SAN FRANCISCO – Property manager Mark Schultz doesn’t want a rerun of San Francisco’s dog mauling tragedy, so he’s boosting liability insurance by $1 million at an apartment complex he manages.
Schultz had hoped dog owners in his 22-unit Point Richmond building would find another place to live after Diane Whipple was mauled to death in her apartment hallway last year, but he learned canines are a contentious subject between landlords and tenants.
“These are land sharks,” Schultz said. “These are not regular dogs.”
Schultz talked to his tenants after the highly publicized dog-mauling trial in Los Angeles that led to the March 21 second-degree murder conviction of Marjorie Knoller. Her husband, Robert Noel, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after two Presa Canarios they were caring for killed Whipple Jan. 26, 2001.
In addition to Noel and Knoller, Whipple’s mother and domestic partner have filed wrongful death lawsuits against Whipple’s former landlord Rudolph G. Koppl, along with Marina Green Properties, Inc.
Although Schultz’s Cooper Apartments has a no pets policy, Schultz doesn’t want to send tenants out on the street for breaking the rules.
“Nearly everyone inevitably gets a pet when they move in,” Schultz said. “I’d say everyone has a cat, a lizard or something. Three have dogs.”
So his answer was to buy more general liability insurance and hope nobody gets bitten. That could mean higher rents up to $65 for tenants.
Schultz may be unique in his quest to safeguard against dog mauling mishaps.
“No property owners we work with have found a need to do that at this time,” said Ruth Hayles, a manager with International Realty and Investments, which manages 1,000 units in Los Angeles.
Most insurance policies provide between $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage for dog bite claims, with property owners paying anything above that, according to the Insurance Information Network of California.
The network said 70 percent of insurance companies would not renew a policy after one dog bite.