Sunday, December 13, 2009

DAISY Chain of Vigils, Coast to Coast, for International Animal Rights Day

Halifax: Vigil at Metro Shelter on Dec. 10, International Animal Rights Day.
With Jessie and Admiral DeWolfe assisting.

Help bring Brindi home for Christmas
Moka, a friend of Carol Waterman in Montreal, joined in on Dec. 12, 2009.

Calgary, Alberta
Members of DAISY Foundation
Heather Anderson, founder and director.

To the other end of the continent, British Columbia:
Vigil indoors on a stormy night.
Warm thanks to Lana Horan (lower right).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An apology to a kind person and my frustration at being shut into a room

Today at the SPCA was a very low and frustrating moment. 

The weather was beautiful. But midday passed and the 4 pm visit was again restricted to indoors. In a ten by (guessing) fifteen room, with windows overlooking the street and french doors overlooking the busy lobby, it is psychological torture for woman and dog. 

The SPCA placed a number of conditions on these visits which they invented just for us last April. They originally prohibited me from being inside the shelter building for any length of time. (An impossibility of course since I had to walk through it to get to the pen in the rear.) They also forbade me from talking to anybody, and from taking photos of my own dog. Etc.

Now the SPCA is ordering me to stay inside the building and forbidding me from being with Brindi outside, from now on, period. How repugnant is it to be accused of bringing "contraband" to my dog (I am forbidden from giving my dog a bone), and then to be accused of causing her pancreatitis, which is a lifelong condition and doubtless due to the conditions of her confinement there, and on that questionable premise, to be denied outdoor time with my dog. Yes, the winter is coming and it will be cold. But for a half hour, who cares? Last January the SPCA forced me to stay outside with Brindi in sub-zero temperatures on the first visit I had with her in six months. Lori Scolero ended up cutting the outdoor time short after about 20 minutes because she was too cold. After I got about five minutes in an unheated 4x4 building entrance with Brindi, that visit was over.

Now, it so happens that the last few visit days were gorgeous. And I always walked Brindi outdoors, rain or shine, snow or ice, several times a day. She does not get walked at all now. They let her out in the pen during the day, no idea how long or often. 

Half an hour outside with me is possible now - but no, they have to "monitor" me. Outdoors, these women would sit and gab in lawn chairs in the next pen. They did not exactly monitor anything. But apparently they now prefer to shut us up in a room and be done with it. 

Any effort to discuss these new rules is pointless, because within seconds, I am threatened with the prospect of having visits ended altogether. Yes, I do ask, why is this necessary? That already going too far. When I protested, I was told, "Francesca, there are members of the public here!" and "You're wasting your time with Brindi," which was soon followed by the threat to cut off visits. I do not appreciate being treated like a suspect and I cannot believe the gall to blame me for her illness - and now, denied outdoor space, on the unmistakable claim that I would deliberately give my dog something that might make her sick. Incredible. As if the torture of getting only a half hour a week with my beloved dog isn't bad enough. 

When I spoke with them afterwards about the indoor visits, the medical reports, and the legal authority, it was not much different. 

Who knows, I could find out next week that visits have been ended permanently because of my interaction with them today - the shelter manager, Sandra, who claims she was the "decider" about going indoors - and Lori Scolero, of Animal Services, who watches by standing out in the lobby. She claims she has no idea what legal authority HRM has to hold Brindi and doesn't care to know. It's the legal department's problem, she says. 

I asked again for Brindi's latest medical records, from about three weeks ago now, which include important blood tests. They were not on hand, but a fax was promised. 

Brindi was fine most of the time, but she was naturally distracted by the comings and goings in front of the glass doors and outside the windows to the street. She quickly emptied a kong that was given to her at the beginning. I was not allowed to give her milkbones or any treats, but was supplied with "kibble" for her. So, we cuddle, I put her through the few tricks I managed to teach her, and I watch her nose at the doors and windows, hoping to be let out. Thirty minutes in a room.

Am I alienating the SPCA by posting this? Not posting it would not alter the situation, because cooperation and subservience is expected, not rewarded. Sorry to be so harsh - but Christmas is on its way and I am facing a SECOND Christmas without Brindi. It's just incredible. We cannot get HRM to cooperate by moving up the trial date- even after they complained to the judge about the delays (caused by needing to find counsel). A judge also said she didn't believe she had the authority (power) to order that Brindi go to a better facility with long-term care status. If she doesn't have it, the question is, who does? And HRM seems to think she does, as they insist they would not permit a transfer without a court order. More frustration, while my dog is kept at a 30 day facility.

My apology for today however goes to a well-meaning volunteer who dared break the standing order not to talk to me. In the parking lot, as I was leaving, she came over to say how much she loves Brindi. I apologize for bursting out at the seams at her with "I love my dog, and she's mine!" 

I have never had such a moment of breakdown there, let alone in front of a volunteer who was kind enough to speak to me. I also regret it because wanted to speak with her; I believe she was truly a kind woman. But after my frustrating attempt to reason with two recalcitrant women, it was honestly too much to bear to hear what a great dog I have. It is a nice thing to say on the face of it, and it is not that I don't appreciate it - I do. But frankly, it rips my insides out. I KNOW she is lovable and wonderful and smart; that is why she should not be on death row as a "dangerous dog". And that is also why I want her home for Christmas. Who is going to help me?

This woman will know who she is, and since the SPCA folks read this blog (sometimes within minutes of posting) I am confident she'll see my apology. She was probably scolded for approaching me, since the manager, who must have been watching from the door, shooed her into the building within seconds. I'm sorry about that too. I hope she'll understand and forgive me. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To defend what I love

Happy is he who dares courageously to defend what he loves.
- Ovid

The SPCA and Animal Services have decided to change the time and location of my brief weekly visits with Brindi. Last Wednesday when I arrived at 1 pm, I was asked, "Didn't you hear?" It turned out that the two parties decided that we could no longer spend time outdoors at 1 pm; instead we would be inside and the visit would start at 4 pm. This was not something I had agreed on, for two reasons. First, Brindi needs all the outdoor exercise she can get. Or at least fresh air. She doesn't really get much exercise in the pen.

Second, in the room they allow us to use, which is a newly refurbished waiting room to the left of the lobby, Brindi can see out the windows to the street. And boy does she know it's the outside world and boy does she WANT TO BE FREE. It was torture for us both, frankly, as I posted last week

She was the best girl throughout but she could not resist jumping on the couch and sitting prettily while gazing out those windows with longing. I tried once to get her down and she obeyed, but I didn't have the heart to do it again, and I ended up just sitting next to her on the couch. By the end of the time, I was hugging her close and praying and weeping all at once, with my head resting on her back. It was awful.

Yesterday my lawyer reminded me - inadvertently, really - about this change. He had tried to no avail to talk the SPCA out of the the change. They claim they have to watch me during the visit, more closely than they do outside, so that I don't give Brindi "contraband" treats. As if I would deliberately make my dog sick. In the event, nobody watched me anyhow, and it was moot. The person from Animal Services assigned to watch me spent the time out in the lobby deep in conversation with an SPCA investigator.

By today my lawyer was supposed to have worked out with HRM to get the agreement back to where it was before. But that hasn't happened. So I dread another tortuous time with Brindi in that room with those windows, a single pane of glass the only thing separating her from the freedom we both long for.  

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sympathetic pain

I have this thing that happens to my body when somebody close to me is seriously ill. I seem to suddenly develop a symptom that mimics their condition. 

For instance, when my beloved uncle lost the ability to swallow food safely without aspirating, for instance, I found myself suddenly having trouble swallowing, feeling my esophagus and epiglottis choking up. I had a similar experience when a friend had kidney problems. 

Now, since Monday, when I learned about Brindi being hospitalized, I've been having some gripping, sharp pains in my abdomen, kind of central, not high or low, and it's not going away just yet. Don't have any chronic heartburn or even infrequent heartburn (thankfully); it suddenly came on and it's been just maddening. 

Teresa wrote on November 18, 2009 at 3:28 pm
What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum—the first part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive juices, or enzymes, into the duodenum through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic enzymes join with bile—a liquid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder—to digest food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy.

Normally, digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas do not become active until they reach the small intestine. But when the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes inside it attack and damage the tissues that produce them.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Either form is serious and can lead to complications. In severe cases, bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur.

Post #2 
Teresa wrote on November 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm
I just wanted to share some information on what Brindi is dealing with health wise, how the pancreas works. Prayers for your quick recovery Brindi and your freedom ♥ 

Post #3 Francesca wrote on November 19, 2009 at 1:11am
Thank you so, so much Teresa!!

I learned in a chat with the shelter manager that they confirmed the diagnosis last Friday with a blood test. Apparently they wanted to insure she was looked after so they kept her in the hospital over the weekend rather than the shelter, where staff is either low and/or non-existent on Sundays. 

That was great. I am not so pleased about HRM's Animal Services and legal beagles' attempt to make me the culprit for a condition that takes a lot of time to come about - not something anybody could accomplish in one half-hour a week, for the few months I've been permitted these visits. Being deprived throughout of sufficient exercise, and the added weight (reflecting a rich diet; before January there were lots of fatty treats around), are likely factors; also, the vet told me that certain bacteria can trigger it. Having poor dental hygiene and gum disease is a great recipe for that. 

Brindi was peppy and very affectionate and ready for action, as usual. Her forearms had been shaved for IV's but she was not shedding much and her coat was in good condition. they are also clearly working on her teeth, which are still bad but slowly improving. That made me feel better. 

There is a dispute about the visit location and time: they want to change it to indoors at 4 pm. I do not. I arrived at 1 pm today to discover the new terms and was told they were sent to my lawyer. He did not receive anything and in his call to HRM he learned the other lawyer was in court - but five minutes later, he received an email from him announcing the chage. 

I really hope they will change their minds - today was very difficult for Brindi, and hard as hell for me. In that room, she sees the outside world through the window, just a single pane of glass away, a world she hasn't visited for a year and a half and which she doesn't see in the back pen because it is far from the road. So she was really suffering today, jumped on the couch and sat prettily staring outside. She kept glancing back at me with the same pleading eyes in this photo, asking me to take her out of there. She really really wants SO MUCH to be free. It pains me, as it would anyone, to be so utterly helpless to fulfill her wishes, to just open that door for her, when I know she once trusted me totally and I love her so much.
I just held her very close next to me, putting my head down on hers, and prayed very hard.
I sobbed a few times, with the waves of pain pushing through. 

 I'm sure it pains the staff as well that she is not allowed to even go for a walk - HRM's call and they obey it. But for me, it's the most unbearable feeling in the world, and my stomach cramping up every 30 seconds is a mirror of that pain.

Monday, November 16, 2009

She's out of the hospital??

So my lawyer calls the SPCA shelter seeking information. They now say Brindi is back in the shelter but will not tell him anything more, because he has to go through their lawyer. 

Do they have a lawyer?? Apparently not. What they are talking about is the HRM lawyer. They seem to be laboring under the mistaken belief that the HRM lawyer represents the SPCA. Not true at all; and in fact, HRM is freed of all liability through their contract for the pound services. The SPCA is totally exposed. But they don't seem to get that. 

And the issue of Brindi's health remains shrouded in mystery thanks to that. 

Brindi has pancreatitis and is/was in the hospital?

After ringing my lawyer at 3:25 pm, I learn that he heard from HRM's Kishan Persaud, that Brindi has been in the hospital since Friday with pancreatitis. 

And rather than give more information about Brindi and what they are doing, Persaud says to tell me I cannot give her treats and that the SPCA wants to search me before each visit. My lawyer of course said they cannot do that, it is illegal. Persaud replied that he knew that. So why even pass it along??  He also passed along the threat that if I continued to give her treats that my visits would be cut off. 

In addition, Persaud said that they won't be asking me to pay for this treatment "at this time". !!! As if!! The cost of this treatment must be covered by the authorities responsible for her care, and that would be Animal Services.  Me giving her a few healthy treats once a week for the short time I've been allowed visits is NOT why she has this condition; according to my vet it has more to do with a serious lack of proper exercise and too many rich foods - like the chewy treats, "Beggin' Strips", that she is given at the shelter. In order words, this condition is directly attributable to poor care: keeping her in a temporary facility that is known to be inadequate for long-term care, let alone short term care; and Animal Services' total refusal to allow Brindi to be walked regularly. 

Not to mention that my requests to move her to a better facility have been met with a response telling me to go get a court order first, and that the court itself tells me that it doesn't know if it has the "authority" to order a transfer. 

For the SPCA and HRM to be going on the offensive as a defensive action at a time when my dog is ill is not a very honorable position to take (not to say shameless). From what my vet tells me, pancreatitis is a condition that will bring recurring episodes for the rest of her life and will require IV fluids and antibiotic treatment and withdrawal of foods for several days, each time. This adds to the permanent damage to her teeth and chronic gum disease as a result of the SPCA's refusal to allow her bones - or to give her something else as a substitute - or to give her a teethcleaning at the proper times. 

So it's bad enough hearing this news, but to cloak it in blame and a threat is just too damn much.  Never mind that my dog is in ill the hospital or telling us how they are treating her - whether she is getting fluids and anti-biotics. Never mind passing on the blood test results!

And never mind the main question: HOW DID SHE GET PANCREATITIS?? 

Now I am waiting for my lawyer to contact the SPCA directly and get some questions answered. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Health worries

Well, for the second time in what - a month? - I arrive to visit Brindi on a beautiful sunny afternoon, and am confronted with the news that she has been throwing up. 

Weeks ago, I was told she threw up every day for a week. 

Today, I hear she was throwing up for the last two days. 

They did bloodwork last time, and again now; last time, apparently, she was throwing up longer because of anti-nausea medication they gave her. And the vet report that came days after my visit was too much for me to even read. I had a friend read it and give me the gist. It was no comfort - talk of pancreatitis. Evidently something that doesn't go away; it's there for life. 

I have not received the latest blood test results. I appreciate that this time I was not made to phone up Kishan Persaud, the HRM prosecutor, to learn the bad news; the shelter manager was nice enough to tell me herself. 

But I don't get this. Brindi was in absolutely perfect health when she was taken. In January, when they finally let me see her after six months, she had gained at least 10 to 15 pounds and was in terrible condition. She lost a few pounds but is overweight still. And her teeth - well, I've mentioned this before and it's no better now. But what is happening??Why is she throwing up? I tried to get my vet to discuss this with me and was shut down - literally.  

Brindi seemed tired today. They had her out most of the morning, it seems. She was thirsty, and I asked for a dish of water. She gets winded easily - so do I. Neither one of us is getting enough exercise. We need each other for that. 

In the meantime, I haven't had the strength to look up pancreatitis or even vomiting in dogs. My cat Rudy has a heart murmur and renal failure; that's already been a big concern and he's on a medication. But if something happens to Brindi... 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Required reading:

 “Tyranny” in animal control enforcement
from the Canada Free Press
By Dean A. Ayers  Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do Animal Control Services (sometimes misnamed as a “Humane Society)” enforce animal control duties thru tyranny without “due process” or justice or even a nuisance complaint? Do Animal Control Authorities (dog catchers) have to be “nincompoops” to work for Animal Control Services (sometimes misnamed as a “Humane Society)” in their communities, or does just being a “nincompoop” in enforcing animal control duties just help tyranny without “due process” or justice prevail in animal care, control, and license laws?

Some “Nincompoop” Animal Control examples:

  • In March 2009, Animal Control in Providence, Utah allegedly was going door to door to check on dog licenses. Yeah, let’s spend our time going after people whose dogs haven’t actually caused a problem. Mayor Randy Simmons put a stop to it. 
  • A few months ago, Animal Control in South Salt Lake, Utah allegedly left a skunk trap out in the hot sun for an entire weekend, then tried to prosecute the guy who moved the trap out of the sun. 
  • Last year, Sandy Animal Control allegedly picked up a 17 year old deaf cat on a sidewalk near its house and, unable to tell the difference between an old deaf cat and a sick cat, immediately killed it. (NOTE: familiar story for Halifax - remember Jean Hanlon's cat?)
  • A couple of years ago, Animal Control in Tooele, Utah allegedly was doing even worse: They were going door to door and ordering people to get rid of any pets over their “technical number” limit, regardless of whether there had been any problem or any neighbors had complained. The city council put a stop to it.
  • Recently, West Jordan, Utah Animal Control allegedly cited a woman whose dog got out while she was visiting her mother. That was fine, but they also cited her for not having her dog licensed in West Jordan, Utah. It wasn’t good enough that it was already and legally licensed inSandy, Utah where she lives.
  • A while back, another Animal Control department in Salt Lake County, Utah allegedly cited a woman for having her gate open under animal control laws, even though her dog was still inside the yard.
  • Last year, West Valley, Utah allegedly was planning to use an inhumane gas chamber to euthanize pets. Still no word on the outcome of this alleged “Nazi-like” animal death camp procedure.

These are just recent examples of “tyranny” in animal control enforcement in one state alone, when in fact there are many other various and numerous cases of pet owner ‘civil rights” abuse by animal control “rogue” power and authority that can be found in all 50 states of this family animal filled nation. Many other “true” horror tales of tyranny animal law experiences with Animal Control Authorities are found in virtually every community; these being just a few examples of “nincompoops”, to verify what pet owners all across the nation have been publicly reporting as an “abuse of power” – “tyranny enforcement” by animal control authorities against pet owners who’s pets and animals are not a nuisance, nor being complained about (by anyone), or causing any problem in their locale with their pets and animals. 

What “We the People” can’t figure out is whether Animal Control workers are told to be jerky, or does it just come naturally being an Animal Control “nincompoop” when they exercise “tyranny” enforcement by going door to door, or going to rural private property to rural private property intimidating, threatening, and coercing dog, cat, pet, or animal owners. Demanding unpaid “TAXES” on licenses for pets to be paid (on the spot) or face immediate confiscation of their pets to be enforced, and also the demanding to know if owners are over arbitrary set pet “number limits”, etc?

The ultimate perversion of “petty” animal complaint’s truth at its deepest core in society.

Many of our fellow citizens, no longer have the tolerant souls and morals of free men and women towards animal ownership. They have the souls and morals of a now “perverted” mentality of busy-bodies and petty “tyrants” who want to ruin their neighbors’ lives, kill their dogs, cats, or other pets and end their neighbor’s pet ownership rights. All in the name of an animal’s right not to be owned by its master, but rather only be parented or controlled only by a ‘parent-guardian’ designation, which can be revoked by the “state” at any time with the “stroke” of a pen, called an animal law.

This is the ultimate perversion of truth at it’s deepest core in society, by not cherishing family values with pet ownership “intrinsic value” in private property freedom, as well as, having pets being accepted as a lawful and protected member of the ‘extended family’ with the human beings in that family. In simple terms, the acceptance of socialism in the dogma of a dog hating, animal destroying neighborhood and society has taken root in America. Maybe even next door to your dog, cat, or other pet animal.

Our dogs, cats, pets and animals are, in fact, an integral part of our loving family units, having purpose, attention, affection, interaction, respect, family interaction and happiness for both humans and the pet animals on an “intrinsic value’ level, not that of meager chattel. However, the “animal rights activists” and legislative body members (local city, state and federal), who follow the animal rights activist’s agenda to intentionally pervert the idea of a loving family with pet ownership interactions, has gone astray, from a logical and common sense way of thinking. These animal activist legal proposals are being implemented with intent of “malice” to the pet owners, as well as the pet animals themselves.

These animal rights intolerant people have become “tyrants” thru the use of our various legal systems and its “manipulated” proposal of animal care, animal license taxation, and controlling laws, destroying the very freedoms “We as People” seek and have a right to possess in a free society. This is a ‘realistic’ and ‘common sense’ brief documentary of the multitude of insanely ‘perverted’ proposal of violations of “pet ownership” rights and freedoms by none other than “nincompoops” wearing a badge or shoulder patch representing an animal control authority, implying they are a “Humane Society.”

The animal control and “taxation” laws by necessity of the written laws are not the highest obligation for the pet owner.

There are people so addicted to exaggeration they can’t tell the truth without lying. ~Josh Billings

A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self- preservation, of saving our country and our people, to include our extended family of dog, pets, and animals when in danger, are of higher obligation. Pets and animals morally, legally, and rightfully belong to you, the pet owner, not the government. Any “tyrant” can write a law taxing and controlling virtually anything or any animal, but this does not make the law constitutional or valid in the spirit or execution of law enforcement. Animal laws need to be legally “challenged” at every turn of the animal control screw by the “nincompoops” who extend enforcement to people not creating or causing any animal nuisance or problem on private property. Their alleged “nincompoop” sole goal is to create more “taxes” for their locale thru fees, fines, confiscations, seizures, or threats of criminal citations, fines, fees, or euthanasia of their animals if the pet owner does not comply. 

In a majority of animal care and control laws, there is “NO” legitimate and “NO” constitutional “due process” written in the animal law to enforce any lawful confiscation, seizure, or euthanasia of the pet owner’s animals. In a majority of cases the counties, or municipalities, essentially just “plagiarize” the writing of their own animal care and control laws from a neighboring county or municipality, never even considering or caring whether lawful “due process” is included in the newly “copied” law for their locale.

To lose our beloved pet animals, our family units and structure, and ultimately our freedom in this country by a unscrupulous adherence to written “anti-pet” ordinances and laws would be to lose the spirit of the lawful intent in law itself, with life, liberty, property, and all those who are enjoying them with us being dissolved as we speak in every state of the union. This is absolute absurdity sacrificing the end to the means in “tyranny” of animal care, animal license taxation, and control law enforcement.

Many dog owners in recent years have faced the unthinkable

A knock at their door that has heralded the arrival of an Animal Control officer with a complaint about your dog(s). In some cases that visit has been concluded satisfactorily to both the dog owner and the animal control officer; in others it has meant the heartache of either seizure of the owner’s dog(s) or facing stiff fines for various reasons in citation.

With animal ownership laws undergoing evolving changes throughout the country, these ‘perverted’ evolving animal control laws are being actively used by ‘animal rights extremists’ some of which are in fact, animal control officers, and others in animal rights groups to enforce animal law tyranny as a means of dog owner ‘harassment.’ The possibility of a visit at your door on private property from Animal Control becomes ever more of a specter to haunt every dog owner.

Laws that ‘limit the number’ of dogs, cats. pets, and animals and also demand “license fees” for pets that never leave the home on their private property in a household are intended to make it easier to prosecute individuals who are thought to have “too many,” or “not enough animal tax paid” according to an arbitrary standard, but is also applied even to those people who are not in violation of health, nuisance and humane laws. 

Pets and animals belong to YOU, not the government. The “number limit” laws and animal “tax” licensing laws are as different as ‘night is to day’ in all the various jurisdictions. None of these dog ‘limit laws’ or “animal tax license laws” are fair, balanced or lawful under the constitution with a proper established ‘due process’ to defend themselves and their animals “PRIOR”to confiscation or euthanasia of the animals belonging to the dog or pet owner documented in the ordinance itself.

ALWAYS, Always, always:

Remember that it is paramount that all pet owners educate themselves and learn their animal care and control laws in their area and have a plan, decision, and potential legal counsel known, documented (phone number) and at hand, in order for the pet owner to know how far they are willing and able to’stand your ground’ in knowing your ‘rights’ in responsible dog, pet and animal ownership if and when a “nincompoop” animal control authority comes knocking on your door, demanding to “steal” your dog, cat, pet, or animal from you, when you have “not’ been a nuisance on your own private property.

Remember when it comes to freely owning your dogs, cats, pets and animals in an area frequented by Animal Rights “Activists” or Animal Control Authorities, or “Nincompoops”, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Donation link: being fixed

To the person who alerted me about the donation button:
It should work, I checked from another computer. Try logging into your paypal account if it does not go directly to the right page. There is no way for a search to work on paypal; it's not set up for that. 

Another option: the Free Brindi fashion statement! All the rage (pun intended) in the regional metropolis and the eastern shore! Bob Riley made it a fixture of his fall wardrobe! 
It comes in lots of colors and styles, men's and women's and dogs' sizes, and long sleeves for the winter!
Click on the shirt to go to and see other items as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Compare and Contrast, part 10...

How does Brindi compare to other cases in HRM ? Do they kill all dogs with the same charges? 

Here's a site to check out with a chart of prosecutions compiled from charts. It gives information about dog-related by-law prosecutions from January 2007 to July 2009, focusing only on cases involving attacks of one kind or another. It's excerpted and expanded from a larger compilation of all dog-related matters. It will be updated as the info becomes available. 

 With thanks and gratitude to Beni for editing and refining the chart. And yes, Joan Sinden, you first alerted me to the information, I did thank you for that a long time ago, but I have no problem crediting you again (though I'm surprised you want me to).

A lot of work went into the first charts I compiled, and again into this one; the city posts separate info for each month and the dog cases are mixed in with all by-law offenses.

 Too bad the city hasn't paid any attention to them. Neither has the press. I wonder if the judge will?

I suggest everybody read Beni's comment below. And check out the listing for one Sandra Coleman, who seems to have had serious problems with not one but two dogs. Neither muzzled or seized.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts to contemplate on this day

"Approximately one person in 18 million dies as a result of a dogbite in this country [US] in an average year.2,3,4 One in 167,000 deaths overall is attributable to this cause.5 Most mortality modalities this rare are not regularly counted; however, a few other rare fatalities are studied occasionally. 
Statistics show that dog-bite deaths occur at approximately one-fifth the rate of lightning fatalities [ed. - even lower in Canada: one-sixteenth the rate in 2007], one-third the rate of forklift fatalities, and one-third the rate of cattle-related fatalities. (The cattle figure is probably low, since the only counts available are for work-related injuries).6,7,8,9 
Children under 10 are twice as likely to drown in a five-gallon bucket and 1.5 times more likely to die on playground equipment than from a dog bite.10,11,12 
This is not to say that these deaths are unimportant, but in considering allocating public resources [and presumably, legislation] to prevent such deaths, one must first establish that the same resources could not be used to save more lives at risk from other causes. For
example, an intervention that reduced automobile-accident mortality by 0.009 percent would save twice as many lives as one that eliminated dog-bite fatalities."
. . .
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 behavior include “approaches in a vicious or terrorizing manner,” “in a menacing fashion,” having “a known disposition, tendency, or propensity to attack,” or “engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury.” 36,37 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 behavior without necessarily 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 that only 15 percent had actually bitten, and only 10 percent of the 15 percent of the bites had injured.38 This means that a hypothetical net cast to identify the 1.5 percent of dogs who will injure based on whether they had behaved aggressively would actually capture at least 41 percent of the dog population. 
And since this study only included behavior 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."
p. 5 and 17-18 respectively, from: "Dog Bites: Problems and Solutions," policy paper, Animals and Society Institute, by Janis Bradley, 2006
AT THE VERY LEAST, one line that should be alarming to everybody who loves dogs is the one that says
a hypothetical net cast to identify the 1.5 percent of dogs who will injure based on whether they had behaved aggressively would actually capture at least 41 percent of the dog population.”

The “hypothetical net” being the kind of dangerous dog laws mentioned, which happen to closely resemble the definition in A300. Based on this study, one might assume that 41% of the dogs in HRM would be deemed dangerous if the law were applied consistently. And what good is a law if it isn't applied consistently?
More thoughts:
"The supposed epidemic numbers of dog bites splashed across the media are absurdly inflated by dubious research and by counting bites that don’t actually hurt anyone. Even when dogs do injure people, the vast majority of injuries are at the Band-Aid level.

Dogs enhance the lives of millions more people than even the most inflated estimates of dog-bite victims. Infants who live with dogs have fewer allergies. People with dogs have less cardiovascular disease, better heart attack survival, and fewer backaches, headaches, and flu symptoms. Petting your dog lowers stress and people who live with dogs just plain feel better than people who don’t.

Yet lawmakers, litigators and insurers press for less dog ownership. This must stop. We must maintain perspective. Yes, dogs bite. But even party balloons and bedroom slippers are more dangerous."
from Dogs Bite (But Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous)  by Janis Bradley, 2005

(for a brief review of this book:
click here) 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Racing against time, coming up a tad short

Well, with my hectic life, no surprise that I missed my evening date at the Dartmouth courthouse. That my computer would give out a few hours earlier was not to be predicted, however (except perhaps by Murphy's Law faithful). Arriving seven minutes late due to that struggle, I found they had called all the names to check attendance, and dismissed my case already, before calling any cases. Fortunately, however, a friendly court official assured me I could refile the application in the morning and get a new date. So that's what I'll do. He said he thought the date would be sooner than later.

The bigger problem is what to do about my computer. I don't relish that at all - hours of phoning customer service, etc. etc.

But at least tomorrow is the welcome moment of the week, a bright spot of Brindi, always a boost that strengthens my resolve to keep working to get her back. And I am looking forward to Thursday, to hear some beautiful music and be among friends, old and new.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Racing time and mind

It's well into August, and I fear I've left the blog sitting idle too long. Weeks flee by like fugitives, marked only by my Wednesday visits, brief "supervised" moments with Brindi, after which I do several hours of errands. Otherwise, good or bad, I rarely emerge from the house. And for all that time, I can't seem to get through the growing list of things to be done. An electrician I had to call recently - to help stop the power company from cutting me off, after somebody apparently falsely reported a "dangerous situation" - asked me, "Don't you ever go anywhere?" Not really.

Finally it's summer, after a horrible, horrible winter. I glimpse the baseball games in the park behind my house from my bathroom window. On game days, for the past three years, I'd normally be out strolling the grounds with a dog, Howard or Brindi, and then both of us would hang out with the local team afterwards in their clubhouse. But not this year. I've all but forgotten that I live a few miles from a beautiful deserted beach; the drive down in the car alone, with no warm snout pressing into my shoulder, is no fun, just as a walk through the woods alone holds no interest for me anymore. As a result - naturally, I'm flabby, tired, and pale.

Haven't blogged for many reasons, and no reason at all. Much of the time, there are plenty of things I'd love to write about, but some of them are best left un-blogged - the risk outweighs the communicative purpose and whatever therapeutic benefits I gain from the exercise. Lately, I haven't even felt communicative at all; what is there to say? An entire year has come and gone, a year from hell, that won't end. I don't dare reflect on it any further, for fear of setting off a dozen roadside bombs in my head. Instead I work with images, like this one, which ended up on a t-shirt I tried to give to my favorite Beatle; hopefully, he received it. When I posted the same image on Facebook, suddenly people were asking where they could buy it, so a friend helped me put it on

I spend the brief time I am alloted with Brindi each week outside in the pen at the SPCA shelter, in sun or drizzle, taking cover under a tent they put up. I notice Brindi has gotten accustomed to me leaving: she now stands a few feet back from the gate with an expression of a hostess seeing off a guest. She learns quickly; she's adapted as best as she can, in her sporting, willing-to-please way, winning over even the toughest, and she has no idea that she is not supposed to be there. No use trying to get that across, it would only upset a person. I groom her and have been gently introducing the idea of a toothbrush to try to tackle the mess her teeth and gums have become. She licks at the toothpaste, actually meant for cats (but dogs love every sort of food for cats), and after the third time she let me get a good brushing on her canines before wriggling away. Her gums still bleed at the slightest thing - grabbing a toy or chewing a treat.

The Paul McCartney concert was the one notable exception of the whole summer, an occasion for me to leave the house for something other than groceries, court, lawyer interviews or meetings, or other Brindi-related business. In a word, the concert was amazing, truly amazing, no less for the number of ecstatic young (25 and below) people surrounding me who knew all the words, as for the perfection and endurance of the man himself, playing for a good three hours with a fabulous band, including two - or three? - lengthy encores. Just incredible. I stood for over six hours and hardly felt it, even the next day. Still - somehow, it was still hard to get really excited about it, as I did when I was 16 at the Wings Concert in Detroit. This time I was far closer to the stage, and even got a few great pictures (like this one), but the excitement and pleasure were numbed by the way I feel these days, or the way I don't feel - I submerge pain, dread and grief with great effort, and this does not allow joy to seep in very far, even the joy of seeing the 20th century's best musician and songwriter (in my humble opinion).

I now have a court date for the "trial", October 13, rather surprisingly: it seems the court must have been prepared, possibly setting aside this day. The day the date was set (July 15), every bench was packed and March was the date handed out to others. In fact it was so packed (at least 50 people plus about ten lawyers lining the walls), I took the opportunity to hand around the petition. There was an air of solidarity all of a sudden; people were quite willing to sign. Worried about speeding tickets or worse, they were quite stunned when they learned why I was there.

There is truly a sense of solidarity in my immediate community that belies the perception, or misperception, too eagerly circulated in online comments, that my neighbors all want Brindi dead, or at least shipped off somewhere. Most recently the contrary was articulated by the kind woman who rented me a storage unit up the road last Friday. I am using it to store the 20 custom-made wood windows that should have, and would have, long since been installed in my house, had this ordeal not happened. She and I exchanged several phone calls over the last two weeks, as I had to reschedule a few times. She was friendly but I wasn't aware she knew anything about me. When I saw her I realized she was the wife of the local tow truck operator - a man who fished me out of more than one scrapes with my old car through the last two horrible winters, often with her by his side. They live close by, pass my house daily. I forget what a small place this is, in my isolation, so I was a little surprised, when, as my friend and I started loading the windows into the little storage space, the woman asked me, in her great Quebec accent, "When do you think you'll get your dog back? I think it's terrible what they have done." She assured me that many, many people here in East Chezzetcook were on my side. She referred to the way they feel about "them" (the Halifax authorities, I assumed) with disapproval and some derision. I dare say many longtime residents here view HRM's treatment of me and Brindi with the same resentment they feel toward the annexation or regionalization of these smaller communities into the Halifax Regional Municipality (an organizational entity whose logic still escapes me - why a municipality (town) would become a region, eschewing the customary metropolitan area of a city). The loyalties to localities will always be stronger when it comes to certain things.

In any case, it was good to hear her encouraging words, along with the electrician's. He is also a neighbor, living just down the road. He had met Brindi a few times, and regards her as anything but "cross", the local term for a dangerous dog. I am greeted with same head-shaking reaction at the Porter's Lake hardware store, where another neighbor works, and at the bank, where the sympathetic receptionist always asks me how Brindi is doing. Earlier this summer, the former president of the local Lion's Club stopped his car in the road for a good while when he saw me out front, ignoring traffic to express his own disbelief and disapproval. It is over the top, and I guess people are ready to say so.

After he sent a second letter calling for an end to the "nonsense" to his fellow HRM councilors in June, deputy mayor David Hendsbee told me he got an angry letter from one of my neighbors. But it turns out that the person who sent it actually lives in Lower Sackville, a good 45-minute drive away from our constituency. "Well, in that case, I guess I don't have to bother to write back!" Hendsbee said.

Doubtless, there are those in the area willing to join her. I have to wonder how many of them have heard false rumors that Brindi has bitten people or destroyed dogs. The woman with the storage units was adamant that the majority want to see me get her back, and my friend felt the same; I don't doubt it, actually. The thing is, as is true in so many cases, the many are relatively quiet, while the few that have a negative view tend to be loud. Fortunately, the Chronicle Herald has chosen to publish four letters recently, all calling for Brindi's immediate return. Two even proposed that the city reimburse me for legal fees, a welcome idea as far as I'm concerned, and not unreasonable, given that the city's failure to provide a bona fide appeal process and its by-law's sweeping definitions of "dangerous", etc., forced me to have to hire lawyers and go to court. It certainly was not my preference, to risk understatement.


This coming week: a long-awaited benefit concert, at The Company House - which opened in Halifax last February - on August 13, with tickets priced at $10.
The performers include rising stars Andrea Somers, Ria Mae with Margot Durling, Bruce Stewart (all folk/singer-songwriters), and a new Beatles tribute band, Hard Day's Night.

Bruce's song, "Take Me Home", which he wrote some time ago, says it all, in my opinion...

I owe this touching show of support to Kelly Gray and the owner of the club, and all those helping with PR, and of course, the musicians themselves. I just can't believe the day is already here - in my mind, time is at a standstill; in my mind, it's still February.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Brindi Road: It's Getting Better All the Time

Don't forget me, Brindi, my dear... 

She's not a sheepdog, but I am pretty sure Sir Paul would like Brindi if he met her. 
Big concert tonight: thanks to some generous friends, I'll be there!!! To get to see him wice in a lifetime is surely more than anybody can expect. 

For some weird reason, Haligonians have not bought out all the tickets for the concert tomorrow night. (Could it be their enduring love for the seal hunt outdoes their love of good music?) Still, it's the only Canadian city on his tour  - and the first time ever in Halifax. 

Oh well - more space for the rest of us!

(I figure, if the mayor can do it, so can we!!)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Three Hundred and Forty-four Days

Brindi, my sweetheart, the love of my life
When they took you to prison it cut like a knife.
What could you have done to be locked up so long - 
Three Hundred and forty-four days you've been gone.
The walls that surround you, stones heavy on my heart,
Your breath I can feel from sunlight to dark.

I miss you like the air I can hardly breathe,
Three hundred and forty-four days I have grieved.
I beg and I plead yet for your release
Back into my arms so we both can find peace,
Walk together again in joy, far and wide.
Still those coldhearted walls keep you imprisoned inside.

My Brindi, my angel, I will not let you go
Your name is engraved on my soul, as you know.
I will shout your story for all to see
Three hundred forty-four days: cease counting and be
The answer to the question good people demand
Why is Brindi not back in my arms, on my land.

“Bring Brindi home!” shall be writ in the sky.
No prison can silence this message, I cry!
Three Hundred and forty-four days, far too long;
Come home sweet Brindi, to where you belong!
Sweet kisses and hugs, we must have them back:
My Brindi, my sweetheart, our souls under attack.
Without you my Brindi, without you my love,
Three hundred forty-four nights, no moon of hope above.

May the waves of devotion you send to me
forge a key with my love that will set you free,
I pray to the heavens this summer’s eve.
Brindi, I promise, you never to leave,
You'll be back with me and on the beach we will run,
Tomorrow's yesterdays have already begun.
Three hundred forty-four days - now, let them be done!

May God bring Brindi home, where she belongs!

With love to you and Brindi
from Carol Henderson

New Tag with St. Francis and the Pope

The St. Francis medal that I put on Brindi's collar in April broke off soon afterwards, sadly. It probably got worn down by the chain I wore it on around my own neck, for the nearly ten months I wasn't allowed to see Brindi. I looked and looked, but could not find a sturdier replacement. The practical solution was to make Brindi's new license tag, which I got a while ago, into a St. Francis medal, by having it engraved.

As my weekly Wednesday visit was postponed, due to Canada Day, I put her new tag on her collar today. The numbered side says her name, and on the reverse, "Holy St. Francis, Bless & Protect Me."

Oh, and by the way: this is a license for a spayed adult dog, i.e., a normal license. It cost $15, if I recall correctly. Why mention this? Well, according to By-Law A300, all dangerous dogs (as declared by an animal control officer or a judge) must be entered into the municipal registry.
It seems the city has not classified Brindi in its "dangerous" registration category, all efforts to kill her notwithstanding.  Had they entered Brindi into this category, I would have been charged $100 for her license. It is up to the city to do this; all I did was follow the instructions to renew Brindi's registration. The rest was up to them.

So, two very interesting questions come up. First, since she is not classified as dangerous, why is she is she still in the pound, slated to die? It would be a bit late, if not embarrassing, for HRM to re-classify her now, seeing as I just pointed it out to them. 

But, even if they were to do this, the very existence of an HRM license for dangerous dogs indicates that it is possible to legally own a dangerous dog in HRM (doubtless with certain conditions). So the logical conclusion is that HRM does not automatically kill all dogs deemed dangerous. The second question is, if Brindi were classified and licensed as dangerous, why is she still in the pound, slated to die?

The fact is, I was told to renew her license and I did so without any problem. I have no idea how this was possible given HRM's insistence that she is dangerous, not to mention the prosecution's insistence on euthanization.

I can only keep praying that St. Francis will bestow Brindi his protection, to match the inscription on her "normal dog" license. Maybe, just maybe, with that noble saint's guidance, all the contradictions arising from A300 will cancel themselves out, and my dog can finally come home, before a year is over. The time is running out: July 24 approaches fast. 

Brown Eyes

I saw brown eyes that twinkle so bright
Realized in an instant, they are why we fight
They have no savings, no interest in stocks
Just running amuck with my new white socks

Barking and playing, their spirits free
Money? That question belongs to me
Would I give them up for a big screen TV
Or walk away from them for the wealth I see?

Brown eyes, little paws and a soft fur coat
Rather a stroke and a pat, than a big fancy boat
Cuddles, kisses, and a lifetime of love
I think this is wealth sent down from above

These treasures I have, so priceless and good
Turned my attention to what is best understood
You can't take it with you and never can,
Best stay with your friends and keep making that stand
To fight for their freedom and never give up
I'd rather stay broke than give up these Pups

So when time seem hard and the bills pour in
There's plenty of room in that old rusty bin
I saw brown eyes and all I can do is grin
This precious work is worth more than that diamond ring

I have wealth abundant just not in an account
Surrounding me daily, best friends on whom I can count
Extreme joy, laughter, and a whole lot of love
Brown eyes, heavenly pennies, from heaven above
I have riches forever, brown eyes, you're so loved!

sent to me, and written, by Carol Bowman Henderson, of New Mexico
posted with her permission. See her beautiful video about death row dogs here.

"Anytime we allow ourselves to be bullied, every time we pass by an evil and ignore it - we lower our standards and allow our world to be made that much harsher and unjust for us all." - Public Advisory, Free Gaza, June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Questions and answers

Posted with permission of the authors.

 ----- Original Message ----- 

From: "Stanley Coren"
To: "Mary Cooke"
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 6:26 PM
Subject: Re: Can you please answer these serious questions?

Dear Mary Cooke

Here are the brief answers to your questions.

Chewing on raw beef bones does keep the dogs teeth clean and healthy.

If the teeth have turned bad you must go to a veterinarian.

A dog should not be allowed to jump on people.

Dogs do get depressed when separated from their owners. Occasional

visits from the owner tends to lift their moods but may result in

renewed depression when the owner leaves.

Dogs only need to be bathed when they are dirty.

Overweight and lack of exercise can shorten the life of the dog.


Stanley Coren, PhD, FRSC
Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia
2136 West Mall
Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z4
------ End of Forwarded Message

----- Original Message -----
From: Mary Cooke
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 6:08 PM
Subject: Can you please answer these serious questions?

I would like to know what effect it will have on a dog if the owner gives it a raw beef bone for it's teeth but it is taken away from the dog & now it's teeth are very bad?

Should a dog be taught to jump on people & why?

What damage can be done by the separation of dog & owner for say a year & only one short visit a week that started a couple of months ago?

What harm if any can be done by not bathing a dog except maybe twice a yr.?

Also what harm can there be if a dog is overweight & little or no exercise?

What would the concern be if the dog is six years old?


Mary Cooke

PS - I need the answer quickly as possible

------ End of Forwarded Message

Some of Dr. Coren's books are :
How To Speak Dog
Why does My Dog Act That Way?
How Dogs Think
Why We Love The Dogs We Do
The Intelligence of Dogs
The Left-Hander Syndrome
& The Pawprints of History

Dr. Stanley Coren is a professor of psychology and animal behaviorist.