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Second dog in mauling case ordered destroyed

The Associated Press
Friday February 23, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — The second dog involved in the fatal attack on a popular college lacrosse coach was declared “vicious and dangerous” Thursday and was ordered to be destroyed. 

That decree came from Sgt. William Herndon of the San Francisco Police Department after he heard testimony Feb. 13 from several people who claimed the mastiff-Canary Island mix named Hera and another dog attacked them or their smaller pets. 

“I believe that this dog is a dangerous animal, and that it poses a significant threat and an unreasonable danger to the employees of the Department of Animal Care and Control. I order that the dog be destroyed immediately,” Sgt. Herndon said. 

But Hera’s fate is far from sealed, despite the order to put her down. Last week, District Attorney Terence Hallinan ordered Hera be kept alive, saying she might serve as evidence should charges be brought against the dogs’ owners, Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller. 

San Francisco Animal Care and Control director Carl Friedman said his office would comply with the order to keep Hera alive until Hallinan’s office had completed its investigation. 

The couple lived with their two dogs Hera and Bane in the upscale apartment building where Diane Whipple was attacked by the animals Jan. 26. 

Bane was put down immediately after the attack. 

The couple has repeatedly denied any knowledge of dangerous training the dogs may have undergone when they were raised in rural Hayfork and said the attack on Whipple was uncharacteristic of the animal’s past behavior. 

But officials at Pelican Bay State Prison say Bane and Hera were part of a ring of dogs raised to fight each other and guard illegal drug operations, a canine training coordinated from behind bars by two inmates. 

Sgt. Herndon said he did not believe the testimony of Marjorie Knoller, who tearfully recalled the attack and her efforts to prevent Whipple’s death. 

“I do not believe that Ms. Knoller testified completely and truthfully during the hearing,” Herndon wrote in his ruling about Hera. 

He said Ms. Knoller’s account of the attack on Whipple, that she covered the victim with her own body but was aware of each dog’s whereabouts at all times, did not describe a complete picture of the event. 

Herndon also said the couple would create a significant risk to public safety if they were to own other dogs and ordered them to refrain from doing so for three years. 

Noel and Knoller did not immediately return calls from The AP seeking comment. The couple has the right to appeal Herndon’s decision to superior court.