Good dogs, bad dogs, and a dog who was framed for murder
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2002:
SAN FRANCISCO– California public agencies in early May 2002
continued a recent trend of favoring good dogs’ right to live in
public housing and emphasizing the culpability of owners for bad dog
behavior–especially owners who could be expected to know better than
to allow it.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Commis-sion
assessed penalties of $18,000 against the Auburn Woods I Home-owners’
Association for allegedly discriminating against former tenants Ed
and Jayne Elebiari by barring their dog Pookie, who was adopted from
a shelter in 1999 and helped them cope with severe depression.
Ed Elebiari was disabled by head injuries suffered in a 1992
automobile accident, and is entitled to keep a companion animal
under federal law, the commission found.
The Elebiaris housed Pookie temporarily with a friend and in
2000 relocated to Hugo, Okahoma. As Pookie had bonded with the
friend, they left him in his new home and adopted a similar dog,
Pookie II, in Hugo.
Veterinary technician Jillian Michelle Figueroa and John
James Rogers III, of Pollock Pines, California, were meanwhile
charged on May 3 with felonious failure to control a pit bull terrier
who severely mauled Brian Keates, 11, on April 20, after Keates
walked to their door to ask Figueroa to look at his own sick dog.
Police said they filed the felony complaint after interviewing more
than 25 witnesses about past incidents involving the pit bull, which
brought “numerous” calls to Amador County Animal Control.
Charging and sentencing in dog attack cases have both become
markedly stiffer since the March 21 second degree murder conviction
of San Francisco attorney and former Presa Canario owner Marjorie
Knoller, 46, for the January 2001 fatal mauling of neighbor Diane
Whipple. Knoller and her husband Robert Noel, 60, also an
attorney, were additionally convicted of manslaughter and keeping a
On April 12 Knoller and Noel won the right to request a new
trial and deferred sentencing, on appeal. Knoller filed a formal
request for retrial on May 22.
In Peru, Indiana, Miami Superior Court Judge Dan Banina on
May 6 sentenced Brad Williamson to serve three years in state prison,
three years of home detention, and four years on probation for
failing to prevent his pit bull terrier from severely mauling his
nine-week-old son Alex in April 2000.
The 10-year cumulative sentence is among the longest yet
given for a nonfatal dog attack.
Ten witnesses testified that Williamson has not consumed
alcohol since the attack, which occurred while he was allegedly
asleep in a drunken stupor.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation on May 21 charged Tim
Dickinson, 39, of St. Peters, Pennsylvania, with reckless conduct
for allowing his girlfriend’s son, 3, to wander close to a chained
Rottweiler at a family gathering in Lincolnton, Georgia. The child
was severely injured when seized by the dog and dragged by the head.
Yvette Dynes, 27, of Sparks, Nevada, was charged on May
22 with five counts of child neglect, 12 days after a pit bull
terrier mauled her five-year-old daughter. The 5-year-old and a
7-year-old were removed from Dynes’ custody. Dynes was also charged
with failing to register with police, as a convicted felon, and on
May 17 was arrested on three old outstanding warrants.
In Canada, Saskatoon Justice of the Peace Susan James on May
10 set aside the fine of $300 recommended by city bylaw enforcement
prosecutor Debbie Patterson, and instead fined dog owner Solomon
Igor $3,000 (Canadian) for allowing his three Rottweilers to escape
from his yard on April 17. The Rottweilers severely mauled a dog
named Georgia, and bit both her person, Tracy Hahn, and Hahn’s
sister, Christine Wilmut, as they tried to save Georgia. Hahn is
reportedly now pursuing a civil suit against Igor, who consented to
having his dogs killed.
Magistrate Margaret Hard-ing of the Dandenong Magistrates
Court in Australia on May 20 fined Sean George Handley $5,600
(Austalian) in costs and penalties for allowing his two award-winning
Rottweiler show dogs to escape from his yard to severely maul
Abdallah Afra, 69, in November 2001. Harding also ordered that the
dogs be killed. Neighbors testified that two planks were missing
from Handley’s fence and a back gate was “always” left open.
Responding to the April 21 fatal mauling of a seven-year-old
boy by a pit bull terrier, Romanian prime minister Adrian Nastase
issued an emergency decree banning pit bulls and several other dog
breeds of dangerous reputation.
The decree meant relatively little, however, as Bucharest
mayor Trian Basescu and the mayors of several other major Romanian
cities have already been pursuing efforts to exterminate all
free-roaming dogs for more than a year. Bucharest killed 60,000 dogs
between April 2001 and April 2002, freelance correspondent and
animal welfare volunteer Chuck Todaro told ANIMAL PEOPLE. The
indiscriminate killing–including of thousands of dogs who were
previously sterilized by animal welfare organizations–has come under
sustained international criticism.
But an alleged killer dog found mercy in Trinity, Alabama.
Bryan Thomas Jones, 25, claimed on February 20 that his
parents’ dog dragged Preston Cooper, 4, from his bed to a concrete
floor and then jumped up and down on him, causing fatal injuries.
Jones was reportedly the boyfriend of Cooper’s mother,
Elizabeth Gurliaccio, 26. Her mother, Donna Gurliacco, had
reported her suspicion that Cooper was the victim of beatings back in
2001, and asserted immediately that the boy had been beaten to death.
Trinity police chief Chris McLemore noted that “There weren’t
any bite marks like a dog would leave” on Cooper’s body.
Patrolman Donny Terry thought it was odd that the dog
“appeared timid, cowered down, with his head bowed.”
The Trinity town council kept the dog at the Osborne Animal
Clinic in Decatur until early May, sent him home after a grand jury
indicted Jones for killing Cooper, and paid the $879 boarding fee.