Saturday, November 29, 2008
I can't escape.
And yet I have to, as two women tried to tell me earlier tonight. They came to pray with me. We discussed forms of faith for a bit, but it was mainly to pray that they were here. To me, the labels you use aren't as important as the intention behind them, the sincerity of the faith and the love. And that was clearly there - and just all right with me.
Will it help to banish all the dogs so that I can concentrate? There are chewed bones and a makeshift dog bed underneath my drawing table, where I'd have Brindi stay while I worked. There's a few more bones lying around in my bedroom, and of course the big padded bed in the center of the kitchen. Sigh.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Both of his claims are rather implausible in my view, based on my prior personal encounters with him, in which I was very clear about how important she is to me and how much I would do to insure she is okay and behind a fence - and gets extra training. Just not credible at all.
I haven't been able to bring myself to read it just yet. I already had another totally sleepless night after receiving this information around 10 pm last night. I wish I had known it before I wrote the press release. How many more dogs has he caused to be put down?
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Had multi-infarct dementia passed him by, he would be fit as a fiddle today. He was so very good at taking care of his health. Dementia is a cruel trick to play on a man like him.
My father was not known to be overly sentimental about animals, so we never really knew how much he really loved our dog Scooter until she was hit by a car. It happened not long after he and my mother moved to a suburb of Chicago. My private theory is that she got loose and ran off to hunt for our previous home in another state. When we first moved from New Jersey to Michigan, she wouldn't want to go back home on walks; she'd just keep pulling ahead. I figure she was doing it again in Illinois, looking for our dirt road amidst the sidewalks of Hinsdale.
Fortunately, my folks lived around the corner from a vet's office. After she was hit, some kind soul scraped her up and took her there right away. She had some broken bones and a terrible concussion. Many people would have put Scooter down there and then. But not Dad. He took it very hard, perhaps out of guilt, knowing she was probably trying to run to Michigan. He nursed her back to health himself (my mom has a hard time with blood, injuries, etc.). When my mom called to tell me, I instantly got chocked up - I could already tell something bad happened from her tone when I answered and she said "Francesca..."
I went to see Scooter as soon as I could get a ride from Ann Arbor. What a nightmare to see this lump of fir bandaged up, and still wagging her tail. My dad would take her outside to pee on a piece of plywood. He gave us all regular reports on her progress. It seems to me it was weeks and weeks before she could lift her body, months perhaps before she could walk along, and she never really lost her lopsided limp.
Scooter was a great dog. She fully deserved the special dispensation to have her life prolonged. She was smart, fun, crazy at times, and a real dog. Our family life was far too chaotic to focus on her training, but kids and adults muddled through it somehow, and did our best with vets, tags, collars, and the like.
We chose her because she was the most active, sharp one in the litter of a beagle-type mom and unknown dad, advertised on a residential lawn by means of a scrawled sign offering free pupies (sic). As far as we were concerned, it came down to choosing her or the beauty of the bunch, a honey-colored, gorgeous male. But Scooter won paws down because she literally scooted all over the place and exuded sheer glee at everything. We used the same reasoning when we picked out our canary, who my folks named Enrico (after The Caruso of course).
of five girls willing to do it. My sisters were either too afraid or grossed out, but I was pretty rational-minded about such things. Blood never made me faint, though I don't know why. So whenever Scooter got something in her mouth, I'd race to pull her from under the bed and carefully pry her jaws apart with thumbs pressed on the inner jaw joint, a technique I read about somewhere. Scooter was just small enough for us to pick her up, so I'd hang on to her, and she never snapped at me, though reluctant to give up her catch of the day.
As a puppy, Scooter nearly gnawed through the rungs of all eight kitchen chairs. Forever afterwards, you couldn't rest your bare feet on them without risking a splinter, even though Dad tried to sand them down. Eventually Scooter taught herself a special way of begging for food invisibly from under the kitchen table, by persistently beseeching one and all for tidbits, with a ghostly wail of howled arias, launched as shortish alto murmurs and worked up into lengthy and elaborate soprano phrases. Sometimes she'd eerily match Grace Slick's voice from the Crown of Creation, one of my sister Mary's favorite records. Scooter used the same high-pitched voice to utter squeals of delight whenever a man arrived at our door. The one exception was my friend Pat, who responded just as warmly, declaring her reciprocal and undying love above Scooter's crescendo shrieks and wagging body.
Scooter was indeed a very friendly dog. But she was no fool, just the same. You never really saw Scooter at the dinner table, but you could certainly hear her. She stayed quiet, though, whenever my dad carved the Thanksgiving turkey and tossed her bits now and then. It was an unspoken deal between them. He wold scold us for doing the same thing, so he kept his transgression quiet. Scooter would just park her little body below the counter while he worked, and he'd toss her pieces of skin, gristle, and fat, and the odd scrap of actual meat without a word.
Scooter never failed to catch a piece of food thrown to her, however badly aimed. It became a past-time of ours. Some of us argued that she caught and swallowed in a single motion. I tested this theory by throwing something she wouldn't normaly eat, like a piece of lettuce. She caught it expertly as always, then spit it out a second later. (Whereas, Brindi will catch dog treats in her mouth just as accurately, but if she doesn't like one, she'll discreetly move to a corner and gingerly deposit them on the floor, as if reluctant to seem ungrateful or impolite!)
We used to take Scooter, squirming in our arms, up into our treehouse, where she could see birds a little closer; on occasion we'd walk her to the "sand pit" (an open slope where we sledded in winter), to let her run around in the deserted grass while we rolled down the hill. My little sister called this a "vacation".
After college, when I shared an apartment in the city with my sister Nancy, we took Scooter in for a week when my folks went away. We found we could cure her of her begging habit without too much trouble, and were very proud of ourselves for it, too. Sadly, we neglected to train my parents not to feed her from the table after they returned, so Scooter of course resumed begging as usual. It was useless to lecture my parents about it. They'd agree vehemently that begging was bad, then within seconds my mom would absentmindedly drop a scrap of food over the side of the table into the patiently waiting little jaws. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but human habits die pretty hard.
We were so lucky to have Dad, who had a great sense of what kids liked without being asked. He built us girls a tree house and taught me how to hammer a nail and use a screwdriver, and let us have Scooter, tolerating the extra pandemonium she brought to the household. It made for great copy, if nothing else!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
--I've added a "Follow this blog" feature. (If you sign up, please let me know if it works.)
--Every time someone clicks on one of the little blue ads in the very bottom left column, Google will send me a few cents. You'll be helping Brindi, so please, click away! Thanks!
And now back to our regularly scheduled program...
"Dog Bites: Problems and Solutions - a Policy Paper"
Existing and Proposed Legal Remedies - Attempts to Identify and Remove high risk animals: Dangerous Dog Laws"
The second common legislative approach (the first is breed bans) to remove dangerous dogs from the population targets the behaviour of the individual dog, designating dogs with labels such as "potentially dangerous", "dangerous", or in some cases "vicious" based on actual incidents, and then either eliminating the dogs or limiting the conditions under which they may be kept (such as requiring sterilization, micro-chipping, training, behavioural consultation, muzzling, etc.) Such laws increasingly also specify civil and criminal liability incurred by people whose dogs injure someone after receiving such a designation.
There is some evidence that a "prior behaviour" approach to the "dangerous dog" designation may decrease injurious bite incidence. This has only been demonstrated, however, where the dangerous dog label is limited to dogs who have already bitten and injured someone. A program in Oregon showed a decrease from 25 percent to 7 percent in repeat injurious bites (of people) after the implementation of a program restricting conditions of ownership of dogs who had injuries.
Many dangerous dog laws try not only to control dogs who have already injured people, but to predict which ones will do so in the future and attempt to prevent this. Typical legal descriptions of "dangerous" dog behaviour include "approaches in a vicious or terrorizing manner", "in a menacing fashion", having a "known disposition, tendency, or propensity", or "engages in any behaviour that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury".
Aside from the subjectivity of these descriptions, the main difficulty with such an approach is that the best research to date indicates the likelihood that a majority of dogs engage in such behaviour without hurting anyone.
One groundbreaking study found that 41 percent of the dogs studied had growled, snarled or snapped at a familiar person at some time, but only 15 percent of those dogs actually bit anyone. Of those who bit someone, only 10 percent of the bites were considered injurious, making the total incidents of injurious dog bites only 1.5 percent of the total dogs studied.
This means that a hypothetical net cast to identify the 1.5 percent of dogs actually captures at least 41 percent of the dog population. And since this study only included behaviour toward family members and other people well known to the dog, and only included guardians responsible and caring enough to provide veterinary care for their companions, the percentage of potential problems within the entire dog population must certainly be considerably higher. A history of threatening behaviour has not been shown to predict that a dog will bite, much less that she will injure if she bites.
With regard to dangerous dog laws based on behaviour, as discussed above, definitions of dangerous are so varied and subject to interpretation that most dogs' behaviour could be interpreted to qualify.
A conservative estimate would be about 30 million dogs would likely meet the criteria (this estimate is based on a study that found 41 percent of dogs growl, snarl, or snap at a familiar person, and thus does not include dogs that only threaten strangers, so the real percentage is almost certainly considerably greater).
Some statutes require only that the dog "endangered" a person in some way, leaving the way open for complaints by anyone who simply felt (but was not really) endangered.
All this creates a serious danger of abuse in any system that attempts to weed out "potentially dangerous" animals who have not bitten anyone. It casts a net far too wide to be enforceable.
When laws exist without the practical means to widely enforce them, the result is selective enforcement based on grudge complaints, and widespread non-compliance.
*Boldfacing, underlining, a few parenthesized notes, and paragraph separations, added by me).
I have an obscene amount of dishes to do now. No rush...
Okay, I've been looking at this deal with my dog from all sorts of angles for almost four months now - the next badiversary is the 24th - and the more I learn, the more I see, the more absolutely incredulous I become. (Hint: see the poll in the left column). Animal control officials from the US and Canada write to me or comment on the petitions expressing their dismay and disapproval for what is going on. When the pros do that, something's got to be off somewhere. And it is not merely the system; that's a fundamental factor, but one of many. Even with the various bureaucratic limitations, there were and still are a number of ways out of it that do not require me to spend practically a year's salary to go to court.
Essentially Brindi is being held without charges. The charges should go to me of course, and I'd have the option to challenge them in court. But they didn't, and I don't. So the result is either sign her over, or take on some sort of court process, and the question becomes, which kind? There are so many ways to shape injunctions, applications, and suits, with a spectrum of risk vs. timing. I'm no lawyer - though at times I may seem as argumentative as one - but from what I gather, it's like this: you cannot appeal an injunction, but you can get one within a matter of days. You might reverse the kill order and even win damages in a lawsuit, and you can appeal the outcome, but takes a year to schedule the first day; an interim application takes a few weeks, and I have no idea actually if it can be appealed; we've filed another kind that takes two months to go before a judge. And we could base them on a number of different factors, from the lack of charge to the by-law itself. How much more confusing can it get? And the way things are going, I'll probably wind up with whichever judge ruled twice against the poor dog that roughed up a greyhound last year. As if he never heard of training, or a fence, or anything.
It pains me deeply that so many dog owners out there in HRM seem to fail to grasp the danger, never mind the injustice. Maybe it's easier to label the owner irresponsible, rather than the authorities, if only to be able to sleep at night. I really don't know. But I doubt my lone struggle will tone down the zeal of animal control. The truth is, an order to destroy can happen to any dog at any time. If nobody from the city deemed it appropriate to apologize to Jean Hanlon for the loss of her family cat, anything is possible, it seems to me. If I happened to own some other dog and not Brindi - and there's lots of big strong dogs out there, bigger than her - could I quietly watch this struggle? It's a troubling thought. Like everybody else, I'm distracted by the animal abuse cases popping up on a regular basis; they deserve all the attention and action they can get. But the threat of a seizure and kill of our own dogs is still there. You don't always get a 14-day grace period, either; it can be as few as three days. I know of no local group actively working to change that.
So, if you have a dog in HRM, I guess what it all comes down to is, are you feeling lucky?
Just how lucky?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
OK. So the pump is fine, it just blew a fuse, which I grudgingly found out. I say that because accessing the fusebox means mounting a lightweight ladder balanced on the rocks and dirt next to a footing with two-foot rebars sticking out of it, and carefully removing plastic covering and tape. Fortunately, a friend who happened to stop by on her way to a tea in Musquodoboit Harbour (gosh I hope that's the spelling) was willing to hold the ladder for me so I wouldn't fall and be impaled on the rebars.As soon as the pump started, my joy was detoured, because had to shut it right off again. A pipe split open right over my head and the pump, cascading rusty water on both of us. Only an hour to spare before closing, I made it to Home Hardware, looking absolutely lovely of course, and bought some plastic joints. It was dark and rainy once I got home so I waited until today, when it was gray and rainy, to attempt to repair the break. This meant the ladder straddling the water tank, and using a hack-saw to trim a section of copper tubing - which had broken cross-wise along a copper joint. Then a struggle to reach up and sand the ends smooth so they'd fit into the plastic sleeves, and match them up straight. I didn't have great sandpaper and I should have sawn off an extra millimeter or two, because it was not quite aligned. But it was close enough for jazz, and when it comes to repairs done over the past 100 years, this is a very jazzy house. Extremely jazzy indeed.
Then a prayer and a throw of the switch. Instead of a cascade, this time, a torrent of water from directly under the kitchen soaked everything in all directions - the floorboards, the steel, the cribbing. Great stuff. Took minutes to slow and stop after I shut off the pump. I cried. The break was at a joint with a shut-off valve. I must have been psychic, because yesterday I happened to buy a valve just like it. I moved the ladder over to the spot, and once the water stopped pelting my head, I took a closer look, and soon realized I cannot possibly fix it myself. I can't get it off, for starters. So another day without water. At least there was plenty of it around the footings. I filled one jug for flushing the toilet. It's not pretty in and out of this house, let's face it. Tomorrow I will have to find somebody with plumbing tendencies, if not a plumber, and try it again - I won't be surprised if another waterfall turns up. Then I've got to wrap the pipes with the stuff I bought last week. Loads of excitement.
Meanwhile. I have another serious problem with my laptop. After a period of loosening, the power supply stopped working altogether in early September. A friend took it for repairs as a favor. I haven't seen it since. It's my brain; Brindi's my heart; both gone. Don't even ask what's on it; everything, just everything. There was no way to back it up, since it had no power and the battery was dead, of course, no power to charge it. Last full backup was three months old. Inexplicably, it's been torn apart so much that it might be useless now. If I don't already have an ulcer, this will give me one. I didn't want anything more than the power supply to be fixed but my wishes evidently did not count. I don't know what to do now; I hijacked a Dell from a friend and he needs it back. He will get it because I intensely dislike PC's, no offense, and physical limitations make anything other than the Powerbook feasible for me. Apple no longer makes the one I have (titanium G4), which even Apple salesmen regret. Last I looked, they don't make anything comparable. If I had the money to buy a new one, which I don't. As it is, I have to buy myself a crown to cover my implant, about four thousand. Been walking around with a gap for months. I only mention this - why do I mention it? Not really relevant. Sorry.
Today I wrote to more people about Brindi, and forwarded the letter to Best Friends in Utah with a brief note. We don't have a place lined up for a Facebook meeting yet, but I hope we will soon. Yesterday I spoke to Heather Anderson again; she was so kind to call. She sure has her hands full with her own animals, four or five dogs, six cats, hedgehogs (!), and more, plus running the D.A.I.S.Y? Foundation. It's amazing. She was hoping to call Tom Young's call-in show tomorrow, on 95.7, if her duties permit her. Other radio possibilities: on Friday afternoon I may be a guest on CKDU (88.1 FM at Dalhousie University. The only station left, as WRFL at the University of Kentucky says of its same location on the dial). More on that as and if it develops.
Since this whole thing began, I've heard from two people with dogs that look remarkably like Brindi. It's really something, because I'd never come across anything like her before. I remember that when I dropped Brindi at the kennel last January, there was a dog that looked so much like her, it fooled me for a second. She was paired with another dog owned by the same people. She might even be a puppy of Brindi's, or maybe a littermate - none of Brindi's pups look exactly like her. She and her larger friend, sort of a greyhound, were recent arrivals and the kennel owner put them in an outdoor pen to get Brindi used to being there with other dogs. She was fine, just directed all her attention to me, out there on the icy ground. I hated to go, and I just cringe now when I remember her look of confusion changing to distress as I began to leave; it's so awful. It was a great kennel, new, clean, lots of room, lots of outdoor runs, but she was not thrilled, I can tell you. She didn't spare a second to look back once when I picked her up. That was a ten-day stay. I don't blame her, after being cooped up for two years, she paid her dues in spades. Now her stay at the SPCA is well over three months, going on four. I know she's tough, but inside, she's got to be hurting, and who wouldn't be?
Friday, November 14, 2008
No response from HRM's lawyer, Scott Hughes, to a number of letters and documents filed by my lawyer, Blair Mitchell.
No response from the SPCA's legal counsel to a letter Blair two weeks ago, with a second letter to the Minister of Agriculture.
We are filing an "interim application" to request access to Brindi for Silvia Jay to assess her. I forget why we are doing this now.
I am trying to organize a meeting for local Facebook members somewhere in HRM so we can meet face to face and work on strategy, and possibly a benefit concert. Where to meet???
Without a dog around to get me up and out in the morning, I'm losing the battle against major insomnia so that I have slipped into an odd schedule and I only see about three hours of daylight. Usually I only see it out the window. The muscles in my back, neck, and arms are really sore and tender; ditto my head. I made it to the last yoga class on Wednesday my the skin of my teeth about ten minutes late. As soon as I joined in, though, I felt an overwhelming urge to run from the room and sob, not necessarily in that order. Somehow I made it to the end of class, but my thoughts and emotions never stopped working like a roller-coaster, even during the relaxation/meditation at the end. The tears welled right up again when the teacher added a new instruction to the usual relaxation aids: "See if you can think of three positive things about yourself." Hmmm. I could hardly keep focused on the task. As it is, I forget urgent things to do from one day to the next.
Partly because of the insomnia, partly due to logistical reasons, I still have no water. No laundry or dishes done for over a week. To be honest, I couldn't care less. I really could not. I might run out of glasses. but I've got lots of plates. I bought prepared frozen food so I don't have to cook.
Rudy, one of my two cats, has taken to my side more than usual, snuggling in bed (where he's claimed the geographical center for his own). He's been licking my hand lately, a weird thing for a cat to do, especially when your hand is not covered in tuna fish or cheese. Amelia would be snuggling with me too, except that Rudy has become more territorial lately for some reason. One glance from him and she scatters.
Several more contacts this week, promising, I hope. Heather Anderson of D.A.I.S.Y? Foundation is connecting with local media. On the auction, so far there are bids on four of the eight items I posted on epier.com. I have to go pick up a few more - some WWII-era German stamps that a kind man in Dartmouth is offering.
Nothing more to report.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It's in the left-hand column, down low, under Brindi's close-up.
The most media coverage we got was when total strangers called and emailed the media directly. It's worth a try!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Now that my own horror and shock are beginning to subside, a few nagging thoughts have floated up that I'd like to share here, as an exception to my Brindi focus. The prevailing assumption in this story is that it is the result of an intentional act. But something else occurred to me, mainly because I can't help asking, is it really true? Is there a Nova Scotian so incredibly mean and cruel that they'd deliberately do such a thing? How awful would it be if they had a very different intention, and just messed up royally? What if they meant to bring the cats to the SPCA for adoption - and for some reason choked, because they were too shy or ashamed to go inside, and just left them in the parking lot and ran off? Or similarly, what if they had gone in, were told the shelter doesn't accept "owner surrenders", and didn't know what else to do? Did they take a chance that the SPCA would have to take the cats in as strays - and the bag or box ended up getting shoved too close to the car as others walked by?
Frankly, I don't know which scenario is better, on purpose or "on" accident. But if in fact it was unintentional, I doubt that person will never be able to come clean. Nobody would believe it or forgive them.
Aside from this unpleasant speculation, the story also made me aware that the Metro Shelter doesn't accept "owner-surrendered" pets. They estimate an additional 30 extra cats a day would turn up. Where do all those cats end up instead?? Does it mean that every day, people are drowning litters of kittens - or dumping a dog on the highway - because they can't drop them at the shelter? I don't know. What also stuck with me was the judgmental - and a bit contradictory - overtone about those pesky "irresponsible owners" who want to give up their pets. The term always hits me hard, having been called an irresponsible owner myself lately. I realize lots of people have a low opinion of their fellow humans, even their neighbors. But surely not every person wishing to give up an animal at a shelter is just a selfish, shallow twit who failed to grasp or appreciate what pet ownership really means! I mean, come on!!! And even if they were - is that a legitimate basis for turning them away? Who really suffers then? A.: The animals.
The truth is, however, there are plenty of good reasons for giving up a beloved pet. Work schedules make keeping a dog impossible; allergies crop up and/or become more severe from one day to the next; a new member of the family, by birth or marriage or adoption or whatever, has allergies; the household budget can no longer afford a pet due to job loss or the addition of new family members, young or old; seniors become too weak, ill, or poor to care for their animal companions; single people of any age contract an illness and/or disability; couples divorce, both move into apartments that don't take pets; employees transferred out of town for a year or two with no one to take their pet; and so on. These are all legitimate scenarios that any "responsible owner" may have to confront one day, and in my opinion, somebody ought to be there to help. Like many others, I had always assumed that somebody is the shelter.
Saying goodbye to a pet is awful enough; having no shelter to bring it to is a sad discovery indeed. Sure, there are private shelters, but too often they're filled to the brim (and no wonder). Running an ad in the paper or online is all well and good, but doesn't always work, and how do you invent your own screening process? And if illness is the reason, how do you find and interview prospective owners, or even use word of mouth?
What's the answer? Fortunately, many others have gotten there before us. When there's not enough room in a shelter, they continue to accept animals, and send them to foster homes, which are vastly preferable to a kennel. (That's how I ended up with Princess Amelia - I fostered her when she had her kittens, and we found we just couldn't part.) There are networks of shelters across the continent that can help redistribute the extra "animal wealth" instead of destroy it. This cooperation happens a regular basis, not just after natural disasters.
I don't have any way to learn the truth about those poor cats at the SPCA last week. We may never know. I just so hate the image of some poor soul mustering up their courage and strength to give up their pet, walking into the shelter, ready to face disapproving looks and answer a lot of personal questions, only to be turned away. What do they do then? I hate to think. But somebody better!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
This is part of a series of emails I received. I've placed them in chronological order. They start with a letter from a Facebook member to Mayor Kelly. I forwarded her letter to SPCA board member Sean Kelly. He replied to both Jen and me. It is the most detailed information I've received to date, after a note from Sean about two weeks ago answering my questions. Sean included the vet’s letter as it appears here.
I am, as may be imagined, utterly and absolutely grateful for these and all reports on Brindi's welfare. I hope it turns out to be a step in the right direction. And in that spirit, Jen's reply raises very pertinent questions.
From: Jen [mailto:]
Sent: Samstag, 1. November 2008 19:18
Subject: Save Brindi!
Hello Mayor Kelly,
I am writing you with my heart on my sleeve. There is a desperate issue that needs to be addressed right away, it is a life or death matter, which makes it all the more urgent.
Brindi is a dog being held on death row at the Nova Scotia SPCA in Burnside. No one is allowed to visit her, including her owner. Her owner rescued Brindi and gave her a loving home. Brindi was removed from her home for doing what comes naturally to her - defending her property. No one was hurt by Brindi, yet she was taken from her safe and loving home and put into a cage to await her fate.
Please, visit Brindi's Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=35473542760) and read the history for yourself. Brindi needs all of our help, financial or otherwise. I can't help financially but I believe, Sir, that you can step in and be a hero for the animal community, and a positive role model for children.
Please Mayor Kelly, please help Brindi in her desperate time of need. She is scared, she is lonely. She's been locked up since July 24 with no visitors.
I used to work at the SPCA where Brindi is being held. I know what kind of attention she is getting - none. Dogs in those holding pens are not allowed to interact with the public at all. Brindi will get walked once a day, twice if she's lucky. She will have to live in a pen that is bleached out daily, that is cold, that is lonely. It's a very scary place for dogs. Having come from a nasty home in the first place, Brindi is no doubt reverting to old behaviours, behaviours that humans themselves display when they feel unloved and forgotten about. She is pacing in her pen, panting, searching desperately for any way to escape, eagerly awaiting the humans who will feed her twice a day and take her outside for 10 minutes while her pen is being scrubbed with harsh-smelling chemicals and a fresh piece of scrap fabric is placed on the hard floor for her to sleep on. alone. in the dark.
It breaks my heart and if you're the empathetic person you appear to be in public appearances, you will help Brindi be reunited with her one and only loving owner she's known. Help her escape the awful cycle she's been living in, being in and out of shelters. Be her rescuer, her hero, and mine.
(Isn't she gorgeous?! Her coat is so shiny, it causes glare!)
From: Sean Kelly Sent: November 7, 2008 6:31 AM To: 'Francesca Rogier' Cc: Jen Burtch
Subject: RE: Save Brindi!
I just wanted to pass on some information. Last night I was out with Brindi in the backyard. She was having a great time we tossed the ball, she mainly played keep away J The people at the shelter are doing a lot of training with her to keep her mentally stimulated. Her weight is good she is eating very well. I have attached a letter from Dr. Pauline Giffin who is one of the vets we use. I can assure you that the information that is in Mrs. Burtch's email is incorrect!! It may have been that way in the past but it certainly is not now. I hope this information helps you in this difficult time.
Cheers, Sean Kelly Chair of the Shelter Management Team
Dr. Pauline Giffin's email is below:
I am a local veterinarian who was asked to address your concerns regarding Brindi's emotional and physical well-being during her time at the Metro SPCA. I am pleased to inform you that Brindi has adjusted well to her surroundings, showing no signs of stress-related problems. Her weekly physical exam by a veterinarian indicates no health concernsat the present time and her vaccines have been updated. Brindi has been given a quiet kennel that gives her some privacy from other dogs. She sleeps on a Karanda Bed with a blanket and has access to a large dog run. Her daily routine consists of a minimum of two 30-minute walks (during which time she is unmuzzled) allowing her an opportunity for interactive play with shelter staff. It should be notedthat a catch pole is not being used during Brindi's exercise/play time. Brindi is also provided with enrichment tools every day in her kennel to give her the opportunity to chew/play on her own while shelter staff is performing their daily duties. In conclusion, Brindi has adapted very well to her surroundings. While I realize this is a very difficult time for you, I assure you that Brindi's emotional and physical well-being is of utmost importance to the Metro SPCA and we will endeavor to continue to address all of her needs.
Sincerely, Dr. Pauline Giffin Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
From: Jen [mailto:eastlink.ca]
Sent: November-07-08 10:30 PM
To: 'Sean Kelly'; 'Francesca Rogier'
Subject: RE: Save Brindi!
Hi Sean & Francesca, I am very glad to be proven incorrect! I am also very glad to know that conditions are much improved compared to when I worked there.
Sean, while Brindi seems to be adapting to her situation, what is being done to free her and send her home? I only want to see her happily returned to her home, and not needlessly killed. It was mentioned in the vet's email that she is being trained and worked with easily and without a muzzle. Why can she not be returned to her home? Her home has all of the necessary adaptations made to it to ensure she is safe and kept penned in her yard. Why is she still being held? Her execution date may have been pushed back, but has it been disregarded in light of how wonderful a dog she has proven herself to be?
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Call every day if you can, it doesn't take long, and it can really help. What to say? Please request that they meet with me, and that they let Brindi go, and if they keep listening, ask them to scale back a bit on their interpretation of A300, because a muzzle order is NOT a mandate to automatically euthanize for violations, not under that law - not by any stretch of the imagination. Fortunately so, for other people: Brindi is not wearing a muzzle when she is walked at the SCPA. And she was not wearing a muzzle when they seized her.
The administrative and legal situation is unexpectedly complicated. What's important to understand out of all the details is that Animal Services does not actually have to meet with me or anybody in order to let Brindi go. It has sole authority; it needs no judge to act for it other than provide warrants based on Animal Services' reports. It can review its own decision and the process leading to it, anytime it likes. There is no law or rule or policy or limit on their ability to do this - despite what they may tell the public. It may be hard to accept, but it's a lot easier and simpler than anybody having to testify in court. The system needs changing, agreed. Let's all fix it. I'd prefer it, however, if I could just get my dog back first, please.
Two different people sent me a job ad recently for what I believe is a new position in the HRM Regional Police for a "Regional Coordinator Animal Services". I hope they weren't thinking I should apply; it sounds like a very difficult job, starting with being available 24/7 to handle emergencies, plus supervising nine employees, and working on legislation. The full list of job duties falls into the three categories of management, customer relations, and operations, and it is impressive to say the least. And this person's boss will be Andrea MacDonald, the manager of Animal Services.
I just can't figure out how somebody with the qualifications requested, if there is such a person, can possibly do a good job with the duties expected of them. That is, a good job in terms of both animals and people. The duties are so wide-ranging, and several have wide-reaching consequences. I really worry about which of them will wind up getting the most emphasis in the final choice of applicant, because the list of "Competencies" already gives the animals the least emphasis.
• ensure veterinarian care of animals in the care of the HRM
• ensure that services are delivered in the most efficient and effective manner
• participates (sic) in setting and recommending benchmarks and performance measures
• responsible for the standardization of case file management practices
• document and address performance deficiencies
The National Animal Control Association (NACA) was formed in 1978 for the express purpose of assisting its members in performing their duties in a professional manner. One method of accomplishing this goal is to make personnel training programs available. This training must be designed to prepare animal control personnel for the challenges of solving the animal/people problems in today's world."
All Animal Control personnel should receive minimum training and seek certification in compliance with state law. Training should include ongoing in-service training in animal control.
BASIS FOR POLICY
Training provides Animal Control personnel with the minimum skills necessary to adequately prepare them for the duties they are about to perform.
A certified training program, preferably the NACA 100 Level 1 and Level II Training Academy which would include all aspects of animal handling, disease detection, report writing, constitutional law, and professionalism.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Andrea MacDonald was interviewed for Live Haligonia. The interview is about 24 minutes long. It has many bearings on Brindi's case.
Joan Sinden's comments on the interview received further comment.
Meanwhile, sorry to say, looks like the well pump is broken - can't get it to turn on, no restart switch, no sparks. Not relishing the idea of replacing it, but not much choice is there?
The epier.com online auction is going slowly - more items are available now, though!
And the running total of funds donated directly is about $1850.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Probably needs re-priming or resetting. Can't do it, although I consider myself fairly handy around the house ("If women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy," as Red Green says - just before trying out a home-made elevator). I knew how to fix the old red cast-iron pump, ever since Charlie (?) Webber showed me. Sometimes the water would run out mid-shower, and it was necessary to exit the bathroom wrapped in a towel, climb down the contorted wooden stairs to the dirt cellar, switch it off, play around with the flywheel in a Zen fashion - not attached to outcome - switch it on, and over again from the top, till it restarted its comforting chugs. The preposterous connection to the ancient switchbox I won't describe here; certainly disturbed some plumbers on occasion, but works fine. But I draw the line at jet pumps. I know that air can get into the line, I sort of know the elements of the pump, but that's it. I have no problem being a classic helpless chick after that.
For pipe-freeze remedies I shopped at the mammoth Dartmouth Corners to Canadian Tire for a long while. But before that, a medical appointment and a stop at the pound. To prepare I took a shower at a friend's house so I could get to the oral surgeon more pleasant smelling, which made me a bit late (thanks, Otis!). The visit took only minutes - those digital x-rays are practically instantaneous; the implant is AOK - so I was off again to Burnside. I wanted to drop off soup bones with some solid beef chunks on them for Brindi as a treat. They had long since thawed in the fridge and sat around longer than I'd prefer, but I knew, as I explained to the woman at reception, Brindi's doggestion will have no problem with' em. They'll be gone in five seconds, of course, a bone-pulverizing workout to follow. One at a time dosage. (BTW, I am a stalwart vegetarian - okay, fishitarian - but Brindi makes her own choices about meat-eating; I'm not imposing my beliefs about meat on my dog. Some do; it's a choice.)
The white-coated woman chuckled at the beef, at my explanation, and looked at me kindly. She promised she would deliver the treats as requested, adding that she was very sorry about what I'm going through with Brindi. Who is doing great, by the way.
Well heck, if they wanna play rough! I mean, kindness? No fair! And what a great and rare thing in these parts, especially when sincere; how welcome. My face instantly got all crumbly and threatened to dissassemble into tears as she spoke. I couldn't keep it under control and speak at the same time, so I just nodded, then turned and left. Forgot - I guess I did manage to utter something in response; all that came to me was "I miss her so bad," however. Impressively put, Francesca...
Once back in the car, testing out the feeling, I noted once again that on these brief SPCA incursions lasting only about ninety seconds on average, I never think about Brindi actually being in that building. Try as I might, I can't place her there at all in my mind, or connect the spot I occupied to her actual location, breathing and sensing. It is not possible to visualize. My brain can only struggle under the sight of stacked metal cages of kitties looming into view in the next room, framed by the photos of dogs on the entrance walls.
I have no cognitive understanding of her location, of the space where she actually exists. I often wish I did. To cope with what that comprehension might feel like, my mind simply sets aside the question, as when a loved one has gone out of the world. That's how it is for me; she is no longer in my world. When your world is seriously off balance as a consequence of this removal, everything in it goes off balance, and setting it to rights again requires enormous capacity - not only for survival, but maintaining self, in every possible sense of the word. It may be impossible to convey what that's like, I don't know.
So then, anyhow, as I leave the parking lot, I have a dim sense that somewhere, she's enjoying a boney, without being cognizant of where it. Yet for a split second, I can feel a tad better. Then I beat it out of there before other thoughts mug me.
On many occasions, however, I must add, not far down the road from the pound, the tears overwhelm the comfort of the bone treat fairly quickly. I am getting a bit better at not giving in to it all the way at such times. Ormaybe it's truer to say that I am physically unable to. In any case, that massive impulse, the dread feeling, embeds itself firmly just below the skin and steadily draining energy and awareness past Wright Avenue and on to the highway connecting to Route 7. Sometimes I'd make it that far, though, without any trouble, and suddenly that mass would burst and expand. It's a gamble. No wonder I can't get back out and do any grocery shopping later on.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
(Another "compare and contrast" - to the SPCA guidelines and Halifax By-Law A300)ASPCA Position Statement on Dangerous Dog Laws
The ASPCA recognizes that there are dogs who by virtue either of training, or lack of training and socialization, especially in combination with a genetic predisposition to be wary of strangers, aggressive toward other dogs and/or predatory toward other animals, may pose a serious threat if inadequately supervised and controlled by their guardians. In order for dogs to live harmoniously with people and with other companion animals, it is critical to hold guardians responsible for the proper supervision of their dogs and for any actions on their part that either create or encourage aggressive behavior.
At the same time, laws that address “dangerous dogs” must be mindful of the rights of pet guardians and must afford them due process. They should target only those dogs who truly pose a serious, unjustified risk to other animals or to people, and they should recognize that there are situations where aggressive behavior is justified, such as when a dog is protecting himself or herself, her guardian, her offspring or her home, or where the dog has reason to fear a person or animal who has harmed her in the past.
The ASPCA believes that dog guardians should be held responsible for unjustified harm or damage done by their pets. Guardians who breed dogs known to be aggressive, or train dogs to be aggressive, or to fight, should be liable not only civilly for damage done by their dogs, but also under criminal provisions that prohibit such conduct. The ASPCA opposes “dangerous dog laws” that designate/define specific breeds of dogs as “dangerous,” “vicious” or potentially “dangerous” or “vicious” without regard to the temperament or behavior of the individual dog.
Dangerous dog laws should be narrowly drawn to define dangerous dogs as those who without justification have either attacked a person or other animal, causing injury or death, or who exhibit behavior that creates a grave risk of such an attack, as determined by a certified applied behaviorist, board-certified veterinary behaviorist or other trained and experienced expert.
Dangerous dog laws should focus on the behavior of the dog and all of the circumstances surrounding it, including those that may justify the dog’s actions. The law should ensure that common puppy behaviors such as jumping up, rough play and nipping are not deemed evidence of dangerousness.
Once a dog is deemed dangerous, the court should have at its disposal a range of dispositions from which to select those that suit the needs of the particular case. The choice of dispositions should include:
- Evaluation by a certified applied behaviorist or board certified veterinary behaviorist and completion of any training or other treatment as deemed appropriate by that expert;
- Spaying or neutering;
- Secure humane confinement in a manner that permits the dog adequate exercise, protection from the elements and that prevents escape and unauthorized contact with the public;
- Direct supervision by an adult eighteen years of age or older whenever the dog is on public premises;
- Restraint on a leash whenever the dog is in public;
- Muzzling in public in a manner that prevents the dog from biting any person or animal but that does not injure the dog or interfere with his vision or respiration;
Euthanasia or permanent confinement of the dog, being the most extreme remedies, should only be utilized when the dog, without justification, attacked a person and caused serious physical injury or death, or where a qualified behaviorist who has personally evaluated the dog determines that the dog poses a substantial risk of such behavior and that no other remedy will make the dog suitable to live safely with people.
Dangerous dog laws must accord pet guardians adequate due process to challenge the charges, including a full opportunity to be heard, the right to appeal a dangerous dog finding, and a stay of the disposition pending such appeal.
Enforcement of dangerous dog laws is ultimately the responsibility of local government authorities, and it is important that they exercise their responsibility with vigor and discretion to protect both the public and responsible pet guardians.
This position statement, pubished on the website of the ASCPA in New York, is respectfully directed to Mayor Peter Kelly, the HRM Council, the SPCA, and the Animal Services division of HRM Regional Police. The document's many points of departure from the current version of By-Law A300 strongly suggest the desirability of, and offer an appropriate basis for, a comprehensive review of the latter. Such a review may be taken up and conducted by groups constituted within HRM bodies as part of administrative or legislative processes, or by HRM citizens in advisory and/or advocacy roles.In other words: there's an awful lot of work to do out there. Thoroughly necessary, eminently doable work. The road map is there. What could be easier?