Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Good Bite Inhibition": If only some humans had it!

The more facts people get about this case, and the situation in Halifax, the more they will come to realize that what is happening to Brindi and me is not about a "dangerous dog" or an "irresponsible owner" or about protecting the public. Not at all. It is about bad legislation and arbitrary law enforcement. And, in the place of accountability for both, a coordinated attack to silence unlucky victims - not unlike the way the NSA treats whistleblowers.

It's a mistake for laws to apply a human yardstick to dogs. The latest consensus in canine science is that a dog that kills at the first opportunity is a far greater danger than a dog that has many opportunities but refrains from inflicting severe injuries. It's called "bite inhibition". As Dr. Ian Dunbar puts it, A dog that gets into lots of scuffles, and the other dog comes away without a mark or a wound, has good bite inhibition. That's Brindi.

There is only one photo of an injury from a scuffle with Brindi, and it isn't remotely like the photo of this poor dog. She has excellent bite inhibition, according to her trainer Susan Jordan. Her behavior is about sending a message in the way dogs communicate to other dogs. It's not about attacking to maim or kill.

Brindi waited two years in a no-kill shelter for my adoption. She knows how to cope in a kennel, but she is not her full self there, and knowing she's got a real home and a human who loves her has to make her depressed. I often hear from kind supporters - who have since become friends - who care so much, they shed tears nightly over Brindi. It's terrible, and though I am deeply touched and humbled by it, I so wish they didn't - I feel like I am suffering enough for everybody.

The trial began in March with shock and disappointment, so then the verdicts on May 10 were not all that surprising, although the month delay in between was unexpected and personally devastating.
See the court docs here.
Right now, the sentencing scheme is underway. It's very unorthodox, to say the least: there will be no public sentencing hearing in court. Instead, per the judge's scheduling arrangement, the city had three weeks to file its "submissions" (also with court docs) to request killing Brindi. That left me two weeks to prepare my submission for the June 22 deadline. The judge will announce her decision June 26.

June 22 is a Friday. That means the judge gave herself just one day to read my submissions. One day. After nearly two years of waiting for a trial with my dog locked up in isolation, my dog, who never should have been seized, and was seized twice instead.

The materials submitted by the city include reports of incidents dating as far back as 2007 - minor incidents involving little or no injury, which were not charged. They make no mention of the subsequent hours of training we did. And as before, no behavioral assessment by a professional to back up their claim that Brindi is a public threat. The city is relying on a very twisted argument that blames me for being irresponsible and then concludes from that that Brindi is dangerous and must be put down.

The latest development:
The prosecutor spoke on radio for the first time last week on News 95.7 on the Rick Howe show. Rick, for reasons known only to him, chose not to offer me the chance to defend myself, let alone correct four key things she said that were untrue. After I contacted him to ask what the deal was, he gave me about 5 minutes on air today. Unfortunately he interrupted them with an comment from a caller (unannounced) who ignored everything that had just been said in order to trash me.

More important, the city is currently blocking me from getting an updated assessment of Brindi done by a trainer in time for my June 22 deadline. Normally a trainer would see a dog in its living environment; what else? But HRM is claiming the proprietors (contracted by the city) aren't comfortable with having the assessment there. It insists on wrenching Brindi out of the kennel and trucking her back to the pound, muzzled, in a locked box in a dogcatcher's truck and giving the trainer a small room indoors. That's the same place it kept her for two months in 2010, with an outdoor area consisting of two parking spaces, screened off. Brindi would doubtless freak out going back there, because she'll assume she's being taken there to stay. Great way to set up an assessment.

Clearly, the city has very little idea about behavioral assessments, or Brindi. Secrecy - paranoia, I'd say - is more important than fairness or a living being's right to life. Some say they do things to make her fierce, but frankly, nothing HRM has orchestrated to date served to change Brindi's temperament. But they have certainly hurt her emotional state and isolated her from a lot of love and companionship that she deserves - as well as constant care for her now chronic illnesses brought on by years of confinement and neglect (insufficient exercise, bad food, fatty treats) at the pound.

That's how it is.