Monday, April 22, 2013


It should never happen to any dog. This evidently happened somewhere in the UK. But similar things have happened in many places.

"Three year old crossbred dog ‘Tyler’ was forcibly removed from his home at 7.30 am on December 20th 1991 amidst scenes of great distress. When owner Debbie answered her door, dressed in her nightgown, there were at least 5 arresting officers, two wearing protective clothing and carrying catchpoles.

Tyler was dragged from the bed where he had been sleeping upstairs with a 6 year old child, his neck bleeding as the catch poles tightened in the struggle. When his owner began to obstruct the arrest of her dog she was restrained, forcibly led away down the street in her nightgown and arrested, her dog was driven away in the back of a van.

 A canine helpline volunteer described the later "upsetting" home visit, “I remember staring at the large bloody clumps of her hair on the mantelpiece, pulled out in the struggle on the morning her dog was seized.”

 Like all dogs seized under section one of the Act, Tyler was held in kennels at a secret location. Owner contact was denied. His treatment during his confinement was later described in court as "terrible". Tyler had never harmed anyone or anything, he had done no wrong. Behavioural assessment videos were shown to the court in which Tyler remained calm and docile in the face of other dogs, aggressive dogs, sheep, imitation cats and confrontational strangers. At no time did Tyler react or show signs of being "dangerous".

Detailed and exhaustive evidence of Tyler's stable good nature was given by behavioural expert Dr. Roger Mugford and Staffordshire Bull Terrier experts Mike Homan and Vic Pounds. During the lengthy hearing it was revealed that Tyler had sustained several injuries whilst in police care. Untreated lacerations from the catchpole used to remove him from his family home, two holes inside his mouth, a deep puncture wound to his shoulder, flesh missing from a hind leg with other small flesh wounds, pressure sores.

Tyler was described as visibly malnourished and bloated, tender around his abdomen. Mr. Pounds, in his evidence to court, stated that Tyler had wounds on his right shoulder which had been treated and on his left pasterns there was a round and fairly deep wound about one inch in diameter which he thought had been inflicted fairly recently, the wounds looked sore and was still open. He said: “I have never seen a dog in worse condition”. In his opinion Tyler had been "brutalised" and was in no fit condition to be thoroughly examined.

 Despite all the evidence, the Judges found his owner guilty of owning an unregistered ‘pit bull type’ and ordered Tyler to be put to death in seven days. Owner Debbie, overcome by the outcome, began to cry and beg the court to spare her dog, as the Judge left the room.

 Supporters present at the hearing described the atmosphere; “many people in the room were devastated when the judge said Tyler had to die – men and women alike had tears in their eyes, even some of the observers not connected with the case. To hear a woman begging and pleading for her dogs life, completely broken with grief, calling out to anyone who could hear, is the most distressing thing I have witnessed in this situation” said one observer. Debbie went home that day to her young son who was waiting with Tyler’s Christmas present, still wrapped up, certain of his friend's return. 

Tyler was destroyed on 9th March 1993 after 14 months of solitary confinement. Shortly after Tyler body was returned in a 'cold and dripping' black plastic rubbish bag."

BSL is wrong, without a doubt. But based on what I know, the tragedy here cannot be blamed solely on BSL, or anti-pit bull legislation. Those laws always contain clauses allowing people to continue keeping their dogs, although they must typically muzzle them.* No, this tragedy involves a lot more than that. A lot more. 

* Here's the joke about that: wearing a muzzle actually made other dogs attack Brindi. Sometimes two dogs, always off-leash, while she was leashed and obedient! Muzzles can confuse and frighten dogs because they can't read the other dog's signals, says our trainer, and this can provoke them into attacking. I had to carry a loud whistle and be prepared to block them from getting at her. She never once went for them.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Justice Denied: Farewell to Rehtaeh Parsons, Farewell to Jeff de la Rosa

Today is "Ruination Day", the 14th of April, the day Abraham Lincoln was shot 148 years ago. An incomprehensible act, like the ones I mourn today.

Today, like every day since last Sunday, I am so saddened by the death of Rehtaeh Parsons: saddened, angered, shocked, aggrieved. One look at 17 year-old Rehtaeh’s open-hearted, beautiful face, captured in the many images so generously and lovingly shared by her family, is all it takes to know what a sensitive young woman she was, what a big heart she had. The stories of her compassion and love for all living things are hardly necessary additions. But those stories abound.

By now, I am just one of millions who feel pain and sorrow at Rehtaeh’s death, sharing a fraction of what her family is going through, so my feelings are nothing special. And in this age of information, or should I say, disinformation, it’s nothing particularly special to say that I too know what it is like to be bullied and harassed. Perhaps not for the same reasons, to be sure, but certainly for a prolonged period of time, as she was, and based on misconceptions and lies, as she was. In fact, I've known it for more than four years, and it’s still going strong.

Please don’t get me wrong: I am not saying the triggering experience was similar at all, nor the aftermath of the photo circulated. High school is hard enough and few ever want to relive it. But I do know a little of what it’s like to have your identity trashed over and over until you don’t know who you are anymore, you've become unrecognizable to yourself, you've internalized the abuse so much. I know something of the humiliation that comes with it, compounded by more humiliation following disbelief and disappointment at the response of the authorities. "It's just 'He said - she said'" must have felt like a slap in the face and I can't think how anybody trained in public relations would make the mistake of repeating it for the media nearly two years later.

I have been spared that horror without a doubt. It was certainly traumatic enough to be a newcomer  in the area, have a contractor cheat me and go bankrupt, leaving my house up in the air, and then have my beloved dog seized for such minor things, go through agonizing months to win a case and have her still held and not released until an unthinkable two years later - and then seized yet again, held for another three years now, I think - all for incidents that don’t compare to dozens of others where dogs were never seized or even muzzled, not infrequently, the owners were not even charged with an offence. Held in a cage, despite pleas from hundreds and maybe thousands, and among them, vets and trainers – none of whom appear to support what this municipality has done, is doing, still very much wants to do, that is, kill Brindi.

Rehtaeh was a girl who lived not far from me, a girl I never met, but who met someone I love very dearly. I am doubly saddened and angered because I  know that Rehtaeh, who, like her mother Leah, loved animals, and because I have good reason to believe that she loved Brindi as well. It’s an easy guess, frankly, since many of the SPCA volunteers fell in love with her. Everybody who meets Brindi does, really (even the tough trainer who assured me she never gets emotional towards dogs she is training) - with the exception of the former bosses of Rehtaeh’s mom Leah at Animal Services, where she used to work as an animal control officer. 

That’s how I know that Rehtaeh met Brindi, a few times, apparently, because Leah once told our good friend Bob Riley how she and her children saw Brindi several times when she was locked up for two years at the SPCA shelter (the one that was limited to 30-day stays). Leah confirmed this to me last fall, before she left her job. So I suppose I can say this, now that I'm told she no longer works there. Also, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I am pretty sure Rehtaeh had a heart for Brindi, or that she, like so many others, would have loved to see her live free; that maybe she knew how wrong it was to seize her to be killed and then lock her up for years on a pretext and a fictional law. No, I am not going out on a limb here, I don’t think. And knowing that makes me no less sorry that I was not able to stop HRM all this time, and though I managed to stop them from killing her so far, I would apologize to Rehtaeh if I could, though I have a feeling, I hope anyway, that she’d understand what I’ve been up against, given that she had to have some knowledge of things behind the scenes. And Rehtaeh had a heart for all animals, even earthworms and rats, according to her family.

And as if that most pure kind of unconditional love wasn’t enough, her parents say that she left a gift of her heart and other organs so that human lives could be saved – a total of four people, evidently. A person with that kind of compassion would have to feel for Brindi. And to know that such a person was handed official excuses for inaction, on top of what happened to her at a stranger’s house, then relentlessly bullied and harassed – that such an aware, sensitive young person was treated like a liar and made to feel worthless, maybe even like a criminal herself, to the point that the pain canceled out the love from family and friends, the point that she chose death over more pain – that’s just too much to bear. Really too much. 

And the great barge sank and the okies fled
And the great emancipator took a bullet in the head
In the head
Took a bullet in the back of the head

It was not December and it was not in May
Was the 14th of April, that is ruination day
That's the day
The day that is ruination day

They were one, they were two, they were three, they were four
They were five hundred miles from their home
From their home
They were five hundred miles from their home.

When the iceberg hit, well they must have known
God moves on the water Casey Jones
Casey Jones
God moves on the water Casey Jones

It was not December and it was not in May
Was the 14th of April, that is ruination day
That's the day
The day that is ruination day

If you think I’m exaggerating or a bit out of line when I say that I know something of the pain, if you don’t think fighting for your dog’s life could attract stalkers and bullies and compare in any way to the horrors of that poor young girl enough to drive a person to want to die, go ask Jeff de la Rosa’s family. Jeff was an intelligent, well-educated man about my age, who had a good career in the film industry. He killed himself on January 31, heartbroken after years of struggle and sacrifice to save a dog he loved, years of hell that left no part of his life undamaged. I met Jeff at a distance, on the phone and online, but we shared a special closeness, because he was one of the only people on the planet who could relate to what I was going through, and warned me about what I didn’t even know I was about to go through - not just the loss of friends and family bonds, the loss of income, of security, but betrayals and swindles by the very people entrusted to rescue my best friend. I now know his hell all too well, I am sad to say. The bullying and cyberstalking (and real stalking) are just a part of it, but a very toxic part indeed.  Jeff tried very hard to help me and I owe him a great debt that I am devasted to realize I can never repay.

Jeff’s dog Stu was seized in 2004. He had been bitten and wounded by Jeff's other dog Maeve, then Stu, frightened and cornered (rather stupidly, it has to be said) by a caregiver, bit her in the arm. Dubious motives led to both dogs being seized. Thanks to Jeff's efforts, Maeve was returned quickly, and soon Stu was cleared of the “dangerous dog” label in a hearing, and slated to be released. But somehow certain L.A. officials just didn’t like the idea of letting him go. Despite all Jeff’s hard work, victories at hearings and in court over several years, poor Stu passed away in 2011 – in captivity. His teeth were ruined after the first year, a fate Jeff warned me about back in 2008. (I was incredulous, and then just a few months later agonized to learn it was happening to my own dog despite my own efforts, chronicled in this blog along with the damage and the feeble efforts to "rinse" daily...).

By any measure, Jeff’s ordeal was unbelievable and unforgivable. It never seemed to end. Around 2010 some misguided self-appointed "advocates" set him up for arrest on false assault charges, timed so he would conveniently be in jail when they trashed his house and - incredibly - stole his other dog Maeve. He never saw her again and I could hardly bear hearing him tell me about it. It all went far too far, and the consequences are irreversible. I can't discuss much more of it right now. I hope he will forgive me for now. But suffice it to say, Jeff was a good man, and he should not have gone through any of that, not a bit of it; he deserved to be enjoying his life today instead, just as Rehtaeh should be enjoying an April Sunday with her two- and four-legged friends, right this very second.

But a lot of people let them down. Rehtaeh's dad says she wasn't bullied to death, as much as “'disappointed to death' by people she felt let her down, including police, her school and friends. She felt an entire community had turned its back on her, and she sought suicide to end the pain."

Jeff de la Rosa felt let down, and I kind of know how it feels to be let down by the community, too. 

People tell you to ignore it, but they don't know how bullying and harassment takes its toll, or that over the years it inevitably affects one's ability to get things done, even things that are the biggest priority, like saving a dog's life. There's already not enough time in the day to cope with misinformation in the media and inaccuracies and discrepancies in the official "record". At several junctures it became too much, though, and I had to turn to the RCMP for help, devote time to prepare the information, do research on offences, etc. - only to be let down by the same sort of excuses they told Rehtaeh. I had reams of evidence, including emails full of obscenities and hate, photographs taken on my property by stalkers, and so on. Facebook and blogger even found cause to remove some of this material, but the RCMP weren't moved to act. They somehow couldn’t fathom how online stalking and bullying actually fits the offences of “criminal harassment” and “intimidation” as defined in the Canada Criminal Code. To them, the hate blogs, facebook groups, and twitter messages (which were actually directed at me, with my handle in them) were merely “free speech” or “opinion”.

Friday, September 21, 2012

How do you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y? Halifax fails yet again to seize a dog that attacked humans

I am not a fan of seizing dogs, let alone killing healthy dogs for any reason. Let me say that right up front.

But when Halifax keeps harping on in court briefs and arguments about how Brindi is such a threat to public safety and just can't be allowed to go home or to anybody's home - yet they don't dispute that she's never attacked humans, even the ones that foolishly kicked her repeatedly - I cannot help feeling very outraged by stories of dogs that do severe harm and are left unmolested.

You will not find this one in the Chronicle Herald, but a very reliable source in the community told me about a vicious attack on September 12 in the Bayers Westwood area. Apparently a dog got loose and attacked a child - no idea what the details were, or if the child "provoked" it (again I will say that Brindi was calm and quiet around kids even when poked by them). I only know that when the child's mom tried to intervene to stop the attack, the dog bit her as well.

Somebody called the RCMP and an ambulance. Both child and mother received stitches for their injuries.

That's a pretty bad attack. But well over a week later, I am told that Halifax did not seize that dog. It only issued fines to the owner. That is, unlike the two pit bulls that killed the shih tzu last summer, this time, Animal Services can prove who the owner is, but chose not to seize the dog. I don't know if this is the first time the dog was reported, but I do know that this attack was sufficiently severe for a city to justify seizing this dog, given the way it's imposed such rigorous, extreme standards, and used such extreme arguments, against my dog Brindi for the last four years.

Against such cases - and trust me, there are many, many more, going back years - how can Halifax dare to claim that it has not singled me and Brindi out for retaliative actions of all kinds, from seizures to evictions to demolition orders and now a pending tax sale seizure/auction?

All because why? Apparently because I asked them - politely - to please not kill my dog; because, when they refused, and told me to hire a lawyer, I did just that; because when they refused to negotiate with my lawyer, and refused to release Brindi even after a positive behavior assessment, I had to go to court to get euthanasia order quashed along with part of the by-law because it denied due process and was thus unconstitutional, and because they lost that and lost again when they belatedly laid charges and dragged it out another 18 months. And they kind of lost again this past March - because the judge didn't issue the order to destroy that it so wants. Instead she dumped the whole thing into HRM's lap.
They still have custody and control of Brindi, but they can't really make a move!

Meanwhile, the by-law is still unconstitutional, and Halifax made it worse by adding the "additional penalty" clause, which is doubly unconstitutional, if such a thing were possible.

Even if it weren't incredibly hypocritical in its enforcement of the by-law, I don't see how it can be denied that the city has been targeting us - starting with the way Officer Tim Hamm and Lori Scolaro changed the fine he originally decided on to a muzzle order, after a clandestine exchange with another dog owner who feared - without cause - that I might not pay her entire vet bill. The amount of the bill, totaling $143,  $70 of which was a general exam cost charged to all new patients, because she chose to take her dog to a new vet as her own vet was closed on Mondays.*

But in court, the prosecutor actually tried to ridicule the idea that the city has targeted us unfairly. This was not one of my chief arguments, as I was well aware of how futile it would be in court. But she evidently felt it useful to ridicule me about it anyhow. Discredit the witness; blur the categories.

No matter what, and without comparing her to any other case, it's utterly absurd - and worse - for Halifax to claim that Brindi is just too much of a threat that she can't remain at home pending trial, or even be put in anybody's home. But against this new story, the truth becomes even more black and white.

It seems to me that the attack in Bayers Westwood shows that the average Haligonian has good reason not only to doubt the HRM party line, but also to fear for their lives, given its failure to protect against bona fide threats to public safety.

Why keeping Brindi isolated from contact with dogs is bad for her & her chances of recovery

Keeping Brindi isolated from other dogs means not only is her need for social interaction with her own species unmet; it also risks harmful effects on her behavior, jeopardizing her chances in the future. 

To emphasize the effects of group- and single housing of kennelled dogs, the behavior of 211 dogs in two German animal shelters was tested and observed. After being placed, 197 of the dogs' new owners were interviewed.
Although 51% of the German animal shelters already keep dogs in groups, there is strong prejudice against group housing because of the fear of fights. This study demonstrates that this apprehension is unfounded. Ninety-one percent of the social confrontations between dogs housed together were settled by the use of behavioral rituals. Keeping dogs in groups, furthermore, leads to a significant reduction in noise emission (p<.001). Group housing fulfills the dog's need for social interaction and the need to move. Dogs that were housed in groups displayed a closer human-animal relationship (80%) than those that had been kept individually (43%). A high percentage of individually housed dogs suffered from behavioral problems (31%) and 10% developed stereotypes. The percentage of behaviorally disturbed dogs observed in group housing was 11%, and stereotyped forms of behavior did not occur. Dogs who had been kept in groups were, on average, placed within 10 days, and were returned to the animal shelter less often (9%) compared to those housed individually (25%). Dogs that were housed separately needed an average of 17 days to be placed. Even after being placed, there is a correlation between the animal shelter's type of housing and the dog's behavior. Within four weeks after picking up their pet, 88% of the owners of dogs that had been housed individually complained of problems compared to the owners of the dogs that had been kept in groups, 53% of whom were completely satisfied with the adoption.

Despite the fact that these results might be influenced by the small number of shelters examined, the study leads to the conclusion that keeping dogs in groups is a suitable alternative for dog housing in animal shelters and, for the animals' welfare, is preferable to individual housing.

Our trainer, Susan Jordan, tried to explain to the judge during the trial last March that it is normal for a dog to back-slide in its training under any circumstances. What's really important is whether the aggressive behavior escalates - which it did not. Also, during those precious ten weeks when she was back home, Brindi was in many situations around strange dogs where she did not react aggressively. 

And now, based on the findings of this study regarding the increased risk of behavioral problems due to the isolation from other dogs, after years of isolation, seems to me that having an incident ten weeks after she was released from two years of isolation from other dogs is understandable. Even for dogs that aren't known to have any aggressive tendencies, "Within four weeks after picking up their pet, 88% of the owners of dogs that had been housed individually complained of problems".

Here is where Brindi has been kept for the last two years

Halifax has never allowed our vet or trainer to visit Brindi at this kennel. Why not? It's a place of business, it boards people's pets. Friends ask, "What are they hiding?"

Well, now there's a glimpse of it. Halifax submitted these photos of the Wyndenfog Kennel, where Brindi has been kept for two years now, to a judge who I hope will hear my motion to order that she be sent to a foster home - a real home - pending the outcome of my appeal. 

This is the outdoor space. It's fenced in, it has no trees for shade or windbreak. They use it for walking her a few times a day - it doesn't appear that they allow her to run around in it by herself.

This is Brindi's cell. I don't know what that material is - it looks pretty dreary though. I don't know about the door either - it seems to go right to the outside. What happens when it rains or snows or a cold wild blows and she wants to stay in? Also, the area is 3x4 feet - below the veterinary society minimum standard of 3x5 for indoor runs, even for stays of just one day. For two years, the minimum standard is not very comforting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The amazing stubbornness of stalkers and haters: a rant for once

At every stage of the way, regardless of the mounting unfair and cruel actions of various authorities or agents, a stubborn core of best unnamed somehow manages to fit them into a strange, ill-minded spin aimed at making me the sole villain. Safe in their internet hideouts, these bizarrely obsessive people currently insist - to anyone willing to listen - that I am now blocking the city from adopting out Brindi.

The emails from prosecutor Katherine Salsman I posted weeks ago happen to make it very clear that by the appeal deadline, HRM had not done the court-ordered assessment, nor made any decision about Brindi, other than to keep the results of said assessment private. Nor had the city scheduled a date for reaching a decision.

So while the idea that I am blocking is hardly credible, it's all the more astounding, not to say mind-blowing, to discover again and again just how persistent these people are. No matter what turn things take, no matter how absurd the spin. I guess they rely on the fact that a certain percentage of people won't think for themselves, let alone discern fact from opinion. It's a low percentage, but the litany of untruths, some hatched as far back as 2009, are not unthreatening in this age of Google.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My house is not a home.

Brindi and I, photographed through the fence at the SPCA Shelter, which served as the Halifax pound, 2010.
According to rules invented on the spot (no official policy existed or was ever adopted by the HRM council), my visits were limited to 30 minutes once a week, on a day and time set by HRM; I could take no photos, not talk to staff; have no friends accompany me, give my own dog treats, and if I was late for whatever reason, they subtracted the time from the 30 minutes.
Even though there was (and is) no law or rule in place forbidding owners from visiting their dogs in the pound, Halifax refused to let me see Brindi for ten months, barring a single, torturous visit in January 2009, right after the court decision quashing the euthanasia order. At the time I believed she'd be let go in a few days, but it was neverthless horrifying to see her condition and horrible to have to leave her 25 minutes later, after freezing in the subzero weather (they wouldn't let us visit indoors). It wasn't until ten months after they took Brindi away from me that I was allowed regular visits under the same strict rules mentioned above. Then, HRM terminated the visits, just before Xmas 2009, on a claim that I had violated the rules. Which ones and when - forget it; there's no impartial review anyhow. The decision more or less coincided with the onset of Brindi's illness, when it was difficult to get precise medical information. Thanks to that, and the court's insistence that it didn't have jurisdiction to grant visits, I didn't see my dog for another six months.
As of today I haven't seen her for almost two years. Fortunately, I was able to have my vet see her at the clinic on a fairly regular basis, and her assistant took photos. Here's one of the last shots, from June 20. You can see how much she's aged. That probably happens faster when a dog is kept in a cage, I suppose. I know I've aged a lot more than four years.

Meanwhile, I have posted the trainer's recent assessment results, along with her statement to the court. And you can read her in-court testimony here.

"Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is diminished." - Dean Koontz 

Queen's corgis attack: according to Halifax by-laws, they'd be deemed "dangerous dogs", but would they be seized and killed?

Puppy love: Beatrice with pet dog Max
Princess Beatrice and Max

Last week at a pre-appeal scheduling hearing, the HRM prosecutor said I must change the title of my Notice of Appeal to from "Rogier v. Halifax Regional Municipality" to "Rogier v. Her Majesty the Queen". I understand that this is because in Canada, the Crown is the equivalent of "the People" in court cases. Here, there is a municipal "Crown" attorney who represents the Queen, even at the lowest level of government.

It certainly shifts one's perception, I thought, to have a person, a queen at that, in the title of an appeal of a by-law conviction! And as if to drive home the perplexing irony of that, today I learned that the Queen's corgis - several - viciously mauled Princess Beatrice's 11-year old beloved terrier, Max, last week. According to the newspapers, Max's ear was nearly torn off, and there was "blood everywhere".

Friday, August 10, 2012

Appeal filed Aug. 1: another marathon begins

The reason the judge told HRM that they must wait to take any action until after August 1 was because that was the last day to file an appeal of any kind before the Supreme Court.

I dearly wish it weren't so, but the outcome of this trial was a very odd twist, not what the law envisages, and certainly not what anybody I know expected. For whatever reason, I really felt the case had been mishandled almost from the start. After waiting until well after the trial was finished, the judge denied the motions I filed - including a motion to dismiss the charges, based on several grounds related to constitutional rights. Right or wrong, that motion was to be heard on the first day of court, March 2, and would have been presented orally, and presumably, decided on the same day. Instead, I ended up filing it in writing, to my great dismay.

Though I had prepared to present this motion with a lot of effort, a lot of notes, and a lot of brain cells, March 2 was a very wintery day that kept the tow trucks very busy, and my car went out of control not far from my house, skidding and swerving around a curve on solid ice. Thankfully, a street sign stopped it from flipping into a 12 foot drop at the side of the road, the opposite side, where there was no ditch to speak of, just the drop, and a few trees. I knew I'd be late, but not how late: it took an hour and 15 minutes for CAA to arrive, then another 45 minutes to free my car, which had lodged against the sign with the front tires pitched up in the air. It was not easy getting out of the car and I wrenched my lower back in the process, possibly also in the swerve (I don't know, but it hurt badly enough to force me to a clinic by the end of the day, where a doctor gave me some serious muscle relaxants).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trying to find out what Halifax is up to: it's not easy!

From: Francesca Rogier
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2012 15:24:55 -0300
To: "Salsman, Katherine"
Cc: "MacDonald, Andrea", "Scolaro, Lori", (the court clerk; Animal Services; David Hendsbee; the vet; the trainer; Mayor Kelly; legal consultant Kirthi Jayakumar)
Conversation: Awaiting response to July 23 email: HRM's plans for Brindi?
Subject: Re: Awaiting response to July 23 email: HRM's plans for Brindi?
Ms. Salsman,

Thank you for your reply.
Would you kindly explain what is meant by “usual practice”? Other than the evaluations of stray dogs by and at the city pound, I am not aware of any practice or policy by which HRM regularly assesses seized dogs. If such a practice exists, surely HRM would have had Brindi evaluated some time ago, but I never received any such documentation as part of disclosure.
Clearly we are not dealing with anything of a usual nature in this instance, at the very least. So I would still like an answer as to why the assessment results will not be made known.
Also, when do you expect a decision will be made?

Thank you,
Francesca Rogier   

From: "Salsman, Katherine"
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2012 17:59:55 +0000
To: Francesca Rogier
Cc: "MacDonald, Andrea" , "Scolaro, Lori"  
Subject: RE: Awaiting response to July 23 email: HRM's plans for Brindi?

Ms. Rogier,  

As previously stated, the assessment will not be released because it is an internal document. It is not our usual practice to release documents of that nature.

The assessment has not yet been completed and therefore no decisions have been made.

Katherine E. Salsman
Municipal Prosecutor  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Alarm bells: Halifax signals all things Brindi are secret from now on

On June 26, the provincial judge turned over all control and rights to my dog Brindi to Halifax - the very city that has wanted to kill her since July 2008. That June, animal services officials had arbitrarily muzzled her, then told me about a law allowing them to seize and destroy her without any further ado if she was reported for anything, including not wearing her muzzle even accidentally. They seized her on July 24, 2008, after exactly that unfortunate thing happened four days earlier: she accidentally got loose for about 20 seconds, without causing injury to anybody.

There is no law in Halifax mandating seizure and destruction of a dog under a muzzle order merely for being off its property without the muzzle on. The supreme court later quashed that euthanasia order, but Halifax didn't return Brindi. And the city never held anybody accountable for those boldfaced lies, either.

It's no exaggeration to say that both of our lives were ruined that sad day. Many times over, in fact.

Last month, after prolonging Brindi's already lengthy stay in the pound by nearly four more months (on top of 18 months since the 2010 seizure), and after I put together a very strong case for Brindi's release, bolstered by the trainer's excellent testimony, Judge Buchan gave carte blanche to Halifax officials, saying they should do their own usual" assessment on her, and after August 1, they are free to decide for themselves what to do with her. (For some strange reason the prosecutor told the media the date was August 21 - not sure what that was about.)

During the trial, the prosecutor argued - as always - that there was only one option for Brindi: death. Somehow the judge ignored this consistent position, as well as the fact that Brindi has been assessed positively many times already. The most recent one was carried out on June 13 by behavioral consultant Susan Jordan; her report lay on the judge's desk.

Now the municipal prosecutor, 2009 law school grad Katherine Salsman, tells me that the results of Brindi's assessment will be in an "internal document". In other words, she will not share the results with me or the public. After two days puzzling over this, I came to the alarming realization that it must mean the city is planning to keep secret what they ultimately will do with/to Brindi a secret.  And that they must have decided to have her killed.

So the only reason for these officials to keep their decision a secret is if they plan to kill her. This would not be a surprise, as Halifax officials have wanted to do since 2008, and spent an inordinate amount of money trying. But it is extremely dismaying news, and everyone should take notice.

Friday, June 29, 2012

My statement to the Court regarding sentencing


The Honourable Judge Flora I. Buchan
Dartmouth Provincial Court
277 Pleasant St
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 3S2

Your Honour:

June 22, 2012

RE: R. v. Rogier

Sentencing Submissions

1.     Please accept this letter as my submissions with respect to sentence in the above trial.


2.     In response to a finding of guilt on the charges, the Crown is seeking an order to have my dog, “Brindi”, destroyed, and fines imposed on me.


3.    HRM has seized Brindi twice, citing the same claim that she must be destroyed. The original euthanasia order was quashed along with the law used to issue it.

4.     Four times since HRM first seized Brindi in July 2008 under the claim that she must be destroyed, at my request she has been assessed by qualified persons with experience evaluating dogs. In all instances, the results have been quite positive. The most recent assessment carried out one week ago resulted in a finding that she is fit to live in a family home. The extended period of detainment has brought about the need for a period of re-adjustment to relearn housetraining and recover other abilities that any dog would need under the circumstances.

5.     The Crown has submitted the full Decision by Justice Beveridge of the Supreme Court which found that after the first seizure, HRM was procedurally unfair and denied me due process.

Letter submitted to the Court by Brindi's veterinarian

Since October 2010, Dr. Larkin has been regularly monitoring Brindi's health at my request, as her health was already compromised from two-years of being held in isolation. For unstated reasons, HRM would not permit the vet to see Brindi at the kennel, however, so she was brought to the Complete Care Clinic. Dr. Larkin speaks about her expertise and her opinion of Brindi's behavior. Posted with permission. 

June 21, 2012

The Honourable Judge Flora I. Buchan
Dartmouth Provincial Court
277 Pleasant Street
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 3S2

Your Honour,

Re: R. v.  Rogier Sentencing Submissions

Please accept and consider this letter which is presented with respect to the trial of 
Francesca Rogier, owner of Brindi.
With full respect to your Honour, I am aware that Courts in Canada customarily give consideration to veterinary opinion in cases where the destruction of a family pet is contemplated.  In some cases, they seek out such professional input. I would hope that such consideration is given here.

Professional qualification:
It is my sincere hope that my statement will not be disregarded or dismissed based on what would be, in my view, a misunderstanding of the notion of “expert”. As a veterinarian, I spent 8 years in university training to become a doctor.
My training at the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island qualifies me to diagnose conditions and prescribe medical treatments in the areas of dermatology, ophthalmology, cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, oncology , immunology, orthopedics, as well as performing surgery, dentistry, radiology, and last but not least, behavior modification training. Veterinarians essentially are trained to provide complete medical care for our animal patients including behavioural advice. It is rare that we have the need to consult a specialist. My 18 years of clinical experience further demonstrates my knowledge and skills as a veterinarian.
In addition, as a veterinarian entrusted by both Ms. Rogier and Halifax Regional Municipality to monitor Brindi’s health since early 2010, I am able to provide reliable information about her status and her behavior.  In its capacity as a representative of the public, and having been in regular dialogue with Animal Services staff, I would hope that the Municipality will have no question as to the authenticity of my statement, as I am aware that it is customary for the legal profession to recognize the validity of a veterinarian’s statements on behalf of their patient.

With respect to Brindi, please allow me to place her in context with the greater dog population in HRM from my point of view as a practicing veterinarian. In my practice, and in others across the province where I have worked, it is common (a few times a month) to have an appointment with a patient who is aggressive towards other dogs who must be scheduled for the first or last appointment of the day to prevent them from running into another dog and risking a fight.  It is also common to be confronted with a dog that is aggressive towards people that proves to be a serious health risk to me and my staff.  I am well trained and experienced in handling these situations. Beyond this, I have worked with several pet owners to help them modify their pet’s aggressive behaviour.

In my 2 years of caring for Brindi, I have never felt concerned for the personal safety of me or my staff. When Francesca brought her to my clinic in the summer of 2010, we never found it necessary to clear the waiting room before her entry.  She is a sweet, intelligent dog. Although she does need behavior modification for her territorialism, speaking as a veterinarian with a grounding in behavioural science, I would not deem Brindi to be a candidate for euthanasia. I have seen many dogs in my practice that in my view would pose a serious risk to public safety. I am not aware that HRM considers any of these patients a “dangerous dog” or that their owners have received any warnings or citations.

Francesca Rogier has been a good client of mine since November 2009. Whenever she brought Brindi to my clinic, Brindi was properly muzzled and leashed. Ms. Rogier has kept all of her pets in good health by feeding good food and allowing me to perform good preventative health care. She has kept her dog’s license up to date, as she renewed it in my office this past spring. She even brought in her friend’s 2 dogs to my hospital and paid for their veterinary care and licensing herself.

Ms. Rogier’s persistence in defending Brindi clearly shows her devotion and care that she delivers to her pets.  I truly believe Ms. Rogier has the intent and ability to provide Brindi with the behavior training she needs to modify her territorialism. In addition, I have met and spoken with Susan Jordan, her trainer, and am aware she is well-regarded in the community of trainers and is equipped to handle behavioural modification. I am confident in her abilities.

I hope you find this statement instructive. If you have any questions for me please feel free to contact me (number removed).


Kyra Larkin BSc, DVM

Dr. Larkin first examined Brindi in June 2010, at Belle Kennel, using her mobile vet clinic.  
I am very grateful to her for her dedication and commitment.

For the trainer's findings, go here

Affidavit Submitted to Provincial Court for Sentencing

Affidavit of Elizabeth Lindsay

I hereby affirm and give evidence as follows:

1.     I am Elizabeth Lindsay, a friend of Francesca Rogier, the Defendant in this matter.

2.     I reside at address withheld , Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

3.     I have personal knowledge of the evidence sworn in this affidavit except where explicitly stated as based on information and belief. I state my belief of the source of any information I state herein that is not based on my own personal knowledge.

4.     I have been a pet owner in HRM for 30 years and am active in the volunteer and rescue community.

5.     In mid-June 2010, on or around June 10, I observed two of Francesca’s training sessions with Brindi at Belle Kennel in Porter’s Lake, which was conducted according to Court order. These sessions lasted for about an hour.

6.     During these sessions with Brindi, who I had not seen prior to these sessions, the dog impressed me as a friendly, good-natured animal weighing about 60 pounds. She responded to commands obediently and intelligently.

7.     Throughout the sessions, which took place in the pen designated for them, I was able to observe that Francesca was diligent and sincerely focused on completing the training as prescribed by court-approved trainer Susan Jordan.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I want every person and every "sanctuary" to know....

that Brindi is not material for a sanctuary or rescue... she is a dog that has excellent obedient training, is smart, affectionate, gentle, and good. This has all been well documented and analyzed by trainers and vets and presented to the court in testimony and prepared reports.
All of the assessments found the same things, including the most recent assessment carried out on June 13 specifically for the purpose of this trial. Brindi is not "dog-aggressive". She is not food aggressive. She is territorial - to some dogs, not every dog. She ranks on the very lowest level of the scale of aggression, meaning Brindi seeks to communicate, not harm.
Typically, she reacts to a combination of the dog and the person with the dog.
Brindi needs work on one issue and one issue only.
That issue is very controllable now, and can be trained out of her.

She is not a dog that should be locked away for the rest of her life. So please do not imagine even for one second that this is an acceptable solution!

Brindi deserves a good home and all the love in the world!


Released to local media June 26, 2012  

By returning total and absolute control of Brindi’s fate to HRM, today’s court decision firmly establishes that HRM is not answerable to any authority.

How is HRM to feign a sincere decision between adopting Brindi out, or putting her down? Ever since HRM seized Brindi after an incident in which no one was harmed, HRM has insisted she must die. Yet it has not conducted a single behavioral evaluation on her, and showed no interest in the results of the ones I commissioned. In fact, HRM blocked and/or attempted to sabotage them. But it failed.

HRM’s record of denying due process and procedural fairness was made clear in the Supreme Court decision of 2009. Yet no individual was ever held accountable, nor did HRM change its ways by amending even a single law or policy. It simply dug in its heels, refused to return Brindi, and retaliated by laying charges against me for an event that took place six months earlier. The pattern continued unabated.

HRM failed again in Court some 16 months later. Then it declined to cooperate with an order to allow Brindi to be trained at the kennel. After they blocked it for a month, I had to appeal to the media before HRM would comply.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Legal Opinion on the Issues

Monday, June 11, 2012

Justice? Wisdom? Public safety?

Brindi's been locked up longer than many violent criminals. Halifax seized her and kept her for six months without cause (or due process). I tried in vain to convince them it was a mistake, begged them to let her go, offered to pay fines if they would only charge me; build a fence; do private training, and obey the muzzle order (violated unintentionally for about 20 secs one fateful morning). But the city refused, and kept hold of her even after I had to go to court and a judge tossed out their unconstitutional "euthanasia" order. At that point it simply laid charges and kept her longer, even though the charge didn't entitle them to do that. 

I have blogged the details leading almost up to her release in 2010. It's been very difficult to continue after that, especially with the things I was hit after the city took her again. That was after a minor and rather freak incident. Again, it wouldn't let her go pending trial, though it leaves countless other dogs  at home while it pursues similar charges after similar incidents. It ignores the training that was done and what the trainer says about Brindi.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Under Construction! Thank you for your patience!

See for the following documents that were submitted to the court and are now part of the public record.
  1. Transcripts of calls
  2. Katie and Tyson Simms' written statements filed with HRM
  3. Transcript of RCMP interviews of the Simms, Michele Steen, Lloyd Pettipas
  4. Photographs of the Simms' dog Lucy
  5. Vet report
  6. HRM Oct. 8 2010 brief filed for an injunction (injunction hearing was denied; Supreme Court claimed it lacked jurisdiction)
  7. Rogier preliminary brief filed 17 as Motion to Dismiss or Stay Proceedings based on Charter violations
  8. HRM Reply Brief, Feb. 24
  9. Rogier March 13 Rebuttal Brief, with list of authorities
  10. HRM Second Reply Brief, April 5, with list of authorities
  11. Rogier Motion to Strike Testimony and Exclude Evidence, March 15
  12. Rogier Motion to Declare Mistrial, March 15, submitted at close of trial proceedings, March 16
  13. Transcript of court proceedings from March 2 and March 16
  14. HRM email about mistrial motion
  15. Rogier April 26 letter to judge requesting clarification after HRM failed to respond to mistrial motion
  16. Fax to HRM from court clerk April 27
  17. Rogier Response to HRM’s Second Reply Brief, with attachments, May 8
Trainer statement to court on dog behavior, and vet reports on Brindi's health, pending permission
photos of site where my car spun off the road on March 2
And when it's ready, a transcript of the written ruling by Judge Buchan May 10 (she is not releasing it directly, but I will file a transcript of it to the court).

It will probably be a good idea to link to the relevant laws, or at least give a list. I'll do that as well, why not?