Sunday, January 25, 2009


With a good opening response in sales, Caz Weatherill, an energetic and compassionate trainer in Australia, has launched the "FREE BRINDI GALLERY, DEDICATED TO FRANCESCA ROGIER AND BRINDI !!" on a site called



From: brad hayman
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2009 00:27:03 -0500
Subject: RE: Reply to your "HELP SAVE BRINDI! THEY TOOK MY DOG AND PLAN TO KILL HER!" Ad on Kijiji

I sent him (the mayor) an email, he better read it! cause you should be able to have Brindi home with you safe and sound, what a beautiful dog! I seen your story on the CTV news the other day and my grandparents and I are behind you 110%! How awful it is for them to do this to you, is it legal for a government-run agency to break the law? NO! its not like Brindi attacked a little boy and severly injured him, I mean theres people here in Westville with pitbulls that hurt like two children and the dog is not aloud to leave the yard, come on! seriously, this is rediculous! Bring Brindi Home!! is what i would be telling them! this makes me so angry that they can do this. I dont know what else to say, but i will tell you this; Don't stop until you get Brindi home! which i know you wouldn't! thank you!
Brad Hayman

Westville NS

Friday, January 23, 2009

In return for the favor

It's been a week since the ruling. While I am proud of it as a good solid victory for the community,in many ways I can't help feeling as though everybody else won, not me, not Brindi. At least for now. 

A very kind person told me tonight on the phone - and we never finished our chat - that they were at the SPCA shelter on Christmas day when the blackout happened. After helping out at the shelter for a while, this person later decided to hold Brindi close and look into her eyes to comfort her. Her beautiful eyes, like almond jewels, expressing such a range of thought and emotion. There's so much she needs to be comforted for. I am sure it was a big comfort, at such a frightening time, after so many months away from home. I was so grateful to hear this, and at the same time, it brought everything back into painful focus, how sensitive Brindi is to all these things and the toll it is taking on her. And the toll it takes on me to know this, and be helpless to do anything about it.

I can't stop sobbing about this now, right now, I cannot stop crying, it is so awful. It was so incredibly kind for them to do that and let me know. But realizing yet again what is like for Brindi, all alone the rest of the time... and here's me, sleeping the whole day on Christmas, so I didn't have to be aware, to feel anything, then finding out about the blackout the next day. 

Words cannot do it justice, how sad this makes me feel. 
Every night is like that for her. She needs love, she needs to be held and comforted. She used to have such nightmares. I can't imagine what they're like now.

I will never be the same, nor will she.
If they kill her... I failed. I already failed; I can't get her out, even though I won. I waited over five months to go to court; I did all I could, I worked so hard to help my lawyer, and I risked everything. Nothing should be preventing her from coming home now. Nothing but unfounded fear and speculation, and whatever else is going on behind closed doors that neither I nor my lawyer can find a way to stop, now, this minute. 

 Tonight, and every night after this one, all dogs living in HRM homes are safe from being seized and killed without warning. Their owners will be able to take their case before a judge, within a month or two at most, without the expense of a lawyer, without need of separation from their loved one.  

But my loved one is not safe, she's not well, and she's not with me, where she belongs, where she wants to be, where I want her so much, to look into her eyes and hold her. 

I don't expect thanks for changing the law. All I ask in return is for Brindi to come back home, so I can stop sobbing at 3 am, and she can feel secure and loved once again. Then I can celebrate a victory in full.
And Linda and Richard can celebrate the Christmas they postponed until Brindi comes home. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Expert behavioural assessment of Brindi

To read what Silvia Jay reports on her December 8 visit to examine Brindi, please see her assessment.:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Media note

In the news section of today's Chronicle-Herald, Barack Obama got a two-page, full spread photo as the first non-white president of the United States. I got a thumbnail photo over, for the first time, more than five inches of copy written by a seasoned reporter. A big day for both of us! 

History will only record one, of course. But of course, that’s as it should be: he earned it.

Time will tell if Brindi and I get to enjoy the victory we earned. 

As for Deborah Story  - I hope she reads the decision and discovers that actually, it does deal with whether Brindi is a danger. Anything related to the euthanization order is quashed right along with it, and the declaration that she is dangerous is included.

Every single councilor and the mayor received a copy of Silvia Jay's report, and the by-law prosecutions chart. The mayor may be able to ignore hundreds of calls and emails, but I fail to understand how he could ignore these documents.  

The city needs more evidence, it seems to me, if it wishes to prove Brindi is dangerous. It's not plausible to use the same three incidents three times over: for the euthanization order, for the current resistance to release her, and for the charges they just laid on Monday, an hour before deadline.

Her time at the SPCA ought to make that even more difficult. She's not a "favorite" for nothing.

More questions, fewer answers

On January 16, Justice Duncan Beveridge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia quashed section 8 (2)d of By-Law A300 regarding the power of an animal control officer to seize and euthanize a dog on his or her sole discretion, without need of a judge's specific authorization for the euthanization.

The city no longer has any legal authority to hold my dog, as they didn't have any authority to take her in the first place. The judge also ruled that any other actions an HRM employee named Tim Hamm undertook in conjunction with 8 (2) d on that day are also quashed. These include his declaration that Brindi is a dangerous dog. Therefore, Brindi is no longer a dangerous dog. Questions remain about the manner in which the same employee decided to issue Brindi a muzzle order, and hence the validity of such an order. These will be addressed in a separate legal action shortly. 

1. What is stopping me from picking up my dog, Brindi?


While the city is not opposing the Supreme Court ruling itself (not directly), it refuses to allow this. It raises two objections in a recent letter. One appears to be that I was banned from the facility where they hold her. A second appears to be that they continue to believe she is dangerous, despite all the evidence I provided and despite Silvia Jay's report. They seem to cite a clause in the Municipal Governance Act, against owning a dangerous dog. They do not offer evidence to support the claim that she is dangerous. As I noted before, the ruling threw out the previous designation.

Regardless of the opinion of the city or any of its employees or officials, Brindi is not a dangerous dog worthy of impoundment or killing. She is my property and the city has her. I should be able to go get her. 

Keep in mind something else: I did not go to court to argue about all the incidents, about Brindi's behavior during them, or whether I am or am not a responsible dog owner. 

That was not because I didn't have the evidence to show in detail that her offenses were minor and that she can be trained and will be enclosed in a fence once she comes home. I have plenty of evidence and credibility on that score. However, it might have taken a year or more to get a court date scheduled, and then there would have been further delays. As HRM refused my July request to have Brindi placed in a boarding facility, and  refused my August request to place her in a foster home, this method became out of the question. 

The reason I pursued getting the by-law quashed (I love when I see "squashed" on comments) is because it was FASTER. I thought it would happen in November, in fact. But as I noted earlier, the city found ways to keep delaying me from getting to court sooner. 

The fact that Brindi has been kept in a "temporary" animal care facility for a long period of time as a result of HRM's decisions is cause for my own personal frustration; it ought to be a great concern to the dog community in HRM, because nothing prevents that from happening again. 

Brindi is a seasoned dog when it comes to long-term shelter stays, since she waited two years before I adopted her. In what kind of condition would another dog be after spending six months at the Metro Shelter? What is to prevent that from happening again? 

Brindi knows how to survive, in the material sense, but she suffers all the same, maybe much more deeply (and goodness knows her trust was broken). This, if nothing else, may explain to some people just why I have been knocking myself out to get her released, and why I want her back.

It also this raises another question. In what kind of condition would another dog be, after six months at this shelter? I hate to think.  

2. Why can't I visit Brindi every day until the matter is settled?

I don't know. In December, I requested to see her, five months after she was brought to the SPCA shelter/pound. Within a matter of minutes the SPCA banned me from setting foot on their property. See below.

3. Is the SPCA entitled, as an HRM contractor, to ban the owner of an animal from premises the city pays for to serve as the city pound? Wouldn't HRM have to authorize the ban? 

Essentially, I am being prohibited from accessing a city service, namely, the reception area of the pound. I suppose the contract would have to be analyzed to answer this question. But it surprises me it's possible, since the SPCA was hesitant to make any move without HRM permission prior to this. 

There are many questions that spin out from that, regarding the relationship between the two. Apart from those, I note that the person responsible for the ban, Diana Forrestall, is no longer employed by the SPCA. 

4. Why haven't I been allowed to visit Brindi before?

As insight to this and previous questions, here is something from the Halifax Regional Municipality Animal Control Services Contract Amendment, signed into effect July 2007 (no specific day given), signed by Mayor Peter Kelly and Judith Gass of the SPCA, amending and superceding in parts the full contract from September 2003.

Animal Control Service Contract #02-327
 . . . 

3.1.7   The shelter shall be open for animal redemption from 8:00 am 8:00 pm Monday to Friday, and 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday, Sunday and holidays (as defined in the Interpretation Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 235), during which times the owners of impounded animals, and the general public can view and redeem impounded animals.

I am an owner of an impounded animal. 

Regardless of the opinion of the city or any of its employees or elected officials, Brindi was never legally declared dangerous. If there is any doubt as to whether she is dangerous enough to be put down, a very respected dog behavior expert named Silvia Jay has said that she is not a candidate for "euthanization". Given this, I see no need for any conditions to be placed on her release. She should come home now.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Questions, and some answers

Two days ago, shortly after 5 pm at my home, I received a summons to the provincial court on three charges of violating A300. The charges are: owning a dog that runs at large; owning a dog that attacked another dog; failing to obey a muzzle order. The summons does not cite the date when these offenses allegedly occurred; it doesn not have to, evidently, but I surmise the date will turn out to be July 20.

1. What is the reason for serving me a summons just one day short of the end of the six-month statute of limitations on the alleged offense - i.e., why charge me now?

I don't know, but a provincial court judge is likely to ask the same of Officer Tim Hamm, who evidently felt these charges were serious enough to order Brindi to be put to death. If some sort of urgency is the reason, the judge might then ask, what was stopping him from doing it later?

2. Why don't I just appear on Feb. 3, pay a fine, and get my dog back?

Because it is unlikely that would happen. I am pretty sure it wouldn't have happened that way if they had charged me when they seized her. Back then, they said she was dangerous, period, and must be put down. (This raises the issue for future by-law revisers: is it illegal to own a dangerous dog, if it has not killed anybody and is deemed trainable, etc.?) The only difference being that back then, I could have gone to a judge right away. I think. It's confusing!

Another concern is, I were to appear in provincial court, it is possible (I'm not saying probable) that Brindi might end up being declared dangerous all over again and be put down. I can't fathom this exactly, but I am told it is possible. There's yet another scenario, that seems to be hopping around on the internet, that Brindi should be taken away from me, but still live, in somebody else's family. How could they do that? I received the answer a few days ago, when someone suggested that I sign over Brindi to an Animal Control Officer named Leah Parsons who runs a German Shepherd Rescue. I have no idea if Leah is aware of that. But I guess that's the only possible way a judge would turn over a dog he believes is dangerous. I'm sure people can imagine how I feel about such a possibility. Whether running a rescue and working at Animal Services poses a conflict of interest is yet another, very valid, question. 

3. Didn't the city already use the July 20 events as the grounds for seizure and destruction? (You cannot be tried for murder twice, can you?)

I thought so, but apparently not! Likewise, I'm told anything I wrote on a report could be used in the summons charges, even if it predates July 20. 

If only the authorities were this persistent when it came to prosecuting rapists and drug kingpins. I really don't know how this is possible, but my lawyer says it is. Again, I guess it would depend on the provincial court judge.

4. All of these charges are based on A300. A300 has been delivered a potentially fatal blow, now that section 8 (2) d is quashed; can it still hold?

Well, it remains to be seen if a provincial judge back away from enforcing A300 now. It seems to me it needs overhauling; it is missing something that would explain what happens when an owner is not charged but the dog is seized - even if just to require that an owner be charged before the step of seizure is taken, etc. The law requires a great deal of study before the right answer turns up.

5. What is happening now?

My lawyer is in the process of addressing the summons. We have several options. Keep in mind, the summons is just one of several issues to address. The most important one is that the city refuses to return Brindi. Until it does, I need to be able to visit her, and this is a further isuse.

Needless to say, all of this costs money. My lawyer has to eat. So do I and my animals. That aspect will be taken into consideration by a court when the time comes. I might add that though the Supreme Court awarded me costs, the "usual" amount awarded is $2,000. Hardly a drop in the bucket towards the current total of over $30,000.


I may be out on a limb here, but isn't the effort to get my dog back beginning to sound like Amnesty International trying to get a political prisoner released? If Brindi wasn’t a political prisoner at the start, it sure looks like she is now. What a little troublemaker she is! I love that little one so much. It was so good to see her and that gorgeous tail wag. I just can't wait. It can't be long now, my girl!! 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

See this chart to compare Brindi's case to others

To see a sampling of cases between June 2007 and July 2008, see this chart of HRM By-Law Prosecutions
Thanks to Joan for lending me her server to do this.
If anybody would like to drop off soup bones with a little fresh meat on them and some nice suet in them for Brindi at the Metro Shelter, PLEASE, be my guest! I used to go every week or so. I can't, it would cost a bit too much.

PS on the post below - the Global TV clip is interesting. I thought they would have included the part where I said, "Love is more important than a by-law." I wonder who edits these things?  Maybe they thought it was too controversial? I believe there is nothing more important than love, and my love extends to all dogs, who are in my opinion sources of infinite love, understanding, approval, and acceptance, who ought to be honored, not destroyed pre-emptively and dismissively.

Bittersweet Reunion in the Bitter Cold

Here is a rough description of my first visit to Brindi since July 24, 2008. Because it is already so late today and people are interested in finding out how it went, I am posting what I have so far and will add to it as I go. 

A friend phoned animal services on Friday afternoon to make a request on my behalf. I received notice that evening via email that they would be “reviewing” the materials of the case on Saturday, and would be phoning me with their decision regarding permission to visit. 

I replied to the effect that I expected to hear from them and visit Brindi that day and every day until her release. It seemed reasonable to me, having been denied visits so long, and since any day now, she would be released to me, I figured it would be a good transition.

On Saturday morning, I received three calls from the media before hearing from Andrea Macdonald just before 2 PM. She said I would be granted permission for a visit that day, and that day only. 

She explained the terms of the visit.
a. I had to specify exactly what time I would be there.
b. It would last for exactly 30 minutes
c. No other persons could accompany me
d. I was not to leave any high-value items behind that I might bring for “the dog.”
e. This would be a one-time visit.

When I asked why she says I can have only one visit, she said they are still examining the documents and so it will be only one visit until a decision is reached about what is going to be done with "your dog". Although section 8 (2) d was quashed, she said, there are other parts of the by-law, and they are being looked at. I tried to say, in so many words, the right to visit is not contingent on any of that , on the outcome. And she cut me off “Francesca I can’t discuss this with you right now.” Any further comments were met by the same response.

On arriving, I asked for permission to enter the property. I was assured it was okay. I assumed that this meant the ban was lifted. It turned out I assumed wrong; I'll get to that later. 

When I arrived: Richard’s SVU had a thermometer and he said it was minus 15 degrees. But that was 4:15 pm, and with every minute it got colder. Before seeing her, I was told I had to go around the back and see her in an outdoor pen, which was, it turned out, layered over with ice. I was told I would have to stay outside with her for the duration of the thirty minutes.

This posed a huge problem, needless to say. I was not dressed to stay outside that long- I only had one layer on, and I felt the cold as soon as I left the car – was headed into the building but was directed around the back.
I was told I could go in and warm up and come back out as many times as I liked, but not together with Brindi -  I would have to separate from her, which would put her through the agony of separating multiple times, so I could not do such a thing to her, it was definitely not good for her to have that done! 

Lori Scolero accompanied me around the back, quietly telling Richard and Linda that they could not stay with me. Then she told me to wait in the pen, and "the dog" would be brought out to me. "Brindi," I said, "She has a name." Meanwhile, I was thinking, how can I deal with this, in minus 15 weather??

When she was brought on a leash into the pen, I was waiting at the back door, on the other side of the pen, thinking that was where they would appear. He came up behind me, so I was behind a chain-link gate at that point, and as I struggled to open it, I saw Brindi reacting at my sight, wagging furiously and pulling on the leash to get at me. There it was!! The "fickle finger of fate" rotator wag, specially reserved for beloved humans!! All right!! Nobody knows how glad I was so glad to see this. But I could see in an instant that she was no longer the dog she was on July 24. 

She had gained at least 20 to 25 pounds; her coat was dull, not the shiny thing that glinted in the light (and photos); I took my gloves off to pet her, and it was saturated with dirt and quite musky smelling. I'd never seen it like that before. Her expression, once she calmed a bit and moved about, was not the confident, happy pooch I had so enjoyed caring for. A half a minute later, as I walked around and up to her, in the middle of the pen, she seemed very confused and her face was marked with an ingrained look of insecurity, I would say fear, of a kind and extent I have to say I never witnessed before with her. The only remote comparison happened about a month after I got her, when I happened to raise my arm above her. Then, she had instantly dropped to the floor and turned up to look at me as if expecting a blow, terrorized. This time, the look had a weariness about it that I was even sadder to see - a kind of resignment. But in seconds, she recognized me all over again, and greeted me all over again, and went off, happily prancing about. She grabbed a soft toy and began bucking and prancing around the pen, which had a pocked layer of ice about two to five inches thick, so that I had to walk slowly with her, checking every step, as I badly sprained my ankle about five weeks ago.

I took my gloves off to pet her, and my hands froze up, but it was no use wearing gloves. I tried to get her to stay so I could photograph her, but it was tricky because she kept moving towards me, so at one point I put the camera down and just kneeled down gave her a big hug. She responded in maximum joy, knocked me down on my back, flooding me with kisses. Suddenly we were both engulfed in waves of love, flowing back and forth. I looked over at the cameras posted behind a fence, about three pens away, wondering if they caught that. Amazing. It was clear she was very, very happy to see me and still felt a close bond with me. The feeling was mutual.

I was at a bit of a loss about what to do though, out in the cold. She would not play fetch – she never was one for that, depended on the day, and she hadn't been raised with toys anyhow. But she seemed to be asking for something, expecting something, and I didn't know the protocol out there - we usually walked together instead of standing around a yard. I tried to use the commands she knew before, and she would not respond – she would come, but then run off; she would sit, but only for a fraction of a second, before leaping up and pawing my chest. I realized after a few minutes that she was expecting a treat – which I had had no need of before when she was seized. (I commented on this a bit later to the SPCA official, saying she was never this crazed about treats and food, that when I first got her, she didn’t want a treat at all – in fact she spit one out when she thought I was leaving without her. He said, “well, she’s food-oriented now.” More like food-crazed!! All that why she would still be so hungry, I don’t know. Although when I was heavier, I was the same way; when I got more exercise, I wasn’t as interested in snacks.)

The response to all commands were the same, pretty much. “Down” – fraction of a second, then popping up expectantly. She was looking at my pockets and even lunged at them. Wow. I thought, boy, do I have a lot of work to do now. She was clearly distressed at the lack of goods, and was scouting the bins in the yard, so I asked the SPCA to help out and give me some treats. It turned out to be fake bacon – the same kind my neighbor, with the boisterous shitzu, used to spoil her with. I regretted not making my home-made chicken hearts, but who had time to do that? I didn’t even know I’d be there that day. She was so intense and wound up at the prospect of treats, very demanding. But when I just leaned in and petted her, she'd drop that idea in a flash.

After ten minutes, I was frozen solid; my hands, which I didn't want to keep gloved when I petted her, and needed to use the camera, were numb, as were my legs and my face, and the camera had stopped working. (Right now, it won't transfer the pictures, so I wonder if it was even damaged.) I asked again if we couldn’t go inside, and was again told no. It seems that the place was under renovation. I tried to move around to get warm, but the sun was disappearing. Brindi went up and took a poop, and then pranced around with the ball, more of a game of keep-away than fetch. I turned my back, walked away, and she came right after me, and then dropped it at my feet so I could throw it.  

A few minutes after that, I asked if we could go for a walk - I said, you can come with us if you want, at least we could stay a bit warmer if we moved. The SPCA official went to ask the Animal Services official, Lori Scolero, for permission. The answer came back: no. 

It was really alienating to see how she would jump up on me, or on him, with a crazed look - I know saying that might be unwise since there are folks convinced she is "dangerous" - but this is a food-crazed look, and one that reflects an awareness that she had to make every second of freedom - i.e., outside her cage - pay. To say that I was dismayed to see it is putting it lightly. I remember her jumping up on me once or twice after I first got her. I soon, and easily, trained it out of her, and swiftly discouraged others - usually men - from allowing or inviting her to do it, so that she would not jump up on frail people or kids. I mean, it was easy to stop, but then, she wasn't doing it for treats; now, I wonder how hard it will be to train out of her. 

Repeatedly, she would come in close for petting, and once or twice, she'd curl herself down on the ice, wriggling on her back in ecstasy. I noticed her stomach was a bit red and I realized it was the cold. Not until about 22 minutes into the half-hour was I told I could go into the building with her - but only into a tiny 3 feet by 4 feet airlock, really an entry with two interior doors, unheated. By then it was probably about minus 17 outside, so maybe it was about zero there. I can tell because my kitchen is currently around that temperature when I don't turn the heater on. 

So she was suddenly in a close space, with both me and the SPCA official, kind of crowded. I talked with him as I petted her. I tried to tell him not to let her jump on him, to say "no". He seemed unfamiliar with the idea, to my surprise. In the next moments, several times she put her head into my lap, but with the extra weight, it was quite alarming - I couldn't comfortably circle my arm around her, and her head and shoulders didn't fit into my lap snugly anymore - we've both changed. I've lost 25 pounds, and I think I know where they went to - my thighs are no longer the tree trunks they once were, so there was not enough of them for her to lay down on.
Anyway, as the man and I chatted, Brindi turned to him for attention, and jumped up on him again. Since her focus was on him, even though I still had five minutes left, I said, let me just slip out while she doesn't notice, so it would be easier. He said, we have to leave through the door behind you, and taking the leash, moved towards me. This brought her attention back to me, and of course made the whole thing pointless, so I began to say something like, "Okay, then I'll stay a bit---" but suddenly he was reaching around me to open the door and take her away, and she was being dragged out, because by that time, she certainly noticed and was pulling with all her might to stay with me, shoving her head through the door, and putting up quite a fight with her added weight.
Wow, I thought. That didn't work at all, did it?

I left the vestibule, wound my way around the building toward the front entrance, and heard him behind me, saying, "Francesca, just so you know..." The ban has only been lifted that one time. I had told him I intended to visit her every day, until her release; he replied that I would have to take that up with HRM, he had nothing to do with it. Really. So now, he was following me to say that I was not permitted to return there, ever again, until the end of the ban. Even to drop off bones? No. He did allow me to get inside and warm up for a minute - and I sat down, opposite the TV tripods, the camera people standing behind them. Later I wondered - the reception area had now been cleared out and it was so spacious inside, and the two TV camera people and their huge tripods were there, taking up plenty of space, along with my friends, Richard and Linda, who were waiting inside for me. While I was outside. No room for me and Brindi in the building?
But at the time, I was too cold to notice. I just realized after a minute that I now had to speak to the cameras. How?
Sean came and asked us to leave before I could think. We went outside to film, so we all went to the parking lot. I couldn't think about how I felt - the usual question - I hadn't formed any feelings or thoughts yet. So I wasn't very outwardly emotional, yet, but I answered as best I could. They were satisfied, and Mike, from CTV, stopped shooting and began packing up. Sarah, Global TV's person, hesitated, then started filming again, asking me one more question - I can't even remember what is was, and I haven't seen either report yet. But whatever it was, it got me going, and I broke down. Mike looked back, startled, and I found myself staggering through the answer. When I finished, I went and hugged Sarah, because she had begun to lose it herself. I compared the way Brindi and I mean to one another to a marraige, more than a parent- child relation, because she was a mature dog when we met, and now we are about the same age, dog to human years. Okay, she's female; so it's a little quirky, but it's the truth. Having to leave her behind, in the condition she is in - you can guess what that felt like. 

I left the "premises" with Richard and Linda, not wanting to drive, and we went to Tim's, where they bought me a sandwich and a Boston creme doughnut - first in about twenty years, I'd guess. I couldn't eat though, and we talked, even though I could see they were anxious to get home. Yes, I finally saw Brindi. But the information gathered on that visit was deeply disturbing. I was grieving for the time lost, half a year practically, a big chunk of a dog's life. I was in shock at her condition, horrified to think about the months of recovery and remedial training ahead (and nightmares -like the ones she had for the first six months after I got her until they waned away). Knowing this gave me a deep shudder, because of what it meant to the great backlog of work and projects I have waiting for me once she's out. How can I do all of that at the same time? But I was terrifically relieved and joyous that she still loved me so much, and all the signs were there, the rotator wag, the pushing me down to lick my face and give me love. I was anxious to get her home and get it all started. 

But I don't know when that will be.
That's because the city has to sign off on a "form of order" document prepared by my lawyer for Monday. If the city, i.e., Mr. Persaud, agrees to the way he set it down on the same day, she could come home immediately. However, if something is not to his liking, it has to be worked out. When we got a court order for Silvia Jay to visit and assess Brindi - a document that incidentally was not used in the court proceedings, though we submitted it - it took two weeks before an agreement was reached and the order could be executed. And, given Andrea Macdonald's remarks, I wonder if I should expect other obstacles to arise. But what can they do now, after all this time? I honestly have no idea. 

All I know is, my visit was painful - uncomfortable due to the cold, and pretty unhealthy, since today I have a sore throat and an ear ache, making it very painful to speak.  
All I know is, I won a case in the Supreme Court. 
All I know is, I don't know when - or if - I will ever see Brindi again.
All I know is, I won a case in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, the result of a good deal of work on my part, and a great deal of work on my lawyer's part, yet I still have to wait - and hope - that I can get my dog back

Ever since July 24, I feel as though I am constantly approaching and jumping hurdles; once I make one, another one is staring me in the face.  Or, as though I am running a marathon of indefinite length, but somebody keeps pulling back the finish line.  I think of Charlie Brown and Lucy's football swipe, a joke that is not really meant to be a joke, unless you love black humor. 

Do I have it in me to keep going? I have to. How many more layers of uncertainty are there to come? How ever many there are, I guess. I'll know sooner or later. I do know right now that she's still there, and that she definitely loves me, very much, and that we are a unit, and that's all there is to it. 

As I thought when I stood up to leave the courtroom, after learning the judge would turn in a written decision at some unnamed date, "This is not a battle for the fainthearted." But why is it even a battle? 

Friday, January 16, 2009





This unforgettable day is dedicated to my father
Joseph William Rogier, 1919-1998

and to my loving godfather
Dr. William Ciaravin0
who departed the earth this day.
May you be received into the light surrounded by love.
Your love, warmth, and generosity are never forgotten.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

See a new page with special letters!

I created a new place to post letters from animal activists supporting Brindi. They have written to public officials -some more than once - and I would like to share these letters now.

To read them, please go to Brind Nation. I will be adding more soon!

In the meantime... the Paypal donations account received a $20 contribution from a very kind person in Bulgaria; another came from Australia. This is a remarkable thing, and I am absolutely speechless at how this amazing network has grown and manifested so much sold support. 

The city stopped counting the calls, the councilors are deleting emails that have Brindi in the title... the Brindi Nation makes itself heard! 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Post-court, but not post-haste

NOTE: I realize some visitors are seeking a quick scan of info about the case. If you've already seen the newspaper reports, like the Metronews, please refer to the summaries in the texts of the petitions and the Facebook group Save Brindi. And in the left-hand column here, there are links to the By-Law, videos, and other key info. The first blog posts here tell the story in greater detail.

Blogging gets tougher and tougher, yet, I suspect, more necessary as time goes on. In my mind, I store up things to say, and the post gets long, but it's got to be that way for me.

It's been a weird week after dozens of weird weeks, each one uniquely terrible. The past week was less horrific and somewhat more satisfying than others, since I finally had the chance to go to court on Monday, January 5. THANKFULLY, I was not alone on the bench: a solid bunch of Brindi was there all day, and though some are too shy to go public, I'll give first names: Linda, Richard, Maxine, Phil, Kelly, and Michelle, and I hope I didn't forget anybody. Being the first working day since Christmas, it was tough to be there. Several others tried, but couldn't find the right courthouse. I attribute this to the architecture of the Supreme Court building, a prime example of anonymous 70s brutalism, is anything but prominent, despite its waterfront location.

As I think about it, the stress just keeps mounting, and writing isn't easy. I'm grinding my teeth again, a lot, while asleep and awake; haven't done that in years. I have the shakes a lot, for no apparent reason, and I'm still not sleeping much. My chest hurts, sharp pains, even as I write; I'm sure it's anxiety, not a heart problem. Crying and sobbing? A daily activity. My cats, my only breathing companions, sense the stress; they have taken to planting themselves right and left of me as I write in bed, which I have to do to avoid more painful tension in my neck and back.

Of course, when the day in court began, I was exhausted, having had another computer crash at 1 am the night before, which meant not even a minute of sleep. Praying as I sped down the highway, I managed to get there on time despite nearly skidding into a snow-filled ditch, twice.

Yay, I thought as I drove, no more delays! Little did I know my limbo would take on a whole new dimension of anxiety. Ever since the case was scheduled, I tried to keep my mind off the outcome, and it worked mostly. But it was a very intense day, and my heart was pounding and tears were already on board when it was time for the judge to speak. By then it was around 3 pm, and the lack of sleep had started hitting home; I was coming apart at the seams under the strain. Listening to the proceedings, especially the remarks of the city's young legal counsel, Mr. Persaud, made me re-live the pain and horror I experienced since July, when the two animal control officers showed up without warning and took Brindi away. I wasn't prepared for that impact (how could I be?). I lost track of how many Hail Mary's I said to myself; St. Francis and St. Jude were also big addressees.
So in many ways, I didn't want to know the results, but then again, it was a disappointment not to get any, and confusing that no indication was given of when a ruling will be made known..

It was not a closed session, and reporters were allowed in the courtroom, but I am told I should not discuss too many details. A few basic facts will be of interest to readers, however. For instance, right off, the city got the judge to throw out the assessment of Brindi by Silvia Jay we submitted. It cost a lot of money and time to get that court order. But I imagine the Mr. Persaud did not want it presented, since it speaks favor of sparing Brindi's life and returning her to me.

Fortunately, the judge denied his further request to reject a transcript of an online interview of the HRM Animal Services manager Andrea Macdonald. Only one sentence in it is important to the case, namely, when she says seizures of dogs are always followed by a thorough investigation before a euthanization order is decided on. This was clearly not the case with Brindi, and nobody ever explained why.

The judge also refused to reject a chart of by-law prosecution cases related to dogs between 2007 and 2008 that we submitted, using publicly accessible information. I had painstakingly updated and completed that chart over the weekend, but the new version was not submitted. You can see a version of it here that I painstakingly updated and completed in time for court; there was no opportunity to submit it, sadly. Ditto for the petitions. By then the number of signatures was nearly 4,000, with some strongly worded comments from around the world.

As the day went on, however, things seemed to take on a good momentum. My lawyer, Blair Mitchell, really did his homework, and then some; he worked all through the holidays to prepare a 23-page brief. I felt so lucky and grateful to have him on my side. SO MUCH WORK went into it, so many months. We had help from so many people, too, including my sister Nancy, Joan Sinden, and an animal rights group from Dalhousie. It was not easy to follow all the legalese; Blair kept warning me it would be boring. Nothing about it is boring to me, it's about my dog after all. In fact I think I understood most of it, though I could never repeat the words. I knew he must have been doing well, when halfway through, people sitting with me who didn't expect to be able to understand a word suddenly began sitting up and taking notes.

I guess it makes sense that the judge said he was going to delay his ruling, given that it might set a precedent. But it was disappointing all the same - not to have a date - and that made it so hard to get up and leave the room, let alone speak to the reporters waiting outside. I just wanted to sit down and bawl. It's a good thing there were people there to help me through it. I bawled a little later, of course, on the seventh floor, and they patiently waited for me to get it together and help me leave the building. On the drive home, bumper to bumper all the way in a sludgy mist, I really thought we'd get the decision in a few days. But now I hesitate to make any plans each day, with it hanging over my head.

Before leaving the building, we asked the city's counsel once again if I could be allowed to visit Brindi. Answer: a flat no. And something about being determined to fight to the end. They should realize by now that I'm matching their determination all the way. I don't have a $2.4 million budget like they do, but I have some pretty strong weapons, thanks to Brindi's Angels - persistent campaigners located from here to Lister, BC - and the entire Brindi Nation, which keeps growing. It seems that long before Monday, the city of Halifax's call center (902 490 4000) stopped counting the calls about Brindi. I also understand that the mayor's staff was specially briefed on how to handle the calls that get through. (Heather Anderson of DAISY in Calgary has yet to get the mayor on the phone, even after two dozen calls.)

That's how many people care enough to make phone calls, even long distance. It's amazing! People from here are Paypal donations coming in from Australia and Bulgaria. Brindi supporters live in several countries on every single continent on the earth, except perhaps Antarctica, and that's only because penguins can't use keyboards with their flippers. But we're working on that.

I have complained a long time about the Nova Scotia SPCA, who are keeping Brindi in the pound they run in their Metro Shelter - apparently in decent health, according to Silvia Jay's impression. (Brindi is overdue for a check-up, however). I suppose this makes some loyal SPCA members, many of whom also support Brindi, feel uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable too, especially since I was once a volunteer for similar organizations. And so, after months of pleading, being diplomatic, I thought it was a disgrace to discover lies and more lies. For a charity, honesty ought to be paramount.

But I know the SPCA is feeling the pinch as well because the lengthy disclaimer about Brindi posted on its website since August now says that a clause in its HRM contract requires it to keep all cases like hers confidential. Poppykosh. I have a full copy of that contract and it contains no such clause. If it did, why would somebody from the SPCA be telling people that Brindi is a big favorite at the shelter? I've heard it from several sources, who found this an important step, and perhaps it is. But at this late date, my only thought is: "Of course she is a favorite! She's a great dog, that's the whole point!!!"

It must be true that many, if not most, of the shelter staff who work there day in and day out are there because they care about dogs. So why do they not fight for her life along with me, instead of banning me? Have they never seen the contract? After they turn a deaf ear to my pleas for help, won't allow visits, and call the cops on me, then say such things to others, how do they think I feel? It's as if they are holding Brindi hostage, and having fun with her at my expense. Hello, she's MY FAVORITE! I am her rightful owner, and I'd really like to be able to enjoy her myself. GIVE HER BACK, and please stop lying to everybody. It's not doing any good.

On Wednesday, Tom Young, on News 95.7 based in New Brunswick, interviewed me. Counting the months, he asked how many times I've seen Brindi since July 24. He was dumbfounded when I said "none". When I explained the ban, he couldn't believe it. "Why did they send three cops to remove you from the building? D-do you threaten them? Are you a threat?" I have no idea. If anybody there feels threatened, they should think how the dogs feel, how Brindi feels, how I feel!! And if they do feel threatened, it's because of their own decisions, not mine.

I am only doing what anybody who loves their dog would do. I'm not doing it because I can afford to; I certainly can't! I'm doing it because I know she'd do the same for me. Dogs don't abandon their people. Recently, a fisherman in New Brunswick got caught in a storm, and his dog swam frantically behind his boat for three hours, instead of going back to shore to save itself. By the time help finally came, the dog was near death from exhaustion. Its owner was more relieved for its sake than for his own.

This is why I am asking people to write to the SPCA now, to ask for two things: let me have visits to Brindi, and finally, do something to help me get her back home!

I am weary of this fight, heaven knows, but I am not going to give up. It needs to be fought, for Brindi's sake, for my sake, and for the sake of all the dogs in this city, whose owners should not have to be faced with the decision of whether to fight, and all the horror I'm going through. It's for that reason alone that it was so important the media turned up at court. Some got there early and stayed all day - like Jackie Foster at CTV, who wanted to interview me weeks ago, but didn't get permission. I managed to see her excellent report that night, and Global TV, but missed the CBC, which I heard was also very good. I know of three newspaper articles as well, and suddenly a few new blogs turned up as well.

I have to confess however, a few glaring absences struck me a few days later. I never thought of it before, but it would have been good if somebody asked the city a few key questions, starting with:
  • Where are the photos of all the terrible bloody injuries Brindi supposedly viciously inflicted on other dogs?
This really interests me, that nobody noticed the lack of visual evidence. Grisly images are hot - so where are they? Where is the actual proof that Brindi caused a serious injury?

Similarly, few have bothered to ask, especially compared to the plentitude of other dogs that bit dogs AND people, without incurring either euthanization or a muzzle,
  • Exactly why did they issue Brind a muzzle order?
  • Why was there no investigation after seizure, before the euthanization order was issued?
These are just a few key questions. The last is worth a Pulitzer prize; I for one would give anything to know the answer.

As for the muzzle, it seems to have been an arbitrary choice, the result of coincidence, if not an opportunistic hoax. I'm serious. The record shows that the order came about as a concession to another dog owner who wanted to make sure I would pay her inflated vet bill (which included a $70 general exam of her dog, because it was a new patient, according to her. In retrospect, I should have not paid that part of the bill). I faced a $222 fine. Without telling me, she begged the AC officer not to issue me a fine so I could afford to pay her bill. Presumably to accommodate her wishes, he upped the ante to a muzzle. I was stunned, since he had already told me on his first visit that at worst, he might come back with a fine. If he hadn't said so, she would never have asked him not to. Mind you: this was the second report. He never intended to issue a muzzle. He'd have to muzzle dozens of dogs in HRM just to be a bit consistent, and that would cause a huge furor. At the same time - he knew that I was planning to challenge the muzzle order the first chance I got, once I had worked to get Brindi's recall as perfect as possible, and had a fence in place. 

So never mind that a muzzled dog makes people afraid, and their fear thus makes the dog afraid too - great choice, for a rescue dog. Never mind that my dog was never a problem during 8 weeks of obedience classes with dozens of dogs around. Never mind that I offered to build a fence - it was part of my plans already.

The question is, why would he do it? Maybe because in Halifax, under A-300, a muzzle order is all it takes to declare a dog "dangerous"? In the absence of any criteria for muzzles, what a great way to eliminate as many dogs as possible (and as an HRM lawyer once said, "Euthanization is the goal."). Just pick a dog, any dog; slap a muzzle on it for any reason - and presto, it's dangerous! If you're an ex-cop, say, ex-military police, what a dream job - you get to give the orders, and nobody can stop you. As an added bonus, after that, you can use the slightest incident as grounds to have it kiilled. No worries that you'll be stopped by the SPCA, an authority higher than the city obligated to protect dogs from cruelty; heck, they're on the same payroll as you are. What a temptation that is, in a job where you have more power than your bosses. Must be a thrill for somebody who used to take orders all the time.

Under the law, the muzzle order is permanent, unless the owner pays to go to court and dispute it, and who would do that? Me, actually!!

From my horrified reaction, and the questions I asked him, he may have guessed I intended to challenge the order. And I certainly did, once my house was finished and I improved Brindi's recall responses. No wonder he claimed it wasn't his decision, and kept telling me not to bother calling his boss, the one he said was behind the order. It's interesting that she, not he, signed the euthanization order later - contrary to law. And she's never laid eyes on Brind, as far as I know.

Certainly, neither he nor any other animal control officer ever witnessed Brindi being aggressive to other dogs, or anybody else. Everything hinges on unconfirmed statements, which were revised more than once by the owners and the officer involved before the case went to court. Do I sound defensive? Well, I've never disputed the facts, even many that were never actually proven. What I want is to be treated fairly and my dog to be treated fairly as well. I've done all I can to show that I am responsible and concerned.

Another question came to mind as well.

Why has no one quoted the many letters I posted five months ago - from the mail carrier, the vet, the groomer, the kennel owner, etc. Without them (and a few other facts), it's very tempting to sensationalize the story. Mind you, I'm not complaining - I'm grateful for all the coverage! But with dogs, sensationalism ought to be avoided as much as possible; it only incites fear. As much as they make great headlines, the words "aggressive dog" and "attack" instantly polarize readers. So they demand further explanation: what kind of "attack"?"Aggressive" according to whom?

It seems to me we all deserve a break from fear, and among public health threats, dogs barely make the stats. As I've said before, in 2007, only 2 Canadians died from dog-related injuries, versus 36 who died from lighting strikes. Joan Sinden noted recently that Sports Illustrated is doing its part to dispel the fear-nurturing myths about dogs, especially so-called pit bulls, a non-existent breed subjected to laws that cost millions to pass, yet do little to increase public safety and cause needless slaughter.

I thought about posting a list of about 17 persistent myths about Brindi, to debunk them, as they are rampant. I'm still debating that. I'd like to focus instead on the positive things happening, like all the people out there working so hard to save her. And how fantastic it was to hear from so many people that night, like my local city councilor, David Hendsbee, now the deputy mayor, who emailed me to say he hopes I win. He copied it to Andrea Macdonald, and if I recall correctly, Persaud, so I don't believe I'm violating privacy to mention it here.

Even more fantastic, a few very kind people have turned up to help me fix the plumbing, even in this bitter cold. How cool is that? I can't wait to take a shower in my own house again.

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!!