Sunday, March 7, 2010

Humane Halifax hits the streets for Brindi

"I am SO GLAD you are fighting to get your dog back!" said a blonde woman in a white ski jacket yesterday. "Please keep it up! I just think the city is really abusing their power to do this to you."

I was standing at the corner of South Park and Spring Garden Road, along with about ten members of Humane Halifax for Better Animal Control. About half of HH's members turned up, arriving before me and doing a valiant job. Veteran four-legged Brindi supporter Jessie the Chessie was there as always with her mom, Jenn Richardson, along with Peggy McIntyre, Bob Riley, Valerie Slaunwhite, Vidya Wang (who brought me tulips!!), longtime Truro SPCA volunteer Pat Mercer, and her friend (whose name I can't remember - my apologies; stress is bad for the short-term memory), both from Cole Harbour, and others, like a young mom named Brenda and her son, who saw the Facebook notice and decided to take along their pretty shepherd mix.

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, with a cool wind to remind us that spring wasn't quite here yet. As Jenn says, "We're not really the protesting type,  just people who love their dogs." So rather than march around, we stayed put for a few hours, while young and old, black and white, rich and poor, residents and tourists passing by paused to hear about Brindi. Scores of them asked for more information and how they could help.

A visitor from South Africa resting at the gates asked what it was about and apologized that she didn't think she could do much to help, being from out of town. Her surprised face beamed with pride, though, when I told her that one of the most fervent people out there fighting for Brindi right now is a woman from her country.

Trish Malkoff from Johannesburg has written and phoned Mayor Kelly several times, and last week she actually managed to speak to Mary Ellen Donovan, the head of the legal department. (Trish had the idea of recording the chat - no idea if this is legal or not, but it's interesting to hear.) I really admire her for not being easily put off. When Donovan claimed it's the police who are behind all of this, Malkoff asked, "Don't you mean the police of your city?" From then on, Donovan answered all questions with "No comment."

As the wind began to die down a little, things warmed up at the corner gates, and people were not in such a hurry to get wherever they were going. Over and over, I heard, "It's your dog!?!" alternating with "You're the lady on TV! When are you getting your dog back?" A pair of young girls who hadn't heard the story before opened their eyes wide at how long Brindi's been in the pound, and why. Seeing the birthday party photo from the SPCA, they promised to phone their HRM councilors on Monday.

A young couple who had left their rottweiler at home to go shopping expressed their concern to see Brindi go home and the law changed before one of their neighbors might get an idea. And so many people, from an elegantly attired lady laden with boutique purchases who nevertheless gladly accepted a flyer, to a tall woman with a friendly bull mastiff who kissed me on the lips (the dog, that is), said they've been following the story since the beginning and hoped things would turn out well.

Overall, it was a pretty encouraging experience. I got a lot of welcome hugs from humans and canines. HH even gained a few new members. Later, Jenn took flyers over to the Willow's pet store for Kyra Foster to give out at the counter. The Herald were kind enough to send over a reporter. We had no problems, although before I arrived, Bob noticed an HRM animal control van sitting across the street for a minute or two, but it didn't stick around long. Sometime later, we held our breath as a pair of patrolmen strolled over to the crosswalk, but they were apparently untroubled by the FREE BRINDI sign hanging on the park gates.

It was really great to get a chance to talk to Haligonians face to face. If I didn't live so far away from town, I'd be on that corner every weekend.

But as I drove all the way back to East Chezzetcook in the afternoon sunlight, I couldn't help feeling very angry at time and effort all this is costing, and all the harm it's done Brindi, when instead we could be going down to the beach for a nice, long walk together, enjoying the prime of our lives. That's all I want for us.

above photos: Robert Riley

This is where Brindi and I belong on a sunny afternoon - her home and mine.
Ed.: On a secure lead with her muzzle, keeping a good distance from all dogs, if any turn up, and otherwise, behind a fence and with private lessons twice a week.