Friday, November 28, 2008

New and sad discovery- and a plea to readers

It looks like the officer behind Brindi's muzzle order and her seizure and euthanization order - the man who swore an oath that she is dangerous and then took her out of my house and about 100 feet into public space without using a muzzle, Tim Hamm - is the same person responsible for last year's case of a dog with one incident of attacking a greyhound, and never bit a human, and was put down. 

Why am I not surprised? I am only surprised to realize that my first lawyer was fully aware of this connection and did not mention it to me. I wish I had known. I still don't know who the owner of that dog was and I would so much like to find out what happened - were they ever charged with anything? I only want to get the court records. It's not unimportant; there may be a very deadly pattern here that should be dealt with.

Apparently Hamm is speaking to others about my case. He is now claiming he never charged me with an offense because he thought I was too poor to pay the fine. That's what he says orally. (In his affidavit, he says other things. But the police file contains email correspondence between him and one of the owners that contradicts those things. It's provable but it just takes time - and this lost time is the crime in this case!) Mr. Hamm also seems to be claiming that he believed I would simply sign over Brindi, rather than fight to get her back. AS says most owners just do this. I don't know what their dogs did, but I would never just turn over a dog like Brindi and anybody who ever met me with her could tell that in a second. He sat and gabbed with me all about her for over an hour; he knew very well I wouldn't sign her over just like that - ever. You'd have to be deaf, blind, and thick to not see how much I love Brindi and how proud I am of her. In late July she was doing so beautifully. We had our routines worked out perfectly.  
I suppose the information I received is technically hearsay. But this is not an affidavit or a court of law, it's a blog. But there is also a report online about his past work.
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. 

The man had only two years of experience on the job, admitted he knows little about dogs, and had a bad back. One would think that he ought to be very concerned about taking a presumedly dangerous dog out of a house without putting on the muzzle he himself ordered (and used as grounds to seize her after a non-injury event). He signed an oath that she was dangerous; he ordered the muzzle - if he doesn't use it, and we know he is no dog whisperer, doesn't it cast some doubt on his own sworn statements?

What if it were true, what if Brindi were dnagerous? What if somebody had been walking a dog along the road just then? With his lack of experience and knowledge, he coulnd not have controlled her. He had no gloves or a pole or a muzzle. He was both breaking the order and risking public safety. She went quietly and obediently and sat curled up in the truck's refrigerator-like cage compartment, never making a sound. Was friendly as you could ever want. He knows very well that she is not a dangerous dog. And that is my claim.

Right now, Mr. Hamm may be the mainstay of the city's defense of my case against it and the law. So far none of the other dog owners have agreed to enter a statement (affidavit) against us. And in fact our case doesn't require them, since we are challenging the law. The city needs to defend itself regarding the soundness of the law. Today I received a second affidavit sworn by him that the city wants to use on Dec. 16. It does not relate to the principal issues of our case - and remember, we are bringing the case, I am not defending myself because nobody is charging me with anything. I wish they would, it would save a lot of money and time.) So that affidavit is something that actually does not belong in the courtroom. We have filed objections and are waiting the results but it is going to take more time.

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?

I would like to say again that I am so terribly sorry about last year's case and I believe it was very wrong. I so wish it had been publicized because I really believe it would have garnered a lot of public support. It is a tragedy that it happened and a tragedy that nobody evidently knew about it. Would A300 be written the way it is now? I wonder. At the very least, I would like to reach out to that family and express my sympathy.

The danger is human and real and it is everybody's worry until things change for the better. And they are not going to change for the better until more people get upset enough to do something about it.


Well, the US Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone.

It is the real Thanksgiving to me, since I grew up with it. I was so into it that when I lived in Germany I went to great lengths to throw a huge dinner for ten people every year - before I became a vegetarian, of course. I ordered the turkey fresh weeks before because it was never in the stores that long before Christmas, and I scoured the markets for yams and sweet potatoes, and made pies without pie pans (Germans don't make pies like that), and so on.  A huge production, but always worth it to see the surprise and delight on faces that never tasted the unique combination of flavors before. A few Italian friends I knew - the most skeptical guests, naturally - famously had five or six helpings apiece, of absolutely everything, and still managed to have a few pieces of pie with whipped cream. I never saw a 25 pound turkey demolished so fast.
So this year I skipped it. It would have been so great to be able to really celebrate and be thankful for getting Brindi back. Or for my house being finished. Instead I spent part of the day hauling water, literally. I never dreamt she would be gone this long or my house would not be finished - instead of both hanging by threads. No way to cook and serve a turkey dinner with my pots and dishes and floors unwashed.

Not that I am not thankful. There are many things I can be thankful for. I am thankful my transmission hasn't given up the ghost just yet. I am thankful I am not exactly a petite flower when it comes to womanhood, or I would have gone mad with the condition of this place eons ago. I am thankful I know how to change a fuse, use a tester, and so on. 

But those are material things. What really counts is that I am thankful for my two healthy cats, Amelia and Rudy, who are the best ever. I am thankful for my lawyer, it's only fair to say; he stepped forward when dozens in Halifax and other cities stepped way back, and he's been awesome. And so has his assistant. I am grateful for a few neighbors who have not ceased checking on me and offering H2O and solace now and then, even if I don't see them for weeks on end.

I am very thankful for the loving and kind people I've met during this hellish ordeal who care deeply and unreservedly about all animals, and don't exclude people from their caring. I am so thankful to people that genuinely care about me and my dog, even though I have never set eyes on most of them. I am deeply thankful they are willing to sacrifice time and effort and hard-earned money and even possessions to help us out. They really do keep my spirits going. 

It's amazing to talk to people in Alberta and BC and Texas and Montreal - places I've never been, let alone had phone calls from - emails from Colorado and California and Wisconsin. These are of course not superficial chats; they are from the heart and go right to the heart. Not to mention the comments on the petitions, so many telling me not to give up. 

I guess I have to be thankful for at least one or two more material things, then, because without the computer, the phone, and the internet, I would not be able to connect to these people.
Of course, it would have been far more preferable to meet all these wonderful people under less horrible circumstances. And I have to say, I am not without frustration and a bit of shame when the calls are over. This is a truly emasculating experience. I've not been successful at a whole lot lately, didn't really need any more lessons in humility, or so I thought, right? But I would love nothing more than to be able to return the concern with some really great news and it hurts so much that I just can't; not because of pride but because I hate not being able to leave people with more positive reports - all I seem to have is more bad stuff to relate, even when I'm holding back the real crap...

Often I wake up totally bewildered and then remember the horror just as descends. In the past I would usually reach for the laptop to check my mail and facebook for a bit of reassurance before losing myself to agony and more bewilderment, because frankly, I have no idea what I am supposed to do every day, and little satisfaction whatever I manage to get done. There's always so much more to be done and it doesn't seem to add up to a whole lot.

Sometimes I don't make it as far as reaching for the laptop - okay, I admit it, a lot of times - and I just roll over, checking the cat's whereabouts as I move, and climb right back into dreamland. I can't fight the urge anymore and I don't even try. Often the phone is the only thing that gets me fully awake - although it's no guarantee I won't go right back to sleep afterwards. Because 999 times out of 1000, that's where I'd rather be. I can often influence my dreams; certainly more than I can influence reality for the past four months. This doesn't really explain why I don't let myself fall asleep at night. It's just harder to do somehow.

I was thankful Thursday night for something special: I was able to help cheer up my friend Tracy just a little bit. Her dog Kasba - I'm sure I spelled it wrong -  is a beautiful white boxer who is sadly losing the use of his legs to a deteriorating nerve disease. She's been so stressed out, and who can blame her. He's a sweet guy, and his sister Chevelle is just as sweet, but the sight of him dragging his legs around is so heartbreaking. 

It's been really hard on Tracy, understandably. She found two medical treatments and can't get her vet to prescribe the one that could really deal with the disease; the other slows it down, but she couldn't afford the customs fee and sent it back! And weeks and weeks ago Tracy acquired not one but two different doggie wheelchairs, of different designs, but hasn't been sure which one to keep. Tonight- after I dropped by to fill the water jugs and invited myself to a shower -we took him for a spin in one of them (pardon the pun), mainly to satisfy my curiosity to see if he could manage. 

We took both dogs out for a little turn around the church's well-lit parking lot, and everybody felt so much better. Kasba seemed truly surprised - this was his first walk in the contraption, I think - he kept standing still, gazing around in awe. He'd move about thirty feet with no trouble, then just stop and do it again. After we got home I swear he was smiling. I mean, I could see the difference. And Tracy was smiling right along with him. Excellent.

We tried him in the other wheelchair - they actually look like chariots - and weighted the pros and cons of each. Then we played around with adapting them a bit, to see if we could improve on the weight and straps. The main thing was that it all worked! It was so great to see how he can really navigate around the house, and how thrilled he was. As I tried to check out the fit with Tracy, he kept blocking my view to lick my face, eyes alert and happy. When I sat on the floor he came and positioned himself over my lap as if figuratively sitting in it, though in reality he was suspended over it - nearly ran over my knees, but it was totally okay. It was more than just hope, it was a very positive experience.

I will continue to look for more things to be thankful for. It's a very worthy exercise.  

The questions that come up again and again. Yes, Brindi is still in the pound. No, I still have not set eyes on her since July 24. 

The next key date is Dec. 2: we ask a judge to order the city to give access to her so that a behavioural assessment can be done by Silvia Jay. This is one of the things I was telling the SPCA last week, to give them a head's up. I figured they'd done this before, they must have a drill or something. Imagine - I was told, "no, never." Hmmm. Not that I consider the assessment all that valid. The real issue is, is this law enforceable? Is it being fairly enforced?

The next date: Dec. 4, a meeting for all of Brindi's angels at Dalhousie University next Thursday night in the Student Union. With Joe Cool. 

Then December 16 will be here before I know it, and the nerves will be increasing proportionally as it gets closer. I saw the courtroom last week; I counted the spaces, fortunately not too many. I know where to park. I'm nervous even writing this, so I'd better stop, or I won't sleep at all, and it's well after 3 am already. 

Let's quash that thing, quash it real good. Get that dog back home, for good and forever.