The Story

Brindi has never bitten a child or an adult, or inflicted serious harm to a dog. But Halifax has locked Brindi up on death row for nearly four years – first for two, then again, always for minor infractions with dogs. A trial is now underway that seems very unfair. Serious help is needed, as a lot of people have turned a cold shoulder, even local media. Then there are those actively torturing them, like Crown prosecutor Katherine Salsman (you can spot her here) doing her best to sneer at the thought of cruel and unusual punishment (Katherine Salsman). Or Lori Scolaro and Tim Hamm, animal services geniuses who in 2008 cooked up a scheme to line up Brindi for euthanasia. Seems they were itching to use a brand-new by-law giving them total power to seize & destroy dogs without even a hearing. According to Hamm, it was Scolaro's idea: after a neighbor reported an incident with her dog near Brindi's house, Hamm told Francesca he "might" fine her. Weeks later he returned with the muzzle order – without saying that it came about not because of the attack itself, but because its owner asked him (secretly) not to issue a fine. She hadn't expected any fine, let alone such a steep one of $220. Francesca had offered to pay for a vet exam if she wanted, as her dog had sustained a small chest wound. But she couldn't afford the fine and the vet bill, which, plus extras, came to $143.


Though Hamm could have easily reduced the fine, Scolaro told him to issue a muzzle order instead. So he did. And when he seized Brindi a few months later on July 24, 2008, he turned their world upside down forever. He also falsely claimed the law requires seizure and euthanasia for muzzle order violations. It doesn't. A few days earlier, Brindi got loose by accident and ran out to guard her property from an approaching dog. But she never even made contact. The man with it began kicking Brindi as soon as she was within range. She didn't bite him either, but Hamm relied on the excuse of the muzzle order. He didn't even investigate - that would have meant telling Francesca about the incident report and the possibility of seizure. He also didn't lay charges afterwards - that would have meant a judge could overturn his decision right away.


Incredibly, it cost Francesca two years of painful struggle to get Brindi back. From day one, Animal Services - including Scolaro and her boss, Andrea Macdonald - refused to listen to her, or her vet, trainer, groomer, kennel owner, or dozens of neighbors. All the while, they denied access to Brindi without any law to back it up. They ignored Francesca's desperate offers to pay fines, do more training, build a dog run (which she did), and follow the muzzle order. This forced her into court. Six months later, a judge declared their new by-law unconstitutional. But they still didn't give Brindi back. They just laid charges and set off another nightmare.

When that trial ended, a judge fined Francesca for the charges (dog attack, loose dog, muzzle order), but did not order Brindi to be put down. Ironically, she just set the same conditions Francesca had offered at the start, with one slight difference: she had to train Brindi at the pound before she could go home, even though this made it impossible to address her territorial issues. But Francesca complied, putting in 25-30 hours with Brindi and trainer Susan Jordan (plus more without her). The judge had ordered Jordan to testify when the training was done before she would release Brindi, but in the event, she let Brindi go home without a hearing.


Brindi did well in the training, but after being isolated from dogs for two years, any dog would be extra jumpy. Despite Francesca's best efforts to keep her safe - dutifully muzzling her even on deserted beaches - one dark night as they arrived home in a used car bought that day, she saw a dog in front of the house and squeezed out of a window when. (see The people with it were relatives of the woman who first reported Brindi, and they ran off to call police, starting the nightmare all over again. Later they noticed two tiny wounds that were not even remotely life threatening. Normally the city would apply the law as it stands (fines). But Scolaro jumped at the chance to seize poor Brindi again. More nightmare, over 18 months in the pound.


At, you'll hear how the Halifax dispatcher tried to help –the only person working for the city who had a sense of decency. But you'll also here how, in a misguided, yet sincere way, she made a suggestion that, under panic, Francesca accepted. But even the RCMP didn't find a reason to charge her with anything.


But never mind all the smears. Brindi's trainer, Susan Jordan, stands by owner and dog. She rates Francesca as a "very responsible dog owner," and says Brindi level of aggression is number 1 on a scale of 1 to 10: Brindi is "territorial", but "not dog-dog aggressive, not dog-human aggressive, and not food aggressive." She points out that Brindi has shown good restraint when she had the opportunity to inflict serious harm – i.e., it is not about harm, but about communication. She said she was satisfied with Brindi's progress, and that minor setbacks are not unusual. She is very concerned about the effects of further isolation, though. She says courts should not apply human standards of behavior to dogs. But that is what they do.

Being isolated from other dogs for two years would exacerbate any dog's issues (even create new ones). But Brindi's trainer, Susan Jordan, has testified that Brindi's level of aggression remains at 1 on a scale of 1 to 10: Brindi is "territorial", but "not dog-dog aggressive, not dog-human aggressive, not food aggressive": i.e., not "dangerous." She points out that though Brindi had the opportunity to inflict serious harm, she has always showed good restraint - because it is about dog-to-dog communication. And really, courts should not apply human standards of behavior to dogs. But will a judge get this?


So far, the courts here have failed to respond to the fact that no law allows Halifax to impound a dog indefinitely, and that in Canada, all seized property must be returned after 90 days unless it is evidence. Brindi is not evidence!! She is a living, breathing, feeling creature. She has suffered far more than anything she ever did to another dog. At the pound, she got sick with chronic pancreatitis her teeth became very bad. Francesca pays for a vet to monitor her health, while she struggles with the case without money for a lawyer. The city has a bottomless budget of taxpayer money. Our money! What it does not have is a trainer saying Brindi is dangerous - or a law saying any "dangerous" dog must be put down.


Humane Halifax wants Brindi free, plus a full investigation. Nobody and their pet should have to go through this hell. The by-law is still a mess. So is animal control. Everybody knows at least one dog that bit a person, or seriously injured a dog, that was not seized or muzzled; many are not even fined. (see By-Law Prosecutions) Brindi and Francesca already bear deep scars from trauma and separation. Francesca has no children and no partner, just two cats. No law requires such an incredible price for offences that pale in comparison. Why must they be punished so cruelly?

And after the first ordeal, how can any trial be fair – especially now that the city has created a false impression of severe wrongdoing by singling out this dog again and again?


Please write or fax the judge and ask:
Hon. Judge Flora Buchan
Dartmouth Provincial Court Administration
277 Pleasant Street
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 3S2 CANADA
Fax: (902) 424-0677

Please also ask Hon. Ross Landry, the Minister of Justice of Nova Scotia to do an investigation!
Hon. Min. Ross Landry
Department of Justice
5151 Terminal Road P.O. Box 7
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2L6
Phone: (902) 424-4044 Fax: (902) 424-0510

Thank you!
Humane Halifax

"Man's inhumanity to man is heartbreaking,
but man's inhumanity to animals is soul destroying.
Let us ask for the strength and courage to right wrongs
on their behalf." Rosemary Bond


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