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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2001 8:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 493
Location: Framingham, MA USA
A Grand Jury in San Fransico has idicted two dog owners on two counts of murder and a lesser included offense after one of the two dogs killed a woman in the hallway of a residence apartment building in which the dog owners (and dogs) resided.

The commonly publicised facts alleged are that the dog's female owner could not prevent the dog from attacking and killing a female resident of the apartment building just outside of the victims apartment entrance.

What the dog owner did to prevent this is probably only her word at least as far as I know. I have never heard that there was an eye witness.

In the onset of the case, there were a lot of media reports that these dogs were trained to attack and kill.

This morning on TV with Matt Lauer, the District Attorney, when asked admitted that they had no proof that the dogs were ever trained to attack or kill.

The DA stated that she had evidence that the dogs had a past history of aggresive conduct and could make a case on this evidence.

You must realize that Grand Jury sessions are great target areas for any prosecutor to get an indictment because they listen to the DA who conducts this session in secrecy with only prosecutors present with their version of the case and can be as agressive and manipulative as they please. It is their forum.

Homicide is quite a charge to result from the conduct of an animal which was not ordered or siced on the victim, yet can be justified on the theory that one is responsible for the acts resulting from the failure to control a predatory animal.

Some of the publicized banter of the media hyped the breed of the dog as being the cause of the problem.

This argument is constantly attributed to pit bulls in this country.

Dogs are no different than humans in that they may become the victims of their environment or training. Some have personality disorders and are sociopaths
much like their human counterparts.

Want proof? Anybody that knows Mattson, sensei's dog Tia is aware that Tia is a sweet and loving American Pit Bull Terrier from a great lineage of that breed.

My son in law has a garage and yard where he parks and maintains heavy equipment and is also the area rescue person for displaced pit bulls and those that he breeds.

I can tell you that these dogs each have their own heated dog houses and are kept apart from each other.

I visit them from time to time with a large bag of milk bones in hand, walk among them, and when you get to know them and their ways they will greet you lovingly. I was once nipped by one who left a purple dent on my hand but did not break the skin. I later found out that this dog was taken in off the street, and had once been abused, and feared a hand being extended out at him. If I put the milk bone extended out with my hand at my side he would come over and gently pull it out of my hand.

I don't know what evidence they have to present beyond a reasonable doubt that the dogs were inherently vicious, and that the owners were were guilty of gross negligence to the degree that it became criminal in the circumstances of that case.

As I dog lover, I admit my prejudice.

What do you think about this case?

Alan K


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2001 9:37 pm 
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What are the elements of murder in California?

Obviously the theory of the case cannot be an intentional act - they must be going after a wanton act.

I could see a negligent homicide, perhaps - but it'd be a stretch to me for these facts to fit wanton involuntary manslaughter, let alone wanton murder.

I dunno....

student


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2001 9:55 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 17, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Dartmouth, MA USA
Even more interesting is the fact that the two dog owners are lawyers!

------------------
D. Steven White
swhite@umassd.edu


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2001 11:28 pm 
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Location: Mount Dora, Florida
My views are well known, but I'll post this commentary, which Harvey L. sent to me:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>In vicious dog attacks, cast blame on owners

By Matthew Margolis


ASan Francisco woman died recently after a 123-pound mastiff crossbreed went for her throat in a gruesome attack. Now there are calls to ban such breeds.

Then let's ban all 400-plus breeds of dog, because aggression is not breed-specific. Outlaw the English mastiff, the pit bull, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Rottweiler, and soon it will be the springer spaniel, the Boston terrier and the Old English sheep dog. Eventually, we will legislate some of our best friends into extinction.

Aggressive behavior in dogs is not a dog problem. It is a people problem. Shift your attention and your outrage to irresponsible breeders who create fighters, like the dog that killed Diane Whipple on Jan. 26 in San Francisco. Or to puppy mills that produce genetically inferior dogs. Take a hard look at dog owners you know - perhaps even yourself - who are uneducated about canines and unwilling to learn.

I hear it every day: dog owners who say, "My dog has bitten several members of the family, but it doesn't happen all the time." Once is enough, and it should tell you that something is wrong. Or how about the owner who is embroiled in a lawsuit because of his aggressive dog and now says, "I thought the growling problem would go away." Take it from an expert: Aggressive behavior is not going to go away. You have to nip it in the bud.

What are the signs of aggression? Growling when you take the food dish away. Growling at the letter carrier, or at strangers. (There are 285 million strangers in the United States.) In fact, growling any time is a problem. Any snapping or biting, even if it doesn't break the skin. Barking aggressively is a warning, too.

Dog owners have to assume responsibility and stop avoiding or denying the problem. Temperament testing and obedience training are essential for every dog - the younger the better. They are the only way an owner can understand a dog's personality, learn how to communicate with a dog and gain the necessary control. Aggression problems in puppies - dogs younger than a year old - are easier to modify, and the chances of success are good. Older aggressive dogs require special effort.

Deal with all aggression problems immediately, one-on-one, in a positive manner. No grabbing the dog's collar. No yelling. No hitting. No electric shocks. Classes probably will not solve severe behavioral problems and may put other dogs and people at risk. Sometimes professional help may be needed. And, sadly, some dogs are so vicious that euthanasia may be the only humane and safe alternative. But simply banning breeds is never going to stop the problem of killer dogs.

Why don't the owners of potentially dangerous dogs do something? Usually they think they should be able to handle their own dogs. Or they don't want to admit they are stumped about the problem or that they have raised an aggressive personality. They may not want to spend any money to correct the problem. Most of all, they don't want to hear anything that suggests they might need to get rid of their baby. So the kettle boils.

Maybe it's time to test dog owners to see whether they understand the rules of responsibility. Maybe we should license the owners, not the dogs.

Like everyone, I am outraged about Diane Whipple's death. Hindsight indicates that all the signs were there. Neighbors had earlier called this dog "beast" and "dog of death." Local dog owners timed their walks to avoid this dog. Even its name - Bane - means "deadly harm, ruin, death."

It appears this dog was bred for fighting, but a lot of dogs that have not been bred for such aggression exhibit the same frightening behavior. Too often, it goes unchecked until it is too late.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Matthew Margolis is co-author of "GRRR! The Complete Guide to Understanding and Preventing Aggressive Behavior in Dogs." <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2001 2:42 pm 
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Location: Framingham, MA USA
That was a great post, George.

It was probably what I wanted to say but didn't have the skill to do. Margolis gets right to the heart of dog behavior and responsibility.

Steve you are right. As lawyers they should have been well aware that they were dealing with nitro glycerene (even though I appreciate your dig).

The burden of proof for the degree of manslaughter sought by the state will be difficult to establish.

This morning on television a prosecutor from another state was interviewed. He had successfully prosecuted a murder by means of a dangerous weapon, to wit: a dog case.

Also interviewed was a law school professor.
The professor stated that the prosecutor should be fair and objective in evaluating the evidence.

The prosecutor when asked by Matt Lauer what he thought the DA should do in such cases.

His answer was to seek the highest possible crime to prosecute.

He was at once taken to task by the law school professor who stated that his courses dealt with ethics of attornys and public officials and said that it was the duty of
of the prosecutor to be above public opinion and politics and seek only what would be objectively fair in the circumstances.
He said that all too often DA's over prosecute and that juries are not stupid.
They will see the real intent to punish and get convictions, once the evidence does not come in as alleged. They too often play for politics and grandstand for elections.

I would guess that the case gets plea bargained in the future.

I think student has it correctly stated.

California may have a more stringent law for what constitutes intentional homacide and for the lesser included offenses, but juries can find the facts as they see it and adjust to laws which appear to be too stringent.

Isn't the O.J. case a good example?

I think that the DA is making a big mistake, because even if these defendants have criminal responsibility, which must be proven with solid evidence, I don't believe that the public will be happy with the degree of prosecution found by the grand jury to be chargeable.

Maybe some dog owner's think, "there but for the grace of god go I".


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2001 4:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 08, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 1070
Just read a bit more about the allegations this morning....

The prosecution claims a witness will state that one of the two defendants was home and witnessed the fatal attack, did not nothing to stop it, thereby proving the element of implied malice necessary for the second degree murder case. The witness will say he/she (I'm not sure) saw the defendant's eye looking through the door peephole during the attack.

That witness must have a helluva good eyesight....

student


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