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CNN Today

Hearing Will Determine Fate of Dog Involved in Mauling

Aired February 13, 2001 - 4:20 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Later this afternoon, a hearing will take up the fate of one of those dogs that mauled a San Francisco woman to death. The victim was 33-year-old Diane Whipple, a college lacrosse coach. She was attacked in the hallway right outside her apartment by a neighbor's dogs.

CNN's Rusty Dornin joins us now from in front of San Francisco's City Hall and that hearing today -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, San Francisco is one of the very few cities in the world probably that has something called a dangerous vicious dog hearing. That's when a dog has been accused of some kind of violence gets its day in court.

In this case, it's Hera, one of two dogs accused of fatally attacking Diane Whipple in her hallway last month. Bane, the other dog, was euthanized immediately following the attack. But Hera apparently was -- police say, might have only tugged at the woman's clothing.

Now, in this hearing today, the animal control officers will act as sort of prosecutors. The judge will be a San Francisco police officer, who has been holding these hearings for about the past eight years.

Now, to put up a defense, the two lawyers who have been taking care of the dogs will present defenses in Hera's behalf to say that she has not been a violent dog and that this was just one instance, and that she was not an aggressor in the attack.

Now, expected to be at this hearing are several witnesses who will say that's not true, that both of the dogs were involved in several other attacks on neighbors and also on Whipple herself. Whipple's roommate had said that one of the dogs had bitten her in the arm on an earlier occasion.

Now, the hearings are usually held on Thursday. This is a special hearing that's being held today. It will be getting under way in about a half hour.

Now, there's not expected to be any decision about the dog's fate today. However, it should be over -- some time over the next two weeks, and what the judge can decide is whether he will give the dog back to the owners with no restrictions or will he give the dog back and require them to muzzle the dog and also go to obedience classes.

Now, we spoke with the judge last week on another issue, and he said that he was very -- always concerned with the behavior of the owners sometimes more than even the dog.

And of course, the final option that the judge has is to euthanize the dog.

So we won't be hearing about that today, but it will be over the next few days -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Rusty Dornin from San Francisco for us today.

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