Thursday, January 1, 2009

Courage through the storm

Blizzard again, New Year's Day celebrations are rather muffled. Christmas came and went in a dream, because I slept through most of it. News of the blackout at the SPCA shelter was like a twist of the knife - especially because it probably lasted about four days, but nobody found out until Boxing Day, the 26th. By then it had been going for at least two days; the storm that knocked out power all over Nova Scotia was pretty much over on Tuesday morning, and Christmas was Thursday. It does not add up. Somebody donated a generator since then; I hope they set it up and it's working, because there are people without power in Dartmouth right now, and the shelter is in Dartmouth. The temperatures outside are monstrously cold.

I am holed up in the house, as usual, and sadly, trying to revive my computer. This is the second one, also an older laptop which I had repaired; the other one is still in pieces. Thanks to a mix-up at the repair shop, everything on the entire hard drive (which is new) was deleted. I mean everything. They ran a restore program all night but everything came back without the right labels - and no applications. So I have to fish around to find documents and images, and worse, essential software like Photoshop and Microsoft Office (Word) is gone. It's not able to take the newest versions and nobody has the older ones, and online - well it's a pain, in a word. A BIG HUGE pain, right when I need to finish preparing materials for Monday's court appointment. 
The Supreme Court is located downtown, on the waterfront; it starts at 9:30 am and will go all day, just to

Many messages coming in on Facebook and email, from across Canada and the US - from North Carolina to Colorado, California, and Texas - as well as Holland, Peru, Italy, South Africa, England, Scotland, France, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia - accompanying the letter below - plus more! Support also from Dr. Andrew Jones, an online veterinarian; Gerdy's Rescue in Montreal, D.A.I.S.Y. Foundation in Calgary, Teja's Animal Rescue in Ontario, and the Kinship Circle in St. Louis, Missouri. Presumably, as Heather Anderson reports, from the Animal Rescue Coalition here in Nova Scotia. Plus bloggers - TitanicBugle and Dogkisser (Joan Sinden) here on blogspot; Susan Ito on readingwritingliving at wordpress; For the Love of the Dog, and others. 

So Mayor Kelly must have received quite a number of letters by now, from all over. With help from Linda Koekman (while I was computer-ess), all the city councilors and the mayor, as well as the board of directors at the SPCA, have been sent a copy of Silvia Jay's assessment, to the effect that Brindi's behavior does not justify an order to destroy. Anybody reading it ought to have trouble sleeping at night, realizing what has been done to her all these months, on top of two years in a shelter - not to mention what is supposed to be done to her, if I didn't fight it. More information to go along with the report is a chart showing by-law cases from July 2007 to July 2008 that involve similar or worse dog offenses, but were resolved with owner fines rather than killings. Quite a hefty number of these exist and all were ruled on by a judge. Objectively, they show that our case is a pretty major departure from the usual practice of animal control in Halifax.

It's clear that the councilors and the mayor have a lot to do to fix the by-law, especially now that we also know Halifax is the only major city in Canada to bestow powers to individual animal control officers possessed exclusively by judges elsewhere. The sooner that changes, the better, and quite frankly, there is absolutely no reason for it to take 14 years. 

The SPCA has a rather more pressing dilemma, for three reasons. First, I have combed through the SPCA's oft-cited contract with HRM, and as far as I and my lawyer can tell, the $376,000 a year payment notwithstanding, as long as its shelter continues to fulfill the terms of the contract (which it most certainly is doing), SPCA officials are not in any way prohibited from speaking out - to the city, or, for that matter, a Supreme Court justice, in writing or in person - on behalf of an animal it is requested to impound. In fact, it must, according to contract, as a special clause requires the shelter to pass on information about an animal's "disposition" to Animal Services. This confirms that the SPCA is an integral part of HRM's animal control system and that it contributes to HRM decision-making on a regular basis, contrary to the disclaimer still posted on the SPCA web page. Contributing to a decision or policy (like not allowing visits) is not neutral. The SPCA has a clear conflict of interest, which it seems to me it can only resolve by making sure it carries out its other obligation, namely, to the citizens and animals of the province to protect animal welfare and intervene when needed - i.e., its primary reason for existing.

Second, the positive assessment, done by an expert, plus their five months of caring for Brindi, means SPCA staff must have a pretty good idea, if not at least a few nagging doubts, that "euthanization" ("euphemization", in fact) is not justified in her case. Should they have any suspicions of this kind, they must act on them in order to uphold their publicly declared mission to protect all animals in the province. That means ALL. 

Third, I remain Brindi's lawful owner, and while it may not be a provincial or federal crime for an owner to put down a dog deemed healthy and trainable dog, it certainly is a crime if somebody else - singular or plural - kills it. That is exactly what would happen if the city goes through with its plans. The SPCA is a higher authority than HRM animal control when it comes to enforcing anti-cruelty laws in the province. So the SPCA's duty to lay charges against all animal abusers would compel it to charge the city and its officials if they succeed in putting down an animal without proper justification. The fact that the SPCA would be guilty of the very same crime if it carried out an HRM order whose validity is in doubt ought to really be of some concern, as otherwise, a successful case could be made to the province's lawmakers that the SPCA gravely failed its mission and should be replaced.

There's not much time left until January 5. How about it, SPCA board members?? Do any of you have the courage to show up in court to save Brindi's life -- and your mission??

Upstanding words from "down under"

Here is one of the letters that went out to the authorities here, as written:


I am a Qualified Dog Trainer, through the National Dog Trainers Federation in Australia, and can see "NO REASON" as to why "BRINDI" should be euthanized, or kept from her owner. It is a natural innate behaviour for a Dog to protect its environment, it goes on ALL OVER THE WORLD !! BRINDI"S owner has taken All correct steps, in ensuring safety of others.. Can I suggest that you take the time to look into the laws around the world, and you would see, that Brindi acted out of an innate behaviour. This behaviour is NOT BRINDI"S is INNATE, and should you believe that she should be put down, then ALL OTHER CANINES should be put down also, and with that said, you would then see that, that is absolutely rediculous.. If someone came onto your property or family members property, that was causeing some form of threat, wouldnt your innate behaviour be that of defending.. All dogs will defend in the manner that BRINDI has done, after it is natural..and if things were closely looked at, is it BRINDI"S fault that animal animal was on her property and rightfully her territory, NO IT IS NOT !! So with this all said I request that you give BRINDI and her owner the a peaceful ending, and that is to place BRINDI back into her owners care, after all what right does anyone have to cause this unnessecary trauma, that BRINDI has already gone through by being seperated from her pack .. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND CANINE PSYCHOLOGY and INNATE BEHAVIOURS.. And you would see that BRINDI has done not a thing wrong.. Her owner is also prepared to do what ever it is to make sure that BRINDI is well taken care, and I can tell you the love of this owner for BRINDI, is rarely seen around the world... There are people out there that rape, murder etc, and they are not down, there is NO REASON that BRINDI should be parted from her home or her owner... I REQUEST AND BEG of YOU to have a HEART, and do what is right by BRINDI and her owner, and put in place laws that support animal welfare rather than causeing nor abuse in this world...

Caz Weatherill

Caz also gave her personal email address, inviting officials to contact her if they wish to discuss the matter.

Many, many heartfelt thanks to you, Caz!!