The weather was beautiful. But midday passed and the 4 pm visit was again restricted to indoors. In a ten by (guessing) fifteen room, with windows overlooking the street and french doors overlooking the busy lobby, it is psychological torture for woman and dog.
The SPCA placed a number of conditions on these visits which they invented just for us last April. They originally prohibited me from being inside the shelter building for any length of time. (An impossibility of course since I had to walk through it to get to the pen in the rear.) They also forbade me from talking to anybody, and from taking photos of my own dog. Etc.
Now the SPCA is ordering me to stay inside the building and forbidding me from being with Brindi outside, from now on, period. How repugnant is it to be accused of bringing "contraband" to my dog (I am forbidden from giving my dog a bone), and then to be accused of causing her pancreatitis, which is a lifelong condition and doubtless due to the conditions of her confinement there, and on that questionable premise, to be denied outdoor time with my dog. Yes, the winter is coming and it will be cold. But for a half hour, who cares? Last January the SPCA forced me to stay outside with Brindi in sub-zero temperatures on the first visit I had with her in six months. Lori Scolero ended up cutting the outdoor time short after about 20 minutes because she was too cold. After I got about five minutes in an unheated 4x4 building entrance with Brindi, that visit was over.
Now, it so happens that the last few visit days were gorgeous. And I always walked Brindi outdoors, rain or shine, snow or ice, several times a day. She does not get walked at all now. They let her out in the pen during the day, no idea how long or often.
Half an hour outside with me is possible now - but no, they have to "monitor" me. Outdoors, these women would sit and gab in lawn chairs in the next pen. They did not exactly monitor anything. But apparently they now prefer to shut us up in a room and be done with it.
Any effort to discuss these new rules is pointless, because within seconds, I am threatened with the prospect of having visits ended altogether. Yes, I do ask, why is this necessary? That already going too far. When I protested, I was told, "Francesca, there are members of the public here!" and "You're wasting your time with Brindi," which was soon followed by the threat to cut off visits. I do not appreciate being treated like a suspect and I cannot believe the gall to blame me for her illness - and now, denied outdoor space, on the unmistakable claim that I would deliberately give my dog something that might make her sick. Incredible. As if the torture of getting only a half hour a week with my beloved dog isn't bad enough.
When I spoke with them afterwards about the indoor visits, the medical reports, and the legal authority, it was not much different.
Who knows, I could find out next week that visits have been ended permanently because of my interaction with them today - the shelter manager, Sandra, who claims she was the "decider" about going indoors - and Lori Scolero, of Animal Services, who watches by standing out in the lobby. She claims she has no idea what legal authority HRM has to hold Brindi and doesn't care to know. It's the legal department's problem, she says.
I asked again for Brindi's latest medical records, from about three weeks ago now, which include important blood tests. They were not on hand, but a fax was promised.
Brindi was fine most of the time, but she was naturally distracted by the comings and goings in front of the glass doors and outside the windows to the street. She quickly emptied a kong that was given to her at the beginning. I was not allowed to give her milkbones or any treats, but was supplied with "kibble" for her. So, we cuddle, I put her through the few tricks I managed to teach her, and I watch her nose at the doors and windows, hoping to be let out. Thirty minutes in a room.
Am I alienating the SPCA by posting this? Not posting it would not alter the situation, because cooperation and subservience is expected, not rewarded. Sorry to be so harsh - but Christmas is on its way and I am facing a SECOND Christmas without Brindi. It's just incredible. We cannot get HRM to cooperate by moving up the trial date- even after they complained to the judge about the delays (caused by needing to find counsel). A judge also said she didn't believe she had the authority (power) to order that Brindi go to a better facility with long-term care status. If she doesn't have it, the question is, who does? And HRM seems to think she does, as they insist they would not permit a transfer without a court order. More frustration, while my dog is kept at a 30 day facility.
My apology for today however goes to a well-meaning volunteer who dared break the standing order not to talk to me. In the parking lot, as I was leaving, she came over to say how much she loves Brindi. I apologize for bursting out at the seams at her with "I love my dog, and she's mine!"
I have never had such a moment of breakdown there, let alone in front of a volunteer who was kind enough to speak to me. I also regret it because wanted to speak with her; I believe she was truly a kind woman. But after my frustrating attempt to reason with two recalcitrant women, it was honestly too much to bear to hear what a great dog I have. It is a nice thing to say on the face of it, and it is not that I don't appreciate it - I do. But frankly, it rips my insides out. I KNOW she is lovable and wonderful and smart; that is why she should not be on death row as a "dangerous dog". And that is also why I want her home for Christmas. Who is going to help me?
This woman will know who she is, and since the SPCA folks read this blog (sometimes within minutes of posting) I am confident she'll see my apology. She was probably scolded for approaching me, since the manager, who must have been watching from the door, shooed her into the building within seconds. I'm sorry about that too. I hope she'll understand and forgive me.