Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why is Brindi still in jail?

Brindi's owner, Francesca Rogier, lives in East Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia and she wants her dog back. She wants her dog back so much that she's helped get a city by-law changed, spent thousands of dollars in legal fees, launched an awareness campaign that's gotten her enough publicity to be interviewed by all the major Canadian networks - and all of this since last July when Halifax animal control officers entered her house with a court order to seize Brindi for euthanization.

This all started over a year ago when off leash Brindi attacked another dog by grabbing and holding onto the back of the other dog's neck. According to Rogier, she got them separated and there was little to no injury involved and the other owner declined her offer to cover any vet bills. Still, the other owner reported them to animal control reasoning that "it might have been a child".

(As an aside, I just want to mention that I hate it when people use this type of transference model. Maybe to certain morons on two legs, it's difficult to tell the difference between a child and dog but most dogs are highly aware of the differences. Why is it that when a dog kills a squirrel or herds sheep or hunts a fox, those same concerned morons make no child associations with such actions? Is it because the moron's own sense of the world around him is so vague and blurry that he himself can only distinguish between, say, a rat and child but not between a dog and child? Perhaps in the case of those morons, it would be in the public interest to have them wear the collar and the dog hold the leash.)

A second incident resulted in an injury to the other dog that resulted in a vet visit and a course of antibiotics for minor puncture wounds, the total cost of which was $150 which Rogier offered to pay (hell, I pay $150 just to breathe the air in my vet's office). It also got Brindi a permanent muzzle order.

According to the officer who issued the muzzle order, a number of people in the community had phoned in to the pound insisting that Brindi be put down - and this is where I find it gets a little troubling. If the officer wasn't exaggerating, this means that either Brindi had a history of running loose and getting into dog fights which Rogier is keeping quiet or else the community she lives in has more than its share of spiteful, small town, rumour mongering xenophobes (and at least one moron who even now may be sending his dog off on the school bus while his child is eating green tripe and raw chicken out of the dog dish because he just can't tell the difference between the two).

Strike 3 for Brindi occurred last July when once again she was off leash and started circling and acting aggressively towards two dogs being walked in front of Rogier's property. None of the dogs were hurt and the other owner wasn't even going to call the pound to report the incident until he heard about the previous occurrences. But, report it he did and four days later, Brindi was hauled away to await execution.

So far, it wasn't looking so good for Rogier or Brindi. Irresponsible owner, vicious dog, a whole community up in arms. At least that must have been the way it seemed to the city officials who wanted Brindi dead.

But it wasn't going to be so simple. As it turns out, Rogier isn't an irresponsible owner, Brindi isn't a vicious dog and no one really seems to be 'fessin' up anymore to who or what city department or bureaucrat really wants Brindi dead.

The rest of the story so far can be found on Rogier's blog, Free Brindi. It's a long and emotionally bumpy story and along the way there are trials and letter writing campaigns and Facebook groups and petitions and marches and television crews and reporters all drawn together by the threat of execution of this one dog and her owner who just won't give up. I have to admit I haven't read every single entry but I've read enough from there and from other third party sources to come to my own conclusion which is expressed well enough by the title to this post.

How many times did I promise Brindi, gazing up at me with her sweet brown eyes, that she is safe with me, and nothing bad will happen to her again, that I will do everything to protect her, that I will always love her, and that we will be together always. Call me stunted, call me sentimental, but I have never made or been able to make such a promise to anyone in my life other than these helpless beings. I cannot comprehend that after such a brief time in her first real home, Brindi's life is at risk because the city believes she's a risk. And I cannot accept that I am helpless to save her: a dog that has not bitten a single person, whose "attacks" on passing dogs at the edge of my property were short-lived, and minor by any standard.

- Francesca Rogier


Comment from House of the Discarded:

Did I miss something? I don't understand how Rogier couldn't be considered an irresponsible owner. She may love her dog, but not enough to protect him.

It's true - her dog shouldn't have to pay the price for her negligence. How many times does this dog have to attack other dogs for her to keep him on a leash?

I've moved your comment up to the main section because it really goes to the heart of this matter and I realized that I should have addressed the issue before putting this post up last night. At the time I was thinking that Rogier does a much better job of explaining herself than I ever could and it would be best for interested readers to just to go to her site (which in turn leads to other sites if one wanted to explore different sides of the affair). I still highly recommend readers do that but now I realize that the conclusion I wrote really was the result of a very subjective judgment call on my part (and thus obviously debatable) about her character and whether or not she would be a responsible dog owner in the future.

What I should have written last night is that I feel she is not an irresponsible dog owner though she behaved irresponsibly in the past. Yes, it's hard to fathom how someone who knows her dog is dog aggressive under certain situations (protective of property, in this case) can allow her dog to go unleashed not just once or twice but three times. I know my Rocky is highly dog reactive and the last thing I would do is open the front door for him without leashing him first. That just seems to be common sense. So, why did Rogier allow Brindi access to an open door or an unfenced yard without a leash on? I don't know and Rogier doesn't really explain other than to say they were accidents (at least I haven't found an explanation). Now one accident I can understand, but three in under a year? That was irresponsible behaviour and if that was all there was to it, well, Brindi needs to get into a new home.

On the flip side, though, Rogier took the responsible action in each case by immediately breaking up the fights and offering to foot any vet bills. Post incarceration of Brindi, Rogier has made the necessary changes to secure her yard against any future off property wanderings. She has tried to visit Brindi at the pound only to be barred (and this makes no sense to me at all so I'm thinking there's more to the story here). She has engaged lawyers. She has taken the case to trial. She has gotten a very unfair dog by-law repealed to the benefit of the community. She has created a very successful media campaign around her case. She has garnered and maintained the support of thousands of people (and that's no easy task). She has basically put her life on hold for the past several months trying to get Brindi off death row and back into her home.

I come across the results of truly irresponsible owners all the time. They leave their dogs at large, don't bother looking for them, won't even acknowledge the dog belongs to them if the dog is picked up, deliberately dump their dogs, abandon their dogs in vacated apartment - and the list of neglects goes on. In my subjective view, an irresponsible owner is someone who does not hold enough concern for their dog to care or take action if their pet is sick or hit by a car or out in the cold or hungry or in a cage at the pound. By that definition, I don't think Rogier is an irresponsible owner, though for some reason, she did not have the wherewithal to act in a responsible fashion in the past with regards to keeping her dog under her control. For those acts of irresponsibility, though, Rogier has more than paid the price: months of emotional anguish and thousands of dollars in legal fees. The optimistic side of me believes she's learned from her mistakes. Rogier deserves another chance with Brindi - and I suspect it'll be the last chance she gets - and Brindi definitely deserves to get out of jail.


House of the Discarded said...

Did I miss something? I don't understand how Rogier couldn't be considered an irresponsible owner. She may love her dog, but not enough to protect him.

It's true - her dog shouldn't have to pay the price for her negligence. How many times does this dog have to attack other dogs for her to keep him on a leash?

Fred said...

Hi House of the Discarded, please see the addendum in the main post.

Caveat said...

I've been getting emails on and off about this case.

I can't summon up much sympathy for this owner, I'm afraid.

Is it irrational to kill (not euthanize) a dog because he/she has been involved in doggy scuffles?


However, Ms Rogier is a recidivist. She has been cautioned, told to muzzle her dog (although training would be better, it's not that hard to socialize even older dogs)which she obviously isn't doing.

If one of your dogs got into trouble to the point where you were issued a muzzle order, wouldn't you take it seriously?

It's people like this that create problems for the rest of us.

She is not a responsible owner but she is responsible for her dog's plight.

Don't forget that in the 'rescue' (and I use the quotes pointedly) world, great rallying cries are mounted to save one dog in Hong Kong or to save a dog that is aggressive (the case in NJ over the GSD comes to mind).

What I would like to see here is that the dog is placed with someone who can train and maintain him in a manner which shuts down the witch-hunt mentality and ultimately protects the dog from harm.

Which is, of course, the whole point of the relationship.

Ms Rogier is not doing dog owners a favour. If her dog is perceived as a 'pit bull' she is even less helpful to our cause which is to preserve the right of all people to responsibly own their dog of choice.

House of the Discarded said...

Thank you for the addendum, Fred. I still don't feel any differently. In fact, this has touched on a very important subject to me.

Without a doubt, Brindi needs to get out of the pound. It wasn't her fault, bless her little heart. But she needs a new owner. I believe Rogier THINKS she loves Brindi, but she didn't love Brindi enough to keep her safe.

My 14 year old lab (that passed away a few years ago) was very aggressive towards other dogs. How did I protect him? He stayed on a frickin' leash when we were walking him. I loved my dog enough to insure that he stayed safe.

Fool me once...shame on you - fool me twice - shame on me. Fool me THREE TIMES??? I must be an idiot.

There are different levels of irresponsibility. If my dog had been attacked by Brindie on the THIRD go around, I would be beside myself with anger. Rogier shouldn't have anything other than a goldfish.

Give me Brindie. I'll love him enough to keep him safe.

Fred said...

The muzzle thing is worrisome. Rogier says she abided by the order (or tried to) and will do so in the future yet she quite often makes arguments against using it. This is one of the reasons I think there are more sides to the story than what we are hearing, which is mostly from Rogier herself, and that some of the perceived injustices inflicted on her by animal control may actually have some merit. Unfortunately, there is no comment from the local SPCA because of the legal situation so maybe we will never know the other side.

I'm generally a bit of a misanthrope (gee, did you get feeling?) but I'm trying not to be. Maybe it's just a fleeting New Year's resolution or maybe it's the realization that if we want to help dogs, we need to help and work with people first, not for any profound ethical reasons, but just because people are the masters of their animals and if a person is doing poorly, their animals will only be doing worse.

So, in an effort to place people in a more positive light, in this situation where the cup could be viewed as half full or half empty, I choose to believe that if Rogier is willing to put this much effort into getting her dog back, she'll be willing to put as much effort into responsibly keeping her dog healthy, safe and secure in the future.

To be a complete cynic, it's also possible that Rogier gets off on the attention she's gotten for herself more than she gets off on owning a dog. I choose not to believe that view - for now. Call it wishful thinking if you want.

In the end, you both may be right but I hope you're wrong because I suspect Rogier is going to get her dog back.

Fred said...

Hi HeatherM, don't know if you're going to see this but I was just on Joan's Me and My Dogs in Halifax blog and I saw that you mentioned you had left a comment here with some links to the actual court decision. Unfortunately, I haven't received anything so if you get a moment, would you mind resubmitting it? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fred,

Sorry you didnt get this earlier. Here is the link to the court decision:

Love to hear your opinion after you read the decision.


Anonymous said...

This is my first visit to this site, and I am very impressed. I would like to share some info on this case as I do have independant knowledge of the case and the past actions of Ms Rogier. First off let me make this very clear, I am a dog owner and I love and protect my dog.
Ms Rogier, however has permitted her dog to run OFF PROPERTY on several occasions and her dog has severly attacked 4 Dogs that the city knows of. Both she, neighbours and the local vet clinic have confirmed there have been more, and the injuries have been severe, not at all what Ms Rogier would like you to believe! I'm not trying to slam this woman, but she has slanted the truth so much and has had good people with big hearts follow her blindly down this path and it really pisses me off.
This dog should not go back to her and I think she should be banned from ever owning another dog. The original thought was not to let her see the dog while in the shelter as it would cause undo stress on the dog. She was later not permitted and eventually barred from the shelter for threatening staff and shelter volunteers.
The reason this has taken so long is also her fault. Rather than going to the court and requesting an injuction to save this dog, which would have resulted in a judge listening to both sides, she decided to sue the city and attack the By-Law, tying everyones hands for almost 6 months! Believe me if there was some way that Brindi could be sent to a responsible trainer or foster home HRM would jump at the chance! However the By-Law prevents them from doing so while there is a court action, and Francesca absolutely refuses to budge, knowing this could save the dogs life!
As for the pending court action, do you really believe a judge in his/her right mind is going to give this dog back to her, when she has already been given FOUR opportunities to correct HER behaviour! Forget it! She is the reason this dog will die, and that sucks! She has stated over and over again that this is her dog and the dog belongs with her! The crown has asked to rehome this dog, and has been denied by Francesca and her lawyer from even suggesting it. She also relies on this "assesment" done by Sylvia Jay! Well everyone the assesment was not permitted in court because that was the original agreement with Francesca and her lawyer, Why you may ask? Well Ms Jay wrote on Francesca's blog before ever meeting this dog or assessig it stating the dog is not that bad and should be saved. Then she is picked by Francesca to do the assesment for the courts, knowing how biased she was, and knowing the court would never accept her assesment as un-biased. Then when you do read the assesment, Ms Jay removes her dogs from the area and stops the assesment as soon as Brindi reacts!!
Come on. She has told so many lies and misled so many people, and now actually has been taking "Donations" from people claiming an outragous legal bill. Please Please Please see this for what it is. Nobody, including Animal ontrol want to put this dog down, it needs serious training and a serious commitment from someone outside of francesca's circle of misled angels. You'll be surprized to see the truth when it comes out and you'll see how twisted this woman is! If there is anyone willing or knows of someone outside of the Province, away from Francesca and her "angels" please contact HRM Animal Services and give them this option. They have spoken with the SPCA and asked if they would be willing to take Brindi and foster her out, however the SPCA refused stating they cannot accept the liability in the event Brindi somehow attacks again, so HRM Animal Services is stuck with a dog it does not want to kill, however does not want to go back to this owner, and cannot foster it through the SPCA. Do you really think a judge, who has never even seen this dog, is going to go out on a limb and accept responsibility for returning this dog to her??? He/She will end this dogs life in a blink of an eye! But I really want everyone to know, FRANCESCA can save this dogs life by allowing the city to rehome the dog. FRANCESCA actually believes her lies. The other people who have paid thier own vet bills and have had thier own wonderful dogs attacked because of francesca's actions will tell you differently! By the way, one last thing....The latest attack was in the middle of the street as a man was carrying his small dog and walking his MOTHER's GUIDE DOG! He was out for a morning walk when out of nowhere Brindi ran out and attacked without warning. The womans son repeatedly kicked Brindi off of the dog, however Brindi kept attacking. He kicked Brindi constantly for approx 5 minutes until help arrived and eventually Francesca showed up. Imagine what could have happened if the disabled, elderly woman had been walking her dog instead of her son!! It is also very important to note that HRM Animal Control has NEVER accused this dog of attacking a person! They have always maintained that this dog is very dog aggressive, and requires a muzzle as Francesca was not taking responsibility. I'm sorry, it's off my chest but it needed to be done.

Thank You


Fred said...

Hi HeatherM,

Thanks for the link. I just want to make one little correction to it for anyone who wants to take a look:

It's a long document (55 pages - no wonder the bigger trials end up with doucments thousands of pages long) but from reading the first dozen pages and then skipping to the end (yes, I do that with books as well sometimes) it seems to me that the judge made the right decision with regards to 1. quashing the kill order on Brindi and 2.recommending that the power of the AC to euthanize a dog without allowing a fair defence for a dog is not legal (? is "legal" the term here?).

The document doesn't specifically address Brindi's future outside of the quashing of the euthanasia. I suppose that is beyond its purview and we'll have to wait for the next trial for that determination.

Whatever the outcome, it looks like Brindi remains behind bars and that is a shame.

Fred said...

Hi DB,

Thank you for your comment. It certainly puts a different light on Francesca's past actions.

It's not my place to agree or disagree with your claims, or Francesca's for that matter, but what I'd be interested in knowing is if there is anything Francesca could do which would, in your mind, and possibly as well in the minds of her other detractors, make up for her past mistakes and allow her to get Brindi back? Or do you feel that she is beyond redemption?

I'm asking because I can't make sense of why someone would go to this length to get her dog back unless she has resolved within herself to take care of it and be responsible for it in the future. Otherwise, all her actions are for nought. First of all, she'll just lose Brindi again and forever the next time it runs loose and gets into a fight. She'll also be a complete pariah with her neighbours if not the wider community now that she has publicized her situation to so many.

As you say, many people with big hearts have followed her down her path but if it turns out at some point that they feel they've been mislead, I suspect that those big hearts are going to turn into big metaphorical knives.

Joan Sinden said...

Hi there Fred - wow, people have been busy with this post! One thing that I would add about this topic is the idea of the muzzle order - within bylaw A300 - a muzzle order can be given at any point. Our bylaw here in Halifax is so flawed that there is a list of things that animal control officers can cherry pick from when they come after a complaint has been lodged - our bylaw is at and under section 8 - when an animal control officer has "reason to believe" that a dog has aattacked a human or animal - they can pick from a list of actions which include issuing a fine, having the dog microchipped, issuing a muzzle order, or seizing the dog - based on the mood of the animal control officer, basically. There's no sliding scale or particular order that the animal control officer has to follow - so they can issue the muzzle order first, middle, or last. But the funny thing about the muzzle order is - that once it's been issued - the dog is automatically considered to be a "dangerous dog" - and any complaint made to animal control after that - the dog MUST be seized and the animal destroyed.

So for Francesca - her 3rd call to animal control resulted in a muzzle order - the next call automatically resulted in the seizure order. She didn't really understand/care - who knows now - it happened. She can fight with us all she wants now about what she understood at the time -that's what happened.

There were FOUR calls to animal control about Francesca and Brindi - that's what is stated in the Jourt Judgment that there is a link to in these comments - 3 attacks and 1 running at large call. None of them resulted in an official charge or fine being issued. The only charges laid were issued after the order to quash the euthanization order - which the arraignment is being held for on February 3, 2009.

So I do have some sympathy for Francesca when people like Selma are speaking so harshly about her because she obviously does NOT understand the ins and outs of bylaw A300 and that the muzzle order can be issued very early on in the complaint process - and is ordered based on very little complaint.

The problem with this whole story is that Francesca SHOULD have started fighting at the muzzle order stage and we'd never be in the situation we are today - with Brindi being on death row for 6 months - but she didn't understand (for whatever reason) - the seriousness of the muzzle order. Now, for obvious reasons, she does. And so does every other dog owner in the HRM. Some of us understood before hand too.

This is a deeply textured story, and there's no happy ending for anyone - least of all Ms. Rogier or Brindi at this point.

Joan in Halifax

Fred said...

Thanks for the additional commentary, Joan. It's starting to sound like Brindi is the unlucky pawn in some political game being played out between Ms. Rogier, HRM and the city.

Anonymous said...

I guess we will all have some clarity by the end of the day. It has certainly been a tulmoltuous road for all parties involved and an emotional journey for those following the story trying to piece the facts together. jm

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but I see so many statements here that are not true.
These are old posts but the people who wrote them should have known better because they had the information.
The man kicking at Brindi for five minutes??? NO. The account by DB does not match the police reports at all. The man never actually kicked Brindi and it was over in seconds. The report by Shea does not say he did it for five minutes, on the sidewalk area on Rogier's property line not the middle of the road; Rogier was running right behind and begged him not to kick her dog! He chased Brindi across the street even though he says different - My friend who lives down the road drove by and saw it all and honked his horn and Brindi ran home. The police never asked him for a statement! I don't know who DB is but his information is wrong. That man also said that he was amazed that Brindi did not try to bite him when he was trying to kick at her head!

There is no way to fight a muzzle order except in court. Brindi was probably seized before Rogier had a chance, ever think of that? And who knows what lies she was told by animal contorl.
The seizure happened after the third report about a dog on dog scuffle; you can't really count the first call as leading to the seizure - none of the reports led to charges anyhow. AND it is widely known that the muzzle order was imposed after the SECOND call about a dog mishap - all of which happened on the front lawn of the owner. And that dog, according to Rogier, had been aggressive to Brindi - in front of a witness - two weeks earlier. Brindi did not provoke that do to be aggressive and she didn't attack it then, but approaching her own property, at an inopportune moment, was a different story.
There is NO AUTOMATIC RULE that a dog must be put down at any time, muzzle order or not; EVERYTHING IS UP TO THE ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER.
This is why I am not convinced the city does not want to kill this dog! That's not what they have been saying in public or to the lawyers!!! The muzzle order was a big step towards killing her, apparently!

So Rogier was not expecting that her dog would be put down for something where she didn't even cause injuries needed vet treatment! no injuries at all!
This is totally unreasonable on the part of the city - so why say she should also lose her dog on top of all of this???

This owner has been offering to make amends - and did make them - from the start. The city ignored all her offers, refused to consider the relatively minor nature of the cases. Would not meet with her to negotiate a solution.
Folks like Heather and Joan and DB whoever that is love to talk about all the reports and blah blah, but the city animal control officers did not find them serious enough to lay charges. the muzzle order a deal between the AC officer and the other dog owner (the aggressive dog's owner) - in lieu of the fine he originally SAID he was going to issue. All Rogier got other than that sick muzzle order was a few warnings, no charges. Probably they thought charges would not hold up in court for the minor things that happened, or believe me they would have definitely laid charges! Our animal control officers never miss a chance to charge somebody. Unless of course they're rich, or the mayor, whose dogs get loose a lot.

The city is the one who is being unreasonable. They kill dogs all the time for stupid reasons; it means nothing to them. They have never indicated what DB and others claim above - not once!

Not all trainers agree with Silvia Jay either; Ted Efthmiadis thinks Brindi would be easy to work with and so does Meghan Lumley, both good trainers here - Ted trains drug-sniffing dogs and he has excellent credentials. He will work with Rogier for free when she gets Brindi back.
If you read the whole Silvia Jay assessment for yourself you will get a different idea of Brindi than what DB says: Brindi barked after the "assessment" was pretty much already over, when Silvia was LEAVING with her dogs outside of the fence, moving away from Brindi - who was probably guarding her territory as many dogs do. Doesn't make them vicious! It's more important to read the beginning of the report when Silvia took Brindi out of her cage and walked her past other dog cages without Brindi even looking at them, no reaction at all, no aggression, and no reaction from the other dogs either. She didn't rush the door when her cage was opened and she did not pull on the leash. Don't believe what these people are saying; they have some sort of other agenda. The documents are there. The judge's decision however: the lawyer said it is based on the affidavit of the animal control officer mainly and there was never a full report on either side, the police files were not part of the court case - because it was all about the law being unconstitutional, not about the incidents. Remember, SHE brought the case against the city - as she was forced to do. The trial is going to be different - with charges laid one hour before the deadline ran out, a sick thing to do!

There was no simple injunction to be done; it cannot be appealed if not successful so DB is again out of his mind: her lawyers would know better, wouldn't they??

This poor owner of Brindi has spent tons of money and been the victim of a lot of shenanigans, continuing through her victory in court after which her lawyer pretended he could not get a court order to release Brindi, and let the city keep her - illegally.

Maybe the press doesn't want to tell the story right. I guess neither do the so-called animal advocates, very pious people right? If anybody is a pawn, it's Rogier. She moved to Halifax to renovate a very old house and what happens? Her contractor rips her off - and he also ripped off a bank, two insurance companies, and Price Waterhouse, and several other homeowners, before going bankrupt and disappearing. Her fault? Her lawyer quit and wants more money, and he didn't do the job she hired him for in good faith. Her fault? She can't find a decent lawyer in this town. Her fault? And yet she was willing to cooperate with the city all along - would they ever meet her halfway or meet at all ? Evidently not.

If you follow this story as I have and even tried to help this person and understand the complicated matters - you would feel terrible shame for being from Nova Scotia. I wish I could do more to help. I wish I was a lawyer instead of a technician. The least I can do is put some things right online. i wish I could say more about the other dog owners but I better not. I do know them and don't like them.
But now is a good time to bring this up: last Saturday a yellow lab, off-leash in public, attacked a bull dog, and its owner, instead of separating the dogs and apologizing, pulled out a knife and attacked the bulldog too, stabbing it several times.

What do you suppose happened? He was charged for attacking the dog - but not for by-law violations and his own dog was given right back to him to take home. Of course!!! Who knows what really happened - but he can certainly protect his dog from seizure now. Rogier could not do this because she had no idea there was even a report.

I am tired of people blaming the victim, kicking her when she's down - so easy to do to a lone woman from out of province. She is doing all she can to save her dog and few are helping her. She cries every day. I hate to hear it. She does NOT like being in the media, she only does it for Brindi so they won't kill her when nobody's looking like they did to other dogs at the SPCA. How sick it that, to accuse her of wanting the spotlight when anybody can see how awful it is for her??? Shame!!

In my opinion, Halifax is out on a limb - if it doesn't want to kill Brindi it should return her to her owner! The truth is, it very much wants to kill this dog and so does the animal control officer who set it all up in the first place. Who's kidding who??

Anonymous said...

PS Brindi is not a pit bull and Rogier has never said she is! Where that came from, who knows??