Saturday, May 30, 2009

PETA steps forward: the media step back

This is a really wonderful development, and I am very grateful. 
However, it seems the local media has not deemed a letter from the world's biggest animal rights group newsworthy. Hard to believe, but what else is new??

To enlarge the letter, click on it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Message from Hendsbee

My local councilor, David Hendsbee, was kind enough to forward me a message he wrote to his colleagues at city hall last week.  

I want to thank him most sincerely, and I believe he's already received a few thank-you's from folks around North America. Here's one:
From: Judy Loudin <>
Date: Tue, 26 May 2009 21:57:02 -0600
To: <>
Subject: Brindi needs to go home now!
Dear Sir,
 Thank you so much for your attempts to reach the people who are in charge of this horrific situation.  I hope and pray that sanity will prevail and that Brindi will be released to Francesca post haste.  As you noted, the publicity is circling the globe and not putting Halifax in a very good light as a tourist destination.  Hopefully reason will prevail and you and those who share your wisdom and common sense will work together to overcome this dastardly situation, release this poor dog from her prison, and allow Brindi and Francesca and the people of Halifax, Nova Scotia to get on with the business of living.
 Again, I thank you for your comments to those who have the power to end this travesty of justice posthaste.  Blessings from Wyoming, USA   Judy Loudin  M.Ed   LCMT  LCR

Judy Loudin
The Healing Journey Rescue
Burns, WY 82053
"The last stop on their journey home!"
I am also glad to report that a few neighbors are signing statements of support to go to the court, and I hope that this may help.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ten months, birthdays, outlook

Ten months to the day. Not much to be said about that; how many adjectives are there for hell?

Friday, a dreaded birthday, sad, but lifted up by a wonderful group e-card full of  heartwarming greetings and pictures from over a hundred well-wishers, some I've met in person, some I've spent many hours with on the phone since last summer...
No plans, just took a walk on the beach, for the first time in months. Trying to find a moment of balance. 

Near impossible, without Brindi, of course; knowing she sees the same square footage every day, the same small area where dozens of dogs poop and pee. No sand and surf and wind. Boggles the mind. 

Yesterday a birthday rally for dogs and human, at the Halifax North Common, with miraculously beautiful weather, with a wonderful group of Humane Halifax members, many people joining in to sign petitions, read the flyers, enjoy a piece of birthday cake, some sharing the special dog cake with th
eir pooches  - and lots of talk about Brindi.

Everybody we talked to had heard about her, but many were stunned to lea
rn that she was not released in January. I hear this often, and believe me, correcting people is no fun. The same reaction of shock, disbelief, and irritation, not infrequently, outright ang
er. One woman, very distinguised-looking and well-dressed, burst out - and I quote - "I swear, this place is just like a communist country!! It's getting worse all the time!!"

Today, cold, rainy, and gray, to match my mood. Very tired. Visit from someone who couldn't make the rally, welcome company, a walk around the field and the beach, but not much more productivity from me today. 

Progress report otherwise? Good news: permission from the authorities to see Brindi 30 minutes a week, noontime Wednesdays. Two visits so far since January. Unlike back then, this time we were allowed to be inside the building, since it was cold and rainy that day-  that was the day after her surgery, which was a very scary time, waiting to find out if she had cancer or not. I didn't write about that because it was simply too much to think about, let alone put into words. 

The next visit, the first of the noon series, I hope, the weather was sunny and warm, so we were allowed to go outside in the graveled pen, the one she sees every single day. She has not been anywhere else outdoors, to my knowledge, since July 2008. Probably sniffed every square inch hundreds of times. She lay down on the gravel for me to rub her belly, and I worried about her stitches popping. 

I can't helping thinking that Brindi has easily served ten times more time behind bars than even the worst animal abuser. My time has been much like prison; I certainly have not been living a real life. Knowing your dog is literally on death row makes that kind of impossible.  

Well outnumbered by positive supporters by the thousands, I have to marvel at the few detractors who want blame me for all of this. To them, I'm practically an animal abuser - yet here I am, trying everything possible to save my own dog, which to my utter disbelief has turned out to be a colossal effort. The alternative? A syringe of poison injected into Brindi's body on August 7, 2008, nobody knowing or caring. If she is being abused now, it certainly is not by my hand. Other people are involved in that decision, not me, just as other people are seeking her death right now. I am staking my entire life on preventing them and will keep on doing so as long as I breathe.

Incredibly, there are even one or two who insist I deliberately misled the public by posting a video of me celebrating the Supreme Court victory on January 16.  Sure, I would lie about the most important thing in my life, for what?? 

Call me naive, but when my own lawyer called and said "We won!!" and that Brindi would be home within a week, how was I to anticipate the devastating disappointment that followed? 

How was I to expect that instead of getting my dog back, I would be charged for the first time ever for violations of a by-law 45 minutes before the expiration of the six-month statute of limitations? 

All I know is, I love my dog more than anybody on the planet. There is nobody who will take better care of her or work harder to keep her safe and sound, with all the necessary aids and precautions. 

When people tell me how much they love Brindi, I think that's really great, because it reassures me that even behind bars, she is being her wonderful, beautiful, smart, attentive, fun, eager to learn, and above all, loving self. Even behind bars, all of that comes through; she is weary, she is lonely, she needs more exercise, her teeth and coat need attention, and Lord knows she needs to come home -but she has not gone crazy, she has not become vicious. Not this dog, people! 

And it gives me a bit of hope. Who in their right mind could kill a dog like Brindi? 

My hope is that maybe, just maybe, people who say they love Brindi will put themselves in my shoes for just a moment. A fraction of a moment. Any amount of time, no matter how brief, would be enough for them to know one thing for certain: nobody loves Brindi as much as I do. And then they would understand exactly why I say that I am not going to stop until she is back home, safe and sound. 
That is all I really want for my birthday: nothing more or less than my own dog, the one who celebrated (quietly) with me, one year ago on May 22. How much longer?

Here's some of the pics - thanks to Valerie S.! And everybody else, two-legged and four-legged, who attended!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Am I a mother?

A few kind and thoughtful people have sent me Mother's Day messages. It's common among animal lovers to think of themselves and others as parents to their pets. I don't have children; actually I never felt the need to identify myself as a mother. I do call Brindi my baby girl, but most of the time, I think of my animals as companions and adults in their own right. Brindi was already four when I adopted her and after a period of clingy-ness she soon gained confidence to become who she is - though she remains somewhat clingy, being a rescue, and being a loving dog!

The idea of being a mother to your pets does make sense in some ways; we care for our animals, nurture them, love them, teach them how to behave, take them with us on our journey through life. They never leave home of course, unless they are taken by illness or get lost or as in Brindi's case, dare I mention, just taken. 

I've noticed a sort of discursive debate among animal advocates out there about the proper designation for people who have pets: guardians vs. owners. I believe it has to do with the question of whether animals should have rights or remain property under the law. There seems to be a certain militancy among pro-guardian advocates, while a professor who teaches animal law at Dalhousie believes it is better to hang on to the concept of animals as property. I imagine that some combination must be derived to create the proper balance for animals to be fully protected from harm.
And today I wonder, how does this debate mesh with the notion of being a mother to a pet? Neither "guardian" nor "owner" brings with it the familial relationship or any hint of an emotional bond between human and animal. Why is that? My struggle to get Brindi back home has everything to do with this bond. It is not reflected in the law. My rights as a property owner seem to be so carefully guarded in all levels of law (with some exceptions, like expropriation). Courts tend to balance property rights against the public interest pretty fairly, on the whole, except when it comes to dogs. Then, all bets are off; a presumption of guilt is firmly embedded in the laws and practices. Anybody wondering what I am talking about should read not only By-Law A300, but also the Municipal Government Act, section 177. Anti-breed legislation opponents know this presumption of guilt (in pit bull bans, one-bite laws, and our native laws) does not correspond in any way to the statistics on the prime threats to human life. Nowhere in the law, or in the system built upon it, do I find consideration for all the good that dogs do for people - which is considerable. 

Brindi is a mom, by the way (and so is my cat, Amelia). When Brindi was rescued she had a full litter of puppies with her, in a cardboard box, and was shielding them from the rain with her body. Because she was tied to a stoop she could not get them to a dry place. She must have been so frustrated, then so glad to be helped! She detests water to this day, dislikes baths, won't swim in the ocean. In the photo on the top of the blog, it is no coincidence that she is running alongside a water-loving black lab at a careful distance from the waves.

Happily, Brindi's five pups were all adopted. Most went to the Halifax metropolitan area
Here's a few pictures:
pup 4Pups 1 and 2 by you.Brindi's 5th pup by you.Pup 3 by you.

So, as I never gave birth myself, this seems more appropriate:

***********Happy Mother's Day, dearest Brindi!***********

Thirsty momma by you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Health Reprieve!

I got some welcome news yesterday from my vet - the lab reports were back early from PEI, and they showed no evidence of cancer in the biopsied tissue from Brindi's cysts. 
A big relief! 
Now we just have to make sure that her stitches don't get infected and she should be better.
The vet said the cysts were around hair follicles - I imagine they were blocked up or something... 
It's really the best news in ages!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A report on my visit with Brindi

Note: On Tuesday night (May 5, the day of Brindi's surgery) I got an email reply to my faxed request for a visit to the SPCA vice president, Kat Horne, saying I could come the next day, and I responded in time to go at 9:30 am. I was extremely happy to be allowed to see Brindi again. This is only the second visit in over nine months. At the same time a lawyer out of province advised me to sign to the SPCA's 12 conditions regulating the visit only under protest, specifically denying any implied accusations (that I pose a threat to staff). She also advised not to speak to anybody (no photography or other recording was allowed and only a lawyer may accompany me. A lawyer's presence in this instance was simply not feasible - or advisable. I feel it went well despite all that, gladly.

9:30 am to 10: 00 am, May 6, 2009, Metro Shelter, Dartmouth

On the way to the shelter, I managed to get batteries and bones and still arrive exactly on time. Lori Scolero, the animal services supervisor, and Kat Horner, the SPCA VP who replied to my email last night, were in the lobby. I said nothing but just handed them the signed protocol – to which I added Kat’s email with the permission to be inside, and the statement the lawyer wrote for me.

Next to the lobby is a bigger, newly renovated room they call the adoption center, with two couches at one end and stools and a counter at the other. They told me to go into this room and Kathy, a supervisor at the shelter (might be acting director now) brought Brindi in and unleashed her. She came to me right away, full of kisses. Scolero and Kat stayed in the lobby where they could view me through two large windows. Most of the time they didn’t look, so I had some degree of privacy, which was great.

From the surgery yesterday, Brindi’s back has three shaved patches, the biggest about 5 square inches, each centered on the incisions where they removed the cysts. One of the cuts was about two inches long. All three looked clean and uninfected, though the stitches looked a bit tight and I saw she was licking them now and then.

I played with her, hugged her, and gave her a lot of massages and practiced a few of her commands. She was very into the treats, more than before but not as bad as in January. She was still impatient though, but I was glad to see that she remembered the “bang!” command. When she spotted the treats though, she started performing all her moves, sitting, paw, and down, then rolling over, in anticipation. (I don’t give her a treat unless I give a command first, though.) She looked okay, still a bit heavy, very affectionate, lots of kisses. We hugged and talked and sat on the floor, even lay down together for a spell. I so just wanted to take her through the doors to my car. But I looked at Kat Horne and figured she’s much bigger than me and Lori would send the cops after me in a flash; I’d never make the three hour drive to PEI.

As a parting gift to distract Brindi while we separated – the toughest part – I gave her one of the meaty frozen soup bones I brought, not to big to carry in her mouth. It worked: she was a bit uncertain at first if it was really for her (she’s very polite about treats) but with encouragement she picked it up and went off with Kathy. Last time parting from her was heart-wrenching and so upsetting, when Sean Kelly (now the president) took her away. I had tried to sneak off but he walked her right into me to get past, and she strained against him with all her might to stay with me, her face showing her determination and fear.

I did speak briefly to Kathy and to Kat as I left, but only to turn over the treats, the bones, and ask Kathy to put my fuzzy jacket in Brindi’s cell. And I also said thank you to each of them, nothing more. They seemed cheerful and at ease.     

Before leaving my house I called my friend (through Brindi) Bob Riley. He was there when I arrived. I figured he would just  stay parked outside but he walked around and managed to look through the outside window at us for a while, undisturbed by Scolero, and then even went into the lobby where he could see us through a glass door. He stood a few feet from Scolero (animal services) with Kat behind the lobby counter. Neither told him to leave. He didn’t say much to them, just stood quietly and watched until I left Brindi. So I do have a witness of sorts and they did not object.

When I was leaving, Bob remarked for the others to hear, “Doesn’t look like a dangerous dog to me!”

I have not asked for another visit – yet – but I plan to soon, with the hope that they will agree, as this one went smoothly as far as I can tell.


I finally had the chance to put the St. Francis medal on her collar - the one that Linda Koekman had specially engraved for her. It was meant to be blessed and put on her by a minister or a priest, who would accompany me to ask to see her at the shelter. Linda called 16 men of the cloth; I asked the local priest and a retired police chaplain. All declined (though to his credit my local priest did offer to bless the medal, to his credit).

Since last fall I have been wearing Brindi's St. Francis medal on a chain around my neck together with my mustard seed ensconced in a bit of glass (and engraved with the St. Matthew quote). It's now with her and I pray that it will protect her from illness or any harm, always! 

Here's what it looks like. Linda added the "We love you" so that Brindi knows...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The present moment

I am having the life choked out of me. Every muscle and fiber is twisting in pain. I am gripping my  body in agony and uttering cries that I don't even recognize as coming from me, cries of unspeakable grief and terror.

Welcome to my world.

Tomorrow my sweet dog will be taken from her cage, put in the same truck that took her from me so long ago, and driven to Porters Lake to the vet clinic, a place she will recognize. She will not know what to expect. She will be sedated and given an injection in her back for a local anesthetic. And they will cut out the cyst or tumor or whatever it is and stitch up the hole. They will put her back in the truck and take her back to her cage. Nobody will stay with her the rest of the day. 

Because my lawyer did not respond promptly to the city's only offer of a visit since January I did not get to visit her before the vet appointment. And the city lawyer did not put in writing that I could be there during the procedure as he had promised over a week ago. If I want to see her in a few days or the day after I have to plead for another chance and submit to the SPCA's 12 conditions for a visit. Under protest as advised by legal counsel. I want to see my dog but not just once. I want my dog back home with me. 

I am wrenched with pain and it is endless and brutal. I am crying out in pain like a wild animal. I cannot eat or drink. I am just like the animals who have no rights, no legal rights, my own property is being illegally held and that is confirmed by lawyer after lawyer and yet none will go and get her out. 
And the charges filed one hour before deadline are leading to a kangaroo court where I will still not have my day in court because dogs don't really ever get the same treatment as people: there is a strong presumption of guilt and you cannot expect the same rules of evidence to be applied, and the court has full license to kill or send away or anything they like. It is no comfort at all. 

And it will take another two weeks before I can know if the cyst they remove from my dog's spine is malignant or benign. Something else to look forward to.