Friday, November 4, 2011

:: Update ::

• In this case, Halifax is seeking a court order to kill Brindi as an “additional penalty”.
• This is a repeat of the first trial in 2009-2010, in which her owner was charged for three by-law violations – but not until six months after the event, and immediately after the city lost its case in supreme court, but refused to return Brindi.
• Brindi’s health has suffered from three years of confinement, and her owner has lost a considerable amount of money, her life put on hold. She is now fighting Halifax lawyers a third time for her dog’s life, without legal representation.

• Cities have a role to insure public safety, but within reason: they must also treat dogs and owners fairly.
• By-law infractions are minor offenses that are meant to be fined.
• Killing a dog is not a fair or moral penalty for any by-law infraction.
• If a city seeks to kill a dog it says is dangerous, it must present proper grounds. It must have proof that it has attacked with the intent to kill or do serious harm.
• Dogs that fight dogs are not necessarily a threat to public safety (dogs are not part of the public – if they were, they would have rights!).
• Dogs typically fight dogs as a way to establish dominance. It is no indication they will attack humans. And dogs can be trained out of this behavior.
• Fatalities due to dog attacks rank very low on the list of causes of accidental death and injury. They are not even among the top fifty.

• Cities should be held to a consistent standard that is in keeping with their usual enforcement of the by-law.
• Halifax decided in 2008 to muzzle, then seize and destroy Brindi, fully aware that she had never attacked a person and had not injured dogs at all, except for one minor injury that was treated with first aid.
• Halifax’s decision to kill Brindi was thus way out of line with its customary enforcement. Its decision to seize Brindi once again is not only cruel and unusual punishment itself, but also in stark contrast with its handling of a recent case of a pit bull that attacked a woman in the throat and face.
• The city has never had Brindi’s behavior evaluated professionally. It will not be bringing an expert witness to the stand next week. (An animal control officer will testify, but she is not qualified in dog training and behavior.)
• Clearly Halifax is not pursuing this case in the interest of public safety.

• Brindi was evaluated by several trainers and behaviorists at the request of her owner. None of these deemed Brindi dangerous. They regard her as territorial, and suggested more training.
• Brindi’s owner, Francesca Rogier, observed all court-imposed conditions for Brindi’s return.
• The conditions are: following a muzzle order, building and maintaining a dog run, and doing further training.
• The conditions were identical to the conditions she originally offered to the city in 2008, but were met with no response from the city.
• The incident leading to Brindi’s second seizure and third year behind bars was an accidental event. Freak accidents do happen: people should not be punished for them by the destruction of a beloved family member.
• Brindi simply needed more time to readjust to her surroundings after being locked up for two years without contact with other dogs.
• Francesca worked with trainer Susan Jordan. She did more training that was required and continued after Brindi was released – not because a court ordered it, but because she wanted Brindi to be as perfect as possible.

Please write to the folks below, especially the Minister of Justice -- he has the power to stop the case from going ahead.
Minister of Justice Ross Landry:

Minister of Municipal Affairs: Hon. John MacDonnell:

Mayor Peter Kelly:

HRM elected councilors: ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

local media:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

It certainly IS stranger than fiction

A few weeks ago, there was an article in one of the online papers about a woman who was knocked down by a dog at the beach. The dog, who was running at large at the time of the incident, went for her throat.

That's pretty serious stuff. I have been in a lot of different situations involving dogs through the rescue work I do, but NEVER have I experienced anything like that. I can only imagine the fear this woman must have felt with a snarling dog at her throat.

Last I knew, the city was asking that the owner be FINED. Yes, we can all rest safely tonight knowing that the owner will be fined for this potentially dangerous lapse in responsibility. To hell with muzzling that dog and ordering some training; that fine should due just fine.

Then on the other end of the By-Law spectrum of justice, we have a dog on death row for a minor scuffle with another dog that occurred as she was protecting her property. Somehow, HRM would have you believe that this offender is more despicable and more dangerous than the dog from the beach. They would have you believe she is incorrigible and untrainable; that everything has been done to redeem this dog.

Hmmmm, a scuffle between two dogs that lasted about a half minute versus a dog who knocks a woman down and goes for her throat. Without hesitation, I would have to say that HRM is trying to pull the wool over our eyes on this one. There is no way that the dog in the scuffle should be killed by the city -- her kind nature is something that witnesses from various occupations and various experiences willingly attest to. Some have even been included in the following video.

That said, I ask you to watch this video and then tell me how the hell HRM prosecutor, Katherine Salsman, can say with a straight face that Brindi deserves to die.

I think you will come to the same conclusion, too. Fine the owner and send Brindi home with Francesca!

I implore you to write to the people below and politely express your disagreement with HRM's request for an "additional penalty" against Francesca Rogier -- the penalty of death to her dog. Ask them to step in and see that Brindi is sent home with Francesca.

Minister of Justice Ross Landry:

Mayor Peter Kelly:

HRM elected councilors: ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

local media:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Judge hears positive evidence on Brindi, sets April 30 for decision

The headlines following last Friday's sentencing hearing for Brindi and her owner were very clear. This story was run by local papers from Pictou to Moose Jaw, as the one below. So Brindi is truly nation-wide!

Dog at centre of N.S. court battle showed no signs of aggression: trainer

Published on April 16th, 2010
Ted Efthymiadis said in provincial court Friday that he did several behavioural tests on Brindi, a six-year-old dog who's been in a shelter since she attacked another dog two years ago.
The trainer said he believes Brindi can be trained and should be muzzled if returned to her owner.
"She's a great dog and very trainable," Efthymiadis said in court after watching a video that showed him testing Brindi.
"For a dog that has been deemed by some people to be extremely dog-aggressive, I just didn't see it."
Brindi's owner, Francesca Rogier, was found guilty earlier this year of violating an animal control bylaw after Brindi rushed out of her yard and attacked a leashed dog strolling by Rogier's home.
She was convicted of being the owner of a dog that was running at large, owning a dog that attacked another animal and failing to comply with a muzzle order.
The charges came after a series of written warnings from the City of Halifax following other attacks by Brindi. One of the city's warnings required Brindi be muzzled.
Since then, Rogier has waged a costly legal fight to have her dog returned to her home in East Chezzetcook, a rural community on the outskirts of the city.
But the municipality argues that releasing the dog poses a risk to her neighbours and their pets.
"The Halifax Regional Municipality cannot take any other position than the destruction of the dog," attorney Geoff Newton said in court.
The judge could decide to have the animal put down as a threat to the public welfare, have it returned to its owner, or hand it to a third party for continuing care.
She said she would issue her decision on April 30.
But Newton said moving it to another location would merely transfer the problem.
Rogier, who is representing herself in court, said other cases in the Maritimes show dogs that have attacked people have not been put down.
In Hampton, N.B., a judge ruled a dog be muzzled when it is outdoors despite a town order that the animal be euthanized for biting a woman last summer.
Rogier also suggested the Halifax Regional Municipality has a poor record when it comes to euthanization.
She said from January 2007 to March 2010, 31 dogs were euthanized in the city.
When asked by Rogier if Brindi should be killed, Efthymiadis said: "Absolutely not."

© Canadian Press


It was interesting that the prosecutor, Newton, tried to discredit the trainer by questioning his credentials intensely. Not only did Efthymiadis remain firm in his opinion about Brindi; he is also willing to take her on as a client. And he joins two other trainers who have assessed Brindi: Silvia Jay and Bob Ottenbrite, who both have years and years of experience.

But another interesting aspect is that the prosecutor knew for months in advance that Efthymiadis was lined up to do the assessment, and never opposed or questioned him. Also, he knows that weeks earlier, Andrew Turner, a more experienced trainer from New Brunswick, was willing and prepared to assess Brindi, but at the very last minute, the SPCA - Halifax's private contractor - went back on its word to allow him to use a few of the dogs at the shelter to test out Brindi's behavior. They agreed a week earlier to this. As a result, Turner was unable to do the assessment that day, and his full schedule prevented him from doing it any other day in time for the court hearing on April 16. This was the second time trainers were blocked from assessing Brindi, and Newton knows all about it, of course. So his raising questions about Efythmiadis is of a piece with HRM's persistence in squelching any expert opinion from entering into the case. His colleague Kishan Persaud successfully blocked Jay's assessment from being reviewed by the Supreme Court in 2008. Prior to that, the city blocked any assessment from being done without a court order. This forced Rogier to have her lawyer get one from the Supreme Court, a task that racked up extra hours of his time, since Persaud dragged it out as long as possible. 

Brindi's owner, Francesca Rogier, told the judge that no trainer has gone on record endorsing the city's request to kill Brindi. Naturally, in all this time that Brindi has been in its possession, HRM has never asked a behavioural expert or a trainer or anybody else to assess Brindi's behaviour in order to back up its decision to kill the dog.

Rogier also noted that in a previous case, cited by the prosecution, a provincial court disregarded a trainer's assessment of a dog and put it down, on the rather questionable notion that it would be wrong to allow it to be sent out of town. The dog was named Baby and it belonged to Thomas Roberts. Baby was impounded for four months after it was involved in one incident with another dog. Baby was a small terrier mix, never known to be aggressive to people or dogs in general. It was unfortunate that even though only one bite was detected, it scuffled with a greyhound, a breed with very fragile skin. This yielded a number of abrasions that made for frightening photos, and they doubtless elicited an emotional reaction from the court, convincing it to rule in the city's favor. 

The animal control officer calling for this was Tim Hamm, the same man who seized Brindi. 

Fortunately for Brindi, her "crimes", though higher in number, are much less serious; there are no graphic photos, no huge vet bills, etc. And she has behaved like the lady she is throughout her imprisonment, including two assessments. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Principles: who are they kidding?

Last week, we posted a letter to the Chronicle-Herald from the group, Humane Halifax, which pointed out connections between reporter Pat Lee and various "animal advocates" and SPCA members, suggesting a lack of objectivity, if not a serious bias, in Ms. Lee's March 10 article about "re-homing" Brindi, a scheme put forward in public by the SPCA as well as these "advocates" (among them, a former SPCA president).

Today a friend in Alberta sent us a link to the March issue of the SPCA newsletter. On the very last page, it says:

The team for this edition: Kim Humes, Kristin Williams, Kelly Welsh, Pat Lee, Adina MacRae,Tammy Acker, Kelly Messom

Come on, now! How can Pat Lee possibly be objective when she also writes for the SPCA newsletter?! The answer: she can't.

This is an appalling example of a lack of regard for professional ethics, not to mention another instance of collusion among various local circles to conspire to punish Brindi's owner for her outspokenness, by taking her dog away forever. It's even more nauseating that Joan Sinden would rave glowingly about Ms. Lee's article to the point of saying she hopes it earns her a journalism award. Yes, she's "really outdone herself", but not in that way.

Then there is the other twist of logic put forward that was picked up in an editorial published two days later by Opinion Editor Bev Dauphinee, with the nonsensical statement, "Maybe it's time to [for Rogier] to stop fighting for a principle..." and, presumably, let her dog be taken from her. Principle? The only principle involved in Brindi's sad situation that we can see seems to be "might equals right", and that is the one most closely held by HRM staff and officials. For her owner, it's always about getting her dog back home, where she rightfully belongs. Of course, some have suggested that she should also be reimbursed for the money she's lost on this affair, money that other dog owners never have to spend, even if their dogs bite people. That would be a principle all right, the principle of fairness.

For the SPCA, it seems to be about something else entirely - the principle of PR. It would be nice if they'd stop fighting for that. Somehow, the Herald publishes letters from and about them - positive opinions - with great frequency. There was the one by Kristin Williams a few weeks ago that distanced the group from any decision made about Brindi, then there was this one, published yesterday, March 20:
Negative publicity
I am not sure I can express my utter disappointment when I opened The Chronicle Herald and saw the story about the pest control technician getting bitten by a dog at the SPCA (March 16). Is this all you had for news in metro that day? You should be ashamed for making this such a huge story.
It is very unfortunate that this man was bitten by a dog, but did anyone consider the damage this story could do to the SPCA? The SPCA is a wonderful, amazing organization that strives to save the lives of animals. This is the last type of publicity it needs when it is trying to find loving homes for abandoned and abused animals.
This poor dog has been at the shelter for eight months and still needs a home. Not to mention all the other animals that have spent too many days on the streets being neglected, and then living in close quarters in the shelter. After spending eight months in a noisy, busy, unpredictable environment, it is not difficult to understand the stress these animals are under.
The shelter staff are absolutely wonderful and the dogs get walked and have as much outdoor time as they possibly can; this, however, is far from the time, attention and love they need from a forever home. By publishing this story, you are putting fear into the public, possibly deterring people from adopting an animal that desperately needs a loving home. You should be supporting the SPCA, not drawing negative attention to it based on this one isolated incident.
Andrea Rosvold, Halifax
The idea that the newspaper should not have published this story is very interesting. The story was news. To withhold it from publication for the reasons suggested would be pretty questionable. The very fact that the dog has been in the shelter for so long is very worthy of attention. It is public tax money that pays for the pound service, and the people have a right to know what is happening with the money and as a consequence of that money. Also, it is not true that the dogs in the pound get walked; the article stated that very plainly, with Kristin Williams placing the responsibility for that decision squarely on the shoulders of HRM animal services.

No other letters about this "isolated" (but serious) incident have appeared to date.

Speaking of SPCA PR, we recall an interesting and little-known story. In early 2009, a member of the SPCA's own "arm's length" compliance committee was attacked for suggesting that the committee have a look into the SPCA's conflict of interest in keeping Brindi behind bars. This committee member, who lived on the south shore, was solely acting out of concern for Brindi. She had no previous connection to Francesca Rogier. Yet the committee chair sent her a letter accusing her of being "biased" and threatened to report her to the SPCA board of directors!! After this, the woman decided to quit the committee. Others have also quit the SPCA because of Brindi or related issues, including at least one member of the "shelter committee" created by Sean Kelly before he was elected president.

Maybe for these local figures, it's just business as usual. But it's a foul business.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Um, what were they saying about "irresponsible"?

Today, a man was attacked by a dog in the pound so severely that he had to be taken to the hospital.

Published: 2010-03-16
Man bitten at Metro SPCA
Pest control technician treated at hospital after attack

A man was taken to hospital after he was bitten by a dog at the Metro SPCA shelter.

Police and paramedics were called to the animal shelter at 5 Scarfe Ct. in Dartmouth at about 11:40 a.m. Monday after a reported dog bite.

The shelter is closed to the public on Mondays, but staff and volunteers are there to care for the animals.

"We had a technician come in, a pest control technician," said Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA.

"Unfortunately, he entered a back area without an escort and he encountered one of our dogs and was bitten in the hand and taken to hospital."

Krista Beck, a spokeswoman for Emergency Health Services, said later Monday that the man was taken to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax with injuries to his hand and possibly his leg. The injuries were not life-threatening, Beck said.

Halifax Regional Police were called to the shelter because it was believed the dog was not secure, which turned out to be untrue, said spokesman Const. Brian Palmeter.

At the time of the attack, the female mixed-breed dog "was getting some R&R social time (outside of its kennel), but it was still a restricted area," Williams said.

The dog, described as a young adult canine, has been at the shelter since August, when it was seized by order of Halifax Regional Municipality, Williams said. It was not part of any cruelty investigation, she said.

She didn’t know whether the dog had bitten anyone prior to arriving at the shelter last summer but said it hadn’t bitten anyone at the shelter before this.

"This was an isolated incident and we obviously feel very sorry for the individual and hope that he has a quick recovery," Williams said.

The Metro SPCA, which had the municipal animal control contract, has a handful of dogs at the shelter that are awaiting proceedings to determine their fate, including Brindi, a dog that has been the subject of court proceedings and in the headlines for some time.

Williams said Brindi was not the dog involved in Monday’s incident.

Although the shelter has asked the municipality to allow the dogs to have "socializing time outside of the shelter, such as walks outside of the shelter, we’ve been told we’re not permitted to do that," Williams said.

"It’s a very difficult situation for us."

The dog involved in Monday’s incident is "back in quarantine . . . but we haven’t received further direction from HRM other than to return her to kennel, which we’ve done," Williams said.

The municipality’s animal services division is investigating.
© 2008 The Halifax Herald Limited

We don't want to seem overly critical, but we have to ask: who's irresponsible now, Kristin Williams? HRM? 

Whether or not it's an "isolated incident" matters little to the man, and even less under the law. The fact is that it happened, and there was no "due diligence". If they were ever charged, which we doubt will happen, this attack would likely earn the SPCA staff a guilty conviction in provincial court, if not also a euthanization order for the dog. One attack is enough, if the incident is severe enough.

The SPCA runs the HRM pound within the confines of the Metro Shelter, a modestly sized building. We have been led to believe the pound is kept separate from the rest of the shelter. So it's hard to understand how a dog could be walking around loose, especially when they know the place is going to be sprayed for bugs? Why wasn't anybody accompanying the man, or at least watching the dog? 

However, if the dog is loose (how can it be "untrue" it was not "secure"; it was out of the cage), we can easily understand how such an attack could happen. The SPCA pretty much admits these dogs are not given enough exercise, though they blame that on HRM. So the dog is bound to be a bit wired up, and react to a strange man - possibly holding some equipment, or wearing a mask, or whatever. But the bottom line is, this should not have happened. And somebody was indeed irresponsible.

Meanwhile, if what is said about Brindi is true, we are thrilled to note that in a year and a half of her illegal incarceration, Brindi has never bitten anybody, staff or stranger, at the pound. They say she is allowed to walk around too and obeys all the obedience commands her owner taught her. It's possible she was even loose at the time of this other attack, who knows? Such a dangerous dog!

How many people were taken to hospital on a gurney with an IV bag after Brindi attacked a dog? None. Are there any photos of injuries she caused? No. But that guy looks like he's really in pain! Yet the SPCA claims Brindi's owner is too irresponsible to have her own dog back - the one they love and say is so obedient! We think even an idiot could own Brindi and as long as they had a fence, everything would be fine. So we can't quite make the leap they'd like us to. And after today's interesting development, we suggest they all sit down and give it a little more thought. The rest of us can draw our own conclusions.

However, for the sake of Brindi's health, and the health of all of the animals there, what about the pest control being done? Exactly what kind of poisonous chemicals are these dogs being exposed to?? Were the dogs' feet protected from the spray? And what kinds of pests have infested the building? 

A Reader's Response to the Herald's "A Dog's Life in HRM"

 Da-dum & dumber idea; and a dog’s life in HRM 

... UNFORTUNATELY, in HRM, one story has been dragging on far too long: the sad saga of Brindi, the six-year-old dog that has spent most of the last two years living in an SPCA shelter.

This week, a judge delayed proceedings until April 16 after Brindi’s owner, Francesca Rogier, asked for time to have a behavioural assessment done on her dog before its fate and Ms. Rogier’s sentence are decided. In February, Ms. Rogier was found guilty of violating Halifax Regional Municipality’s animal control bylaw on three charges, including owning a dog that attacked another animal.
This case has been debated in the media and on online sites since Brindi was seized by HRM’s Animal Services in the summer of 2008. We have received a lot of email, most of it coming from other parts of Canada and the U.S., generated by the online interest. In the past few weeks, we have received about a dozen locally written letters and published six of them, most pleading for Brindi’s return to her owner.
In an effort to save the dog from a possible euthanasia order, several Nova Scotian animal experts are advocating to have Brindi adopted by a suitable owner who can provide the dog with a good home and proper socialization skills.
Ms. Rogier has said she would appeal any decision that would not see Brindi eventually returned to her and she has accused HRM of conducting an "unfair" and "abusive" process.
I have no doubt Ms. Rogier loves her dog, but I do not believe the municipality has some sort of vendetta against her or Brindi, as has been suggested in many emails sent to our office.
Perhaps it is time to stop fighting for a principle and for everyone to concentrate on what is best for Brindi. If there is to be a way out of this mess for everyone — the HRM, Ms. Rogier, and especially Brindi — surely it is time to try to negotiate a happy ending to this story before it is too late.
Bev Dauphinee is editor of the Opinions pages for The Chronicle Herald.

(note: the letter below was written in response to the original article's clearer position in favor of re-homing Brindi)

> Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 10:09:03 -0300
> From: Olive Pastor
> To:
> Subject: A Response to A dog's Life in HRM
> Ms Dauphinee:
> I will be the first to agree with you that this case of Brindi has dragged on too long. I will disagree with you that the HRM doesn't have a vendetta against Ms Rogier.  As far as I am concerned this is a case where a resident of the province has challenged the authority of a Municipal Government and she has been made pay for this financially and emotionally. Not to mention what the HRM has put this dog through in the last twenty months. As to the experts, Bob Ottenbrite was hired to train Brindi by Ms Rogier. It looks like he failed. And further, now he has gone on the attack to take Brindi away from Ms Rogier.  

As for the SPCA, Ms Williams is a Public Relations person talking to the media about finding a good home for Brindi.  She would certainly know how to put the spin on this to make the SPCA and HRM look good while making Ms Rogier look bad.

I have to ask, how objective is the SPCA on the subject, considering the lucurative contract they have had with HRM over the past number of years? Has any reporter ever researched into this, or even interviewed Ms Rogier so she could tell her whole story? I've only seen short write-ups about her case in court and what was said, not an interview. I also notice that Ottenbrite said he was threatened by one of Ms Rogier's supporters. Did he report this to the police? 

What was Ottenbrite's solution for taking Brindi? I think he was just going to kennel her and keep her there for the rest of her life. Has anyone ever researched into why Brindi acts in this manner because of her past life?  I don't think so. 

Ms. Rogier had told me she has received numerous threats against her. I never seen any of this reported by the media because I never saw an in-depth interview.  

I would also like to know why Brindi was not released by the Supreme Court when the kill order was quashed. It appears the door was left open for the Provincial Court to do the deed or to make it look like  they were doing the correct thing by taking the dog from her owner, that would give a win to HRM. 

As to Ms Rogier, I sympathize with what she is going through. Here are people speaking up saying the dog should go to a good home. Really! Ms Rogier has all the love and kindness and a good home that Brindi needs. Anyone who would fight for her dog like she has deserves to get her dog back. 

Peter Kelly could stop this right now but HRM will not back down. Are these the type of people we need in government? 

Here in Canada we are supposed to temper justice with understanding and kindness. I have seen nothing of this in the Brindi case. Nothing short of giving Brindi back to Ms Rogier is acceptable. How about doing a good in-depth interview with Ms Rogier before deciding who is right or wrong?

Olive Pastor
Pictou, N.S., B0K 1H0

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Media Exposure

Copied to us from a friend in Humane Halifax... 

From: Humane Halifax []
Sent: Sat 13/03/2010 5:14 PM
To: (the local media and HRM councilors)
Subject: Personal bias should not be part of Herald's news coverage of Brindi

March 13, 2010

To the HRM council, the Chronicle-Herald, and the local media of Halifax:

We have learned that community writer Pat Lee of the Chronicle-Herald (March 10, "Advocates Offer Option for Brindi" ), is personally connected to the "advocates" in question. This group includes members of the SPCA, and though it is a matter before the courts, it has been relentlessly campaigning for nearly a year for this dog to be "re-homed", i.e., taken away from the person who saved her from the needle in 2008.

Pat Lee's facebook friends include the following, all of whom are associated with or belong to this "advocacy" group:

Joan Sinden, blogger
Annette-Netta Armitage
Heather Morrison
Janet Chernin, who has been prosecuted by the city for running an illegal dog care facility
Kat Horne, VP of the Nova Scotia SPCA
LeeAnne Poirier Tibbo, of the dog legislation council, who has circulated false information about Francesca Rogier
Silvia Jay, trainer
among others

These people also belong to a group called ARPO that has been attacking Francesca Rogier for a long time. None of these people know Ms. Rogier personally. Last spring, ARPO published a defamatory and misleading letter about Ms. Rogier in The Coast. Mr. Bob Ottenbrite is also a member of ARPO, and is involved in litigation with Ms. Rogier. Therefore his position cannot be seen as objective. The Herald's web editor, Rick Conrad, is friendly with Joan Sinden. Sinden has been personally attacking Rogier in her blog with a series of libelous remarks. Conrad was also seen at the recent dog expo associating with Gail Gallant, who has been publicly harassing and cyberstalking Francesca Rogier for over a year.

We deplore ARPO and its associates for singling out Ms. Rogier as an "irresponsible owner". We call upon the Herald to exercise a greater amount of professional objectivity and cease giving such people a public forum in which to push their agenda without scrutiny. Has anyone asked, for instance, what ARPO is doing about the numerous owners in this city whose dogs are genuine threats to public safety?

Any 'advocation' for re-homing in this case is inappropriate. Brindi is not a dangerous dog. She should not have been seized. She should be returned as soon as possible to her own home with her loving and responsible owner, where she belongs.


Humane Halifax for Better Animal Control

Saturday, March 13, 2010

An Even Better Option: Trainer's Standing Offer to Work With Brindi and Owner

As we have said, we fail to comprehend the logic that Ottenbrite and co. offer, which says "Brindi is a good dog..." but should be re-homed. Really? We can't imagine that the judge will order Brindi destroyed after seeing the evidence, which is plentiful. (At the same time, it's not a foregone conclusion.)

Sadly, it seems the Chronicle-Herald is printing article after article about the Ottenbrite plan without much scrutiny. Shouldn't they ask Ottenbrite, if Brindi should not have been seized in ther first place, what is the issue? If her owner is responsible for dog's bad behavior, isn't she also responsible for Brindi's good behavior - after all, she did pass your course, didn't she? And you did tell her that you would support her, didn't you?

The good news is that an even better option is already on the table: a very good Halifax trainer came forward nearly one year ago to say that Brindi is not a dangerous dog and was bold enough to offer to train Brindi and work with Francesca free of charge. He made his generous offer directly to HRM and still stands by it. Had the city been receptive to this very good option last April, Brindi could have been home for the past 11 months.

Quality K9

Mr. Joshua J. Judah, Municipal Solicitor
HRM Legal Services
P. O. Box 1749
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 3A5

April 16, 2009

Dear Mr. Judah:

            Today I am writing with a plea for restoration for a dog named Brindi. My name is Ted Efthymiadis, I am a professional dog trainer located in Halifax Nova Scotia. I studied professional obedience & behavior with Tarheel K9 (, which is located in Sanford North Carolina. Tarheel K9 specializes in teaching dog trainers the skills to train dog obedience, dog behavior, drug detection, search and rescue, dog behavior modification, police protection among others. My dog training days go back four years, I starting specializing in dog obedience. My love for dogs soon evolved to training protection, behavior modification and drug detection. I now specialize in training with dominant and aggressive dogs. The (CAPPDT), Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers has certified me as a professional in good standing.

            Many months ago, I heard of Brindi's case in the newspaper. In all honestly, I was shocked that this dog had not been release within a month of being detained. From what I have heard and read of Brindi, I am absolutely confident this dog is able to be rehabilitated within 3 months or less, ultimately I believe this dog is capable of being a good member in her community. I have personally worked with dogs much more aggressive than Brindi, with great success. My business generally caters to larger aggressive dogs like Boxers, Cane Corsos, German Shepherds and Pit Bull's. On a scale of 1/10, Brindi's case at most would be a 5/10.

            I have had personal contact with Brindi's owner at length and I am confident in her willingness to change the way she handles her dog. She seems very interested in learning how to properly deal with her dog and trusts my professional opinion in dealing with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Because I believe so dearly that this dog should not be held any longer, I support her return to her owner, and am willing to offer, and monitor to the fullest extent of my ability, a full rehabilitation program for this dog and owner free of charge.

Best Regards,

Ted Efthymiadis

Quality K9, Halifax

Hopefully, the judge will see this option as the best of all.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What makes Joan Sinden so sure?

Joan Sinden's at it again. She just can't help herself. Stop us if you've heard this one already...  But at New Year's, she posted a resolution that she would no longer engage in flinging mud (in so many words) at others, especially, she implied, Brindi's owner, Francesca Rogier.

That resolution was very short-lived. Today she posted another in a series of long diatribes that she seems to alternate with endless boring pictures of her dogs doing non-fascinating things like running in the park or eating cheese. In it she claims among other things that it's a done deal that the judge won't order Brindi to be put down:
"...Francesca said [in the paper] she was planning to ask for a postponement today from the judge - so that she could have an expert assessment done of Brindi - of, I guess - Brindi's temperament - to show the judge that she's not a killer dog and shouldn't be killed. Although I don't know why she's doing that, because there are already so many anecdotal reports from people that she could have called for character witnesses that would have said the exact same thing today..."
No need for an expert opinion? That's not what we hear. Halifax's hired prosecutor is following orders to stick to his guns, and doing a damned good job of it. So what makes Joan so sure? Not only is she sure, she is actually brazenly claiming that Francesca Rogier is somehow wrong not to rely on "anecdotal reports" about Brindi. Perhaps she means the SPCA staff? But they don't allow Brindi to be together with other dogs, so they can't say much, plus, they're not experts, and a judge only cares what an expert says. Sorry, Joan!

Was Joan perhaps annoyed, as this time the assessment would be done by somebody other than her buddy, Silvia Jay? Silvia's report was very positive, but not long afterwards, she dumped Rogier because of a harmless facebook remark that Joan and others used to convincing her that Rogier was not going to follow her advice to keep her dog under control. (Mind you, Silvia never met Rogier in person or saw her with Brindi.)

Some facts
What Joan doesn't know (sigh, so much!!), is that it was not like Rogier was deliberately delaying things for no reason. In fact, the new assessment could have been ready days ago. As Rogier told the judge today, she arranged for two trainers to be at the shelter at 10 am on February 27. This was the very next day after HRM gave permission  (per her request two days earlier), without requiring a court order - a first! Trainers Meaghan Lumley and Ted Efthymiadis were there with their dogs before ten, politely waiting to be let in. They cooperated; the SPCA cooperated; Animal Services did not. Both were informed on that Friday that this was the only day and time the trainers had available. All Animal Services had to do was send over an AC officer to be present ( to meet their own requirement). But they did not. This led to a series of morning calls between the trainers, the SPCA, Animal Services, and Rogier, who was in the process of saying goodbye to her very ill cat at the vet's. We heard that Rogier actually was fielding the calls while holding her cat in the exam room, as the vet prepared the needle. Horrible thought.

Rogier did not get to finish that part of the story but she did tell the judge today how she spoke to the Animal Services several times, and the first time they said an officer was on his way to the shelter already. A few minutes later the trainer called with news that Animal Services had just told the SPCA supervisor that nobody was coming. No reasons given. Rogier talked to Tim Hamm, who said Lori Scolero, his boss, refused to dispatch him and he did not know why, because he was not busy. At the vets an hour later, during her cat Rudy's last moments, Rogier got a call from HRM lawyer Kishan Persaud, who told her the assessment could not happen because Animal Services did not have the manpower to send somebody to the shelter right then (note, they are always back and forth). Rogier explained the limitations of the trainers' schedules, and that they only needed one hour, and it was the only chance before the March 9 hearing (today). Persaud then agreed to arrange it all, told her he was sorry about her cat, Rudy, and hung up.

But it didn't happen. Before she even left the vet's with Rudy's remains, Rogier got another call from Meaghan Lumley, saying she and Ted had both finally left the shelter without doing the assessment. It's fortunate that these two had agreed to do it at no cost, but what a shame that they could not do the job!
From then on Rogier, understandably grieving for her cat, searched anew for a suitably qualified trainer while preparing other materials for the hearing. One from out of the province who agreed, but was booked till mid-month. Rogier knows judges don't care about anecdotes. Hence, the request for adjournment.

Accusations and allegations
We are always amazed at how confident Joan Sinden is of her facts and of her conclusions. Accusations fly in her blog posts, and sadly, very few have any basis in reality. She has already accused the new "corporation" (?) contracted to run the pound of scheming to let Brindi "disappear" once she's their charge. The new poundkeepers are connected to the Hope for Wildlife Society, where Rogier worked as a volunteer. One of her tasks was to bring about the commissioning and ceremonial launching of an artist-designed "peace pole" for the grounds of the Society in 2008, before and after Brindi was seized. It is the first peace pole in Nova Scotia, and it features a prayer for peace translated into eight languages specially chosen for the area, two on each side, with animal prints at the base. It's in a beautiful setting that has a great view of the ocean, out in Seaforth, Nova Scotia.

This little-known fact is worth mentioning also because of the rumours being spread now by Bob Ottenbrite, that Rogier's "supporters" threatened him with violence. He says this caused him to retract his offer to cage Brindi in his kennels for the rest of her life. We recall it was just over a year ago that the SPCA accused Rogier and/or Brindi supporters of issuing death threats against its personnel. Though apparently based solely on hearsay, they got the RCMP to investigate, effectively smearing Rogier. This came in handy when they resumed denying visits to Brindi. Maybe now it was time to apply more smear to the situation. Being a former SPCA president, and observing the lies issued by that group about Janice Bingley, their HRM contract, and a bunch of other things, we have to wonder how honest Ottenbrite is.

The mention of violence brings us to another fact, even less known: Rogier joined a Friends Meeting (Quakers - can't get more non-violent than that) after arriving here. We can also can affirm that those supporting her are admittedly "not the type to protest", and on the whole, gentle, sincere folks; the word meek comes to mind... They are mostly women, all dedicated animal lovers, and some even work for the Anglican church. So we sort of doubt that she or any supporters would encourage or engage in violence.

Fooling people
Nevertheless, we now see Joan Sinden throwing around some hefty mud once again, this time, with stones in it. What is again odd, though, is that after all the furor, the worst she can accuse Rogier of is fooling people in virtual space - her space!! - campaigning for Brindi. These are the very ferreners she's been bashing for days. But now she is angry, and she wants them to be angry:
So all the blathering, bad mouthing about the geographical area called Halifax, and Nova Scotia Canada that I personally love - as much as I love my own dogs - and that is A LOT - was done for NOTHING. And that makes me a little bit angry. And I think it should make a lot of people angry - and I think it should make the people WHO WERE DOING IT - a little bit angry too. I think they should feel a little bit USED. That's my opinion...
Isn't it amusing how from one beat to the next she bashes people, then invites them to be angry along with her? Fortunately, they're a bit too clever than that. Too bad; they have a wicked network she'd probably love to join.

But really - Joan should feel used? Not Rogier, who has been suffering through the death of a pet, the extended incarceration of her dog, and living in an unheated house without running water, while HRM refuses to budge an inch? Who's the real drama queen here? And as far as fooling people goes-or rather, foolish people-if Joan were in court today she'd know Rogier requested the adjournment last week and was slated to go before the judge yesterday, so we would have known the answer ahead. Unfortunately, nobody told her (or the prosecutor?) that the judge wasn't going to attend. So to answer her written request, the judge asked today if she wanted an adjournment, and she answered yes, and so on...  Maybe Joan doesn't understand these things about courts because she has fortunately never had to represent herself. It's often risky to go before a judge the day of a proceeding and ask for a postponement, but the judge agreed with Rogier about expert testimony. So did the prosecutor, in the end. And with the courts so backed up, April was kind of a miracle date. 

As preposterous as Joan's theory is, there will be the few who remain suspicious, so maybe we have to remind everybody: Rogier is not doing this for her amusement, or to irritate people, or fool them. She'd have to be certifiable, and if she were, we highly doubt she'd have lasted till now! No, she is all about working out the best way to save her dog's life, just trying to find their way out of the local bureaucratic/juridical maize.

Notice, we said her dog. Her court case, her money, her time, her agony. No mention of the name Joan Sinden. So naturally, Joan can't know all that is going on, only what she sees reported in the press. And that, as we see from her conclusions, is woefully scanty and repetitive. 

Journalism award, really?
Re press reports, Joan lavished praise on Pat Lee of the Herald (we think they know one another) for writing such a great piece about the case today. Lee gave more coverage to a peculiar plan afoot to give Brindi away (we think maybe it's a conspiracy) than to the news of the day. The article is so ridiculous, it's not even worth comment - a big dive down in quality from the writing of her colleagues.

Not as amusing is that Joan then weeps for the SPCA, another group she alternately bashes and praises,
because that is going to be SO HEARTBREAKING for the SPCA staff - that they are going to have to give Brindi up at the end of March - regardless of the outcome of the trial - they are now going to have to give her up. 
Heartbroken??? Give her up??? Wow, what a twisted mind!!! We are talking about a short-term facility where Brindi is NEVER walked and has contracted chronic illness!

Yes, one day, one way or another, the shelter knew Brindi's days were numbered. But Joan, darling, the pain of departure would have been so much less, had the SPCA simply done the right thing at the start, or any point afterwards, and told HRM: this is not a dangerous dog, let her go! No, they told Rogier, they wanted the big bucks, so they were willing to trade Brindi in permanently; heck, in public, they denied vehemently that they had any say in the matter up till recently. We would have thought that Joan would find that a bit strange, but no, she's more worried about their feelings.

We think Joan Sinden is very sincere, in her way. But we also suspect she doesn't know when she's a leader and when she's a follower; when she's pawing at something important, or when she's just a pawn. All the approving comments from her friends must be blinding her. (Sigh.)

Twisting the law
People other than Joan wonder why the SPCA and Bob Ottenbrite are so determined to steal Brindi away from Rogier (the dog nobody wanted for two years is suddenly so popular?). We don't know of any precedent for this in HRM recent history, even for major infractions; nor does the law specifically call for it. But today Ottenbrite announced yet another plan: certain "arrangements" are being made for a home for Brindi. Oh, what a relief! Not. We suspect Bob hasn't grasped a few things yet - namely, he's got little credibility on this issue, and second, it's so obvious he's doing it to get back at Rogier, and so is the SPCA.

Why get back at Rogier? Perhaps because as soon as they ripped Brindi from her arms she had the nerve to go to both Ottenbrite and the SPCA right away for help in getting back. I.e, to do their jobs. Both of them ducked big time, it seems, and from then on, they showed a lot of bad faith towards Rogier. She doubtless made them uncomfortable; after all, by not letting them kill Brindi, she made them look bad, didn't she? And the longer she fought for Brindi, the angrier they got. Now, 20 months later, they appear in public as neutral saviors with a plan that has long been in the works for about a year and little hidden behind the scenes (and on the web). The odd thing is that nobody has asked them what took them so long. But maybe it's not so odd for Halifax.

It was Ottenbrite who first took aim first at Rogier well over a year ago, posting on yahoo groups (NSdogs) that she was to blame for Brindi's situation (though, again, the law did not require seizure nor had she done anything comparable to previously seized dogs). He had no criticism for HRM and nothing at all to say about the SPCA (who were prepared to kill Brindi Aug. 7, 2008). We would have expected the SPCA to be hard on Rogier, but Ottenbrite? She was a satisfied customer, as far as we knew. But what we didn't know is that Mr. O is also a former SPCA president who is very friendly with the current officers. You protect your friends, after all. Forget the dog or your client.

None of that is important to remember, however, only this is:

Brindi is still Francesca Rogier's dog, period. You can see that quite clearly in her videos, and will see it in person as soon as she's home. Brindi is still alive today, because Rogier stood up and asked them not to kill her and shelled out good money for a lawyer to file a suit to keep her alive till she could convince the city to give her back. Brindi is still alive because Rogier adopted her eight months before the SPCA raided her shelter and had a chance to deem her "unadoptable" and put her down. Brindi is so well-liked because Rogier worked very hard every day for many months to train Brindi consistently and shape her from an abused, abandoned rescue, into a calm, cooperative, happy pet. And other dogs are alive because Rogier's court case got rid of the worst part of A300.

So we happen to think Rogier deserves a lot more thanks for all her trouble than the current plan hatched by a group that formed to "arrange" a "good home" for Brindi. We hope the media asks them a lot of good questions.

And we also hope the ferreners keep it up!!! Eat your heart out, Joan Sinden! : )

Saturday, March 6, 2010


One click!

 For more info on other Halifax dog cases from January 2007 to November 2009, see By-Law Prosecutions, extracted from documents on all types of by-law violations, posted on Updates are made whenever the city releases new files. 
(To obtain more details about the cases, one must appear in person and request files case by case. We have done this on a few occasions so far.) 

Here is a little extract from the extract: 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A COMMON BRINDI QUESTION: "Something doesn't add up here!"

A very astute observation. Yes, something does NOT add up...

From a facebook post and an in-depth answer to it:
"Unfortunately Brindi's owner proved herself to be an irresponsible owner by not keeping her muzzled and in her yard as was suppose to be done, she was also given three chances to correct that problem."

This is not quite true, and sadly, it is one of the pesky annoying things about this case that makes it hard to convey in a nutshell!!!
The "chances" are as follows (and yes, there were two unreported mishaps but they are NOT official "chances" and the other dog owners and dogs were not entirely innocent in the matter, as they admitted in court recently!):

1. a report was filed - no injuries and charges laid, Aug. 07 (although the owner now says, a year and a half later, that there were injuries, at the time, she and Brindi's owner examined it together saw nothing; afterwards she admits she did not take her dog to the vet).

2. a second report was filed in April 08: minor injury (one tooth puncture) - Brindi's owner was told she would be charged, which could lead to a fine. The AC officer returned a week later however and announced the muzzle order. He did not reveal that the other dog owner had requested specifically that he NOT go ahead with his first decision to lay a charge. She did this because she was concerned the Brindi's owner, if fined, would not be able to pay the vet bill that she had volunteered to cover ($143).

The truth was not known until after Brindi was seized -

3. July 2008, a report was filed after another short-lived incident. Brindi had escaped without her muzzle, accidentally, when she sensed a dog being walked in front of her house.

There is no evidence that Brindi actually attacked the other dog, according to a statement by a judge on Feb. 3. It is not disputed that Brindi ran to the edge of her property, but it is not clear what happened in the next seconds. There is no vet bill or photo documenting a bite, and no impartial witness saw her bite a dog, which only the dog's owner's son (who was walking it) - claims Brindi bit his dog. However, there was witness testimony that this man had started kicking Brindi almost immediately after she ran to the edge of her property, and he continued to kick her until a driver passed by and honked his horn, causing everybody to scatter. The driver left his car in the road and was able to get Brindi's collar without any trouble, and pass her over to her owner, who sent her right home (50 feet away), where she waited obediently at the front door. The other man left before Brindi's owner could even get his name, let alone apologize.

Brindi's owner was not charged for this incident at the time of seizure, which happened four days later, without notice. There is no appeal process in the system. Thus, she had no other way to stop the killing than to file a lawsuit; then she went to court to challenge the by-law for not giving her due process and to let her dog go.

The owner is a single woman who had recently moved into a rural village inhabited by longtime residents. She offered to make amends, and sought advice for how to improve Brindi's behavior at every instance. Brindi was otherwise extremely well-behaved around people and dogs and children. She is a rescue dog who seems to have some kind of trigger from her past.

  • There is no law or written policy anywhere that dictates that a muzzle order violation must lead directly to the destruction of an animal. Yet Animal Control insists to this day that that is what they ALWAYS do. They have even claimed that they were forced to issue a kill order, even though the law gives the officers full discretion at any and every juncture.

It seems to us that since July 2008, Brindi's owner has been caught in a web of bureaucracy and conspiracy that even seems to include the attorney she hired to quash the by-law and get her dog back home. He left the last part undone and turned around and sued her for tens of thousands of dollars - a huge fee that is five times the original estimate!!

All of the incidents lasted less than a minute, some no more than 20 seconds.

Halifax lost to Brindi's owner in the supreme court of Nova Scotia in that by-law case over a year ago. Now all HRM dogs are protected from this fate.
 However, the court left open what the city believed to be a loophole: while it quashed the euthanization order, it did not address the fundamental request to release Brindi to her owner - the whole purpose of the case. Halifax immediately charged Brindi's owner with the first charges ever, only one hour before the time limit ran out (six months). It continued to keep Brindi, insisting she was dangerous - although the city has never designated her as such in its own registry. And, though the warrant relied in part on a provincial law allowing seizures of animals believed dangerous, it stops there: it says nothing about what happens next. What happens after seizure is that a local law must kick in to determine what is to be done with the seized (property) animal. 

The problem for Halifax that there simply is NO LAW in the land that allows a city to hold a dog indefinitely without any euthanization order in hand.*

Now that the city of Halifax's hired gun prosecutor has gotten guilty verdicts against the owner, a sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 9. The usual practice is to automatically charge an owner fines and leave it at that. That is what the by-law A300 stipulates. But Halifax's powerful people are not interested in fines, they only want the dog to be killed. The city animal services department ignored the owner's initial and continued offers to build a fence around her property to avoid mishaps, and to proceed with special training while observing the muzzle order. Instead the city's lawyer's - and fans of the defensive SPCA - have painted her as some kind of outlaw! Animal Services, realizing that the supreme court justice left the door open to them, laid charges at the last minute only in order to get a new kill order. 

When asked months afterwards why he did not lay charges before, the AC officer answers (quite incredibly) that he "felt sorry" for the woman and did not want to cause her further distress with a fine!!! This is the same man who opted for the muzzle order instead of the fine at the drop of a hat, all it took was another dog owner to ask him not to lay a fine!

There is a bad risk that, in response to all the protests about its inhumane treatment, the city may now seek to give Brindi to a trainer to be kept in a cage for the rest of her life. 
Either outcome would set a very dangerous precedent that we find very troubling as dog owners.

Brindi has never seriously harmed another dog, nor has she attacked or bitten a human, or even been known to growl at one!!

  • So basically... after the muzzle order was in place, Brindi's owner was given no real chances. 
    Brindi - now a beloved fixture at the SPCA's pound - was seized the very next time somebody called animal control. Ironically, they told the city the main reason they called was because they heard things (rumours) about this dog rather than the event itself. The man also said clearly that at no time did Brindi try to nip or bite him despite the fact that he repeatedly kicked at her head and stomach!

    And after the the tragic seizure, Brindi's owner was given no due process to be able to plead for her life. In fact, despite massive efforts and cost, she has had no real due process till this day. 

    Laying charges is not a form of granting due process. The charges are laid against a human; they are a separate matter from killing a dog because the city thinks it is dangerous. But in this matter, Halifax has inextricably linked the two. It's a very dangerous move!

    While using the charges to get to a judge to ask for a euthanization order may be the only current option available to Halifax at the moment (a big gap in the system that concerns us), Halifax could have acted quite differently at any time. When a Supreme Court judge says that no due process was given or exists, a city should consider options such as creating a special appeals board or tribunal where the owner can seek to overturn a kill order - without the major life-threatening expense of hiring a lawyer and going to court themselves, while their dog languishes in a pound.

    Please, above all, do not get the false impression that Halifax is incredibly rigorous about enforcing the by-law and admire it for that: on the contrary!!! There are numerous cases of dogs biting people - badly too, and multiple cases known involving four dogs - in which the dogs were not seized and in more than a few cases, the owners were never charged. 
    What is true is that animal control in Halifax is practiced unevenly and arbitrarily, and that many dogs continue to terrorize their neighborhoods. 
    In order to avoid setting a bad precedent, we believe it is imperative that Halifax be content with 3 guilty verdicts, which it rarely gets in other cases, and drop its bid to kill Brindi before March 9's sentencing hearing, so this dog can go back to its owner where she will receive the best health care and training, and finally recover from this ordeal together with her human!

    * In fact, we wonder if this fact might present another problem for Halifax, as now there is a pit bull in custody for over seven months now, without a valid euthanization order! That dog is accused of biting two humans, but like Brindi, it was not declared dangerous. Even if it had been, the fact is that declaring a dog dangerous does NOT automatically allow it to be impounded or killed, since Halifax gives licenses out to "dangerous dogs". 

    Provincial law in Nova Scotia gives these matters over to the municipalities, after providing a means of seizing an animal. However, once a guilty verdict is reached on a municipal law violation, the province comes back and gives the cities a neat way to get a judge add euthanization (or anything they want) as an "additional penalty", something we find equally incomprehensible and reprehensible: 

    Additional penalty
    177 At the trial of a charge laid against the owner of a dog that is fierce or dangerous, that persistently disturbs the quiet of a neighbourhood by barking, howling or otherwise or that runs at large, contrary to a by-law, in addition to the penalty, the judge may order that the
    (a) dog be destroyed or otherwise dealt with; and
    (b) owner pay any costs incurred by the municipality related to the dog, including costs related to the seizure, impounding, or destruction of the dog,
    and it is not necessary to prove that the
    (c) dog previously attacked or injured a domestic animal, person or property;
    (d) dog had a propensity to injure or to damage a domestic animal, person or property; or
    (e) defendant knew that the dog had such propensity or was, or is, accustomed to doing acts causing injury or damage. 1998, c. 18, s. 177; 2000, c. 9, s. 42.

    Halifax dog owners, BEWARE! The system is set up so that regardless of what happens, if you win, you lose, and if you lose, you lose BIG TIME. 

    If you love your dog, and have half a brain, you will be very, very worried right this minute, because enough has already happened to set a precedent for more grief.

    If the city of Halifax "wins" in the next hearing, EVERYBODY LOSES! Any dog can be taken away and/or put down for ANYTHING at all!