Sunday, January 3, 2016

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HRM Solicitor Katherine Salsman Said No to Adoption & All Alternatives to Killing Brindi: 2010 Memo


Another dismal end of year, and the most dismal end.
It's time to get things straightened out once and for all. This is not your average dog case. From the outside, it's not always clear. I forget this often because I am in the thick of this struggle. What gets said and proven in court isn't reported. In between, the press passes on whatever the city says. The public fills in the blanks, based on general knowledge of other cases. So I am going to put this out as clearly as I can:

  • I did not prolong Brindi's time in the pound.
  • I am not a dog owner who doesn't know anything about dogs and doesn't train their dog.
  • I did not fail to take incidents seriously.
  • I did not ignore a muzzle order on Brindi twice, or at all.
  • My memo to HRM from 2010 is the first of many documents dealing with adoption. In that memo I listed five offers I made in person to the HRM lawyer. I offered to plead guilty and pay fines if they would let Brindi go on any one of those offers. This would have avoided a costly trial and gotten Brindi out of the pound right away.

I asked HRM to choose one of these measures and I would plead guilty and pay fines: 
1. Release Brindi to me pending trial, and if HRM wanted, I would put up a bond as high as $10,000, or, 
2. Let Brindi go to a foster home pending the outcome of the trial, or, 
3. Drop the prosecution's request to the judge to order Brindi to be killed, or, 
4. Release Brindi to me and I would take her out of the country and go back to the States.  
5. Let Brindi go to another owner, either here or anywhere else, i.e., ADOPTION!

What did I do? What did HRM do? What did Brindi do?

Maybe if I lay out these three categories and discuss... maybe it will help. As I said, I have these things documented and entered into evidence. In a fair and just system, you'd think a small fraction of it would have been enough to get the case tossed out of court.

Let's be clear before we go on that none of the above fictions about me being to blame, etc. etc., if true (and they are not) justify what HRM did. Lord knows there's been plenty of cases where HRM didn't try to muzzle or kill a dog that severely harmed a person or killed an animal, so it's not like the judges are so tough, or the law is so strict. Not at all.

The truth is that this nightmare is not about fairness and justice. It's not about public safety. It's not about an irresponsible dog owner. It's not about a dangerous dog. What's left after that for it to be about? Well, power, I guess, sheer power. Best guess.

Me                                                                                                                                                        

I did not prolong Brindi's time in the pound. 
I did everything I could to put a stop to Brindi's time in the pound. I spent practically all my time trying.

And don't forget for a minute the fact that if I didn't keep fighting for her, HRM would have killed her. They wanted me to sign her over right away so they could do it.

The court proceedings don't force HRM to keep holding her. The law doesn't connect impounding a dog to a trial against the owner. It may appear that it does, but if it did, then there would be a lot of dogs in solitary confinement all the time. And people would really not stand for that!

I begged HRM many times to adopt a reasonable alternative to killing Brindi. I did it through my lawyers, I did it on this blog, I did it directly by phone, email, letters to HRM.

I am not a dog owner who doesn't know anything about dogs and doesn't train their dog or understand anything about dogs. 
Please. My last dog was much bigger than Brindi and went everywhere with me off leash. No issues ever. With Brindi, we passed an obedience course with Bob Ottenbrite. I had her spayed, licensed, insured, you name it, I did it. I kept drilling what we learned from Ottenbrite for a whole year, putting off my renovation in order to do it. Brindi was the best-behaved dog among all of our friends. She played with other dogs all the time, we were welcome everywhere. It was easy for me to get letters of support for her, she was that good.

In 2008 I proposed the same exact conditions that the judge later in 2010 made into requirements for her release. And before the judge released Brindi that July, I completed 30 hours of extra training myself, alone, and then 20 hours with Brindi. No dog owner did more than I had to do in such a situation.

And yet I continued to do training beyond that because I was not satisfied that the in-kennel training was any help in curbing Brindi's low-level territoriality. My trainer agreed. You have to work with the dog on its home turf. So I exceeded the court requirements. That is not what an irresponsible dog owner does.

I did not fail to take incidents seriously. 
Hardly!! First of all, I put a stop to them myself in a matter of seconds.
I always apologized on the spot and looked after the other dog and was polite and open and honest with the other dog owners and with HRM. I immediately called trainers for advice even when all that happened was a harmless scuffle. I offered to pay for a vet exam even when the dog was not injured.
I acted like any responsible dog owner would. There is abundant evidence - actual concrete proof - for this. Just because a judge didn't acknowledge the evidence doesn't mean it isn't proof. I never had a fair hearing on anything. Every single proceeding was tainted.

I did not ignore court conditions on Brindi twice, or at all.  
Far from it. The condition people usually mean is the muzzle order. I did not "ignore" anything - I made an honest mistake. And first of all, let's revisit how that muzzle even came about. It began as an order by an animal control officer. The email he sent to another dog owner (I have it) makes clear that he did this as a way to take her and kill her the next time anybody called HRM without investigating, even if no attack happened.

So back to mistakes. Okay, I made two. Honest mistakes. The first was harmless - there was no contact between dogs, nobody got hurt. The second involved maybe six seconds of dogs scuffling. Not much harm to speak of. No emergency treatment.

It's kind of important to know that the second mistake happened over two years after the first. Knowing what happened during those two years is also kind of important. If you want to know, read the blog, read the court transcripts. Read the decisions too - but with a critical eye, because there are a number of factual errors in every court decision, and a lot of inferences and claims that are simply not supported by the evidence before the court, and/or out of sync with the law and routine enforcement! 


HRM                                                                                                                                                      

What does HRM say Brindi actually did to deserve being seized and killed? Not much. Salsman talked in blanket generalizations most of the time. However as time went on, she embellished the truth quite a bit, to the point that she had the judges believing there were "puncture wounds" in incidents dating back to 2007 (So why didn't HRM do anything back then? Because they didn't happen!) Judge Buchan embellished even further on these things, despite the fact that HRM's own evidence contradicted her. Salsman never corrected the judge on her errors.
Where are the photos of all the big puncture wounds from 2007, for instance? Nowhere. They don't exist! (Why didn't the media report on any of this? Ask the media!)

HRM and Salsman did everything to avoid releasing Brindi, everything to keep right on locking  her up. They even broke laws, as far as I can tell, or rather, paid other people to break laws. And to harm an animal. HRM's lawyers sure fought hard to stop a judge from hearing about these tings, so I am pretty sure I'm right about it being unlawful. I know I am. Judges seem so allergic to it and that's no surprise to me now.

HRM decided to seize and kill Brindi even though it knew she is a good dog. HRM blocked me from getting an assessment to make a fair determination about my dog. Why wouldn't HRM want a fair determination? Why wouldn't it want to be sure there was no mistake?

I know why. The 2009 court ruling that quashed the city's order to destroy established beyond doubt that HRM did not act fairly at all. It didn't follow procedure. Didn't do a proper investigation. Didn't interview all the witnesses. And as it turned out, HRM didn't use accurate information to get a seizure warrant, either. Once there was a decision was to seize and kill Brindi - a decision the AC officer made in advance, when he muzzled her - HRM didn't want a fair determination.

If an investigation thoroughly reviewed this case from 2010 to the present, it would find that HRM's actions have been very consistent as far as fairness goes.

HRM did not want to be fair or avoid killing an innocent dog. HRM didn't want an assessment because it knew the result would be positive and it wanted to avoid having to explain why it wants to kill a dog that a trainer doesn't say is dangerous.  To avoid letting people know it wanted to kill my dog, no matter what an expert said.

HRM continued to ignore positive assessment after positive assessment. Never changed its death march one iota. No judge took it to task for that. No newspaper or TV station did either. People did, but HRM didn't care, doesn't care.

HRM couldn't get a trainer or a vet or animal group to back it up. Again, no judge took it to task for that. No newspaper or TV station did either.

HRM did everything to hide the truth about Brindi.  
HRM blocked the results of an assessment from going into evidence in 2009.

HRM went behind my lawyer's back to communicate with a judge ex parte and prejudice him to decide against releasing Brindi before my lawyer had a chance to be heard. HRM told the judge it wanted to kill her. This doubtless made the judge believe, mistakenly, that HRM had a good reason to kill her.

HRM had to go way out on a limb on this case, because Brindi is not your average dog. It couldn't ever get a canine expert on its "side". So in 2012, the HRM prosecutor told the sentencing judge to ignore all the positive expert assessments of Brindi - the judge should order Brindi killed not because she poses an excessive risk of safety compared to other dogs, but that she poses a risk - along with other similarly open-ended, unqualified, and thus empty claims. There's lots of dogs around, they all pose a risk. Shoelaces pose a risk. And even dogs that actually are dangerous, unlike my dog, don't even make the top fifty of the leading causes of accidental death. (Storms kill a lot more people. Falling in the bathroom does too - thousands more.)

HRM ignored its own poundkeeper's opposing views. The SPCA and staff at the current pound agree with the trainers and our vet and me and lots of witnesses that Brindi is a sweet and friendly dog trained in obedience commands.

HRM lied to the public. Wasted money. Wasted court time. People should be very angry and outraged at HRM. Not me.

HRM hurt my dog permanently.
HRM, through the SPCA, made my dog sick and ruined her teeth.
HRM, through Hope Swinimer, took her off needed medication and stopped her regular vet visits.

HRM played dirty. 
I could write volumes, quoting and citing from all the documents from 2008 to today, to show this.
One telling fact may be enough for now: the two previous HRM prosecutors from 2008 to 2010 all but apologized to me. Each one said about the whole thing, "I feel bad."

HRM repeatedly refused to negotiate a better solution than killing Brindi. The memo I wrote to Katherine Salsman way back in December 2010 is the first of many documents that show this beyond any doubt.

HRM forced me to spend all my savings and rely on donations to be able to keep Brindi alive. And now it wants to adopt her?

HRM now points the finger at me, blaming me for its action to keep Brindi locked up. This idea makes me thoroughly ill. I can just feel the cancer cells forming again.

HRM now wants people to forget everything it did to me and my dog, all the cruel things for seven years. It wants you to only think about what it says now, which, if it is true, is the opposite of what it said for seven years because HRM only wanted one thing and one thing only: to kill Brindi.

HRM cannot be believed. What HRM says or implies now just doesn't square with the past seven years. HRM locked Brindi up for years and claimed to judges that nobody could control her. And now they say they are going to adopt her out. So either HRM lied before or it's lying now. On second thought, both, as I have a hard time believing it won't kill my dog when nobody's looking, if it hasn't already, like Lennox in Belfast. HRM says the people adopting her want to be anonymous? Sure they do.

Why should anybody believe what HRM says now, after it's spent thousands upon thousands of taxpayer money for seven and a half years, trying to stop me from stopping it from killing her?
Until now, HRM maintained secrecy about its plans for her. Announcing she will be killed would expose it to public scrutiny, upset people in and out of city hall, and go against five professional evaluations and the opinion of HRM's own contractors.

So why is HRM is both maintaining secrecy and saying it will let Brindi be adopted? Why isn't HRM releasing a current photo of her either?


BRINDI                                                                                                                                       

Brindi never bit a person. 

Brindi was and is not across-the-board aggressive to every dog or even most dogs. 

Brindi was never "running at large" in the sense that she roamed the streets on her own. She never went more than a foot or two beyond my property - except for when a man kicked the crap out of her and she ran across the street for a second. She then immediately turned around and ran home! And always I was right there with her and was able to regain control quickly.

Brindi and I completed a challenging obedience class successfully. None of the other dog owners who testified against us did this. In fact most of them never even took one lesson.

HRM has not given me or anybody a shred of proof since 2012 that Brindi is alive!!! It has actively refused. And by "it", I mean Katherine Salsman.

If Brindi is alive, it's almost certain she is sick. She already suffers from chronic pancreatitis. HRM stopped giving her the meds she needs for that. She also got chronic gum and dental disease. Enamel damage. All of that happened while she was locked up. When they took her she was 100% healthy.


Whenever a city government says it is going to kill a dog, people should be focused on the dog. Never blindly blame the owner and leave it at that.

Right? You can't skip this part.

Finally - I am just one small person, alone. HRM is a whole powerful city. I don't have the money or time or resources that HRM does. I can't get the message out like it can. I haven't seen my dog since 2010. I haven't got anything more I can do.

What should people do? Have an open mind. Focus on what the law actually says. Don't take anything for granted. And be careful to find out what the dog actually did before you make up your mind.

And if you have the real facts in hand, then go to your elected officials and demand an investigation of this whole tragedy! 


1 comment:

  1. I just watched the six o'clock news Jan 6 2016,felt compelled to contact you, I want you to know you are not alone, you have many, many people in your corner and we will all do what we have to do to help you, never be ashamed to ask for a helping hand when you need one and never, never refuse a shoulder offered for crying on. you have indeed been dealt a grave injustice, you and Brindi both. I'm sorry that I haven't much to offer you except my support, I'm outraged that this could happen, perhaps in some small backwoods redneck town but in all places , a forward thinking academic and medical sciences city like Halifax! What are we doing? Where are our priorities? Why is the justice system wasting tax payers money prosecuting, not a rapist, not a murderer, not a child abuser BUT a dog!!! Good grief Nova Scotia wake up!! I'm ashamed to say I live here, this makes no sense. There are so many good honest people here who will do all they can to help you, unfortunately they don't seem to be in the justice system, Please believe that we are on your side and that something good will come out of this in the end. You are a very brave and tough lady, you are a fighter ( you proved that with your cancer battle)and remember, When we think we cannot go on......somehow we do. Bless you and be well.

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