Monday, January 11, 2016

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What are your chances if Halifax decides to seize your dog?

Compiled before and after HRM's bizarre staging of an adoption process the first week of January... 
Don't care about me or whatever - for those inclined not to. It's fine. I don't matter. What really matters is whether you're okay with living in a place where the city can get away with such blatant abuse of the law and its power, year after year. And not just with Brindi.

This could have happened to anybody - whether perceived as weak or not. It could have been a dog that actually did bite somebody once - a dog not trained in obedience - a dog with a higher aggression level. And its owner would never have been able to save their dog's life. That very thing has already happened at least once since they took Brindi.

I was able to stop HRM from killing Brindi for the simple reason that Brindi is an excellent, well-trained dog that succumbed to instinct - yet exhibited good restraint. And the fact is that I am the one who trained Brindi to behave so well, both at the SPCA and the Graham's. She is so good because I spent a whole year drilling obedience training with her, and did it again for two months after I got her out after two years in the slammer. She is so good because she was able to remember that training even after two years.

Read the trainer's statement and the vet's statement for evidence! Both are posted to this blog (see above and the left-hand column).

Sure, Brindi had a couple of scrapes with other dogs. I hated that they happened, I acted quickly to regain control, and I freely admit they happened due to unintentional mistakes on my part. However,  they were pretty harmless by any comparison. But HRM has eradicated any connection between the mistake and the harm done. HRM inflates my mistakes (1 every 2 years) into "refuses to obey court orders".

Contrary to popular belief, I obeyed every rule as far as humanly possible. And I went the extra mile. There's no lack of evidence for this - videos, affidavits, testimony, photos.

Brindi's had lots of chances to really do harm and she chose not to. This simple significant fact is one that HRM hates anyone to know. But nobody is better than Susan Jordan at dealing with dog aggression, and she cited Dr. Ian Dunbar in saying Brindi has "good bite restraint". And Susan swore under oath that on a scale of one to ten, Brindi is at the LOWEST LEVEL OF AGGRESSION. Minimal territorial aggression that leads to little or no harm: over the course of years it didn't escalate one iota.

So if my dog is so harmless, then even if I were the worst dog owner ever, there is no reason I can't have her - she wouldn't attack people even when they kicked her. And even after two years of isolation from other dogs, where she could still smell and hear them but not see them or play with them; after two years in a concrete cell, she did beautifully in an assessment - in which she was tied to a pole and strange male dogs approached her! Look up the videos!

They want to take credit now for training and socializing Brindi - the very people who took her and locked her up on death row! Harming her health, depriving her of a good home and the opportunity to play with dogs, run on the beach, a normal life. The same people who at any point up to this year would have killed her the second I stopped fighting - that's what HRM sought to do all this time and I have no doubt it would have happened.

They - the Grahams, backed by Hope Swinimer, all of them on HRM's payroll - now even want people to now believe Brindi was not locked up in isolation all those years HRM lawyers tried to get a court to grant them permission to kill her!! The very people who were her would-be executioners are now saying she is a great dog to be around, yet they stood by & did nothing as I struggled to fight for her life in the court! What kind of terrible swindlers and scammers are they??

Why should they be praised in any way for such a terrible deed?

The question to you is - are you okay with living in a place where such things can happen to anybody?

Do you want a person with few or no qualifications to decide to muzzle or seize your dog?

Do you want to live in a city that decides on its own (no hearing) to kill your dog Bruno or Binky, let's say, then seizes Binky and holds him for months and months where you can't go see him?

Do you want to live in a city that then prosecutes you in the overloaded provincial courts with the aim of getting the judge to order Binky destroyed or any other thing the judge wants to order? (unless you agree to allow them to kill it)

Do you want the city to force you to hire a lawyer or take on the burden of representing yourself, so Binky's life depends directly on your ability to win in court against the city's well-paid lawyers?

Does it sound to you like maybe this violates your rights? Well,  you're right!

Do you want the law to support your rights so that this is not done? Good luck, because I learned that the courts are not willing to act rationally when it comes to HRM.

And do you also want the law to help protect against you or your loved ones being attacked? Well, it doesn't do a good job. Turns out that a number of dogs that kill have escaped death because the owners were acquitted or never even tried. The law is such that unless a trial produces a guilty verdict, court's hands - and HRM's hands - are tied.

So are you okay with the fact that HRM fails to consistently protect public safety yet punishes some dogs and owners disproportionately?

A lot of people just don't realize what the city does and what it is allowed to do by law. Many people assume, like I once did, that a dog that never bit a person would not be seized no matter how many times it was reported for something. The law provides for higher fines for repreat offenders and that is standard across all areas of law.  Nothing justifies adding on the life of the dog.

And people report lots of things lots of times, it doesn't necessarily mean the reports are accurate. The reports aren't always true. Yet the city doesn't wait until a trial is over to seize your dog & decide to kill it! The city first takes the dog, asks no questions later; it just puts you on trial. On average, this takes some eight months after arraignment, and arraignment is typically a month after charges are laid. So there is a guaranteed period of nine months of your dog being impounded. And while you suffer from that pain, you're expected to either pay through the nose and hope you can trust your lawyer, or try to represent yourself to save your dog's life.

I could barely do it; I mean, I couldn't believe it would ever be necessary but I had to literally throw everything else aside and risk my life to do it. Because frankly, few dogs are as well-behaved as Brindi. And not only did she not do anything remotely serious enough to deserve death, and not only was it easy to get positive assessments on her - but in court I was able to rely on research and writing skills (honed from years of academic research and writing). None of that made any difference when I was up against HRM. The judges gave even its most outrageous assertions - and zero evidence - more weight than all the assessments and affidavits and videos and solid legal principles on my side. Year after year. And each time, the courts added more factual error to their written decisions, making it impossible to get them corrected before the next round!

Other dogs are going to be targeted from time to time, dogs that the city singles out, that are typically owned by people with little money and few or no connections, like me. And it's certain most if any of their owners are not going to succeed in saving their dogs.

So, Halifax dog owners, do you feel lucky?  Or will you speak out before it happens to you or someone you love?

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