Friday, September 21, 2012

Why keeping Brindi kennelled & isolated from contact with dogs is bad for her


Always isolating Brindi from other dogs means not only failing to meet her need for social interaction with her own species. It also risks multiple and compounded harmful effects on behavior, jeopardizing her chances in the future, as well as her health and well being. 

"Within four weeks after picking up their pet, 88% of the owners of dogs that had been housed individually complained of problems."
Abstract:
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 dog 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.

How awful it must be for Brindi to be isolated from contact with her kind as well as her own family!

Our trainer, Susan Jordan, tried to explain to the judge during the trial last March (2012) 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

This is Brindi's cell. It is a 3x4 foot area - less than the minimum standard of 3x5 for indoor runs used by vet clinics, required even for stays of just one day. The thought of the minimum standard for two years is not very comforting! I don't know what that material is, but looks pretty dreary and worn. I don't know about the door, 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, no idea. 
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. 


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 

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  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

HELP SAVE BRINDI - LIST OF CONTACTS

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LIST OF CONTACTS

TELL THEM: HALIFAX MUST NOT KILL BRINDI!

·      Please contact often and be sure to ask for a reply.
·      Send photos of Brindi with them if you can (download from the blog or Save Brindi).
·      Calling them, if you are able, and using regular mail or postcards is very powerful.
·      For emails, try to avoid using Brindi in the subject line because many of them just dump them!
·      ALSO IMPORTANT: To be more effective, please cc all messages to the media. See list below.

THANK YOU!! 

Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM)
Address:          Halifax  City Hall
1841 Argyle Street, Main Floor
PO Box 1749
Halifax, NS B3J 3A5 Canada

Mayor Peter Kelly: kellyp@halifax.ca
phone: 001 902 490 4010
twitter: @mayorpeterkelly

Head of Halifax Legal Services: Marian Tyson tysonm@halifax.ca

Municipal Prosecutor: Katherine Salsman salsmak@halifax.ca

Manager of HRM Animal Services: Andrea Macdonald macdonaa@halifax.ca
Supervisor of Animal Services: Lori Scolaro scolarl@halifax.ca (she issued the original euthanasia order)
HRM Animal Services
P.O. Box 1749
Halifax, NS B3J 3A5
Phone: 001-902-490-7371 or 490 1791
Fax: 001 902 490-6142

Homeward Bound City Pound
Address:             201 Unit 9 Brownlow Avenue,
Dartmouth, NS B3B 1W2
Tel: (902)407-SAVE (7283) Fax: (902)406-8588

Homeward Bound Owner/Director: Hope Swinimer email: hopeswinimer@accesswave.ca

HRM MUNICIPAL COUNCILORS: see Halifax.ca for full information.

Brindi’s local councilor is David Hendsbee.
Mobile:     1 902.483.0705
Home:      1 902.829.2465
Mailing Address: 1 Chamberlain Drive, Dartmouth, NS B2Z 1B1

Email addresses for all municipal councilors: harveyb@halifax.ca, adamss@halifax.ca, barry.dalrymple@halifax.ca, brad.johns@halifax.ca, darren.fisher@halifax.ca, David.Hendsbee@halifax.ca, sloaned@halifax.ca, humd@halifax.ca, jennifer.watts@halifax.ca, karsteb@halifax.ca, lorelei.nicoll@halifax.ca, mcclusg@halifax.ca, mosherl@halifax.ca, outhitt@halifax.ca, peter.lund@halifax.ca, rankinr@halifax.ca, streats@halifax.ca, smithj@halifax.ca, utecks@halifax.ca, walkerr@halifax.ca, wilema@halifax.ca

Twitter addresses for some councilors: @barkhouse @downtowndawn @councillorwatts @darrenfisherns

PROVINCIAL AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS
Attorney General and Minister of Justice: Hon. Ross Landry
Email: justmin@gov.ns.ca

Minister of Municipal Affairs: Hon. John MacDonnell snsmrmin@gov.ns.ca
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
1505 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2M4
Phone: (902) 424-5550
Fax: (902) 424-0581

Member of Parliament for Halifax/Eastern Shore: Peter Stoffer stoffp1@parl.gc.ca
Community Office:
2900 Hwy #2
Fall River, Nova Scotia, B2T 1W4
Tel: 902-861-2311 or toll-free (NS only) 1-888-701-5557
Fax: 902-861-4620
Ottawa Office:
Room 242 Confederation Bldg.
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel: 613-995-5822Email: stoffp@parl.gc.ca

Member of the Provincial Assembly (MLA), Eastern Shore: Sid Prest sidprest.mla@ns.aliantzinc.ca
7907 Hwy #7, Unit 2
P.O. Box 6
Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia
B0J 2L0

Phone: (902) 889-2112
Fax: (902) 889-3190

For all MLAs: http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/people/addresses/

IMPORTANT: To be more effective, please cc all messages to the media.

Local media: news957@rogers.com, radionews@halifax.cbc.ca, Eileen.McInnis@CBC.CA atlanticnews@ctv.ca, news@ctv.ca, jackie.foster@ctv.ca, marnoon@cbc.ca, cbcns@cbc.ca news@globaltv.com, newsroom@herald.ca, letters@herald.ca, editor@herald.ca, Rick.Howe@rci.rogers.com, mileshowe@hotmail.com

Local media on Twitter: @cbcns @cbcmainstreet @maritimenoon @jordimorgan @theRickHoweShow @news957 @chronicleherald @twitcoast @tim_bousquet @openfileHFX @HalifaxMagazine @HalifaxNSNews @nealozano @CKDU881FM

National media: CBC radio and TV, CTV, Global TV, National Post, Globe and Mail

OTHER LOCAL TWITTER ACCOUNTS:  @hfxnovascotia @halifaxtweeters @occupyns

NOTE: Contacting individuals directly and often brings better results than online petitions. We have done petitions over and over, the last total was 10,000 signatures, but the judge and the city ignore them! Belfast ignored nearly 200,000 signatures on petitions for Lennox, sadly!

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


VIA FAX AND EMAIL

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.

Overview

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.

Facts

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).

Respectfully,

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!

STATEMENT ON THE DECISION OF THE PROVINCIAL COURT

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

http://freebrindi.blogspot.ca/p/legal-opinion-on-issues.html

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 Brindijustice.com 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
ALSO 
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?

video

Monday, April 23, 2012

Links by others



More YouTube videos by others:

Queen's Brindi Message  April 2012
Francesca's Story  March 2012
Let's Bring Brindi Home!  March 2012
No photos allowed  December 2011
A Christmas Stocking  December 2011

Videos uploaded and/or shot by me: 

Brindi at Homeward Bound during behavioral assessment (footage taken by Bob Riley, April 2010: Brindi had not seen or been up close to dogs for 18 months)

Brindi goes to the beach Summer 2010 trip to a fairly deserted beach - just as deserted as everywhere else I walk(ed) her around here. We live 45 minutes from Halifax, in a very sparsely populated area.


Recently posted material: 

Online interview with me: Montreal Dog Blog  November/December 2011

Brindi Justice:  The truth behind the smears - what HRM doesn't want you to know: Among other things, that a switchboard operator with four years of experience in animal services dispatching, was opposed to the seizure, detention, and planned euthanization of Brindi from day one - so opposed, in fact, she made a fateful suggestion on the night of Sept. 14, 2010,

Open Letter to Derek Graham of Wyndenfog Kennel from me, March 2012


 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Trick or treat

HRM prosecutor Katherine Salsman was assigned to the case against me and Brindi back in 2010. Salsman posted this photo of herself (left) dressed for Halloween as Cruella DeVille (the dog-hating villainess from Disney's "1001 Dalmations") on her Facebook page last fall. The trial was supposed to begin Nov. 8, 2011. Apparently, this was her profile picture from October to sometime before the end of the year.  
The photo was brought to my attention by members of Save Brindi, who didn't find it very funny.
Neither do I.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

September 2011: Another Year of Hell.

Only ten weeks after a provincial judge finally let Brindi come home - when I was just beginning to come up for air, when I actually thought things were getting better, when Brindi's health was finally stabilizing, and when I still had some savings left - another inconceivably freakish incident happened. No more harmful than the others, but enough for the city of Halifax to use as an excuse to seize Brindi and put her back on death row. Hell. Absolute hell.

Where did it happen? At the foot of my driveway. What happened? There was a mix-up with the car, and she grabbed, or tried to grab, a dog being walked past my house. The owners were a youngish married couple I never saw before. It was a relief when they said they thought their dog was okay in response to my apology and question. But they ignored my desperate pleas and assured me they were going to report it. They did better: they called the RCMP. I begged them for Brindi's life. The reply: "I don't give a f--- about anybody else's dog but mine!"

Nightmare. Absolute nightmare, every single minute. I found out later the wife is a close relative of no less than five of the people who testified against Brindi in the whole long horrible trial. And the husband with her works for HRM - in the planning/permitting department. Nicely done.

It turns out there were some injuries - two cuts and a scrape. Treatment? First aid, recommended a vet the next morning. It also turned out that the couple kicked Brindi many times. I didn't even see this: it happened so fast, and it was very dark, and I focused on separating the dogs, who were whirling around in the darkness. How do I know they did it? They said so in voluminous written statements.

If you are genuinely afraid of a dog, and swear you are convinced she is dangerous, as they also stated - would you kick it at close range? Would you be frequently walking past its house, to "keep an eye on it"? Brindi did not snap at them, or jump on them, or do anything. She was focused on protecting her property against an intruder.

It was devastating for me, after all the time and effort - but still, it was no different than the garden variety stuff that happens every day in Halifax and countless other places around the planet. And it lasted all of 15, maybe 18 seconds.

That was September 14, 2010. They seized her September 27. Was I stupid to ever set foot again with her in Halifax? Sure. Did I honestly believe that a city that had lost twice in court and shamefully ruined my dog's health while illegally holding her for two years dare seize her ever again? No. Who could?

Now the "trial" is coming up in a few days. It was set for Nov. 8-9, well over a year from the incident. Why? Because back in December, at the arraignment, Nov. 8 was the first full day available in the provincial court. And all that time, Halifax continued keeping Brindi locked up. I have not seen her since. One visit was offered after five months - my vet and I agreed it would be more disturbing than helpful to Brindi (and me!); I already had the heartbreak of seeing her ecstatic and convinced I was there to take her home, and having to leave her, a brokenhearted dog, after the permitted 30 minutes expired. The 30 minutes that are stipulated by ad hoc rules made up just for us, among a slew of other rules (no photos, no talking to staff, no treats, no companions, no walking her, etc...) - break one, you don't get another visit, period.

All that time. The total amount of time that all these incidents took, if you put them end to end, could not be more than a minute, maybe a minute and a half. The number of incidents leading to injury: 2. The treatment for those injuries: not much more than first aid. In the meantime, Brindi, who was a robust and healthy spayed female in July 2008, now has chronic pancreatitis (with attacks of diarrhea and vomiting unless she gets enough exercise and the right food), permanent enamel loss, gum and dental disease, and weight problems. God only knows how she is faring. I don't get to see her; I can only comfort myself that she sees our vet occasionally. Not as frequently as we want; she must have been ill in the summer because they skipped a few dates and then turned up with another vet report that was scanty on details.

My chest aches just writing any and all words of this. I am feeling around for what to say and what not to say, so bear with me.



I had stopped blogging the previous February, just before the first verdict Feb. 23. I stopped not because here was nothing to say, but because I was afraid and at a loss of what not to say. The judge claimed she never read anything in the media, but who can be sure of what she heard or would be told?

Words cannot describe, words cannot describe, and I cannot emotionally handle the experience of seeing them on a screen... Yet another whole year in the "new" pound - a run-down kennel just across the Chezzetcook inlet from my own bedroom window - no visits, the longest time I've been separated from her


THE BLOG 

I shut down the blog - I was getting cyberstalked, cyberharassed, stalked in real space and time. It was too much.

I meant to catch up on the blog after Brindi was home - and I walked around, writing posts in my head, for months and months. I kept coming up with all kinds of important and brilliant posts, yet never could face doing it - it was just too difficult. And then not even after they took her again, after a supreme court  judge inexplicably declined juridiction (easy way to turn down an injunction request that cannot be turned down), after the city - failing to engineer it any other way, but terrified I might find a judge who would not turn in down - did a bureaucratic ballet to evict me from my house and try to tear it down in its Kafka-esque frenzy.

Who can blog during such a horrible time?? Not me. 

The horror of having a heritage house that you've got an excellent, approved design for, dealt with as if it was a slum tenement is bad enough. Being separated from your belongings and your sense of security in an eviction done for no good reason (emphasis on the word "good"), without a prior "Order to Remedy" or any warning whatever - that's a trauma not many have experienced. I was literally kicked out in minutes by a by-law officer (since promoted), who you never saw before in your life, with three RCMP officers standing on your lawn, ready to jump into action, I didn't doubt, at the slightest move. I returned two days later to find my water heater disconnected, which cut off the pump, and a cleverly placed stick in my well prevented me from priming it back up in time before the pipes froze. Of course, not being able to use the house meant frozen pipes for months - and four bursts by spring, all of them inside, not underneath, the house.

The frenzy to block any kind of fairplay at all has not stopped: in fact, it's even worse. 
This strange concoction of a city, this oxymoronish "regional municipality", is on to its next, and it hopes, final move to not only get rid of me, but complete the task of rendering me penniless, jobless, reputation-less, and dog-less. How? by using the cost of a fence that it had no reason to erect around my property, and of a few plywood boards that it put up to keep me out after having no reason to evict me, as a way to seize my property once and for all. The total: $10,000. Yes, they issued a lien for this amount, in fact, two separate liens, and told me about this in the summer. Do I want to dispute it? Fine, they had an HRM employee review the matter - without my involvement, and on their payroll. Guess how that turned out? You got it.

As if that was not bad enough - I mean, after all, a lien means you can't sell the property until it is paid off first. I'm not planning to sell; even if I were, the place is far from being marketable and it will be some time before it is. So a lien is a problem, but not my immediate problem. But it is.

Apparently, liens are not liens in Halifax: they are not registered with the deeds office, for one thing. The amount just turned up on my tax bill. And with it, a 15% annual interest rate. By the time I got the year's second tax bill, there was $243 interest on it already.

The joke: the by-law allows the city to seize and put up for sale any property with an outstanding tax bill - after twelve months. That puts me into next June to become homeless - again.

I have not had the courage to tally up what the amount would be by then. The actual property taxes come to less than $1000. There are a bunch of other unfamiliar charges as well. I could not decipher any of it; and it's been quite a circus just trying to get somebody on the phone about it.

To fight this, I will have to go back to Oct. 8, 2010, and begin deconstructing every evil-minded action that led to this outrageous situation, and blocked me from appealing it along the way. That will take months and require far more anal retentiveness than a body could possibly muster. So it will probably not succeed as well as it should. And in the meantime, the interest will mount.

BUT FIRST! I have to do what I swore and believed I would never have to ever ever do again, namely, FREE BRINDI!!

The amount of time that the number of incidents lasted, if you put them together end to end, probably don't amount to more than sixty seconds.

Did I only focus on my house in the whole past year? Hardly. Even though the blog was shut down, I still did all I could humanly manage. I passed all kinds of tests for PTSD symptoms, but because of my status and my limited finances, can't do much about it - and anyway, the trauma is far from over. You can't recover from something that doesn't end.

In December 2010 I went to the prosecutor, a young woman who was still in law school in Toronto when they first took Brindi. Not unlike the woman lawyer HRM used to block me from challenging the eviction order and then the demolition order - she was on maternity leave during the trial. Not that this excuses either of them from their willingness to bludgeon another woman with absolute power.

I asked the prosecutor what it would take to release Brindi pending the trial. This was even before I knew just how far away the trial would be.

I  offered to plead guilty to the three charges (disobeying a muzzle order, owning a dog that attacks, owning a dog that runs at large), in exchange for their return of Brindi, either:
- to me, pending trial, with the previous conditions in place (muzzle order, dog run, training)
- to a foster home, pending trial
- to a permanent adoptive home, forever
and, for good measure, I offered to leave HRM forever, if they would simply return my dog so I could take her with me.

The answer to each and every one: NO.

The reason? The municipality thinks she is dangerous and should be put down. Why her, why not dozens of other dogs that are reported for fighting with other dogs? Well, we have this remark that the judge put into her ruling, and we believe it is enough to have her put down. Really? And that is the  judge that ordered Brindi to be trained before being released from the kennel. We must return to court no later than August, she said.

But, when the training was done - and in fact, more thoroughly than anybody would imagine, I can tell you - the same judge suddenly wasn't worried about having the trainer appear in court to certify it, so she could officially order Brindi to be released.  In fact, she was so unconcerned about that part, that she instructed her clerk to fax the hired prosecutor (the $14,000 prosecutor) to tell him that if HRM was satisfied that the dog run was secure, they could release Brindi that same day.

That day??? No court appearance???

I was meeting the trainer at my house that morning, to show her the dog run and talk about the next steps we would take once Brindi was home. We never expected that she would come home that day! She and I just sat there looking at the fax. How could this be? I get a call from Animal Services. Lori Scolaro, sounding sweet on the phone, was enough to knock me off my block. They faxed the kennel. I showed up a few hours later - it was so impossible, we got distracted - and only I and the kennel ownere were there. No animal services person to do the honors. No press. It was Friday afternoon. All I could do was pick her up, muzzle on, and go buy a bottle of champagne. A kind couple - who recognized us - graciously held her leash for me while I went into the store. (I'll dig out the photo and post it later, with some others.)



But things were different last September.
From then on, the city was back at it: pursuing its goal as it if were a major criminal case.

Only it is not a criminal case. Which means that I am not entitled to legal aid. Even so, there are precious few lawyers ready to go up against HRM, and legal aid lawyers are doubtless not confident about doing that. There are no animal law practitioners in the province. And

Not being a criminal case is fine with me otherwise of course - but it also means a lot of uncertainty - which rules and procedures apply? The same rules for criminal proceedings? The city seems to think so - except when it comes to things like testimony and rules of evidence. Dog cases are more he said-she said than evidence-based; and testimonies can really be pretty wild. Last time, the man whose report led to Brindi's seizure changed his story several times - first there was no injury to his (mom's) dog, then there was, then there wasn't, etc. The city managed to somehow fail to interview the one truly impartial witness, and when I brought him in to testify, the judge dismissed his testimony by assuming that we had some professional ties. (I am an architect, he is an electrician; that's about as far as it went at the time. I had met him, but never hired him to do any work.)

Last time, HRM also dragged in people who had never filed a report: you could not do that for a criminal case against a human. It also used some pretty questionable things to obtain the seizure warrant. That's consistent with the first seizure warrant, at least, which reads like smoke and mirrors: a neighbor supposedly reported that Brindi attacked people four times. Never mind that there were no names, dates, or reports filed for those incidents. The justice of the peace who signed that seizure warrant had no reason to doubt it, apparently. But it was false.

I probably should not comment on the things the city is now doing that are not exactly kosher with the criminal code as it pursues this case. Except one.

And here it is: All this time, and in the first two years, Halifax has held Brindi without the proper legal authority. Okay, you might say for six months - three and three. Why? Because the criminal code and provincial law both require that seized property be returned after three months. The only way to continue holding it is with a court order. And the only way to get a court order is to claim that the property is needed for evidence in a legal proceeding.

Brindi is not evidence.
 
Because Brindi is not evidence, it is highly unlikely that the city could not get a court order to extend its powers to hold my property, aka Brindi. In any case, it has never attempted to do it. Nor, for that matter, has it done anything to amend By-Law A300 "Respecting Animals" since the supreme court quashed part of it in the case that was supposed to send Brindi home. (The same by-law that brought you the cat licenses, which the council was quick to change after a public outcry.)

The criminal code and the provincial law - known as the Summary Proceedings Act - both supersede municipal by-laws.

I am not a lawyer. I have never played one on TV: I have never considered becoming one for a second. But I do know how to read, so you can take my word for it: the city is in serious breach of the federal law. Maybe now you can begin to understand why it was so important for them to evict me and tear down my house.

I am just a person who believes in fairness and equality, law and justice, and the rights granted by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, akin to the US Constitution.

I am a person who believes that animals have a right to life.

I am just a woman worked like hell to train and care for her dog, a dog that did not ever bite a human or try to, a dog that never did any serious harm to another dog, and got along pretty dandy with 98% of the dogs she met... including feisty shitzus, by the way.

I am a middle-aged woman, just like Brindi was when this started, going into old age, like she is. She's seven now, going on eight. She's graying at the muzzle, I see from the vet's photos. Her beautiful black velvety muzzle. And just like mine, I don't doubt that her body aches from lack of exercise and the loss of a steady dose of unconditional love. 


Brindi is not evidence. Brindi is not a criminal. Neither am I.  


 She is a dog and deserves a home and a life. Period.