Monday, November 30, 2015

Not-So-Secret Lies and Ugly Truths

This Time It's Personal

Did the Halifax municipal prosecutor lie in August when she declined a deal to let Brindi go to the US in return for me to withdraw my appeal?  

After a winter like no other - six to eight inches of solid ice for months and record snows that drove everyone a bit mad here - I ended up spending the summer recovering from surgery for ovarian cancer. It was a double-whammy procedure to remove a large malignant tumour on my ovary, as well as certain lady parts I wasn't too happy about losing. I held my breath until the biopsies came back, and by August the coast was clear and I was able to get around on my own. But I was still far too dazed and worn to tackle yet more court documents. I can't help feeling they're what made me sick in the first place, frankly.

Brindi in distress, ca. 30 minutes after seizure, Sept. 24, 2010.
(Imagine if your best friend was put on death row, and their life depended entirely on you, and your ability to fake a language known only to members of a private club. Your friend will die unless you find the right combination of signs and sounds to convince a judge to listen to you instead of the club member in the room - the prosecutor, a native speaker. Then imagine having to do this over and over, year after year, to keep your friend alive, as they grow sick and old. You know you will never speak the language yet you have no choice. You can never see your friend; and after a time, no one will tell you if they are even alive. That's more or less my life.)

I was at the point that I could not tolerate it anymore. So I asked a kind relative I haven’t seen in decades to call HRM solicitor Katherine Salsman on my behalf and ask once more if she would agree to mediation. When she said no, he went ahead and made an offer to adopt Brindi, suggesting that in return I might be persuaded to drop my appeal. 

She declined his offer as "too complicated" - and then said to my amazement that HRM had a family all picked out to adopt Brindi.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

HRM Animal By-law A-700 shocker! New money-maker for Halifax preserves A-300's biggest flaws

[Update: Overnight, a petition appeared: Mayor Savage Fix the Animal Control By-law A-700. Please sign and share!]

Reading A-700 gives me the distinct impression that HRM Council feels I got off lightly. And yet even though HRM has struck out three times in its bid to kill her, Brindi is still locked up after seven years. There is nothing light about that.

Timing is everything... and everything about the timing of the release of the "new" By-Law A-700 for the Halifax Regional Municipality (I'll never comprehend how a municipality can be regional) is simply nuts. And that's just the beginning!

I have not blogged for months. There are a lot of important reasons; they all add up to what I call flatlining. But I can't talk about that now. I have to talk about this. I am trying very hard to meet a court deadline, resuming with reluctance this very difficult task, after trying very hard to find representation - coming close but no cigar. Having to turn away offers of work as this deadline approaches doesn't make it any easier. Neither does having my head explode more than once in the past four weeks by things that just never happen but somehow did to me. Things best left unsaid, for now.

Now I am just speechless - A-700???  I am trying to overcome all manner of obstacles - financial, physical, emotional, spiritual, you name it, to appeal charges under A-300 and the horrible sentence under the little-known "additional penalty" clause tucked into the voluminous HRM Charter, and suddenly this A-700 drops from the sky. It should be called "A-007 Skyfall"! The HRM "Regional" Council voted on it a month ago, and whisked it into effect so fast this weekend, I never even heard it was thinking of it. Even a friend who reads the paper every day missed it. Maybe they wanted to avoid the long years of Council debates before A-300 went into effect?

Still, I would have thought Council would want to make sure it heard from the public first, especially since it had to change A-300 right away when folks went ballistic over the cat licenses. Apparently everybody missed the fact that A-300 contained sections that violate Charter rights, one of which I had to go to court about when it seized Brindi so wrongly and, it turned out, unlawfully.

Council sort of lost the trust of a lot of people after that too. It sure lost mine. Words cannot express the magnitude of the consequences of the way Animal Services treated me and my dog since 2008 - no end of drastic financial and material loss it's caused me, with years of lost income, the extreme and sustained emotional distress of separation and worry about Brindi, not to mention the effects on my professional and personal reputation - with social shunning as well as outright attack from stalkers, cyberstalkers, and cyberbullying from total strangers.

However, reading A-700 gives me the distinct impression that HRM Council feels I got off lightly.

Looking Back

When HRM seized Brindi intending to put her down in 2008 under very murky circumstances, it forced me into court twice, right off the bat: first, to suspend the date they picked out to kill her, because they didn't provide any form of appeal, and second, because they refused to reconsider their decision, would not meet with me or my local councillor, would not read letters from everybody from next-door neighbours with infants to kennel owners, groomers, and even the Canadian Post letter carrier. So the first filing was about wrongful seizure - and it would easily have taken a year to resolve.

Then, when HRM not only refused to meet with me and then refused to allow Brindi to be assessed, I had no choice but to file another application on the law itself - because even a former junior high student council president like me could tell it was unconstitutional. Not to mention, the Animal (Dis)Services people were delighting in having found their first victim - a docile rescue dog that didn't scare them in the least.

And, I never imagined the city would allow the matter to actually go to court! I thought, surely they'd want to avoid that embarrassment, and would rather discuss returning Brindi with me in exchange for four actions on my part - paying fines - once they charged me with something, as they'd leapt from a mild warning to drastic action; installing a dog run attached to the back door to prevent escapes, which I did while waiting; complying with a muzzle order, another drastic action that violated the same rights; I'd hoped to appeal it, but discovered there was no way to do it; and lastly, do specialized training with Brindi on her reactions to certain dogs approaching the property.

Boy was I wrong! The team of lawyers running city hall is pretty confident of themselves. And they are really sore losers. "Why should we abandon our position?" is their mantra.

But still! Sections that violate basic rights jump right out at you, if you have any understanding of your rights, that is - like the right to be heard and the right of appeal on any decision affecting you or your property. There were about four sections that were equally unconstitutional; in fact I'd actually asked the lawyer I hired to get Brindi back to include them all. Would have been easy, using the same brief, he blurted out by accident a few weeks too late. The look on my face must have been the reason he backed slowly out of the room.

Anyhow, I so wished he had done the job I paid him for, because, while section 8(2)(d) isn't there, it looks like the other right-violating sections were transplanted to A-700.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


How long has Brindi been locked up? 

From Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 to Sunday, November 22, 2015
Result: 1885 days, or 5 years, 1 month, 29 days

Added to the previous two-year stint, from and including: 

Thursday, July 24, 2008, to Friday, July 9, 2010
Result: 716 days, or 1 year, 11 months, 16 days

A grand total of 2601 days - or, 7 years, 1 month, 25 days.  

She was four when they took her, now she's... oh, you do the math.

Brindi at East Chezzetcook's Long Beach, soon after adoption in summer 2007.
Teeth whiter than white, vibrant and healthy at age 4 after two years in a no-kill shelter.
And to think how in those first July days of unbearable pain, shock, terror, agony at the unthinkable prospect of her spending a week or weeks in that SPCA "shelter". The minute they drove off, immune to my please, it felt like they'd gutted me from top to bottom. Lost ten pounds in seven days, could not eat, sleep, think. Seven years later physically gutted thanks to ovarian cancer... could never even finish restoring my gutted house.

Stay numb. Don't think. Just meet those deadlines... I can't do this.

All for a short-lived mishap in which she ran towards the front yard to check out a possible intruder - a man I never saw before in this tiny community. Started kicking her as soon as she came within reach while he let his dog run off - the dogs never even touched. Stalked off before I could finish a sentence. Had no idea he'd even called HRM until five days later when two men came into my house without a word, then brandished a warrant and took her while I tried in vain to call a lawyer. The man had said he wasn't planning to report it, but then his mom told him some rumours - harmless scuffles became savage attacks. And yet he had to add how surprised he was that she didn't even snap at him when he kicked her head and stomach over and over, as I begged him to stop.

HRM's Animal Services people must have thought, "Hey, perfect candidate to try out our brand new by-law, A-300, let's us seize & kill at will!" They went one step further by not bothering to get my side of the story, let alone talk to a true eyewitness... So no proper investigation. And they'd already set it up by issuing a muzzle order for Brindi - exploiting a dog owner's request not to fine me for a similar scuffle a month earlier, because I was nice enough to offer to cover a vet to check it over and she promptly ran up a bill of $143, covering a full check-up and a second visit. I'd forgotten all about what happened weeks before that, when she and her dog passed on the road and her dog began lunging and barking uncontrollably. Brindi remained a perfect lady, sitting obediently at my feet. She was, is, such a good dog, so loving, so eager to please, and after a year of diligent training, pretty darn reliable off-leash. But dog's don't forget: provocation then, provocation later, when she saw that pair coming towards our house. 
Last photo of Brindi I have, taken by a vet tech in 2012, age 9.
After just 6 months in the pound, her teeth and gums were 
already rotting, chronic pancreatitis setting in. 
The minute a judge turned over Brindi and her fate to 
the city in 2012, the prosecutor cut off the bi-monthly
visits - which I'd paid for, totalling $2000 - glibly 
remarking, "Brindi's not sick. She doesn't need to see the vet."

To point out such things did nothing but allow the city lawyers to chant, "See, your Lordship, proof Ms. Rogier still doesn't take it seriously! She's unwilling and unable to comply!"

Sigh. HRM's lawyers are good, all right. Good at twisting words and truth, at recasting simple scuffles as near fatalities! Of course they have help, like the unfriendly lady across the street. Out here, most folks wave at every passing car; this one hadn't once said hi since I'd moved. Much later, under oath, she did admit she hadn't actually seen anything. But thanks to her, the official docs still say Java "yelped" while Brindi was "on her back" and the man had to kick her in order to pry her off. 

Not what he, I, or that eyewitness, or even that judge said - but why let the facts get in the way of victory?? They've embellished and twisted everything - nearly tripling the vet bill to $363 (and it's in evidence!). They even got the judge to mistakenly assume I took her to obedience class "due to behavioural problems". In reality, I'd taught her the basics in a few weeks; we took the class simply to advance - to make her the best dog she could be so we could go anywhere, do anything, like my dearly departed Howard and me. 

When I called that woman asking for help after the city took Brindi again, she refused, and told me "Why don't you just go get another dog at the shelter?" Seems that's what she did - at least, I never saw her dog again.