On her 18 January 2002 show, Oprah Winfrey described the criminal case itself as: "....a gruesome story that shocked us all, the grisly dog-mauling death of a San Francisco woman...."
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On 26 January 2001, Diane Whipple was mauled to death by two huge dogs. The case fractured into other agendas. Instead of remorse or sympathy by the dog owners, there was arrogance, confrontation, even accusations. Instead of the simple idea of recompense to the life-partner of the victim, there was monolithic silence in civil law which ignored same-sex relationships. For innumerable talk shows, the case posed issues of public safety and the responsibilities of animal lovers. Media from around the world brought the issue of the rights of same-sex partners into national US prominence. By exploring the personalities and motivations of the participants in this drama, Harrington shows how widely the fractures from this case have spread. Such issues as animal rights; human responsibility for pets; the purpose of adoption; and the rights of same-sex partners, will never be quite the same again. California Law itself has changed in myriad ways as a result of this case.
The investigation of this horrific case-from-hell was led by the senior police officer, Lieutenant Henry Hunter. This book is a tribute to his leadership and the careful prosecution by the District Attorney's Office, which was able to secure an unprecendented jury conviction for second-degree murder for one of the dogs' two owners. This book is about those men and women of law and order who sought to ensure that that justice would ultimately prevail in the monstrous and preventable death of a wonderful and irreplacable human being.