years for these people, and you can’t own dogs for that three years. That’s ridiculous. You should never be able to own a dog again.

WILLIAMS: For life. Good idea. Thank you.