Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Media note

In the news section of today's Chronicle-Herald, Barack Obama got a two-page, full spread photo as the first non-white president of the United States. I got a thumbnail photo over, for the first time, more than five inches of copy written by a seasoned reporter. A big day for both of us! 

History will only record one, of course. But of course, that’s as it should be: he earned it.

Time will tell if Brindi and I get to enjoy the victory we earned. 

As for Deborah Story  - I hope she reads the decision and discovers that actually, it does deal with whether Brindi is a danger. Anything related to the euthanization order is quashed right along with it, and the declaration that she is dangerous is included.

Every single councilor and the mayor received a copy of Silvia Jay's report, and the by-law prosecutions chart. The mayor may be able to ignore hundreds of calls and emails, but I fail to understand how he could ignore these documents.  

The city needs more evidence, it seems to me, if it wishes to prove Brindi is dangerous. It's not plausible to use the same three incidents three times over: for the euthanization order, for the current resistance to release her, and for the charges they just laid on Monday, an hour before deadline.

Her time at the SPCA ought to make that even more difficult. She's not a "favorite" for nothing.

More questions, fewer answers

On January 16, Justice Duncan Beveridge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia quashed section 8 (2)d of By-Law A300 regarding the power of an animal control officer to seize and euthanize a dog on his or her sole discretion, without need of a judge's specific authorization for the euthanization.

The city no longer has any legal authority to hold my dog, as they didn't have any authority to take her in the first place. The judge also ruled that any other actions an HRM employee named Tim Hamm undertook in conjunction with 8 (2) d on that day are also quashed. These include his declaration that Brindi is a dangerous dog. Therefore, Brindi is no longer a dangerous dog. Questions remain about the manner in which the same employee decided to issue Brindi a muzzle order, and hence the validity of such an order. These will be addressed in a separate legal action shortly. 

1. What is stopping me from picking up my dog, Brindi?


While the city is not opposing the Supreme Court ruling itself (not directly), it refuses to allow this. It raises two objections in a recent letter. One appears to be that I was banned from the facility where they hold her. A second appears to be that they continue to believe she is dangerous, despite all the evidence I provided and despite Silvia Jay's report. They seem to cite a clause in the Municipal Governance Act, against owning a dangerous dog. They do not offer evidence to support the claim that she is dangerous. As I noted before, the ruling threw out the previous designation.

Regardless of the opinion of the city or any of its employees or officials, Brindi is not a dangerous dog worthy of impoundment or killing. She is my property and the city has her. I should be able to go get her. 

Keep in mind something else: I did not go to court to argue about all the incidents, about Brindi's behavior during them, or whether I am or am not a responsible dog owner. 

That was not because I didn't have the evidence to show in detail that her offenses were minor and that she can be trained and will be enclosed in a fence once she comes home. I have plenty of evidence and credibility on that score. However, it might have taken a year or more to get a court date scheduled, and then there would have been further delays. As HRM refused my July request to have Brindi placed in a boarding facility, and  refused my August request to place her in a foster home, this method became out of the question. 

The reason I pursued getting the by-law quashed (I love when I see "squashed" on comments) is because it was FASTER. I thought it would happen in November, in fact. But as I noted earlier, the city found ways to keep delaying me from getting to court sooner. 

The fact that Brindi has been kept in a "temporary" animal care facility for a long period of time as a result of HRM's decisions is cause for my own personal frustration; it ought to be a great concern to the dog community in HRM, because nothing prevents that from happening again. 

Brindi is a seasoned dog when it comes to long-term shelter stays, since she waited two years before I adopted her. In what kind of condition would another dog be after spending six months at the Metro Shelter? What is to prevent that from happening again? 

Brindi knows how to survive, in the material sense, but she suffers all the same, maybe much more deeply (and goodness knows her trust was broken). This, if nothing else, may explain to some people just why I have been knocking myself out to get her released, and why I want her back.

It also this raises another question. In what kind of condition would another dog be, after six months at this shelter? I hate to think.  

2. Why can't I visit Brindi every day until the matter is settled?

I don't know. In December, I requested to see her, five months after she was brought to the SPCA shelter/pound. Within a matter of minutes the SPCA banned me from setting foot on their property. See below.

3. Is the SPCA entitled, as an HRM contractor, to ban the owner of an animal from premises the city pays for to serve as the city pound? Wouldn't HRM have to authorize the ban? 

Essentially, I am being prohibited from accessing a city service, namely, the reception area of the pound. I suppose the contract would have to be analyzed to answer this question. But it surprises me it's possible, since the SPCA was hesitant to make any move without HRM permission prior to this. 

There are many questions that spin out from that, regarding the relationship between the two. Apart from those, I note that the person responsible for the ban, Diana Forrestall, is no longer employed by the SPCA. 

4. Why haven't I been allowed to visit Brindi before?

As insight to this and previous questions, here is something from the Halifax Regional Municipality Animal Control Services Contract Amendment, signed into effect July 2007 (no specific day given), signed by Mayor Peter Kelly and Judith Gass of the SPCA, amending and superceding in parts the full contract from September 2003.

Animal Control Service Contract #02-327
 . . . 

3.1.7   The shelter shall be open for animal redemption from 8:00 am 8:00 pm Monday to Friday, and 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday, Sunday and holidays (as defined in the Interpretation Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 235), during which times the owners of impounded animals, and the general public can view and redeem impounded animals.

I am an owner of an impounded animal. 

Regardless of the opinion of the city or any of its employees or elected officials, Brindi was never legally declared dangerous. If there is any doubt as to whether she is dangerous enough to be put down, a very respected dog behavior expert named Silvia Jay has said that she is not a candidate for "euthanization". Given this, I see no need for any conditions to be placed on her release. She should come home now.