The details: Animal Services bosses Andrea Macdonald & Lori Scolaro ordered AC officer Tim Hamm to issue the muzzle in May, following a minor incident between Brindi and a neighbor's dog. Hamm initially told @brindismom Francesca Rogier that he "might" lay a fine. To her shock and dismay, Hamm returned weeks later with a muzzle order, and claimed his bosses had forced him to make the change. Hamm did not lay any charges, nor did he tell her that the other dog owner had triggered this by asking him not to fine her.
Francesca had volunteered to cover vet costs for Bernie Jo Villieux as a way of apology for the incident with Bernie Jo's dog Flower.* For her part, Bernie Jo might not otherwise have taken her dog to a vet: apart from a small cut, Flower was fine. Bernie Jo reported Brindi to the city anyway, possibly thinking she was doing a public service: local rumours had rendered a few harmless scuffles into deadly attacks. Francesca, surprised at this turn of events, warned Bernie Jo she couldn't afford both the impending $220 fine and the full vet bill. She had expected it to be modest, but, thanks to a few extras (like a full physical), it soon totalled $143. Without telling her, Bernie Jo then sent Hamm her request not to fine her, whereupon Scolaro instructed him to change his decision. He wrote back with an "offer" to Bernie Jo about the muzzle – highly irregular procedure, to say the least. He added that the muzzle meant he could "take" (seize and kill) Brindi the next time she was reported, regardless of reason. Bernie Jo approved of this, and Hamm then served Francesca the muzzle order without laying charges, telling her Brindi could be killed even if she was seen unmuzzled in public. Once she read the law, Francesca knew it was not true. By-Law A300 sets no conditions for mandatory euthanasia. All fines are optional, even in the event of non-compliance with a muzzle order. Apparently few people took the time to read A300, because after he seized Brindi, Hamm and Animal Services were able to mislead the public with similar misstatements of fact and law.
Why did Halifax really decide to request that Brindi be killed? Nobody knows!
In the July 20, 2008 incident, she inflicted no injury of any kind to a dog or a human. Focused on protecting her territory from an intruder dog, Brindi paid no attention to the man who kicked her repeatedly in the stomach and head. Yet HRM chose to seize and kill her anyway, citing the muzzle as a main reason, though the law would have been satisfied by issuing a fine.
Once Brindi was seized and a date set for her death, Francesca had no recourse under the law. HRM's "By-law A300 Respecting Animals", passed in April 2008, lacked any means of appealing a decision to euthanize a dog. In other words, it did not provide due process as is customary and lawful. Barring this, Hamm had issued a single violation relating to the incident, Francesca would have been automatically summoned before a local court to enter her plea. Ostensibly, this would have given her the chance to ask for her dog's release - although HRM had already set a date to euthanize Brindi within two weeks, and court dates are typically set three weeks after charges are laid.
Francesca's only option at that point was to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit against Halifax, which forced the city to suspend the euthanasia date set for two weeks later. She was firmly convinced that it would not be necessary to do more than this, as she had good reason to expect to get Brindi back in a few weeks. After all, Hamm, Macdonald, and Scolaro were free to change their decision at any time and return Brindi. It's been known to happen, even in cases of where serious injury was involved. Yet they steadfastly refused to release Brindi and remained unyielding in their determination to kill her. They did not answer calls from Francesca or reply to her letters and refused to meet with her. They declined to read or reply to numerous calls and letters written on Brindi's behalf from dog trainers, kennel owners, vets, and neighbors.
Macdonald and Scolaro fired Hamm in 2010 after he publicly distanced himself from the case. We think these dirty sadists should be fired themselves. These public servants were perfectly aware that Brindi did not deserve a muzzle order. They were quite aware that inflicted no injury during the July 2008 incident, just as no harm was done in the first reported incident the previous September, for which they issued a mild warning only. They deliberately confused the public about the law and obscured the facts of these cases, creating a false impression and insisting that Brindi is a dangerous dog – although the law does not require that dangerous dogs be destroyed. They ignored the January 2009 Supreme Court finding of procedural unfairness and refused to release Brindi then, instead choosing that moment to lay charges, minutes before the statute of limitations ran out. They illegally locked her up in a short-term facility for two years without any legal authority or court order. They allowed her no contact to other dogs, and only a few visits from Francesca. A provincial judge, after dragging out a trial on charges they should immediately dismissed, finally forced them to release Brindi in July 2010. But Macdonald and Scolaro shamelessly seized her again after a minor incident with a dog belonging to an HRM employee and locked her up again for what is now a third year, interrupted by a scant ten weeks of freedom.
Without that initial muzzle order, HRM could not have created a false impression of Brindi as a dangerous dog. Thanks to that muzzle, even letters from mothers with small children – and some children themselves –were ignored. Local media neglected altogether to report on the facts of what happened or did not happen in the incidents leading to seizure on July 24, 2008. Most people continue to assume HRM had good reason to seize and kill Brindi, and not a few assumed she had attacked humans. Indeed, when HRM officials applied for the seizure warrant in 2008, they gave the justice of the peace false information to that effect, based only on claims from an (ill-minded) neighbor that she'd see such attacks. No reports were ever filed because Brindi has never attacked a human, nor has she inflicted a serious injury on a dog. (There is no doubt, she has had scuffles, but she has never showed signs of attacking to kill, and even the best trainers cannot fully explain why this otherwise obedient dog, not categorically "dog aggressive", has issues with some dogs on some rare occasions. Animals are not scientific.)
It is disturbing that HRM has profited from the false impression that Brindi is a borderline case. This could not be further from the truth. We have yet to see such an extreme case of wrongdoing in animal control. And it is also disturbing that, by means of such deception and manipulation, Francesca is so frequently depicted by mainstream media and even HRM regional councilors as a misguided, if not "crazy" woman, for fighting for Brindi's life. Rather than scrutinize HRM's motives, media typically focus on Francesca, asking her how much she's spent on legal fees, as if she willingly turned over tens of thousands of dollars - when in fact she was horribly exploited by a series of lawyers who drove up costs and yet failed to get her dog out of the pound, a shock to her as much as anyone. It was Francesca, representing herself, who finally got Brindi out of the pound. And for all that work, she has been punished and threatened with the loss of her home.
We think the whole thing smacks of conspiracy. It has led to chronic disease and years of confinement and isolation for Brindi, an innocent shelter dog, and untold heartache, financial ruin, and loss of reputation for Francesca Rogier. What do you think?
* Francesca customarily kept Brindi leashed, even on her own property, and as a rule, Brindi was very obedient to her commands. But that day, she was briefly off-leash as Francesca was taking her inside. Flower had behaved aggressively to Brindi weeks earlier, lunging and barking repeatedly as Bernie Jo, who paid no attention, walked her along the road. Brindi had remained quiet, obeying a sit command from Francesca as she chatted with a neighbor in their yard. So when Brindi saw her passing walking in front of her house, she saw it as a provocation and did not hold the stay command Francesca gave her, and unfortunately, Brindi was just out of her reach. However, she got hold of Brindi within a few seconds.