Friday, September 19, 2014

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In need of rescue: NS SPCA must man up and do its duty for Brindi, the dog they say they love

 If you are new to this case, thank you for your interest! For background, please see the 2012  Montreal Dog Blog interview. This case differs from most "dangerous dog" cases and may be confusing. But it is important to know for those concerned about animal control laws and enforcement in North America, as it lays bare core issues common to animal control cases. Thank you.

A call out to all who care about Brindi: 
Please help with the effort to persuade the local SPCA to intervene by using its legal authority to protect animal welfare to take her from the control of the city and place her in a safe, healthy home that abides by all court conditions. 
Asking the SPCA to intervene is one way the public can help. It has the greatest potential for getting Brindi to safety.

Here is how it works. 

1. To clarify the current roles of the SPCA and the HRM pound:
  • Halifax animal control now takes all animals it picks up as strays or seizes under warrant to Homeward Bound City Pound, a private company in Burnside Industrial Park, that Halifax contracts to provide "pound services" as of 2010.* That year, Halifax chose not to renew its contract with the Nova Scotia SPCA, who previously provided these services at the Metro Shelter. 
  • In turn, Homeward Bound pays a private kennel in West Chezzetcook, Wyndenfog Kennel, to hold dogs Halifax wants detained until their fate is decided - usually until their owners are tried in court. 
  • Halifax instructs Homeward Bound and Wyndenfog to confine these dogs from contact with other dogs and to prohibit visits (from their owners, trainers, vets).
  • Brindi has been at Wyndenfog Kennel since 2010. 

2. This means the SPCA does not participate in HRM animal control in any way and is free to enforce the provincial Animal Protection Act per its statutory duty, and in that effort, take action to protect Brindi’s life right now.

  • The Act provides full and sole authority to the SPCA to enforce it. 
  • The SPCA is thus empowered to investigate, lay charges, and obtain a warrant to seize animals.
  • For this, it needs “reasonable grounds to believe an animal is in distress”. No further permission or approval is necessary. 
  • There is veterinary and canine expert opinion on file – already in its possession - providing ample grounds for the SPCA to believe - and know - Brindi is in distress. 

3. The current status is that the courts found no reason to order Brindi put down, as the city requested. Yet the courts inexplicably gave Halifax ownership of her, leaving her fate entirely in city hands -  fully aware that it is determined to kill her. 
  • An "order to destroy" was Halifax's purpose in charging me with by-law offences after it seized Brindi.  
  • Now that the court has transferred this power of life and death to Halifax along with ownership, now takes up the court decision from 2012 and says it regards itself as a private dog owner, and as dogs are property, asserts that it has the right to destroy its property for any - or no - reason. 
  • There is no reason to destroy Brindi. 
4. Halifax cannot proceed with its plan to kill Brindi at this time. This is because I filed a Notice of Appeal. This is the second appeal, and like all appeals, will take a minimum of several months

4. However, if the SPCA would act NOW, I would gladly drop the appeal. Anything to spare Brindi more time behind bars and keep her safe from being destroyed.

  • If a private person made such statements and caged a dog for six years, the SPCA would not hesitate to apply the law and take possession of Brindi.
  • Several individuals, each of whom can provide her a very good home, have sent the city requests to adopt her (I have copies).
  • By not even replying to these requests, the city of Halifax – which cannot deny that it knows and understands my position - confirms that it intends to kill Brindi. 
5. There are ample reasonable grounds for the SPCA to investigate and take possession of Brindi.

  • It is widely considered unhealthy and risky to kennel any dog more than 30 days. 
  • The kennel conditions are unfit for months, let alone years.
  • On top of that, the city deliberately deprives her from socialization with other dogs, aware this is contrary to vet and canine expert recommendations.
  • We are talking SIX YEARS for a dog that is has rarely shown any aggression, let alone minor aggression; is not classified as a dangerous dog; is not remotely dangerous by any standard.  
We need help urgently. The NS SPCA can and must act without further delay to get Brindi to safety.

No dog should ever have to wait in a cage while the gears of justice slowly grind. Brindi's life is at risk every day: being locked up gave her two chronic conditions that frequently become fatal.

Help me persuade the NS SPCA to accept that the law applies to everyone and every organization - including government officials and contractors. Their action will help all dogs in HRM stay safe from frivolous seizures and spare their owners unending grief. I will work with them to find a good home for Brindi, preferably outside of this jurisdiction, so that there is no undue pressure on them.**

Time is running out. We need a hero!!!! Can you be that person?

My contact info: 


Nova Scotia SPCA CONTACT info:
Board of Directors: animals@spcans.c
Executive Director Elizabeth Murphy: emurphy@spcans 
Chief Provincial Investigator Dave Ross:

Animal Protection Act of Nova Scotia - Bill 186 CHAPTER 33 OF THE ACTS OF 2008
An Act to Protect Animals and to Aid Animals that are in Distress

22    A person who owns or is in charge of an animal other than a farm animal shall
(a)    ensure that the animal has an adequate source of food and water;
(b)    provide the animal with adequate medical attention when the animal is wounded or ill;
(c)    provide the animal with reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold;
(d)    not confine the animal to an enclosure or area with inadequate space, unsanitary conditions, inadequate ventilation or without providing an opportunity for exercise so as to significantly impair the animal's health or well-being.
23 (1)    Where an inspector finds an animal in distress and the owner or person in charge of the animal

(a)    does not immediately take appropriate steps to relieve its distress; or

(b)    is not present or cannot be found promptly,

the inspector may, subject to this Act, take such action as the inspector considers necessary to relieve the distress including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing,

(c)    taking custody of the animal;

(d)    arranging for any necessary transportation, food, water, care, shelter and medical treatment, or any one or more of them;

(e)    delivering the animal into the custody of the Society, the Minister or a suitable caretaker.
23 (4)    Where an inspector has reasonable and probable grounds for believing that an animal is in distress in or upon any premises other than a private dwelling place the inspector may, with or without a warrant, and by force, if necessary, enter the premises and search for the animal and exercise the powers conferred on the inspector by this Section with respect to any animal in distress found therein.

To be clear, I am not saying adoption is the right outcome. Not at all. I cannot comprehend the appeal decision. The trial was error-laden and frankly a miscarriage of justice. Both were needless, as was every court proceeding related to Brindi, and every day she spent and spends behind bars. 

No one is perfect. People make mistakes. And every owner will be just as vulnerable to making mistakes as I was.  

Brindi did nothing to deserve such drastic action by HRM -  to be muzzled, seized, locked up, and killed. She had a few scrapes with a few other dogs. Some were not without provocation. She is otherwise friendly to dogs, and dependably obedient, loving, and eager to please humans. 

I did nothing to deserve having Brindi taken from me. I have admitted my mistakes - slipping up with the leash/muzzle in 08, messing up with a window switch in a car I just bought in '10. No real harm occurred. Nevertheless I took full responsibility. I apologized immediately & asked if the other dog was okay (tho in 2008 the dogs didn't touch); offered to pay for vet care even when there was no sign of injury; offered to pay fines, built a dog run, did extensive private training. I proposed the conditions two years before a judge imposed them. I met the conditions and then exceeded them, by doing training outside of the kennel. The law says the mistakes I made are to be fined, I am in agreement. The law does not say my mistakes should be punished by taking my dog away from me, let alone killing her. 

* Homeward Bound Citypound now states on its website that it is a "no-kill" facility. However in its first year it reported that it put down some 14 dogs its staff deemed dangerous. HRM by-law A-300 s. 15 provides that Homeward Bound can destroy any animals not claimed after 72 hours or animals that its staff deems dangerous. Yet A-300 does not require or authorize its own animal control officers to have dogs they deem dangerous put down. (Under HRM Charter so 195, only a judge can order a dog to be put down, provided its owner is found guilty of an offence - it does not restrict this to offences related to attacks; s.195 also allows judges to put down dogs that bark excessively or run at large.)
** There is strong precedent for owners to be involved and even take the lead in finding a new home - even when the court otherwise appears to condemn the owner. See Smith v. Regional District (Central Okanagan),  2012 BCSC 1561

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