…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

gone to the dogs

The lesbian-killing dogs have come for us.

Just when we thought our neighborhood couldn’t get much seedier—what with our being regulars on the city’s graffiti-cleanup service—backyard dog breeders have moved in next door. We’re one cockfighting den, crystal meth lab, and hand basket away from the breaking loose of all hell.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We moved into a neighborhood which, while not glamorous, was characterized by optimistic Realtors as “improving.” Sure, our no-nonsense lesbian real estate agent warned us that a house abutting an apartment building and lacking a sidewalk invited a vague sort of trouble, not to mention lower-than-average property values for the Zip code. But it was precisely that crippled property value that brought the house within our financial reach, and given that we were then ourselves apartment dwellers we were willing to give the unpropertied the benefit of the doubt regarding their ability to live side-by-side with sophisticates like us.

Trouble of a less vague sort has arrived not in the form of apartment tenants but homeowners, or at the very least home dwellers, the kind who bark, bark, bark the night away, and presumably the day as well since their ire is particularly roused by our animal companion, Biscuit, who spends her days in the backyard, whimpering. This is Biscuit in happier times:

The next-door dogs moved in two weeks ago, into the backyard of a house that had been vacant since Mrs. Friend died six months ago. (We were charmed by the idea of a next-door neighbor named Mrs. Friend until we found her to be sour, demanding, and ungrateful; when we rebuilt the falling-down fence separating our two properties—a project for which we could have asked her to share the $1,200 expense but didn’t—her only comment was, “It’s about time.”) When we saw a U-Haul truck in her driveway two weekends ago we hoped for the best; the chances of our new neighbors being more personable than Mrs. Friend were at least 85%. I thought maybe I should take some cookies over and introduce myself, get things off on the right foot, but the thought, as so many others, failed to result in action. Now it’s two weeks after the U-Haul sighting and we still haven’t seen our new neighbors—none of the hominid variety anyway.

Our spectral neighbors’ first act of aggression was the clearing, via hired help, of Mrs. Friend’s bougainvillea, which had formerly climbed her back wall to a height of well over 10 feet. The impressive spray of purple flowers once camouflaged the concertina razor wire that rims the property line of the apartment building behind us: Whether it’s there to keep the tenants in or others out, the aesthetic smacks of prison yard. The yard crew also tore out a couple of small fruit trees.

But any palpable absence was forgotten once chain-link became visible over our fence line, and it didn’t take long to intuit that our new anti-foliage neighbors had built a kennel of some scope: Any pack of confined, agitated dogs can tell you that, and if we had been, by some miracle, able to ignore them, Biscuit would surely have alerted us.

The chain-link is an eyesore, and the incessant barking is a nuisance, but we would soon discover something far more insidious about the next-door dogs. When my partner peered over the fence to see just how many dogs had moved in, she saw three adults, one of whom is pregnant, and they aren’t just any dogs: They're Presa Canarios. This is what one looks like:

You may remember this once obscure breed from a 2001 wrongful death case. In January of that year two Presa Canarios had lunged at Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old athlete, trapping her in the doorway of the San Francisco apartment she shared with her girlfriend, and the larger of the two dogs, a 123-pound unneutered male named “Bane,” mauled her to death as a caretaker for the dogs, neighbor Majorie Knoller, reportedly stood by.

Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel, both of whom were then defense lawyers, were keeping the dogs on behalf of two Aryan Brotherhood prison inmates, Paul “Cornfed” Schneider and Dale Bretches, who, despite the inconvenience of serving life sentences without parole, were running a backyard breeding business, reportedly intending to supply the Mexican Mafia with fighters and guard dogs for meth labs and such. Bane was one of eight breeding Presa Canarios owned by the inmates, who farmed the care of the dogs out to various intermediaries. Knoller and Noel had taken in Bane and Hera—the second dog involved in the attack on Whipple—when another woman who had been caring for them complained that Bane was vicious and should be destroyed.

After the attack, Knoller and Noel might have had misgivings about ever getting involved in this mess, musing, How did two nice Jewish lawyers like ourselves get involved with an Aryan Brotherhood attack-dog racket that resulted in the death of a neighbor? As my therapist is fond of saying, “Those red flags you see aren’t there to cheer you to the finish line.” But where we see red flags, the Knoller-Noels saw an opportunity to bond: Three days after Whipple’s death, the couple adopted inmate–dog breeder Cornfed Schneider. He was 38.

Did I mention the bestiality? Cornfed reportedly circulated pics in prison of “Mom” in compromising positions with Bane, while “Dad” was said to have orally copulated with the dog. Unfortunately, any such evidence was barred from trial as irrelevant. The prosecution had to make do with their 30 witnesses who testified to having had terrifying encounters with Bane and Hera; in fact, had the victim been anyone but Whipple, she might have testified as well: Bane had bitten her before.

Despite the obvious charisma of the defendants, after 11 hours of deliberation the jury stoically delivered a guilty verdict. Noel, who wasn’t present during the attack, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Knoller was convicted of second-degree murder (this being only the third time in U.S. history a jury had handed down a murder conviction in a dog-mauling case), but the murder conviction was later thrown out and she served half of a four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. Both are now out on parole, perhaps living next door to us! Bane and Hera were destroyed in the wake of the attack, but their snarling progeny live on, no doubt seeking to avenge their wronged parents. Perhaps they’ve found their mark.

I’m not saying Presa Canario appetites are limited to lesbians, though the Knoller-Noels went for a Hail Mary and blamed the victim, saying the dogs may have been provoked by hormones or pheromones peculiar to Whipple. They might as well have claimed Whipple conjured the dogs’ ire through Voodoo. And the next-door dogs probably aren't kin to Bane and Hera after all. The popularity of the breed soared following the publicity surrounding the court case. Who wouldn’t want, as one breeder put it, “a pit bull on steroids”?

Well, I don’t. Nor do I want a pack of them living next door, which is to say nothing of Biscuit’s preferences. You see, Biscuit, while a very brave dog in the house, is a total sub bottom in the presence of other dogs. So while she knows in her heart that it’s her dog job to assert ownership over the backyard, and before the invasion of the next-door dogs she was as fierce as could be about enforcing her authority—by barking her little spaniel head off—whenever strangers loomed near, she now cowers and whimpers and tucks her tail whenever the other dogs bark, which is whenever she’s in the yard. As a result she’s become too anxious to do just about anything in her backyard: play ball, chase squirrels, eat, pee, etc. Again, here's Biscuit:

And here's a Presa:

So, to recap, Biscuit no longer has any fun in her backyard, and she’s courting kidney damage. And we would prefer not to be mauled.

So I’m dedicating myself to finding ways to get the dogs gone: noise ordinances, a maximum-dog-limit violation, owner negligence, anything. Maybe a nice, nice animal control officer, once summoned, can find illegal fight training implements or evidence of other mischief, like cockfighting, or a meth lab, or some of that legendary Presa-human canoodling. I officially don’t care. And if none of that works, perhaps puppies might enjoy an amuse-bouche of Snausage with shaved white truffle and antifreeze zest?*

*I would never harm an animal, ever, no matter how mean and snarly it is. This line is for comedic purposes only.


Blogger WenWhit said...

Wow, those are truly massive dogs. I occasionally get annoyed at the random barking of various dogs in our neighborhood, but I can't say any of them scare me. I do not envy you your situation. Poor, poor Biscuit. Poor, poor lesbian homeowners. Good luck.

As an aside, I enjoy your writing style. :)

6:47 PM  
Blogger treecup said...

If I were to judge by your partner's last post I'd say you already have the meth lab.

8:02 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Poor Biscuit.

Hey! Send her out to live with us! Our Pixie could use an extra set of legs to help keep the squirrels in the trees.

(Oh. And having been the neighbor of a little teeny-tiny nuisance barker and finding it intolerable, I can't imagine how stressful it would be to have a menacing herd of meanies on the other side of a mere chainlink fence. My heart goes out to you...)


8:12 PM  
Anonymous jkt said...

i am so sorry that this is what came to replace mrs. friend. damn the odds! i really do think you should call animal control and let them find a reason to take the dogs (and the owners) away. i'm sure there is one. i know this is a serious (and crappy) situation you find yourself in, but i have to tell you that i laughed and laughed at the sheer DISPARITY between sweet biscuit and the presa. like i'd have to think about which one i'd choose to pet...

8:33 PM  
Anonymous hopskipjump said...

I watched nearly this whole case on Court TV. A more pathological pair you could not dream up. What a horrifying case. But, how you had me laughing about it - you are a talent!

These poor dogs really have no place in society, unfortunately for them. It's like walking around with tigers.

I wonder if there is some regulation about the number of animals allowed in a given space? The barking might be in violation of a noise ordinance. I think sometimes it's required that the dogs be inside at night. If the dogs have a "dangerous" designation (usually requires that the dog has menaced somebody a couple times) the owners have to comply with even strickter regulations (more than the usual tags, collars, shelter from rain, shade, food and water, and a really good fence.)

These dogs are bred for fighting, are aggressive, and intolerant of strangers and pets. I feel bad for them as animals, but they are so disrespected by owners who use them abusively.

I hope the situation resolves itself somehow. There's nothing more distasteful than having to fight with your neighbors.

Hey, you could call the Dog Whisperer?

I'm in love with Biscuit!!!

9:54 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

I have no idea how to make meth. None. But those superkleenex, boy, they're dangerous. As for the lesbian killing dogs, we're in trouble.

8:48 AM  
Blogger bryduck said...

3 thoughts: 1) Your description of Mrs. Friend was hye-larious. Clearly, her nephews "Mr. Gregarious" and "Mr. I'm Not Training Death Dealing Dogs. Really. They're Just Misunderstood Sweethearts Who Love To Run On Treadmills In The Middle Of The Day" are your new neighbors.
2) Biscuit is a "total sub bottom"? OMG I'm ROTFLMAO!
3) I am not above harming harmful animals. (Maybe that makes me an asshole, sure. I just happen to value human life--well, most of it, at any rate--higher than animal life in many cases.) If I hear one story of anti-Biscuit or anti-human cruelty, or of even one instance of neighborly amoral dickheadedness, those dogs are fucking dead.

9:03 AM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

I saw a bumper sticker this weekend that reminded me of your Presa story:

"Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my pit bull"

Must it always be Republicans that own that the people-eating dogs? ;p

11:14 AM  
Blogger scout said...

Without question.

5:11 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

That was a pretty dumbass question, now wasn't it? :)

Glad ya'll are back.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only Marjoree should of been made to take responsibilty for the actions of Bane and Hera. Her husband Robert was no where near the apts. As far as Mr. Schneider goes how could he possible be to blame for the attack?

5:11 PM  

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