Friday, March 5, 2010

A new and welcome source of support

From Facebook...

at 10:09pm yesterday
ABAS Society is a no kill society in Nova Scotia. We do not euthanize an animal unless this animal is in pain and suffering for the duration of its life. We support Brindi being returned to her owner with restrictions put in place for (life time leash while walking outdoors). We do not want to see Brindi euthanized. ABAS Society is presently advocating changes to Nova Scotia's Animal Welfare Laws. Our present Animal Protection Laws" are out dated." We feel that it is the fault of the province of Nova Scotia that the dog Brindi has been suffering in the SPCA shelter with lack of care. Many other animals are presently suffering in shelters across Nova Scotia. It is time to make these (family members) important. Nova Scotia needs to make the ammendments required to the existing Animal Protection Act Bill here in Nova Scotia , to further protect ALL animals from suffering. Sadly, it is not the fault of our animals. It is the fault of the people!
Our animals need these changes!


I guess it's not just people "from away" after all...
Some observers - especially those inclined towards a characterization of me as a marginal whacko - like to suggest that the bulk of support for Brindi and me lies disproportionately beyond the border. Well, it is true that there are many people around the world who do support us, and I am very lucky that so many have actively sustained their support for quite some time. I can't begin to count them, I just step aside and marvel. Now they've been joined by some very determined folks in Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, and as far away as Hong Kong, and they are doing some amazing things. 

Because they are seen and heard a bit more by virtue of the internet, I can see how an observer might be inclined to believe that local support is relatively low. But that is not true at all. They may not have as much of a presence online, but there's no disputing the scores of people in Halifax and around Nova Scotia who want to see Brindi go home. Many have called me to let me know this, and report on all the letters and calls they've made to the government and the media. A lot of them never before engaged in writing letters to politicians and newspapers, let alone calling a stranger to let her know they're behind her. It's been an amazing experience in the midst of this mess. 

By the way, if you ever want to get to know your neighbors and fellow provincial citizens well, have your dog seized. No sarcasm intended, I believe have learned more about and gotten to know more Nova Scotians in this past year and a half, than I'd be able to meet in twenty. Sadly, I did not leave my house for most of that time, and not by choice. Nevertheless, there have been many meaningful conversations with so many good souls. Many just picked up the phone after seeing something on TV. I hear the same words, "I wish I could help you get your dog back." Many of them did quite a bit more after that and continue on. I had no idea that so many truly generous and committed people were around, let alone that they would take something like this on with such ferocity. 

Three letters in one day is a first; I can only wonder how many others sent letters just like these since Olive Pastor's letter below was published last Sunday. 

Chronicle-Herald, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 

I suppose today that Peter Kelly and his council are smug in the wake of winning the court case against Francesca Rogier. I am angry because this court case was won for the mayor using my tax dollars.

I do not support the animal control laws as they stand, and I want them changed with input from pet owners and animal lovers. As far as I am concerned, this case is not about a crime committed by Francesca or her dog. Instead, it’s about the fact she challenged somebody’s authority.

And unfortunately, she depended on the justice system for help. I hope Nova Scotians will take notice that this could happen to you and your pet. We should have given Francesca more support in this terrible time as she tried to save her dog.

It is not too late. Protest this move and demand that Brindi be given back to Francesca. Brindi was kennelled for 19 months, Francesca has been financially devastated. This is abuse. What kind of society are we running anyway?

People of HRM, I beg you to vote this mayor and council out as quickly as possible and demand new laws to protect animals and pet owners, and select animal control officers with a stringent new hiring policy.

Olive Pastor, Caribou

Chronicle-Herald, Thursday, March 4, 2010

After reading her Feb. 28 letter "Brindi case a travesty," I have no option but to agree with Olive Pastor.

The mayor and city council have done nothing to help Francesca Rogier in her time of need.

Brindi is not a dangerous dog. The SPCA put a picture of Brindi’s birthday party on its website. Employees and their families were sitting around Brindi, who was not wearing a muzzle. They all looked very happy, including the toddler who was sitting a few feet away. 

That picture tells a different story than what the city wants us to believe.

Because she challenged somebody’s authority, Ms. Rogier and Brindi must now suffer?

And to think that the city used our tax dollars to hire a private firm of lawyers to prosecute Ms. Rogier is ridicules (sic). 

It’s time to turn back the clock, give Ms. Rogier the appropriate fines, and let her take her dog home, which should have been done as soon as Brindi was seized — which is what is done in 99 per cent of these types of cases.

If this can happen to Ms. Rogier and Brindi, it can happen to anyone who owns a pet. Do you want to be next?

Valerie Slaunwhite, Beaver Bank

Unpardonable sin

As an animal lover and citizen of HRM, I must agree with Olive Pastor’s comments in the Sunday Herald.

I am now eagerly awaiting the opportunity to cast my anti-incumbent vote in the next municipal election.

Ms. Rogier committed the unpardonable sin of fighting back against a bad law.

Little did she know that the vindictive pettiness of our elected council would do far more damage to the public interest than the actions of her dog.

This thuggery should be resisted by anyone professing concern for the rights of the governed.

Rick Crawford, Hubley

Callous treatment

This letter is not the first time I have come to the defence of Francesca Rogier and her dog Brindi.

I still maintain that someone higher up is the instigator of this travesty. To keep an animal 19 months from its owner is callous and cruel! Would it be too crass to ask who is footing the bill for this dog’s incarceration?

As for the justice system: One judge says "give her back to her owner" and another judge says "no."

Now it is your chance to speak up.

Anne White, Truro

(To answer the question on the bill - ME!)

The True Value of Dogs and How People Feel About Them

I've been told by local legal beagles that dogs are not regarded by the courts as high-value property. Unless a dog is a guide dog, from a rare breed, or a greyhound that races, they're typically not considered worth much more than, say, fifty bucks. Hence the reluctance of lawyers to get involved when a lawsuit becomes necessary. 

But dogs are clearly more valuable than that, when you consider that people spend billions on their dogs annually - food, toys, vet bills, clothes... -  and we all know that Hollywood earns billions on doggy movies every Christmas and all year long, year after year. Who can accurately measure the savings in anti-depressants, alarm systems, and all the other things people would have to pay for, if they didn't own a dog as a companion animal?? These are all ignored by the current animal control laws in North America, which are in many ways at odds with animal cruelty laws.

People who like dogs usually like them without reservation, in contrast to their more cautious way of liking humans. Walking around with Brindi made it easier to get to know people in our community. I can say without any jealousy or resentment that they doubtless liked her more than me. This really struck me when it came time to ask for help to save her life and get her out of the pound. I was thankful she was so likeable, because it meant I had no trouble soliciting letters of support from 16 people in a fairly short time. Among them are several who who testified in court a year and a half later virtually without changing a word, and what is more, I always knew I could count on that. These people did not merely say they like Brindi, however; they gave testimony to what they saw and heard on many occasions.

As far as the untroubling contrast in popularity, the fact is that most people melt around dogs anyhow. To me, Brindi is no exception, though to me she's the best ever, but almost any dog will instantly affect human behavior on sight, and for most of us, for the good. Somewhere I found a study saying just one dog brought into a huge men's prison will instantly improve the behavior of everyone there towards one another, probably through relieving stress. Our ability to train dogs is nothing next to this profound ability to tame a prison full of testosterone! Think of the savings to be had in tranquilizers, weapons, alarms, gates, by simply replacing them with a dog or two from a shelter.

The attention devoted to Brindi was just fine with me. She deserves it all. I was long accustomed to being snubbed in favor of a dog; that's probably a given for all dog lovers. Howard, my boyfriend's elderly dog (who adopted me a few years back), was a very large black collie/setter mix with a fringy setter coat, ponytail and ears, a long collie-like snout, and a gait like a trotter. Howard elicited attention and affection from one and all, regardless of age or status, from which he remained aloof, though diplomatic. "Is that a horse?" kids would ask. Once, a bunch of tall, tattooed, quasi-menacing skinheads bore down us on a street corner in Lexington, KY. I couldn't dodge them when they came right at me. Then one pointed and said, "What kind of dog is that?" followed by, "He's beautiful." And so he was. Howard was the kind of dog that could grace any gathering just by lying down in the middle of it, much as he adorned the street that day.

Brindi was on her way to that status, and I dare say she graces the shelter, judging from the smiles on the staff when they speak of her. I know they want to see her  happy and well-cared for almost as much as I do. Incidentally, in my last post about the SPCA, I ought to have differentiated between these folks, who do the daily grind, and the upper-level decision makers. One wishes the former had a greater say in certain matters.