- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A frantic neighbor called police twice as Diane Whipple was fatally mauled by dogs outside her apartment door, a newly released tape of 911 calls revealed.
The 10-minute tape was not used in the trial of dog owners Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, who were convicted last month. The neighbor testified, but the tape, released by police on Tuesday, was deemed inadmissible hearsay.
The recording begins with Esther Birkmaier's first call on Jan. 26, 2001, about seven minutes after two giant Presa Canario dogs, Bane and Hera, began attacking Miss Whipple, a 33-year-old lacrosse coach.
"Yes, I'm just a wreck," said Miss Birkmaier, 75. "Please send police. We have two dogs rampaging out in the hall up on the sixth floor, and I think they have their even their owner cannot control them. They are huge."
"OK, the owner knows that the dogs are in the hallway?" the dispatcher asked.
"I think they're attacking the owner, too, I reckon she's screaming right now, and I don't dare open the door 'cause the dogs are huge.
"Please hurry," she continued. "I hear her screaming and I don't dare open the door. These dogs are ferocious."
The dispatcher then reports not an attack but that the dogs are out of control.
A second 911 call was made by David Kuenzi, a New Yorker who was staying with a friend in the building. He said he heard a woman screaming and a dog barking and that he was going to go see what was happening.
"I wouldn't go up there, because you never know what you might get into," the dispatcher said. The dispatcher promised help was on the way.
Still, police had not arrived. Miss Birkmaier called 911 again.
"I called five minutes ago. We have two ferocious dogs on the loose," she said.
"So you've already called us?"
"We're on our way, ma'am, you just have to be patient. You only called five minutes ago."
Less than a minute later, the first two officers arrived and called for an ambulance and animal control.
Miss Whipple was found bleeding in the hall and died that night.
Sentencing is set for May 10. Knoller, who was with the dogs during the attack, could receive 15 years to life for second-degree murder. Both she and her husband, who was not home during the attack, could get four years in prison on the other charges, including manslaughter and keeping a mischievous dog that killed someone.
The defense said the attack couldn't have been foreseen, but prosecutors said the couple had ignored repeated warnings.

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