Archive for Landlord/Tenant

LANDLORDS: BEWARE OF THE DOG IN YOUR APARTMENT BUILDING!


Even though cats are now the most popular pet in America, dog’s are still man’s best friend. Not to mention, one of its most reliable and hard-working best friends. Millions of Americans rely on man’s best friend for a variety of services every day.

Guide Dogs help the blind make trips to the grocery store, bank or anyplace else that they need to go thereby giving them the independence and confidence to go out into the world.

Therapy Dogs visit people who are incapacitated or restricted from freedom of movement. These dogs provide entertainment and help to cheer up individuals such as the elderly in nursing homes or sick children in hospitals.

Police Dogs help to track and immobilize possible criminals while assisting officers in making arrests and investigating crime scenes.

Search Dogs locate individuals who are missing, lost in the woods or buried under debris from a collapsed building.

Herding Dogs help shepherds and cattle ranchers manage and guard flocks of other animals like cattle or sheep.

Rescue Dogs assist people in dangerous situations like helping to save an individual from drowning when their boat capsizes. (On January 26, 2001, Diane Whipple sure could have used the help of one of these canines.)

The following true story should not only be a precautionary warning to all property owners and managers, it should also be required reading.

On January 26, 2001, Diane Whipple was thinking about making tacos for dinner. She stopped for a few groceries and drove home to begin making the tacos. Diane would never get the chance to make those tacos because she was savagely mauled to death in the hallway of her upscale Pacific Heights apartment building in San Francisco by two 120 pound Presa Canario Dogs. The two dogs who killed Whipple were owned by her married neighbors, Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel. Both were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in her death.

The number one priority for all property owners and managers of apartment buildings should be to provide a safe living environment for their tenants inside of the apartment building. They also need to have in place sufficient safety precautions for the property that they own that surrounds the apartment building on the outside of the building as well. Landlords should take whatever measures that are humanly possible to ensure their tenant’s safety regardless of cost or inconvenience.

There are some things in life that can’t be avoided but in Diane Whipple’s case, I strongly disagree. With certain safety precautions combined with good ol’ fashioned common sense, I feel that Miss Whipple would be alive today.

I have talked to alot of people about this heartbreaking and controversial case. They all agree with me. Diane Whipple’s death could have been avoided! I was personally glad when Edythe Pamela Whipple-Kelly, Diane’s mother and Sharon Smith, Whipple’s life-partner for seven years filed wrongful death lawsuits against two parties. Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, owners of the dogs. Rudolph & Annette Koppl, owners of the apartment building and Marina Green Properties Inc., property management firm for the 40 unit apartment building. Both of the lawsuits were eventually settled and the terms kept secret, i.e. both parties paid a boatload of money and want to put this public relations nightmare behind them.

I strongly feel that Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel were mostly responsible for Diane’s death due to the fact that they knew that both of the dogs were aggressive towards other people, they failed to take sufficient safety precautions with such large and dangerous animals and that both of the dogs actually attacked and terrorized other tenants in the apartment building.

However, I do feel that the owners and property management firm are to blame as well.

Allowing a tenant with a dog who weighs 120 pounds into a residential apartment building is not the smartest move, no matter how gentle the dog is. But to allow a tenant to have two 120 pound dogs is absolutely ridiculous and potentially dangerous because of their large size.

The property owner and management firm should have also required that two people be present when taking two 120 pound dogs in and out of the apartment building.

Marjorie Knoller was walking Bane and Hera, the two 120 pound dogs that killed Diane Whipple, alone on that tragic day.

If a landlord allows a tenant to have two 120 pound dogs in an apartment building then they need to follow-up with the owners of the dogs and the other tenants living in the apartment building to make sure everyone is comfortable with this situation. Neither the owner or property management firm did this.

One of the biggest bombshells to come out of the Whipple trial is that alot of the tenants who lived in the apartment building that were attacked by the Presa Canario dogs didn’t file a complaint with management against the dogs or their owners. In the property owner’s and manager’s defense, if management doesn’t know how serious a problem is, they can’t do anything about the problem.

To prevent another tragedy like Diane Whipple from happening again, property owners and managers, please read my suggestions on dog safety:

-The most effective way to protect the tenants in your apartment building from

vicious dogs is simple. Don’t allow ANY dogs in the building.

-If you do decide to allow dogs in your apartment building, restrict the weight of the

dog to 30 pounds or less.

-Restrict each tenant to one dog.

-If you let a tenant have more than one dog, require two or more people to be

present when taking the dogs in and out of the apartment building.

-Require dogs to be on leashes at all times in the apartment building.

-For apartment buildings with alot of children and handicapped people, require

dogs to have muzzles or choke collars on at all times in the apartment building.

-Require all dogs to be with its owner or another designated person at all times

while in the apartment building.

-Property managers, when doing a background check on a potential tenant, be sure

to search for complaints and lawsuits brought against their dogs.

-Property owners, if a dog attacks another tenant in the building, depending on

the circumstances, quickly decide whether the dog can stay or if it should be

evicted.

-If a dog attacks a tenant or other tenants more than once, evict the dog from

your building.

-Require all dog owners in the building to have insurance that covers dog bite

and other canine-inflicted injuries.

-Property owners, make sure that you have insurance that covers dog bite and

other canine-inflicted injuries. Also make sure that you have personal liability

coverage, landlord liability coverage, landlord negligence coverage and property

damage coverage.

-Property owners and managers, penalize dog owners who break the rules.

-Keep brochures and pamphlets about pet safety in the rental office or in common

areas of the apartment building.

-Put signs in the hallway on the rules for pets in the apartment building.

-Encourage tenants to file a complaint with management or animal control

authorities about a vicious dog in the building.

-Keep extra leashes and pet safety gear in rental office in case of an emergency.

-Property owners, provide tenants who are thinking about getting a dog with a list

of pet stores so that they can find out info about which breed of dog is suitable for

apartment living.

-Encourage tenants to carry a small pack of doggie treats with them just in case they

run into a vicious dog in the building. By giving the dog the treats, he or she may

focus their attention on eating the treats thereby giving them a chance to escape.

-In some instances, a dog whistle can be used against a vicious dog to inflict pain

to the ears, giving a person a chance to escape.

-As a last resort, tell your tenants to also carry a canister of pepper spray, mace

or even hairspray to spray into a vicious dog’s eyes, which would also give them

a chance to escape.

-Property owners and managers, as a last resort, keep a stun gun or tranquilizer

gun in the rental office in case of an emergency.

-Property owners, tell your tenants not to run up to dogs, approach them when

they are eating or sleeping, speak loudly around them, have them watch for

aggressive body signs like ears laid back along the head or tail not wagging.

-Property owners, provide tenants with a regular fence or invisible fence so that they

can leave their dogs there while they take the groceries or children into the

apartment building.

-Property owners, if a tenant notices a change in a dog for the worse, encourage

the tenant to let management know about it so that they can tell the dog’s owner

to take the dog to a veterinarian or dog psychiatrist.

-Property owners and managers, if one of your tenant’s is attacked by a vicious

dog in the building, encourage your tenant’s to get help asap or for the tenant to

try to help the victim as much as they can without putting themselves at risk.

Landlords, let’s face it, when a tenant gets killed on your property, it’s bad for business. Paying out million dollar settlements because a tenant got killed on

your property is also bad for business. Don’t let this happen to you! Take the

proper safety precautions if you do decide to allow dogs into your apartment

building and also use a little common sense so that a tragedy like Diane Whipple will never happen to one of your tenants in your apartment building.

A SPECIAL NOTE: Bane and Hera, the two dogs that killed Diane Whipple, don’t represent all dogs. The majority of dogs in America are “good” dogs. I believe Bane and Hera were once “good” dogs but were made into “bad” dogs by bad people. Millions of Americans rely on “good” dogs like guide dogs and police dogs for a variety of services everyday. Dogs have become so essential to the American culture that it would be hard to function without them. And I personally wouldn’t want to function without them. And I know that a million other Americans would agree with me. Even

though cats have become the most popular pet in America, dogs will always be man’s best friend!

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