Friday, September 26, 2008

A visit from Brianna and Kasse

Today I got such a nice surprise visit from two girls from the neighborhood. They were on their way to the baseball park with a puppy named Cassie, and stopped by to cheer me up about Brindi. Brianna thoughtfully picked some wildflowers as a present. They wanted to know how I was, and how Brindi is - if I've seen her lately. What a wonderful thing to see these two lively young spirits! Brianna is in fourth grade and Kasse (pronounced like "Casey") is in seventh. After we chatted for a bit, they asked me if I had any pictures, so I gave them some posters. Brianna said she would put one up in her bedroom. Kasse asked if she could circulate some petitions at her school and the high school.
And then they decided to write a letter to the mayor. It might open if you click it:



Brianna writes (with permission for spelling changes), "Dear Mayor Kelly, I beg you to let her go this instant, miss or mister. She loves us, and we love her. From, Brianna Clark."

Kasse writes, "Dear Peter Kelly, You need to let Brindi go, all of us miss her. We are making 3 petitions. I hope it will be enough. I really love Brindi. Please let her go. In my diary I always write I hope Brindi comes home today. By Kasse Kinnaird Gr. 7 12 yrs old."

Needless to say, it really did cheer me up to see them, and I accepted their kind invitation to go along to the park with Cassie, who is quite a dog. I regret that I didn't take a photo, but they did promise to come by again soon. Thank you, my friends!

Meanwhile, I have new legal representation, and I hope to have some news to report soon.

Brindi, I love you my dear baby girl, please hang on, I am coming!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Story Sent to the Mayor

My name is Hope. At least I think it is; I haven't heard it in a while. They say they named me Hope because I looked like I had such hope when they came by my kennel. And I did. It must have worked because they took me home--my first real home. I loved very minute of it. A warm bed, lots of food, long walks, hands that never hit. Life was great! For the first time I felt safe and content. When I heard them talking about starting a family, I thought, great! Someone else to love me. I couldn't wait.

Then the baby arrived. She was so cute, I loved her. They named her Bethany Hope. Life couldn't be better! Then it all changed. Life became too busy for them. No more walks, no more sleeping in the same room as them. Then one day, they took me for a car drive, the first in a long time. I thought maybe things were turning around. Then I felt my heart sink. It was the place that was to familiar to me. I thought why is he bringing me here? He dropped me off, and they put me behind bars. I tried to stay calm and tell myself that the people that loved me will be back, I'm still waiting. In here it is hard to have hope.- I am leary of people coming by my little prison. Will they abandon me too?

In here, there are many sad stories. But the one that saddens me the most is the dog down the hall, in a special room. They say her name is Brindi. She is on death row. She cries every night. Like me, she was in a shelter for a very long time before a loving owner came and rescued her. They say her name is Francesca, so I guess she must be named after St. Francis, the Patron of Saints and protector of animals. Brindi loved her new life. She tells of long walks on the beach, cats and dog friends to play with, lessons, great treats, warm bed, car rides. Life was the best she had ever had. Like us all, Brindi has instincts, and some fears. So she ran into a little trouble with some other dogs, but there were no serious injuries and no trouble ever with a human. I heard them say because of a "ByLaw A 300", Brindi was seized and is supposed to die. They say Brindi can still hear her owner's screams as they drove her away in the big white truck. They haunt her at night. Doesn't it seem ironic that my owners would be allowed to see me any time they want but choose not to, and Francesca is denied visits?

I am afraid I do not understand this way of thinking. If only my owners were so supportive of me. Every dog in here would give anything to have such a dedicated owner as Francesca. Francesca will do anything to save her dog's life. My owners don't seem to care if I live or die. Surely there has to be someone out there with compassion who will help Brindi. You know, they take her outside on a rabies pole, even though she has never been aggressive to humans. She knows her owner is trying her best to get her home. But she cries herself to sleep every night. It has been so long, over two months! As I say, it's hard to have hope in here. I can only pray I find a Francesca, someone who won't desert me, someone who will fight with everything they have for me.

I'm thinking about changing my name and giving it to Brindi. She really needs Hope. She needs your help, from all of you that are not behind bars and separated from those who love you. Please speak up, speak up for the voiceless. Hear our cries at night. Let Brindi go home, to a home we can only dream of. Give us all back our HOPE. They say there are almost 2000 names on petitions to help save her. There are protests and people called "Brindi's Angels" trying to help right this wrong. Francesca is also paying thousands to a lawyer, so she can go to court, and this the only thing keeping Brindi alive. Please do the right thing, and help Brindi. Brindi HOPE, that's what I am going to call her from now on. She needs You! We all need you, so maybe we can all have Hope again. Since I gave my name to Brindi, I have changed mine to FAITH, because I have to have faith you will do the right thing.

Thank you.

Faith, The Shelter Dog


(with my most heartfelt thanks to Linda Koekman, an Angel for Brindi, who wrote and sent this to all the councillors and the mayor in early September. She also gave me the St. Francis medal, with the hope that a kind priest would go with me to the SPCA, visit Brindi, and put this medal on her collar with a special blessing.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

The answer is no

Today I received a reply from the city clerk: the online petitions will not be presented to the Council next week, because they lack street addresses for all the signees. This is some 1800 names we are talking about. We will email the petitions to each councilor anyhow.

In addition, my request to address the Council as part of the agenda was denied, because "the case is before the courts." The idea was that the Council could act faster than the courts to resolve the situation - send Brindi home. To do that, somebody has to request the Council to take action on the matter by suspending the by-law. What other way is there? A letter? Dozens of people have already written to the Council. The topic has to be put on the agenda in order to have anything happen.

Third, and more bizarrely, the mayor has reversed his offer to help that he made to a supporter a week ago, in reply to her urgent appeal. He said, "I would love to help." We were elated about it. But when she tried to set up an appointment, as he had advised, his staff intervened, taking up the familiar "before the courts" phrase.

So it appears as though any dialogue with elected officials is forfeited, because I had to hire a lawyer to save my dog, having no other option under the law. I don't get it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our two month "badiversary"

Two months, or eight weeks, FIFTY-SIX nights and days for Brindi in the pound, all those nights with the bed empty, no walks, no cheerful furry face next to me, no brown body wiggling with the wagging tail, not even a glimpse of her for all this time, only bad news.

It is hard to be detached about things today. My disbelief and shock and anger and sadness and grief and horror and fear and terror conspire against such a feat. I hope nobody out there has to go through this. There may be worse things indeed, but in my life, with all the ups and downs I have had, this is by far the worst, for its senselessness and frustration and duration. Among other things.

I cannot hold onto any other thought for very long.

"It is a dog, you know," says a lawyer. Many people say this, as if it would change my feelings, or the wrongness of the euthanization order. It's akin to others who said - not to me, thankfully, but friends: "It's just a dog."

Well, all I can say in response is, "It is death, you know. Senseless, needless killing that we are talking about." Just because she's a dog does not make it okay for a city to kill her, when a fence and training will take care of the problem. It is not okay to kill. Brindi is a dog, not vermin. I love her. She hears, smells, and loves me better than any human I know. She is irreplaceable. I will not simply go to the SPCA and "get another one," as one of the other dog owners suggested.

It is simply wrong to kill this dog. I cannot let something this wrong happen to an animal in my care. And I have to ask: with all the gifts I have been given, and the support coming from out there, if I can't save a dog, what good am I?

If we cannot honor these helpless creatures who love, give, and forgive us without a thought for themselves, what good are we?

Permit me

to preach just a bit (or a bit more, depending on your opinion).

As I wait for my precious old banged-up laptop to be repaired, and have the use of a friend's machine for the duration (luckily!), I have to deal with life a bit differently. My brain is gone, or part of it, without the laptop.

In any case, I was reading Granny's blog today, searching for words of wisdom. In my mind, the word Granny always conjures up the Beverly Hillbillies character, but today's grandmothers sure don't look like her. Not unlike them, though, she certainly had strong opinions and was nobody's fool.

Granny lays out her goals for the legislative situation and calls for animal law reform, pointing out measures that cost now but will save money in the long term.

A wise argument, and it struck me that it just begins to tell the story, in economic terms alone. If you add the extra dollar value that animals, such as dogs, represent in terms of savings on human health, including anti-depressants, psychotherapy, physical therapy, diet pills, and any number of other health-related costs, you would realize that they save the government a great deal of money, and not only the government, but all of us. It is time to rethink dogs and start connecting some dots. If you bring one dog into a male prison, the entire mood lightens and becomes friendlier, researchers say. Dogs kept as pets in prisons would save a lot on mood stabilizers and anti-depressants and other medications commonly to control the prisoners... not to mention extra security measures.

Many other areas of life benefit similarly from the presence of dogs. Clearly we should think of them as more than just pets or something to be controlled in urban areas. They are an infinite resource for the good of mankind that has gone unexamined far too long. We all know what dogs and other pets do for people, even those among us who do not love them recognize this. Let that irrefutable knowledge shape our policies and laws and practices.

Any way you look at it, multiplied across the lands, benefits to people offered by dogs are enormous, and true bargains in a time of increasing hardship. I would bet that if the real values were added up when it comes to dogs, we would be amazed. And I would like to see how they compare to the risks, bad as they might be at times. All dogs really want is to be with, work with people, whether that is through love and affection or sniffing out cancer. What other amazing things can they do? How will we ever know if we insist on killing them off by the tens of thousands, like plants in the rainforest?

In a civil society, that increasingly utopian place, no city should routinely kill dogs and cats. There is nothing routine about killing a dog or a cat. Anyone who has ever witnessed a euthanization knows just how true this is.

And in a civil society, the greatest protections should be extended to our greatest treasures. Before that happens, we must first recognize exactly what those treasures are, take a careful inventory. Dogs belong right up there alongside corporations. Goodness knows, they are a lot less exploitative.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Responsible Dog Ownership Week?

Well, yesterday's Meet/Treat/Educeet had a modest turnout, but pretty nice results all the same!

I borrowed Ella, a friend's chocolate lab and a stauch supporter of Brindi. Ella chose to lie down right in the middle of the base of the City Hall steps, greeting all comers with a friendly wag of her tail, cleverly giving me a chance to speak to them. Thank you , dear Ella!

We did meet a handful of city councillors, and it was good to speak to them one on one. They were very cooperative, and why not, with three beautiful pooches at my back, and three dedicated humans, plus some delicious cookies (I had big chocolate chip cookies on reserve in the car, in case they were needed)? And of course, I had handouts with Barking Points, all about Brindi and A300, to give them.

I also spoke to reporters from the Herald and News 95.7. It pays to get out there! So everybody is invited to next week's Meet and Treat, 5 pm, Grand Parade. I have more signs, more cookies, and more handouts, and I really hope we get a great big turnout. It's a special occasion, because Mayor Kelly, in his infinite wisdom, has declared Sept. 20-27 "Responsible Dog Ownership Week" in Halifax, apparently with the Canadian Kennel Club's support.

Great idea!

Maybe as part of the festivities, Mayor Kelly will make good on the offer to help save Brindi he sent in an email emailed to one of Brindi's Angels last week. After all, he owns a dog - who happens to be known to bolt out his front door rather often. A good reason for him to take a critical look at A300, since running at large is an offence, isn't it?

Of course, the bolting story may be hearsay. Then again, my lawyer says hearsay is routinely admitted in court when it comes to dog crimes. Something to think about, I guess.

I was interviewed by CKDU radio on Monday for a news report by Debbie Johnson, a hardworking student journalist. It was aired yesterday. Nice to have some media coverage again. And a good story, thanks Debbie! One or two small glitches - Brindi has not been in the pound three months, but two, although it may as well be three...

Also, the city's spokesperson, Deborah Story, again spoke a bit less than accurately about the situation. I realize she has a job to do, but it should not be about killing dogs, should it? Story said the city could kill Brindi anytime, but is being nice not to. Actually, they cannot kill her as long as any court case is pending or filed, or they would be breaking the law. I guess they are nice not to be breaking the law, then. Also, she said that they are waiting to hear from my lawyer, when the opposite is true. The city's lawyer was supposed to file a reply to our statement of claim within 20 days, before we can apply for a court date. He has not done this. We are considering several options, including applying for a default judgment, in our favor, as well as an injunction.

Meanwhile, the Care2 petition is well over 1,000 and we are going to be sending it to the Regional Council along with the iPetition documents, with 785 names.

Don't forget, the entire Council and the mayor are all up for re-election. This is their chance to clean up the situation to insure votes from pet-owners by getting Brindi out, AND changing A300, before the election. Then they would be worth voting for.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

MEET, TREAT, AND EDUCEET! Tomorrow 5:30 PM

MEET regional councillors before session.
TREAT them to a cookie!
EDUCEET them about our proposals to change animal control - and to FREE BRINDI!



Please come to the Grand Parade in front of City Hall this Tuesday at 5:30 PM, September 16. We will greet HRM councillors as they arrive for the 6 pm, and peacefully call for them to reform A-300 before the Oct. 14 election - and release Brindi now.

Meet at 5:30 at Grand Parade--dogs (and angels) are welcome! We will have free COOKIES; and handouts about our cause, and we will give both to the councillors. Many of them are actually unaware of how bad By-Law A300 really is.

They do know, however, that they have the power to change it at any time. And, court cases notwithstanding, they also have the power to retroactively suspend A300 where Brindi's offences/seizure are concerned, which will make it possible to release Brindi right away, so that she does not have to suffer through months, even a year, of confinement while a court deliberates!

It's election time! Half of HRM owns pets. Pet owners must come together to make themselves heard - promise your vote on the condition that this matter is taken care of before the election. If not - there are other candidates out there!

Let's MEET, TREAT, and EDUCEET every Tuesday until we succeed!

Hope to see you there!

Information on how to help with legal costs

Many people have asked how they can contribute to the mounting costs of Brindi's defense, as well as the cost of boarding her at the SPCA pound for $25 a day, since July 24. The total is already into the thousands.

In addition to the bank account posted on Save Brindi at Facebook, there is a Paypal account to donate to the Legal Defense Fund for Brindi. Just click on the button!









Any amount is welcome, and all contributions are gratefully accepted!

If you are unable to make a financial donation, your prayers and thoughts are very welcome too, because I know that they are priceless, and sometimes more powerful than money.
Anything that will help bring Brindi home to me is welcome! And thank you.

(PS: please leave a comment if the button link does not work!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Shame, shame, shame."

One of the 924 signatures on the Care2 petition:

# 908: 6:51 pm PDT, Sep 9, Patricia Howarth, Rhode Island
I am the Animal Control Officer in Scituate, Rhode Island and am appalled that you would give the death sentence for such minor infractions. We have vicious dog laws in our state also but let the punishment fit the crime. I don't know what government agency or group came up with your rules, but, Shame shame shame. I'm sure glad I live here.




Thank you, Patricia! I wonder if your colleagues here feel the same about the law.

Walk this way!


From last Saturday's march through downtown. The first of many?



You can see what I mean about the dogs behaving so well! 
I am so proud of everybody.

Meanwhile, sources tell me that the manager of the Metro SPCA Shelter (the one who had my friend  arrested for criminal harassment), quit last week. However, this week, with the support of the new NS SPCA president, Jim Kochanoff, she's back at work—albeit under the supervision of a new shelter committee. Perhaps she quit in response to criticism that the place is brimming with dogs and has some 70 dogs in foster care, while few if any are listed on Petfinder.com. How will these dogs ever be adopted? Hopefully the new committee will see to that.
 
In answer to a recurring question, Brindi is not kept where people can see her; she is not one of the dogs that one can volunteer to walk, as with the others. I don't know if she is now being allowed out in the backyard pens. I sincerely hope so, because we have been having a beautiful week of weather here, and even though the pens are graveled, she needs fresh air. I love her so much. Watching the video when I miss her only makes me miss her more.


Never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. 
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Facts?


With the welcome news from my lawyer that we will likely filing a court action soon, I am wondering which threads to follow up on in the meantime.

A visit to my doctor today, to report the stress I've been under and its various effects on my sleep, my back, my skin, and my nerves; I hardly got through the list. Not much he can do for me; therapy? He rolled his eyes at the thought. "What you need is support," he said, "and you seem to have some, at least." And because he happens to own six dogs himself, my situation worries him because they do occasionally get loose off his property. Nobody has called the cops though. Nor has anybody called him a moron, as far as I know. Even the odd petition signer thinks I am. Well, I would like to meet the dog owner whose pooch always obeys every command. Let he whose dog is perfect throw the first bone! Death is an awfully heavy penalty for a few minor misdeeds. Dogs are not some kind of rodent plaguing the city; they are contributing members of society. 

A neighbor at the mailboxes said he heard that six dogs were put down by the city since my dog was seized. This would be news to me! I'd appreciate knowing if this is true. I sure hope not. 

A call from a journalist today, asking if I'd come into the city to do a short interview, for CKDU's Tuesday 5 pm news program. I plan to see her on Friday morning. I don't know if anybody picked up the story about the dog walk, but we certainly did our best. 

Meanwhile: the Care2 petition stands at 899! The goal of 1,000 signatures is within reach. Good timing: we can deliver it to the regional council and the HRM clerk in time for the new sessions.
 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Posting away... looking around.

Yesterday, Sunday, this blog got the highest number of hits ever! Something like 236 page loads. Today dropped to about 180, the second highest number of hits.

Together, the petitions topped 1500 signatures over the weekend.

Emails have been circling the globe by the thousands, thanks to animal welfare advocate networks.

The Legal Defense Fund for Brindi has been posted on Facebook. The money is going toward legal costs as well as the daily fees for the pound, which are currently at $1300, including the $100 impounding fee (but not including HST - will they add the 13% tax?). The estimated cost for legal representation is about $6000 to $8000. Plus court fees, no idea what they are like.

Any and all contributions are welcome, no matter how small. In exchange for the help to get my dog back, I promise I will continue to work to help animals, starting with the laws. I was supporting WSPA and the Humane Society before this happened; I will become more active in those groups.

I spoke with Jean Hanlon today, the owner of Ducky, the 17-year old cat who was wrongly euthanized. (Isn't it interesting that "euthanized" sounds so much like euphemized"?)
She sounded a little better, but still recovering from the shock. And from the comments of well-meaning friends who say unfeeling things, like "Well, it was time for the cat to be put down anyway." As if that should be a comfort??

After all, we are talking about a life that was taken, swiftly and permanently, a life that was part of a family for nearly two decades and still a ways to go, possibly years. I am still amazed the city has not apologized to her, let alone conducted an investigation. 

As for me, I am waiting to hear from my long lost lawyer, and I am hoping to learn that things are moving ahead. I have many questions to ask him before decisions can be made. An injunction, and a lawsuit? We shall see.  

Meanwhile, I'd better get to a yoga class, the best way to deal with life. For me. 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Taking it to the streets

Dogs meet with their folks at City Hall: no euthanization without representation!

Thanks to all who attended! What good dogs they were. 

The six weeks without three daily walks mean my butt is now a little sore from walking the hills to Spring Garden Road, but it was worth it!

What an experience to arrive at the Citadel lawn and see this terrifically dedicated group all ready to go, with signs and a huge banner! I confess, I choked back tears as I got out of my car, realizing I was about to meet these angels for the first time - and then realizing why. I really missed Brindi when I saw all those sweet dogs. I had her leash around my neck as we walked, wearing my new T-shirt, which good old Kinkos managed to make in record time along with the posters. The children provided extra backup, and were not afraid to hand out cards and stickers to people on the street, even people in cars and cafes! One of my friends got off work at 5 am, drove home to Chezzetcook to sleep a few hours, then drove all the way back just in time to join us at noon. 

I felt so lucky to have such a dedicated group. My advice to anybody organizing a walk like this: be sure to include at least four girls aged around 11 to 12, because they are fearless and committed when it comes to animals. These pros never stopped chanting things like "Free Brindi! Free Brindi! Dogs forgive, why don't we?"

As curious people approached, many of us took the chance to explain what we were about. There was a lot of disbelief about the law. Many of them, mostly pet owners, were eager to give me encouragement, and express concern for their own pets. We heard a lot of stories about dogs and the law—about how dogs are expected to behave better than humans, without enjoying any of the same rights. 

I never dreamt I'd be out protesting on the streets of Halifax for such a thing; never imagined it would become necessary. And in case anyone wonders why I chose this instead of suing the city, let me be clear: there is no instead. I have not dropped the case; I can't anyway, they'd kill my dog right away. However, I cannot get a court date until my lawyer receives a reply to our claim. And that court date may be well in the future. I am confident our case will win, but it is totally unacceptable for any dog to be kept in the pound a year or more, as I am now told will happen. 

To that sharply dressed gentleman who blithely said "I'm okay with it" if the city kills Brindi, I must ask: who raised you? Did they forget to teach you to be kind to animals, and to respect all life? Pardon me, but I do happen to respect all life, even yours, though I may have felt otherwise at the time. 

Spot quiz: Class, what does it say in the Bible, and in all religious texts, about being good to all God's creatures? (I can guarantee you won't find anything about muzzle order violations.) 

Why is it that this never comes up in the conversation most commonly held among Christians? Not that I want to preach to anybody, don't me wrong. I just want to get my dog, who never bothered anybody remotely like that guy, back home. To me, that fact should be enough to get her back. But no. I so often find myself having to justify at length, as I notice others seem to regard the matter as an academic exercise, or a question of law and order. Fine, I don't mind doing that; but you are certainly not seeing the whole elephant. One should reject the premise that the dog is merely a potential pubic nuisance. Sorry to say, even some animal lovers' first impulse seem to be to say publicly that the owner must be at fault, not the law or the system enforcing it. Such law-abiding people—when it comes to animals, at least; bring up HST and trees, everybody's a rebel. In this province of renegade fishermen and hunters, This Ordnung muss sein reaction to dogs is puzzling. What have people really got against dogs—or against other people's dogs? Spillover from the pit bull controversy? Or there a Dog Explosion? Too many showings of Kujo at the Cineplex?
A dog, aside from being man's (not "The Man's") best friend, is the same produce-detecting working dog that greets you at the border crossing, doing what a human can't do, yet is slaughtered thoughtlessly on a regular basis. The same dog that is taken around to patients in hospitals to aid healing. The same being, that when brought into a large prison, will shift the tension-filled atmosphere into relaxation and good feeling within minutes. I don't know about you, but it seems to me we ought to rethink our priorities just a smidge, if simply by walking into a building, one single dog can do what millions of dollars of high-security devices, medications, and rehabilitation methods can't.

 I happen to think that if a particular kind of creature can contribute to our enjoyment and overall welfare the way a dog can, and it does in multiple ways, the "animal" and the beneficial human bonds it supplies ought to be treated well indeed.  

Aren't dogs as public goods ever balanced properly against animal control? Is the value of such a tremendously effective and extremely inexpensive public health benefit reflected in the law? Why not?
 
With thanks to Joan Sinden, blogger and video maven, here is a taste of the event:



PS remind me to mention that Animal Services replied to my last letter!

Friday, September 5, 2008

CALLING ALL DOGS!

WHAT: 100 DOG MARCH TO FREE BRINDI
WHO: All dogs and their owners
WHERE: meet at the base of Citadel opposite Gottingen; walk to waterfront.
WHEN: 12 noon Saturday, September 6

BRING: signs, cameras, treats, water, and your enthusiasm!
GOAL: Return Brindi to her owner now, then change the law!

Stop HRM from using By-Law A300 to euthanize dogs that never bite humans or seriously hurt other dogs!

For more info, call (902) 827-3716

 

WELL, folks... This got posted a bit late - the week started out rather eventfully, and I lost track of it after that. You'll see why in a second.

On Labor day afternoon, I met a friend at the Metro Shelter to go check on Brindi. No chance of seeing her, of course. A volunteer and a supervisor came to the door. The latter was extremely cautious, reluctant to answer questions, how many dogs the pound holds. I tried to remain polite, find common ground. I was met with the response that the SPCA has nothing to do with the pound. So far, nearly everyone there was quick to say this. My friend, on his first visit, somewhat impatiently, perhaps unwisely, likened this attitude to the Nuremburg defense. Are they really unaware the SPCA carries out orders from the city?

At some point, my friend asked if they used a muzzle to walk Brindi. She said they don't need a muzzle, because Brindi is not allowed near any other dogs. I was eager to tell them this wasn't necessary; she gets along fine with other dogs, it's just when they are on the property line. And, thinking out loud, so now she is not getting any dog contact, and getting precious little human contact. Is that good for her? Then I learned they use a rabies pole to walk her. A rabies pole is a long rod with a noose-like loop of thin cord at one end to tighten around a dog's neck. It's meant for the most vicious dogs, usually ones that bite people. But the city does not consider Brindi dangerous to humans; a lawyer told me himself. So WHY then does the SPCA walk my dog with a rabies pole - for over six weeks now??  My poor baby girl.

We went to dinner, despite stabbing pains plaguing my lower abdomen. Few places were open, and darkness fell by the time we made our way back to the lot for my car. I spotted the shelter manager, Diana, through the window, and waved, hoping she would know if they had vaccinated Brindi and she was now being allowed time in the pens. After a few circular replies, it turned out she wasn't. Why? Because Diana wanted my signature after all. So, why didn't they contact me?? Oh, Diana said, she just got back from vacation. SO?  Oh, they are not allowed to contact me directly, but must "go through Animal Services." Then why hadn't she gone through them? "Well, I guess I should have."

Is this credible? I found out about the vaccination hitch on August 22. The supervisor on duty said no when I asked if she wanted me to sign something. And now it was September 1. Ten more days on top of five weeks, my dog stuck indoors all day, barring 15 minutes on the rabies pole. Why nobody brought up vaccinations well before August 22, or noticed her HRM tag, remains a mystery. How large are the letters on my forehead that spelling SUCKER? If I had finished my doctorate, would they have seized my dog? I wonder.

My friend advised me not to "make her an adversary" when Diana went inside briefly to copy my statement (by hand - no form for this). Frustrated already, my patience grew thinner, as each new fact proved more alarming than the last. A month and a half of "she's fine", then the  the rabies pole! She had learned to walk on the leash so well. Now what? If I had not gone to the SPCA myself, Brindi would never get outside. If she does now. So at this point, can anyone expect me to remain content with vague assurances? I am desperate to see my dog, and "animal services" won't let me. By not supporting my request, the SPCA is no longer protecting animals. This is what so deeply bothered my friend. 

Which is why, after Diana returned with the photocopy, he forgot his own advice and lost his cool, trying in vain to make a point unlikely to be kindly received: "The sad thing is," he said, "when you know a dog is not aggressive, but you keep her in a cage, and treat her—" "I never said she was not aggressive, or that she was aggressive," Diana countered, and continued to counter with each attempt he made to continue. Whereupon this otherwise mild-mannered man insisted, "You do too know!" "I do not!" My head bopped to and fro like a tennis ball. Seconds later, the manager spun around and shut the door, saying, "That's it, I'm calling the cops!" Cops??! Before I knew it, my friend had already stormed back to his car and soon sped off towards town. I made my way home, unable to grasp what happened.

But that wasn't the end of it. He called me an hour and a half later, out of his mind: "They pulled me over!" And so they did, on Windmill Road, two squad cars in a daring "high takedown". One behind him, lights flashing, a second sharply cutting off his car in front. They arrested him for criminal harassment. A felony! He narrowly escaped a night in jail. I cannot imagine what the manager said to them; was there some mistake? Criminal harassment means serious threats. She had never even asked us to leave. She wasn't physically threatened. My friend did get a bit carried away over a difference of opinion. But he is passionate about animals, and last I looked, it's not against the law to disagree. Of course, I was a bit peeved at him myself for risking good terms with my dog's wardens, and before I knew about the arrest, I wanted him to make amends. He sent an apology right away, made sure to fax it as well. Whatever its effect, the charges were dropped early the next day, as I was sure they would be. There was simply no evidence. 

Still, it took days for my friend to calm down. His lawyer praised his apology, and advised him to stay away from the shelter. He's not decided yet whether to file a complaint against the SPCA and the police for false arrest, though it would be justified. After all, the high takedown put his health and safety at risk, and the arrest could have jeopardized his career. No wonder misleading the police into a false arrest is itself a felony. I wonder if the SPCA realizes this?

Why wasn't I arrested? Because I wasn't in his car? I'm sure I was getting on her nerves, though I knew not to argue. Perhaps she didn't want me arrested; they surely would have found me.

I'll never forget what my friend said that night about what he was arrested for: "It's the same thing they accused Brindi of: being aggressive! But at least I'll get a day in court. She doesn't!"

No wonder I'm so tired. But not too tired to march. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

SAY IT AGAIN: Halt the euthanizations ASAP!

Referencing two recent posts on Granny's Journal and Me and My Dogs in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The very best thing that can be done right now is to put an immediate stop to all HRM-ordered euthanization. No more killing until the city cleans up its act.

A publicly-elected government should be held accountable for such a terrible mistake as ending the life of a family's beloved cat in less than two hours flat. Passing off responsibility to an unsuspecting vet at an all-night clinic is just not good enough. With all due respect, procedural flaws and, frankly, a lack of basic common sense must have factored significantly. Enough to suggest a very close examination of HRM operations, and, I repeat, an immediate moratorium. That is the best and only way to insure that no pet is wrongly killed (or seized!) from now on, until things are vastly improved.

If they have any doubt about an HRM euthanization order, HRM veterinarians may be wise to refuse services, citing their code of conduct. Their leadership is pivotal. No other qualified animal professionals are involved in the system. Take away their cooperation, there are no more euthanizations.
Then what? Well, start over. Get a real law and grown-up procedures with checks and balances. To that end, a bit of knowledge and experience of animals among AS employees wouldn't hurt either.

Until then, when Granny asks, "What time is it?" I say, "It's SIX WEEKS later! Time to let my Brindi go!"

AS/NSSPCA Blues


I have written to Animal Services requesting to see Brindi on more than one occasion, and I will continue to do so until I receive a positive reply. To date, none of these requests, or any of my letters, have been answered.

September 3, 2008

Dear Sgt. McNeil, Ms. Macdonald, and Ms. Scolero:

I hereby request permission to see my dog Brindi, impounded by you on July 24, 2008, and housed since then at the SPCA facility.

On a visit this past Monday, I discovered my dog was still not being allowed any time in outdoor pens. This, despite the fact that over ten days ago, I assured a SPCA shelter supervisor that she had the necessary vaccinations. I even gave consent for them to be updated. My offer to sign for this was declined. Nearly two weeks afterwards, I learned nothing changed. While other dogs are put out to the pens in the hot weather, Brindi remains inside, apparently because the shelter manager had since decided she did indeed want written consent. And no one bothered to inform me of this, either directly or through Animal Services.

Please be aware that for HRM and a contracted shelter to leave my dog’s health up to chance, let alone deprive her of fresh air, is not acceptable.

I also learned recently that during her few daily minutes outside, Brindi is not walked on a leash. Instead, volunteers use a pole with a thin wire at one end that encloses like a noose around her neck, an implement normally reserved for the most vicious dogs. I learned she is not being allowed near other dogs anyway, so there is no justified concern about attacks, and therefore, no need to use the pole. To sum up, during nearly six weeks of HRM custody, Brindi has been deprived of fresh air and daylight, contact with other dogs, contact with her owner, and most of the time, other humans, as well as a humane means of exercising her. Only the lack of air and sunlight will change once her shot is given. The others should also change.

As Brindi’s lawful owner, I have the legal right and the moral responsibility to insure my dog is in good health and receives proper care at all times. I urge you to grant my request. To claim it would not be good for my dog is hardly credible under the circumstances.

Sincerely,

Francesca Rogier


I have also written to the NS SPCA on more than one occasion regarding their role as my dog's wardens vs. their mission to protect her. My letters have not received a reply.

However, this was recently posted on the NS SPCA website:


August 30, 2008:
Public Statement on the Case of Brindi the Dog and HRM Animal Services

The Nova Scotia SPCA wishes to inform the public that its role in the case of Brindi the dog is related solely to the Metro Shelter holding the contract for animal care services for the Halifax Regional Municipality. In that capacity, the Metro Shelter cares for dogs that are seized by HRM or picked up by animal control. However, the Nova Scotia SPCA and the Metro Shelter have no control over the outcome of Brindi’s case. The matter is between the legal counsel for Brindi’s owner and HRM. Therefore, the Society encourages the public to address their concerns to HRM Animal Services.

Setting aside for the moment the misleading notion that only the lawyers may decide such matters, everyone should understand at least one thing.

Under current law, the NS SPCA and Metro Shelter have no LEGAL say in the outcome of Brindi's case, whether or not they hold an HRM contract. All they can do, all they should do, in either case is conduct their own investigation and advise the city and its constituents accordingly. A contract to operate a pound is not a gag order, a "license to kill" with eyes, ears, and mouth closed.

If a lot of calls are coming in, maybe the public understands what the SPCA cannot or will not. I hope the calls keep coming until they finally get it.

The public expects the SPCA to intervene. It has a right to expect this. Under A300, euthanization orders issued by HRM animal control officers are not subject to review, internal or external. At present, only the SPCA is qualified and well-positioned to provide such a review. Should its findings contrast those of the city, it has a clear mandate to withhold its services and cooperation. Anything less compromises its core principles.

The SPCA may not wish to, but it would be far wiser to demand a say in Brindi's case, and in every case like hers. Because when the SPCA abdicates its mission, it negates her rights, and mine. If it refuses to be an advocate for Brindi's welfare, who is there? What other non-governmental group is authorized to fill the vacuum?

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In closing, it would be very nice to receive a reply from the SPCA, and from Animal Services. When it comes to humans, I don't bite. Neither does my dog.

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