Euthanasia Sought for Dog in Fatal S.F. Mauling


Any time a stranger visits, it takes days to calm down Hera, the vicious dog involved in January's fatal mauling of 33-year-old Diane Whipple.

The animal cannot leave her kennel. No one is allowed to enter.

Keeping the dog alive because she may be needed as evidence in the criminal case against Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller amounts to cruelty, according to a motion filed on behalf of animal control officials who want Hera euthanized.

"The circumstances under which Hera is required to be held would be unfortunate for any dog," said a motion filed Monday by the city attorney's office in San Francisco Superior Court. "For a dog with a destruction order like Hera, who has no significant chance of ever being released, Animal Care and Control should be permitted to destroy the dog as soon as possible."

Assistant Dist. Atty. James Hammer said Tuesday that his office would not oppose Hera's death. All necessary tests on the dog have been completed and videotaped, he said.

Toys and grass are often put inside the 4-by-10-foot cell to stimulate the dog's senses.

"Sometimes somebody sits in front of her cage just talking to her. The companionship--dogs need it," said Carl Friedman, director of city Animal Care and Control.

Even though a city hearing officer declared the dog vicious and ordered her destroyed, Hera has been kept as evidence since Whipple's death on Jan. 26. The fatal attack was led by Bane, a male Presa Canario, euthanized immediately after the mauling.

Noel and Knoller have said Hera was not directly involved in the attack. Both remain in jail awaiting trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a human being. Knoller also faces second-degree murder charges because she was in the apartment hallway with the dogs when they attacked Whipple.

"We've built our reputation on care and compassion, but the bottom line is public protection, and this animal cannot be put back into the community," Friedman said. "Why prolong the inevitable?"

Superior Court Judge James Warren will take up the issue Friday.

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