Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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The amazing stubbornness of stalkers and haters: a rant for once

At every stage of the way, regardless of the number of unfair and cruel actions of various authorities and agents, a crazed core of strange people manages to weave them into a twisted narrative that makes me the villain. Safe in their internet hideouts, these obsessives now insist I am now blocking the city from adopting out Brindi.

The emails from prosecutor Katherine Salsman I posted weeks ago make it very clear that HRM had not done the court-ordered assessment, nor made any decision about Brindi by the appeal deadline. The only decision it made was to keep the results of said assessment private. It had no intention of doing anything, however. 

So while the idea that I am blocking is ridiculous, it's all the more astounding just how persistent these people are. No matter what happens, no matter how absurd the spin. I guess they count on a certain percentage of people who rarely think for themselves, or try to discern fact from opinion.  The litany of untruths, some hatched as far back as 2009, get pretty threatening in this age of Google. Fortunately most people see them for what they are and go on their way.

But among the most brazen, and potentially damaging, are faked quotes: for instance, a declaration I supposedly made in a courtroom to the effect that I would rather see Brindi die than go to somebody else. I never said anything of the kind, in writing or out loud. I couldn't even form the thought, and I'm sure no one else in this situation could either. How anybody claiming to love dogs could spread such a falsification about a dog owner in the tragic situation of fighting for their companion's life is beyond me.

These utterances do not originate in misunderstanding, and they are not merely opinion; they come from a conscious choice to cause harm, as much and as often as possible. Equally hateful and absurd are accusations that I want Brindi to be impounded longer because I am using her to make money from donations so I can live off of them. Or that I am mooching off the people of Nova Scotia - a nice trick, as visitors are not entitled to public assistance. Or, that I am tying up the courts and costing the taxpayers lots of money.

That one is really something, as I did everything possible to avoid going to court - like any sane person would. The truth of the matter is that by declining to provide a way to appeal a euthanasia order in 2008, refusing to accept reasonable offers, HRM forced matters into court, and kept them there, even when the outcome was pretty certain. The letter accompanying the euthanasia order even suggested I hire a lawyer. Because there was no appeal process, and the city said it wouldn't suspend the order otherwise, I had to file a lawsuit right, just to buy time to try to persuade it not to kill my dog. I had no idea at the time how impossible the latter would turn out to be, or how much it would cost along the way.

Similarly outlandish: the claim that I turned down a rescue (or rescues) willing to take Brindi, and that I steadfastly refused to follow the court conditions - conditions I not only volunteered two years earlier, but which I actually exceeded, by doing more training than required. Then there's more sinister tales designed to ruin my reputation altogether: that I was denied tenure in my university post (um, no, tenure review was still two years off when I decided to take a break), or that I drink heavily. A few Berlin friends and ex boyfriends would find that one particularly amusing, no doubt. It gets even worse.

Along the way, these cyberstalkers, haters, whatever you want to call them, have interlaced their savagery with demonstrably false claims that they are "working behind the scenes" with HRM, under the implausible pretext that they alone care about my dog - a dog they also contradictorily claim is a danger to the neighborhood and would be shot. Some of these people don't even live within ten miles of Halifax. They also obscure the fact that HRM has repeatedly ignored all alternatives and excluded even the SPCA, its own pound contractor at the time, from the court proceedings. So much for putative local loyalty.

Though it makes me pretty ill to even recite these lies and smears, I am all too aware of the saying that, repeated often enough, a lie becomes the truth - Lord knows this city has employed it to great effect. As a friend said, "They don't even know what they are talking about, yet the (expletives deleted) never shut up." Who needs this? I ignore it the best I can, but I'm not unaware of the lingering negative effects on me, and sometimes it just becomes too much. There's more than enough cognitive dissonance in my life already, from the contrast between my sweet dog, the number of people who adore her, and the facts on the ground on one side, including a few regrettable moments of error, but no more than that, and the conduct/decisions of the city. Bad enough HRM orchestrated an eviction and a demolition order  - rescinded a year later - based on demonstrably false claims that my house was structurally unsafe. (That one remains to be dealt with in yet another judicial review...!)

Sadly, this muck, with all the pain it causes - not only me but a number of very caring people - goes largely unchallenged by otherwise respectable individuals who ought to know better. A lot better. After all, it's not as though HRM (or the SPCA, for that matter) have a spotless record of consistently and fairly enforcing the law. Nor am I the only one to raise issues about the inadequacy and constitutionality of said law and its enforcement. The difference is, unlike others, I was forced into this when my dog was seized to be killed (largely on the strength of a fictitious law regarding muzzle order violations), and the city refused to let her go, no matter what. And by "what", I mean, everything from lack of sufficient reason, to petitions, letters, behavioral assessments, and a supreme court order quashing the euthanasia order.

Making me the scapegoat when the harm and injury are there for anybody to see is very sad, very shameful, and nothing to be proud of. The main reason they seized her again, according to court statements from animal services and the prosecutor, is that I had the audacity to temporarily leave town with her, simply because like everybody else, I knew they would seize her again, to kill her. (A dispatcher for HRM also told me to take her out of town, but that fact was overlooked in court.) Never mind that this was not called for either time. Never mind that they already lost twice in court. And this time, they didn't exactly "win" either, because for reasons best known to her, instead of ordering them to put Brindi down, the judge dumped everything back in HRM's lap, bringing it all back to July 2008, essentially, when the city made a decision without providing due process or even an investigation.

That court decision is another thing this crew of haters keeps lying about. Unfortunately, they're profiting from some rather unclear reporting. So unclear, in fact, an argument broke out during a recent barbecue where a few guys insisted Brindi is already dead, I'm told. One self-styled animal advocate even told the media that Brindi is kept with other dogs now and is doing just fine, so it must be all my fault that she had any problems in the past. Um, no, sadly, she is strictly isolated from other dogs, and that fact has been known for years.

How I wish a good journalist would finally take it upon themselves to look into the situation in depth and present a coherent, complete picture, preferably without sensationalizing, as the facts are plenty sensational enough.

Meanwhile, Brindi's alive, as far as I know, anyhow. I am missing her more than ever, mourning the loss of another summer, another year, another seven for her. I'm living still with the distant view of the kennel they're keeping her in, located right across the inlet from my window. But I don't dare bring up that torturous aspect in a courtroom. The Kafkaesque task of having to prove the obvious, without benefit of a lawyer, citizenship, or a certain appendage, is challenging enough.

So sorry, no, I am not blocking HRM from doing something, anything, good for Brindi. "Not even remotely." Nobody on earth would be more delighted than I if HRM would give some kind of sign that it is willing to let some intrepid person adopt Brindi, or barring that, that it would consent for Brindi to be fostered, starting right now, to the end of the appeal process. Enough is enough.

(And PS, I dearly hope the city's vet checks her blood levels soon, as a matter of fact.)

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