Monday, November 24, 2008


Torture is not a good word to bandy about. People are being tortured every day and their pain is unimaginable.
Emotional torture is in a different category, and that is what I feel I am suffering without Brindi here, and knowing where she is, and the agony of this unending nightmare and the necessity of fighting against the insensate system that brought this about - regardless of my attempts to steady myself it is emotional torture. My heart has already been broken so many times I thought there was no way it could ever happen again, but the universe found a whole new way to do it - not with a man, but a dog. Who would ever believe it possible.
It is a badiversary worth sleeping through, instead of not sleeping at all the night before, which I have not. Last week I had two completely sleepless nights, and in between those nights, a few with only about four hours, and a very slow recovery. It starts all over again. 
I am not satisfied with where I am in this fight and it is a frustrating thing to visit the SPCA to drop off bones and share information, only to be told I'm upsetting the staff, and that the supervisor doesn't know if I am a good dog owner or a bad dog owner. Bad attitude, SPCA. Bad timing. If your staff is upset, ask them why. Have a discussion, for a change. It doesn't look like that happens much, because nothing has changed over the last four months: I still encounter staff and volunteers who believe things that are not true - about the pound having "nothing to do" with the shelter. Some of them still don't know who they're working for - or don't want to know, since one of them claimed the shelter had nothing to do with the provincial board of the SPCA; none of them seem to know or want to know who is financing the shelter - hey, the annual reports are online, and it looks like the six-figure pound contract pays for a goodly chunk, if not half, of the annual budget - money from, guess who, HRM taxpayers. To run the pound FOR THE CITY: not separately; BY THE SAME ORGANIZATION. 
Ah, but the truth is upsetting. It's not my fault, nor is it my problem, if the staff is upset. In my opinion they're not upset enough. Because they're not upset enough to check all the facts, or to speak up if they don't like them. If they are volunteers, they still have a right to express their opinions. Muzzling yourself is not the way to improve things. Telling me that the staff get attached to the "long term residents" and get upset... leaving the rest of the sentence unfinished. Let me finish it: they get attached, and then they get upset WHEN THE RESIDENT - the DOG - is KILLED. Euthanize is the powder-puff term that doesn't make anybody feel better about it. It's not euthanization for Brindi, it's out and out killing that one day, ladies, who knows, you may have to carry out, especially if I end up running out of money and health. Because nobody else can adopt her under the circumstances. In case you don't know, I have not been charged with any offense; therefore, animal services does not claim that I am guilty of anything in particular. So one could conclude that as an owner I am no different from anybody else. The law actually says I am guilty of an offense, but the department chose not to charge me with it, and no such offense was even mentioned in the papers used to seize Brindi - I suppose any such mention would require that I be charged. It's very perplexing. 

I do know that the lack of charges is why it is taking so long for me to get to a judge: I had to BUY my day in court, and it costs a pretty penny indeed. Meanwhile other dog owners (even when their dogs bite people) before and since get their day in court free of charge, and much sooner. Until recently, the mayor firmly believed, like most of the populace, that it was impossible for Animal Services to seize a dog without charging the owner with some sort of violation. He also did not realize the sizable number of cases of by-law prosecutions - well over a dozen - since last year involving owners of dogs with two to three incidents of biting humans and/or other dogs, supplemented by "running at large" charges, in which the owners were charged, went to provincial court a month or two later, and were either fined a few hundred bucks, or had the charges dropped. With the one exception of a human-biting dog that was put down, they all fared eons better than Brindi and me. He knows the truth now, but so far it hasn't prompted him to do anything about it. He ought to seriously question the advice of HRM legal counsel that he remain apart from the matter, because he and Council created the situation facilitating the denial of due process. Following that, he ought to seriously review the motives and practices of animal services in regard to my case, because it's the only way to prevent something like this happening again - or something even worse happening again, like Ducky.

Our last four months, the outrageous sums involved, and the agonizing separation without visits, are a form of punishment (not yet over) that nobody else has had to bear for the kind of minor infractions involved, not even for worse ones!

Brindi is a bad dog, according to HRM, and in the one-dimensional world of the by-law, bad dogs must be destroyed, just like a bad... (actually I can't think of any comparison, because there is none). So she is not up for sale. She is up for dying, that's all. 

As far as I can make out with the law, it makes no difference if I sign her over. Nor would I ever do that. HRM would not let her out of its jurisdiction even for training subject to approval; it would not let her go to a foster home, and it will not agree to release her to me pending the December 16 date. It won't even hear more proposals out of court - how, since it renegged on two meetings? Brindi, my friends at the SPCA should note, is being cruelly caged again after two years in a shelter and barely a year out, in part also because no one at that organization has stepped up to help. And so the battle drags on, and I am powerless to stop it, despite thousands of signatures and notes from folks all over the planet, despite letters to every relevant public official in the province and beyond. 

Brindi is punished very severely by this long wait, a significant period of time in the short life of a dog, all because of a loophole that was used to create a black hole of bureacracy, whether intentionally or unintentionally. In fact it's irrelevant which it is. Much more relevant are the intentions since that time of the parties involved, once the contrast is known between our case and the others on record. A contrast, I should note, that nobody was going to ever mention or notice, unless a crack internet researcher took the time to find the records - and thank goodness she did. 

Brindi has been condemned to death for an alleged propensity to attack "unprovoked". You all know the latter is debatable. To a dog, the natural territorial boundary is the road edge, not the easement - (what's a 16-foot easement to a dog??) - and since a dog remembers quite well when another dog was aggressive to it at some point in the past, there can be a prior provocation, and the response detached in time, but a response nonetheless. These are all provocations in the dog world. And what does it mean, "propensity"? Some kind of propensity to attack is quite obviously inherent to the nature of every dog on earth. No dog does not possess this trait in some degree; if it didn't, it would be a stuffed animal, not a live canine. 

So I haven't sobbed hard, the really hard and long sobbing, in a few days now and I know I am overdue. I am not feeling well enough to sustain it so I pray the sobbing will pass me by today, against the odds. It's so hard, I can't predict what will trigger it. Every other commercial has a dog in it; every other series or movie plot seems to involve a dog, and a look out my window is easily pierced with the sight of a happy human-canine pair strolling down the street. A call-in show on the radio is invariably about pets; or somebody comes up with yet another bad story about a dog and the law. I cringe and cringe. 

About me being a good dog owner or not - I guess it would be a lot less upsetting to believe I'm not? Good luck on that one, ladies. Willful ignorance is no answer and certainly no excuse. If my dog is unjustly ordered euthanized, it doesn't hack it to say "just carrying out orders"; that is, as I#ve said, tantamount to the infamous Nuremberg defense (which didn't stop the court from convicting the Germans). But to add to "just carrying out orders", the claim "I don't know who I work for," "We are separate from the NS SPCA," -- well, it's a bit like saying not only am I not responsible; heck, I'm not even in the German army. A bit hard to swallow.

And I'm feeling sick enough and angry enough on this four-month anniversary to say: you are participating willingly in this ordeal. So please, keep it to yourselves if you're upset, unless you plan on doing something constructive about it - like speak up (not to me). Otherwise, you have no right to tell me how upset you are about Brindi, or how attached you are. I'm absolutely sure you are, but with all due respect (however much is due), so what? I believe I'll begin to care about your upset staff and volunteers right about the same time the SPCA starts caring about how upset I am, and how attached I am, not to mention how upset Brindi was to be taken away; when it starts caring enough to intervene on our behalf, if only to give me permission to visit her; when it starts caring enough to include ALL dogs, including the ones in the pound, in its mission to protect animal welfare.

Otherwise - talk to the paw.

One last thing: since you work for a group holding the monopoly on anti-cruelty law enforcement in this province (which in turn works for the group holding the monopoly on violence against animals in HRM), if you really cannot tell a good dog owner from a bad one, well then, perhaps you'd better get out of the business, hadn't you?