Tuesday, December 23, 2008


A night at a hotel, with the cats, after power went out yesterday morning. Basked in the heat and the plumbing - took a nice long hot bath last night. Winds up to 120 km and temps -11 C. Whether to leave the house was a guessing game: roads were bad, but the power company said power would not go back on till 11:30 pm last night. Not much time to decide, do I risk it and stick around, or take off ? So I took off. This morning, my neighbor says the power came on at 7 pm. Of course. But I don't mind; it was a good excuse to enjoy the luxury of heating and plumbing. I took a nice long bath and padded around barefoot. Rudy and Amelia stretched out on the king-sized bed, and enjoyed the view of the bridge to Halifax.

A lot of people around the continent are furiously circulating letters to one another to gather more support for me and Brindi. It's truly amazing. And about twenty facebook members, perhaps more, sent Christmas cards to the mayor with Brind's picture on it, in her silver antlers. I also received a few more photos from folks out west - in Erickson, B.C. Here's two.
Thanks to Lana Horan, in blue, guardian to a veritable menagerie and a formidable campaigner!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas from the SPCA: banned for six months

I can tell you that in our system here in Calgary I do have the authority to seize a dog involved in a serious aggressive incident for 30 days pending a dangerous dog hearing before the court. After the court rules and if they direct that the dog be destroyed, there is an additional 30 day period for the dog owner to file an appeal. We do not grant ourselves the authority to destroy an owned animal as we believe that that decision must be made by a court after full review of all of the facts. Even though an animal has been involved in a serious incident we allow the owner supervised visitation rights to the dog during the process.
It would seem that there should be many simple solutions to this dilemma, none of which seem to be under consideration. A simple fencing of the yard would seem to provide all of the necessary safeguards while Brindi continues with her training and socialization. Good luck.
- from an email in reply to my questions about Calgary procedures, from Bill Bruce, Animal Control Officer, Calgary, Alberta, posted with his permission

I never saw Brindi. They tell me she's alive, and that I am supposed to believe. 

Wednesday afternoon, it was a slow drive to the shelter in the snowstorm. So it was about 4 pm, and the shelter was just closing, when I arrived. I brought along a bag with two packages of soup bones with nice meat on them and a Brindi T-shirt.

A strong sickening whiff of ammonia hit me as I entered the little vestibule. Beyond that the small lobby was more cramped than usual. A fake Xmas tree stood in the far corner; cards taped tonthe walls flopped open. Almost as soon as I said I would like to see my dog, Cathy, a supervisor, said no and asked me to leave because they were closing. I sat down. I said I wasn't leaving until I saw Brindi: the newspaper had told me she was put down the day before. She´replied that she was following her boss's instructions and soon ducked out. I gave the bones and the t-shirt to a few young volunteers. Diana, the manager, came out, and I asked her to see my dog. She said no, and then in passing, that I had to call animal services. I asked her if she would call them. She ignored the question and all others. I never had a chance to call anybody: she said I had a choice: either leave or she would hit the panic button.  

Panic button?! Sure enough, there it was, on a steel switch plate right there on the wall opposite the chair I sat down in. I told her about the Herald. She repeated again, leave or I hit the button. "Am I attacking you?" I asked. Then she just hit the button. Less than sixty seconds had passed since I had walked into the building. 

The button triggered some sort of alarm that went "Woo-woo-woo-woo." Then she walked over to the entry, with her back toward me. I don't know how long it took, but it wasn't right away. She had to stand in front of the window for some time. Then in walked two patrol officers - a short dark-haired woman and a talk, slender man. I can't recall the conversation exactly; I told them I was there to see my dog, how long she was there, and what the Herald had told me. They ignored this and just kept telling me I had to leave. 

A minute later a third officer came in, saying something about having been "briefed". Then he basically repeated what they said. I told him, look, I've spent $15,000, these people expect me to pay $25 a day, and they won't even let me see my dog. I'll leave, no problem, but couldn't one of you first go and make sure my dog is still alive? He said I would have to leave first and then they would "see" about that. I said, it's been nearly five months, and they have no reason not to let me see my dog. Why can't he promise me he will go back and check on her now, and then I will leave? Again, no. I had to leave, I have to get off private property. They have my private property here, I said, and I want to see it. Finally, having made my point, I figured, I began to stand up - slowly. The woman pushed my arm, just as I was standing up. 

Outside, the first male cop asked me questions; I started dialing my lawyer's number, just in case. The woman asked if I had a lawyer. I asked if they were arresting me. No answer. I stood near my car, both of us clearly over the SPCA property line. They took my info, my birthday, the works. One stayed behind while the other went back into the building. Eventually the older taller one stepped over and told me, "I saw your dog." Great, I said, what does she look like? "Her name is right on the cage," he said. "She jumped up and sniffed my hand and she looked healthy and well-fed and fine."

Well then, that meant Brindi was alive after all. A huge relief and it isn't even possible to say how huge. The two men stood across the property line. They believed the police department could override an AC officer's decision. I used to believe somebody higher up in the force could override them; so did my HRM councilor. We were both wrong. One individual gets to decide it all. Telling them about Brindi, I started choking up. The woman came back, holding a clipboard stuffed with papers; the top one said I was officially banned from the SPCA property for six months, or I would be fined $250.

But you are not arresting me? No. But if you come back, then, etc. etc. Sure, fine. I signed it. She disappeared. The other officer asked if I had ever tried to see my dog before. I said no. Actually, at the very start, I did ask to see her, but that was two days after they took her, and my lawyer at the time had told me it was possible. The SPCA people told me to come back on a weekday. Which I did. I waited 40 minutes, only to be told that Lori Scolero said my lawyer would have to call her first. Which he would not do; he could only talk to a lawyer. About a week after that, David Hendsbee, my councilor, insisted we make sure Brindi was still alive. It hadn't even occurred to me she wasn't. But then they would not comply with his request. 

I only asked now because of the scare from the Herald. Otherwise I was not planning to ever do it. Oddly enough, just last week Heather Anderson of DAISY had passed on a suggestion from Steve Carroll, the president of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), that I go to the shelter and demand to see Brindi. I said then that they would probably call the police. But at the same time, began to wonder if I was trying hard enough.

Last week, I sent yet another request to Animal Services. No answer. In the fall, I sent an email every day for about ten days. After about eight, they flatly turned me down with no explanation. I could get a court order to see Brindi, but since there is no rule prohibiting it - what would the judge be ruling on?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I want to see Brindi for myself, and I want her back NOW.

All night I've been worried. I called the Herald yesterday to ask if they are ever going to print the article on Brindi one of their writers wrote weeks ago. An hour or so later they called back. It seemed they weren't printing it because their files showed Brindi was being put down today - yesterday, December 16. I said, as calmly as I could, uh, as far as I know that's not the case. But I thought, how do I know? Then I called my lawyer, interrupting an important meeting. His first response was, "If they did that, they would be sued till kingdom come." He made calls, got the city's lawyer at home. He assured him Brindi was fine. But how does he really know? 

How can I sleep? I can't. I didn't. Finally I remembered in horror: an experienced advocate told me months ago exactly how they could put Brindi down without fear of lawsuits. (And by "they", I mean the SPCA together with Animal Services, because it's no secret they work together. Go listen to Andrea Macdonald's WOOF interview)when she says how much AS relies on the SPCA to tell them all about how a seized animal behaves in custody, etc. etc.)

Here's the thing: Animal Services already declared Brindi dangerous; all the SPCA has to do is claim she attacked, or even tried to attack, one of the workers. Your honor, she went berserk and couldn’t be controlled. 

Nobody could ever prove otherwise, till kingdom come. Tell me I'm wrong, go ahead, just try to do it without mentally clutching your dog to your chest.

All the other dog owners ever wanted, three dispatch reports say, was for somebody to speak to Brindi's owner. That's all. Now, all the city has is a much-revised affidavit by the very same officer that muzzled and seized her. The city has no case. Why won't it just let me take my dog home? 

Not one more day in that awful cage. I want my dog, and I want her now!


Time to visit the SPCA. Show me my dog, and get the hell out of the way.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More FREE  BRINDI photos! Above, from Laura Johnson in BC, and below, another gang from Colorado, 
Free Brindi supporters Sherry and Michael Moore of Golden, Colorado; Betsy and Bill Moore of Bel Air, Maryland; Nick Moore of Denver, Colorado; and Steve Moore of Scottsdale, Arizona, sent with the words, "We oppose to having Brindi incarcerated." (or destroyed, presumably!)

Message from Calgary

A second photo already! This one is from Laura Johnson, an animal activist 
who lives in Calgary. (That's her body - she sort of lost her head here!) 
Tora is a female from a reservation that was found pregnant. 
She had seven puppies, and all eight were successfully adopted out. 
Thank you, Laura and Tora!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Message from Colorado

These are some wonderful friends of Rolo, a German Shepherd
who was in a situation very much like Brindi's not long ago.
They took a break from his birthday party to send a message to Halifax 
from the icy cold of Evergreen, Colorado. 
My sincerest thanks to Monika Courtney! 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Letter to Peter Kelly from !"Stop Animal Cruelty in Canada with effective legislation"

Dear Mayor Kelly,

My name is Paula James and I have over 25,000 people on my facebook group and cause alone that have been fighting for effective animal cruelty legislation in Canada, along with the SPCA's.
We've been trying to get our politicians to do something about serious acts of animal cruelty and neglect and help by doing things that make sense for animals.

This issue surrounding Brindi has become quite a topic around facebook and many other sites and I'm sure you've probably received many emails and nasty phone calls.
To me, this does not make sense for Brindi, being locked up for so long, or her owner, having to go to such extremes to save her when she's harmed no one, inc a dog? Other than a few small scuffles with another dog at her fenceline and no serious harm was done?
I agree if she is threatening she should be more protected w fencing, secure environment, etc, but it's my understanding a fence was being, or had been built, so this wouldn't occur again?

From the information I've gathered, Brindi has suffered through some very traumatic times.
However, she doesn't appear to have done anything serious enough to warrant this action and in the end will only hurt her more the longer this continues and she is locked up without her owner she probably lives for, esp. if she's been through rough times previously like she has!
I think most animals have a great chance of rehabilitation if the owner invests enough time, energy and love into it. I believe Brindi's owner was doing a good thing for her and was trying to remedy the situation and do just that and they were on a good track.

I ask you to please HELP FREE BRINDI and show people that you are a compassionate and understanding being, and much like Brindi, also possess feelings and intelligence.

Unless this is somehow proven to be completely untrue info posted on so many sites and places around Canada, I really don't feel her behaviour warrants this terrible punishment for not only her, an innocent animal in all this that only wants love and understanding, but her owner as well.
Francesca has proven to many people across Canada that she does care and love Brindi deeply and is willing to do anything to save her, along with many people across Canada, including myself.

If I don't have the right information, and she has seriously injured a dog or person and you feel she really deserves this then please let me know!? If I am wrong I'll do my best to help clarify the situation on all these websites.

Protests are being held all across Canada, many people are watching and waiting to see what happens!
I really hope we have a good ending to this story and you do the right thing and bring Brindi home on time for Christmas, let her and Francesca have another chance! I'm sure they won't let you down!

Thank you for your time and attention on this matter,


Paula James
Stop Animal Cruelty in Canada with effective legislation

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the air waves

My chat with radio host Tom Young yesterday went pretty well, I think. It was a bit of a strange experience though. For one thing, I did it over the phone from home, and I didn't set eyes on a real human being all day. A big disjuncture between the media connections and the physical world! Such a fast half hour, too. I just got started, looked at the time, and saw it was already half over. The nine or ten calls in the second half hour were mixed. They started out generally positive, a few became critical or skeptical, and the last two ended up strongly positive. All in all, very glad of the chance to speak, and hopeful that they do continue to follow the story at News 95.7, as they indicated they would. 

Can I just say, all things aside, it still takes me aback to hear how freely some folks would like dispense with a dog and/or its owner, never troubled by their limited knowledge of a situation. Perhaps I didn't get across all I did and do to "take responsibility" for things. What do you call paying a vet bill for another dog, putting up a fence, taking time for training, volunteering to pay fines, etc. -- my dog, who is vaccinated, microchipped, licensed, has health care coverage, and passed a rigorous obedience class? 

Then there are the people getting very righteous about a dog getting loose, as if there is something immoral about it. Okay, it's not what anybody wants, I am very upset at messing up. But it's not the number one cause of teenage death... Dogs that are tied up wriggle out of collars all the time, it's an everyday occurrence, usually harmless. Lord knows I've had plenty of people knock on my door looking for their runaway canine. 

And that is exactly why I did good training with Brindi, and lining up more training all the time. Every dog owner knows there are days when you just can't control anything, let alone the dog, as precisely as you'd wish. Stuff happens, we do what we can, and ultimately, animals are, well, unpredictable. Ask Jay Leno. Don't we teach children to be careful around animals because we recognize this fact? Where does this expectation come from, that it's possible to be in control of an animal 100% of the time? How can such a notion reasonably become the basis of a law or a euthanization order all by itself? Why should death be promoted as a catch-all solution?? It's not as though everything else in society is so perfect, that people such do a flawless job of controlling objects or themselves. A lot of people do a pretty lousy job with cars, for instance, but the city doesn't seize the cars, even though a whole lot of other people die. Not remotely near the number of people who die from dog-bite injuries every year (in Canada, 2007: two, vs. 30-something from lightning strikes). 

Maybe these waves of anti-dog laws - from breed legislation to subjective by-laws - are remnants of primitive human fears, just like a dog's undesirable behaviour may be rooted in its own primitive fears. They evolved with us, though. Why not put it into perspective then, and see to it that the law is applied consistently and fairly before calling for radical measures like death or removal of private property. This is an issue I would expect a humane society would be very concerned with.
But perhaps because I talk about the unfairness of the law and its uneven application, some people assume I don't care about public safety. I certainly do care. That's why I built the enclosures and that's why I'll be putting in a permanent boundary fence. I care a lot about public safety in my community, including the threatening dog on the beach who seems to be loose all the time, charges up to you barking its head off like it owns the place, and
 even bit a friend of mine's dog last summer (she never called animal control). I am not happy about that dog, or about another dog that chases the kids next door when they walk down the street. Again, no calls on that. When we had our meeting last week, a man who lives down the road came along who said when he has issues with a neighbor's dog, he goes to the owner and deals with it - "I go to the source, there's no need to involve the cops," he said. I sort of felt that way too - especially when the other party is responsive and caring.

When people so freely call for the death of any being - especially an animal they will never see in their lifetimes - it really gives me pause. Somehow they seem to think in one dimension, leaving aside their knowledge (and experience) of the deep bond between humans and dogs. Such as mine!! Brindi and I have/had a very strong bond. She always connected with me, let me know she was ready to learn, and by July our routines were set well, everybody here was flexible and peaceful - meaning the cats, Brindi, and me. They were my comfort through a lot of pretty tough days with the excavation work. 

Look at my face in the photo with her - a rare happy moment! It's not looking like that anymore, I can assure you. Nearly half a year of my life and hers - a big chunk of her life - has been stolen. Half a year in a cage is not good for any animal, and a waste when it has a home to go to. And I'm out of shape now from no more daily walks with her. I can't bear to walk solo along the same routes we used, and we used all the routes in the area. 

Once I forgot to close the car windows and it filled with mosquitos, huge black bombers swarming in the car. I drove off without realizing and had to pull over and started smashing the inside of the car, all over. I was moving erratically and glanced back to see Brindi, calm and quiet. She was not anxious, and just moved aside cooperatively when I was aiming at one near her. She tolerated it for a long while (there was an unspeakable number). I thought it was pretty remarkable; I know other dogs who would have become quite excited and upset by that sort of thing. It's just being in tune with each other, and I think that's a great start for advancement.

The more some stranger says I can't have Brindi back, the more I am sure I can and will. A minute later, I get nuts just thinking about it. I just don't see how one can justify implementing totalitarian regulations for a species that does so much to sustain and enrich human life - urban life too, all poop problems aside. Everybody loves dogs, right? Apparently not everybody, not as much as they seem to.
So many people don't have the time to go to classes, and it's real work. It's totally worth it though. It paid off around my house so much, and I am so frustrated each time she slipped out; each time was a sudden fluke, believe it or not. Most of the time, she wouldn't bolt anywhere; she was my shadow. SO much that I got used to it. Except for a few moments spread out over a ten month period.  

I don't want to have any problems with my dog, I want her to fit in with me and anywhere, rather than having her eat off my plate when my back is turned, or having to shutting her in a bedroom when guests come over, and so on. I want a well-behaved dog. That is why I spent so much time socializing her and being as consistent as I could in training her. I am ready to put in the time it takes to drill the recall commands so that she can be 100% socialized. She's about 90% - or WAS!!! She formed a strong bond with me and anywhere else would be another stress on her. I am her rightful owner - and legally, I have not been charged with anything that would disqualify me as owner, so the idea seems so erroneous. 

The issue for the public should be, in terms of safety, to ascertain whether she is verifiably dangerous before carrying out a death order that would destroy my "property". The flip side of that is the law. Once we finally get a chance to present our case to a judge, it will be very clear just how much it differs in enforcement from so many other cases with more serious infractions and injuries, in which a fines, or even less, was meted out. 


There are other issues, but the fact is, on the spectrum of danger/threat/damage, Brindi is at one end, and they are on the other, yet she receives the ultimate punishment, and others are untouched. I am in no way dismissing the need to prevent any incidents. BUT, and I wonder if the callers actually heard it when I said it, there has to be some consistency across the board. Animal Services' Andrea Macdonald speaks about each case being addressed on its merits. Really? When you have each officer practicing their own version of law enforcement, total discretion without review by a higher-up (the law awards the officer, not his bosses, the power to issue fines, declare dangerous, and order euthanization, or should I say euphemization), what mechanism exists to insure consistency, let alone fairness, throughout? Instead it is a very subjective system of enforcement, without accountability.

I would think it would be very alarming to hear that dogs that bite people and/or dogs or even kill other animals are typically handled with fines, while one dog that did neither is condemned to death. Anyone talking about community safety or owner responsibility should put that in their pipe and smoke it, then come and tell me where I stand. I took the trouble to do obedience class and take Brindi all over creation precisely because I wanted to socialize her well and be able to count on her good behavior. It worked very well for the most part, and within less than a year I would brag she was doing just as well or better than most dogs we ran into or knew - but just my luck, the part that didn't work so well became a police matter before I could correct it fully!

Yesterday, as I was preparing for the Tom Young interview (that's him above), I received copies of very vehement letters from folks in Colorado to Mayor Kelly and others here. Out in Alberta, Heather Anderson tells me she's called his office at least 17 times, and two of her friends have called a handful of times. They have yet to get through to him or get a call back. Others have 
had mixed receptions when they call Animal Services. I don't know how many are calling and writing every week, but it's got to be at least a small trickle if not a steady stream at times. 

The good news for today is that it appears the trainer can do her assessment at the SPCA tomorrow. The results will take a bit more time, and I don't want to pressure her at all. Otherwise, things are not moving fast in the legal department, as is sadly so typical. I am hoping for the Herald to publish an article soon. I didn't get a chance on air to talk about some key th
ings, unfortunately, including fundraising, the link to Montreal  - the benefit last night, the jewelry - or to express my gratitude to all the people out their who have been so committed to helping me. It is not every day that a person sees something on the TV news for a few seconds and decides to ring up the person in the story whose name was flashed for a few seconds; it is not every day that several people in New Zealand decides to start calling elected officials in Nova Scotia. And around here, the donations and the donated auction items have been so great. Which reminds me - I do hope the auction moves a little faster - it's not too late to bid and win on things, and have them sent to you before Xmas!! We just got a few more lower-priced things, like a man's watch, an alarm clock, and a book on "Birds of Prey of the World". 

Yesterday, I was working in the office (for once). I noticed that Rudy, who has been ever-present at my side while I work in the bedroom, was under the drawing table curled 
up on a makeshift bed I had put there for Brindi - it's her spot. Normally he would never dream of using her bedding (she once hilariously tried to squeeze into a cat bed, however - missed the photo op). Normally Rudy (aka Prinz Rüdiger Weichenpels ab und zu Mausenjäger der I.) implemented a strict policy of detente towards the dog. But there he was, with well-gnarled bones ringing the bed.
 Who knows, he might even be 
missing her. 

Which reminds me, there's a cat up the road I need to feed...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Radio Time Wednesday Dec. 10

Thanks to various emails from others, and an interested producer, it looks like I will be on talk radio News 95.7 tomorrow afternoon, the Tom Young Show. I will have a chance to put the facts out there. I should be on air as a guest after 1:35 PM (Atlantic Time) After I go off air, they will take calls for a while. Maybe if you have time you can try to call in, or somebody you know.

Afternoon News with Tom Young
Toll Free: 1-866-411-0889

You can listen online here.

Wish me luck!

Because all I want for Christmas is my life back, and my life is with Brindi, I really hope this helps.

from Kijiji

This is a message similar to others I have received - it arrived last week:

Hello, this is so unreal that they won't give you the chance to do your part!! Go to your local MLA"S office and see if they can help you out, I had to do the same thing a few years ago, my dog got loose and was running and playing just as your dog did, then animal services came and took her for no reason... I call my MLA's office and within 3 days my dog was returned and, now we have a fence and she can run in the yard all she wants to.. Also try posting a add on facebook to help save your dog... have faith in your MLA and hopfuly things will work for you. Please let me know what happens in this case.. my e-mail address is ___@hotmail.com and my first name is L.. Thanks for taking the time out to read my message to you.

Well, L, as I wrote you back, did that. Would that it worked out the way it did for you.
I first had to call a lawyer and maybe by the time I called the MLA it was too late, who knows? I was told that my MLA was very powerful though.

Here is one I just discovered in my yahoo email inbox - I don't check it very often, and this is dated Nov. 9:

Hi Francesca,

Please don't give up. You have to be strong and fight for your dog. Have you contacted the local newspaper ? I supported a huge campaign here to help free a German Shepherd that was in a similar situation like your dog. I put my life on hold for this for 6 months. We won the dog back. We rallied in front of the courthouse and in town for weeks and months... holding huge signs. You need to get people's attention - I don't know what you have done so far.. the website looks great and is informative - please Francesca don't give up - let me know if I can help compose something, I have written many articles on the other dog's behalf and published them online. Maybe you can use some of those articles and just change them around to Brindi's situation. Let me know.

Hang in there,

Monika Courtney, Evergreen, CO.

Yes Monika, I have certainly contacted the local papers and local everything. If you page back in the blog you will see links as well.
I would like to be able to list the blog posts by title and date but I can only find a way to do it with the date, not the title too. If anybody knows how to have both, please tell me!

And this is a story about a woman in Saskatchewan who lost several dogs to the dogcatchers. She sued for pain and suffering. By US standards the amount she won is laughable; not even close to legal costs. But at least she won.
I don't want to lose my dog in the first place. I've already spent far more than she got for her pain and suffering.

Waiting more

Well there is no news, and in this case, it's not good news.

Seems there is another holdup on Silvia Jay's assessment. She is still waiting for the go-ahead. Something to do with the court order still. I guess it had to get colder before she could go. Friday was fine; today we have snow and a subterranean temperature.

As soon as I hear anything I will post it.

Meanwhile... Wednesday night is the comedy benefit at Bourbon Street West in Montreal, and Saturday there may even be some news from Calgary, Alberta.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Further to that

to explain... because our court date was Dec. 16 and we hadn't received anything much in response, I had hoped Brindi would be home by Christmas. Our by-law case is good, but the city managed to do things to delay the case being heard - including submitting erroneous information and stalling on turning over requested info. They are very likely tripling my legal expenses because my lawyer had to spend most of last week dealing with the last-minute stuff. And now I have to wait until January 5 at the earliest, barring any further unspeakables that the city tosses at us to delay things more or drag them in other directions.

I wonder how many people are going to be working at the shelter over the holidays, how much attention Brindi and the other animals there will get during all the celebrations. How is that place heated, anyway?

I just cannot get it out of my mind that the very same people I see there, surrounding me all of a sudden in the lobby, who are taking care of Brindi and talking about her to everybody and saying how well they are taking care of her, etc. etc., are the very same people who will just as readily put her to sleep if I wind up losing the case and running out of money. The same people who tell me that they are upset by my coming by and talking about the case. No wonder they're upset - they should be. But I'm more upset than a thousand of them put together.

And meanwhile, it sure seems to me the city of Halifax, maybe the province too, doesn't really give a damn about immigrants (or single women). At least they are certainly sending a clear message to that effect. (Too bad because pets keep medical costs down.) And people on the global petitions are taking it seriously; more than a few have said they are canceling vacations here. At the same time, emigrants - people who've left the Maritimes - are among the strongest supporters I have in the rest of Canada. 

So no Brindi until - when, 2009? What's there to celebrate this holiday season - the end of a terrible year. It would have been only our second Christmas together. I guess I don't have any need to go Christmas shopping now. My family is scattered from east coast to west coast; this year I believe we all are going to donate money to various causes, hopefully also mine, instead of buy things nobody really needs and pay tons for shipping. So the cats don't need anything, and they don't use leashes or toys or clothing, like dogs do. I bought Brindi a lined raincoat last winter but she could use a better raincoat to cover her head - it helps keep the house cleaner too. 


Friday, December 5, 2008

Brindi home by Christmas? . . . probably not.


(Halifax, December 5) Despite the postponement of a December 16 judicial review intended to bring about the dog’s release, Brindi’s supporters across Canada continue to hope that the dog, already impounded for over four months, will go home in time for Christmas.

Due to recent actions of HRM legal counsel, the judicial review of By-Law A-300 on Animal Control by the Supreme Court was delayed and is now scheduled for January 5. Solicitor Blair Mitchell, acting on behalf of Brindi’s owner, Francesca Rogier, applied for the judicial review in early November.

In a related matter, this week a judge granted Mitchell’s request for permission to have dog expert Silvia Jay assess Brindi’s behaviour. However, the court-ordered assessment, originally scheduled for today at the SPCA pound, was postponed pending clarification of the order’s wording. HRM continues to deny Rogier’s requests to see Brindi, who she has not seen since July 24, nor will Rogier be allowed to be present during the assessment.

Meanwhile, plans are in place for a benefit concert this weekend at Bearly’s Pub in Halifax to help raise funds to help Rogier pay for Brindi’s defense. Already in the thousands, the total increases with each new delay. A further benefit is scheduled for December 10 at a comedy club in Montreal.

I just sent this out to the local media. I don't expect it to be printed anywhere since it's the weekend and they don't seem to do much on weekends. I posted it because it is the easiest way for me to respond to the many inquiries I've received today. I was exhausted last night and spent most of today resting. It really doesn't look like I'll see Brindi before New Year's. It's a low blow to say the least, after months of working only on this. 

Silvia Jay is ready to go to the SPCA Monday. I sincerely hope we get the go-ahead in time. 

Though the turnout was not huge, we had a productive meeting last night at Dalhousie, very productive in fact! There is a core group of supporters working actively on a number of things, and in some ways this is preferable to a lot of turnout with little action. 

And even though the court proceedings for that day are now only about preliminaries, there's a possibility of setting up a chain of demonstrations across the country before the 16th, from Halifax to Moncton, Montreal, Calgary, and places in BC. Folks everywhere are invited to join in, send me ideas! It may be as simple as gathering your friends together with Brindi's photo and recording a group chant, who knows? 


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Silvia Jay is slated to be at the SPCA at 9 am Friday morning. They are under a court order to let her see Brindi and are to be advised to allow her the space to work with her - unmonitored. 

Without going into too much detail - it seems to me the city is doing its best to stall anything else we do, even things they already agreed to, like providing information about Animal Services officials. Stall. More money, less time, and they just keep on keeping on. I don't understand it. Is the goal to keep people safe from dangerous dogs, or to be right no matter what? Is it no difference to the lawyers whether it's a case about property lines or a dog that means so much to me?

Meanwhile, our meeting at Dalhousie is tomorrow night, Student Union room 316, 7:30 pm. Finally I will absolutely have to be driving into town.
Odd as it may seem in this context, it so happens I have two tickets to DJ Mark Farina at the Pacifico club for tomorrow night - starts right after the meeting. They can go to the highest bidder, whoever shows up. The tickets are worth $20 each in advance, $30 at the door. 
If nobody wants them, maybe I'll ask Bob Riley to step out... ; )

And since each time the city stalls or blocks something, it adds up in my bills, if I may, here's another plug for the epier.com auction - to put in a plug: time is ticking away on it too, and the quilt is still up for sale; there is still time to get it made and sent out before Christmas! Same for the pretty porcelain figurine, the Hallmark Legacy Keeper, and of course the candy-striped dog sofa. Please pass it around!  And thanks once again to all those who have bidded and won other items, as well as their generous donors. More is on the way!

Wake up, it's show time! Two weeks to go!!

Okay, I haven't blogged anything for days because the days have been so rocky, and when stuff happens I need time to absorb and recover and then emails take over...
SO I originally posted this under "seven days to go" - and that shows you how messed up I am trying to keep track of my own life. I've been answering emails back and forth since Monday at a record-breaking case with all sorts of folks including my "solicitor" - at every turn it seems the city's "solicitors" are sending objections to things they already agreed to, generating extra work, time, money for both of us. 

I can report quickly, the Dec. 2 hearing was nearly blown off course because at the last second, the city tried to block it by calling for it to be postponed and merged into the Dec. 16 hearing which is of a different nature altogether. Somehow they succeeded, but not totally. 

I am glad to be able to report that we are getting a court order today for the trainer Silvia Jay to visit Brindi at the SPCA and do an assessment - something I requested through David Green way back in, what was it, August?? The city turned it down then. Now it's not a request; it's a court order. 

Silvia Jay, who I hope will be available, has only tomorrow and Friday to get to the SPCA. And I really hope the shelter will cooperate, the weather will cooperate, and she can do whatever she needs to do in time. 

I am not sure what other details are wise to share, actually, but my lawyer has been working intensely on this for a long time now and we are gearing up for the 16th. I think it is safe to say we have a good case, very good, especially since there is not much on the other side. The attempt late last Friday to block a Tuesday morning hearing was really unexpected, since the lawyers already conferenced with a judge and the city had plenty of time to object before then. They did not leave much time for my lawyer to block their block... It is wonderful that he managed to succeed in getting a conference in chambers; truly a great thing. 

BUT, and it's a BIG BUT (even though I dropped another five pounds): the city, as I was told at the outset by so many lawyers here, is not at all worried about the cost to them of long lawsuits or any legal proceedings, or how long an animal stays locked up. The city's lawyers - somehow there are two of them on the case now - are very likely to appeal if we win next week. They have deep pockets and all the time in the world. They have indicated they do not plan to release Brindi immediately if we win on the 16th. 

So it's another Catch-22, really; if we lose, she'll have to stay there longer while we appeal. If we win, they are going to do all they can to hang on to her so they can appeal. 

In case it wasn't already crystal clear, this is no fight for the faint-hearted. Right now I do feel faint, actually. No sleep and not sure what to do from one hour to the next, as important news comes in every minute. I've been on the phone a lot with D.A.I.S.Y?'s formidable director, Heather Anderson in Calgary, who is rallying more troops, including a man from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and others from Voice for Animals, Prairie Dog Society, and NOKA (a no-kill group). Heather has been speaking to reporters , animal services, the mayor's secretary, and anybody else who will listen; she also rallied two women activists way out in BC, one of whom is mailing out an amazing first-person story by Brindi, about Brindi. 

There is talk of a big protest out in Calgary also - it could be quite interesting. The Montreal contingent of angels carry on their plans for fundraising and letter-writing; publicity is so important for the comedy night on Dec. 10. 

I have been getting good luck emails from people in Brazil and Holland; I've been messaging the whole thousand-odd members on the Facebook group, all over the place, and my fingers are aching, while my cats politely visit my bed-office purring their hunger, hoping I'll look up long enough to notice and get my butt downstairs to feed them. 

Tomorrow night is already the day of the meeting at Dalhousie, in the Student Union tomorrow night! And I have to see a dentist in the afternoon, a remnant of normal life cropping up; also I have to work on the auction.

I have been trying to get into Halifax for several key errands for a week and a half now. Every day something happens or I am not awake enough to do it. It's maddening. 

The sun is shining and I just want to sleep. But we are tough, this scattered group, and we are going to make some big noise, one way or the other. You can't kill a dog for a list of grievances that include not having a dog tag, or getting loose twice, for goodness' sake! Animal Services apparently added those to the minor incidents she had in order to make a claim that I had "many chances" - and hope that people won't ask what exactly they mean by that - which they then parlay into a death sentence. If I had to compare it to something, it would be like having a few parking tickets, running a stop sign, and a fender-bender or two add up to losing your license AND your car. But the comparison doesn't work because in those instances, you'd get the chance to go to court if you wanted to - without a lawyer. Not to mention your car is not a living breathing thing.

My stomach is gurgling, and I am drifting.