Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

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

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”


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San Francisco Dog Mauling Case

Dr. Polsky was retained by the defense in this well-known case which drew national attention. The victim, Diane Whipple, was mauled to death by her neighbor’s massive Preso canario dogs in the hallway of her apartment in January, 2001. The case caused much dismay in San Francisco’s gay community, probably because Whipple was a lesbian living in San Francisco. The Grand Jury indicted the female defendant, Marjorie Knoller, on second degree murder charges based on a theory of implied malice. Manslaughter charges were against the co-defendant, Knoller’s husband, Robert Nowell. Both were practicing attornys at the time of the incient.

Dr. Polsky consulted with defense attorneys on matters pertaining to the dangerous nature of the dogs (the male dog was named Bane) and whether it was foreseeable that these dogs would actually kill a person (i.e. the main issue supporting second degree murder charges). Polsky testified at an evidentiary hearing prior to the start of trialabout the alledged sexual activity the defendant Knoller had with the dogs, and the validity of the tests used to behaviorally test the dog that was kept alive after the incident. Polsky was in the court room ready to testify at trial as the next witness, but the defense surprisingly rested their case without calling him! However, A web site authored by Dr. Polsky discusses the animal behavior issues in this unusual shouldcase.