Sunday, September 7, 2008

Taking it to the streets

Dogs meet with their folks at City Hall: no euthanization without representation!

Thanks to all who attended! What good dogs they were. 

The six weeks without three daily walks mean my butt is now a little sore from walking the hills to Spring Garden Road, but it was worth it!

What an experience to arrive at the Citadel lawn and see this terrifically dedicated group all ready to go, with signs and a huge banner! I confess, I choked back tears as I got out of my car, realizing I was about to meet these angels for the first time - and then realizing why. I really missed Brindi when I saw all those sweet dogs. I had her leash around my neck as we walked, wearing my new T-shirt, which good old Kinkos managed to make in record time along with the posters. The children provided extra backup, and were not afraid to hand out cards and stickers to people on the street, even people in cars and cafes! One of my friends got off work at 5 am, drove home to Chezzetcook to sleep a few hours, then drove all the way back just in time to join us at noon. 

I felt so lucky to have such a dedicated group. My advice to anybody organizing a walk like this: be sure to include at least four girls aged around 11 to 12, because they are fearless and committed when it comes to animals. These pros never stopped chanting things like "Free Brindi! Free Brindi! Dogs forgive, why don't we?"

As curious people approached, many of us took the chance to explain what we were about. There was a lot of disbelief about the law. Many of them, mostly pet owners, were eager to give me encouragement, and express concern for their own pets. We heard a lot of stories about dogs and the law—about how dogs are expected to behave better than humans, without enjoying any of the same rights. 

I never dreamt I'd be out protesting on the streets of Halifax for such a thing; never imagined it would become necessary. And in case anyone wonders why I chose this instead of suing the city, let me be clear: there is no instead. I have not dropped the case; I can't anyway, they'd kill my dog right away. However, I cannot get a court date until my lawyer receives a reply to our claim. And that court date may be well in the future. I am confident our case will win, but it is totally unacceptable for any dog to be kept in the pound a year or more, as I am now told will happen. 

To that sharply dressed gentleman who blithely said "I'm okay with it" if the city kills Brindi, I must ask: who raised you? Did they forget to teach you to be kind to animals, and to respect all life? Pardon me, but I do happen to respect all life, even yours, though I may have felt otherwise at the time. 

Spot quiz: Class, what does it say in the Bible, and in all religious texts, about being good to all God's creatures? (I can guarantee you won't find anything about muzzle order violations.) 

Why is it that this never comes up in the conversation most commonly held among Christians? Not that I want to preach to anybody, don't me wrong. I just want to get my dog, who never bothered anybody remotely like that guy, back home. To me, that fact should be enough to get her back. But no. I so often find myself having to justify at length, as I notice others seem to regard the matter as an academic exercise, or a question of law and order. Fine, I don't mind doing that; but you are certainly not seeing the whole elephant. One should reject the premise that the dog is merely a potential pubic nuisance. Sorry to say, even some animal lovers' first impulse seem to be to say publicly that the owner must be at fault, not the law or the system enforcing it. Such law-abiding people—when it comes to animals, at least; bring up HST and trees, everybody's a rebel. In this province of renegade fishermen and hunters, This Ordnung muss sein reaction to dogs is puzzling. What have people really got against dogs—or against other people's dogs? Spillover from the pit bull controversy? Or there a Dog Explosion? Too many showings of Kujo at the Cineplex?
A dog, aside from being man's (not "The Man's") best friend, is the same produce-detecting working dog that greets you at the border crossing, doing what a human can't do, yet is slaughtered thoughtlessly on a regular basis. The same dog that is taken around to patients in hospitals to aid healing. The same being, that when brought into a large prison, will shift the tension-filled atmosphere into relaxation and good feeling within minutes. I don't know about you, but it seems to me we ought to rethink our priorities just a smidge, if simply by walking into a building, one single dog can do what millions of dollars of high-security devices, medications, and rehabilitation methods can't.

 I happen to think that if a particular kind of creature can contribute to our enjoyment and overall welfare the way a dog can, and it does in multiple ways, the "animal" and the beneficial human bonds it supplies ought to be treated well indeed.  

Aren't dogs as public goods ever balanced properly against animal control? Is the value of such a tremendously effective and extremely inexpensive public health benefit reflected in the law? Why not?
With thanks to Joan Sinden, blogger and video maven, here is a taste of the event:

PS remind me to mention that Animal Services replied to my last letter!