Andrew Krystal should just go away
Discussions on the case regarding Francesca Rogier and her dog Brindi are not “inane.” It is the opposite.
This is a highly significant matter legally and to our community. This is not a case simply focused on the behaviour of a dog, or an owner, but involves the illegality of several municipal and provincial laws, the negligence of city employees and subcontractors, the dubious and exorbitant costs and actions of our city animal control/police and legal departments and the way that neighbours treat neighbours, as well as animals. It is already a precedent-setting case in administrative and animal law, due to Francesca’s win against HRM in the Supreme Court of NS, unchallenged by HRM.
Francesca did “abrogate” what had happened to her - she applied to a court of competent jurisdiction, and that court used its authority to find and rule that HRM had passed a law that was in fact illegal, under which its employees committed acts that were never legal. These employees testified that they followed the procedural rules of natural justice, but the judge found that they did not. The section of the bylaw under which AC Officer Hamm seized Brindi was declared never valid. The city employs a staff of qualified lawyers and others to write, double check, interpret and enforce these laws. They are well paid because they are entrusted with such responsibility. A case like this shows that these responsibilities seem beyond their capability.
The councillors, city staff and mayor seem to have little to no understanding of the laws they help enact, or details of the cases that are prosecuted based on them. This is a sad and shameful state of affairs that also shows the relative incompetence of our city government.
Are these matters “inane”? Only if your main interest in life is getting home from work in time to see “Dancing With The Stars.” As for this case taking attention away from matters dealing with racism or treatment of the elderly - hardly. That is simply a ridiculous comment. News stories on both of those topics get heavy media coverage, as you well know, and the ‘Brindi‘ case has gotten very little media coverage, and what coverage there has been is largely superficial and misconstrued. If you are saying that you believe “dog lovers” are neglectful of needy humans, that is also ridiculous. In general most people who show love and affection to animals are also the same ones who show love and affection to humans. Many studies clearly show the opposite: humans who are indifferent or hateful towards animals tend to be the same ones who often cause the worst harm to humans. It is interesting that you say it is a “shame” we can’t euthanize bad pet owners - so you are saying humans should be put to death for some vague idea of what might constitute bad pet ownership? This is a good example of how those who are indifferent to animals (“there are many things to fuss over and Brindi isn‘t one of them” - “down with the dog I say”) also often advocate needless violence towards them and humans.
People do not have a pre-set limit on the amount and ability to care for multiple things in their lives - family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, personal interests, causes and yes, pets. We are all capable of loving things in different amounts, in different ways, at different times. Most people also care more about what is close to their hearts then things not directly affecting them. Of course one will be more affected by what happens to a family member than by something not happening to one personally!! As for “guarantees” - they do not exist in life, as much as you might wish they did. This is as true of animal and human behaviours as it unfortunately is of “warranties” and “insurance” and other great concepts that fall very short in practice.
In a court, decisions are to rely on facts as much as possible, rather than suppositions. Those accused or convicted are then given opportunity and are expected to accept responsibility for their actions by remedying any wrongs and make positive contributions to society. Simply killing anything or anyone does not solve a problem - it is actually an avoidance of solving a problem. There are cases involving animals where “euthanasia” may be a more appropriate emergency measure, say for an untreatably ill and suffering animal. Destruction of an animal may be warranted in an exigent circumstance to defend another life in danger. There are often more viable options in these circumstances as well. Neither of these situations even remotely apply to Brindi, who is a normally well behaved, well loved pet who simply needs further training to keep her close to home and how to deal with other dogs near her space. That’s it.
The “history” of this dog does not include any kind of vicious attack on any dog and none whatsoever on any human. It is inflammatory to imply otherwise. If she hasn’t done that to date, why would she begin now? This case is not an example of the premise of “the good of the many outweigh the good of the few.” Brindi is not a threat to public safety - that is a statement promoted by HRM to defend its mistakes, not a fact. Yes, Francesca has been convicted under laws that are widely considered to be inadequate and wrongful, and yes, she did make some mistakes as a owner. These ‘mistakes’ are terribly minor and easily corrected - and must be seen against the tremendous amount of work she put in to achieve the success she had with Brindi on the whole. She has been willing to accept responsibility and remedy the situation since July 2008.
A recent case of a dog that attacked humans took only ten minutes to resolve in Kentville's provincial court. Why was this case not resolved long before now? HRM is directly responsible for this case developing as slowly and as byzantinely it has, by not owning up to their responsibilities and governing in the way that most of us expect them to. This is what a responsible journalist should be reporting on. It’s a shame the public has to pay the price for irresponsible government and media, a shame we can’t just “euthanize” their irresponsibility and indifference.
-Betty Macdonald, Humane Halifax