Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What can you say online?

There was a really interesting case in Ontario recently. An amazing blog in Toronto "One Bark at a time" has been talking about - the case of Lorie Gordon, who was sued by a "large scale commercial breeder" called "Paws r us" - Lorie had called the facility a puppy mill, and for that she got sued - and she lost in court because the judge used the definition of a puppy mill written by the "National Companion Animal Coalition" - which is a coalition formed in 1996 comprised of representatives from PIJAC, the CKC, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and the Candian Federation of Humane Societies. The group is a complete sham and only exists to give pet stores a clean facade - I've written about the group in several places on this blog - and you can find the posts in my category that I call "PIJAC". You can read about this story in Fred's posts at "Dog Court"

It was because of this ridiculous definition that the case of a "puppy mill" couldn't be found - so their claim of defamation was found to be true. A complete set-up. Thank-dog she's appealing. Only in Canada could this happen.

In another recent post Fred talks about the concept of "SLAPPs or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation" - which some would say are affecting the animal advocate community. These lawsuits are meant to shut up the person being sued because even though they are speaking the truth - they can't say anything, because the thing they had previously been talking about is now before the courts - so to say anything in public jeopardizes their chances of winning in court. Fred talks about it much better than me.

A little of that has been happening locally recently, and not many people know about it.

A person who has had their dog impounded for the last year had slapped another person in the local dog community with a lawsuit - suing them for I'm not sure what - I never saw the court papers, but I heard that it was for things like "uttering threats" and things of that nature - pretty serious stuff.

The person was facing some pretty serious charges - and granted - this person did go way overboard in the things she's done and said, I personally couldn't understand why she was mounting such a fierce personal campaign - but to me what the other side was doing was complete bullying - and today it appears that definitely seemed to be the case - because the person who had the charges laid didn't even show up in court and the charges were dismissed - as with almost everything that the human and their crew has mounted in t he last year - it was all fluff and bluster. All hollering and no follow through.

All they did was cause horror and mayhem from the time the charges were drawn up until the court date and on the date of the court - they didn't show up. So it was pure bullying. That is such bad taste. Why be so litigious - and always be threatening to sue everyone if you don't show up in court? There's a lot of heads shaking this evening, that's for sure.

There are so many things going on that are nothing about the dog, that's for sure. One has to wonder what legal bills are being paid for with the benefit this week - is it the legal bills for this fictional "uttering threats" and all the other people who've been threatened with litigation? Or with the original case. Who knows.

And will this blog owner now be sued? Who knows what you can say online now. I guess we'll find out.


  1. Janet Chernin10:13 PM

    Well I for one am not going to COW Tow to such a person as Francesca Rogier - SUE ME - go ahead - for speaking up and out about this debacle - for what she has herself done to Brindi! She is the poster child of an irresponsible dog owner - her inactions and actions caused the ramifications that poor Brindi has to endure. Her selfishness knows no bounds. FREE BRINDI - yes BUT to a good home - a person willing to abid by the existing animal control bylaws and who is willing to work with experts to assist Brindi with her issues.
    Poor poor Brindi may you find justice soon - and not another prison sentence to live with an 'owner' that does not by her actions care enough to keep you safe and the general public too!
    This is a public case and I as a member of the public have every right to voice an opinion.

  2. Anonymous10:55 PM

    Some people just want to keep themselves getting attention and money.I was at the court tonight for support and it was funny in a way that all her crying and her " supporters" wailing about what this person that she brought to court did and then never had the balls to show up.

  3. Anonymous11:40 PM

    She should be fined for wasting the court's time.

  4. julia c.3:01 AM

    So now, you're comparing a puppy mill owner with someone whose dog was wrongly seized? Then suggesting that a benefit concert is being used for lawsuits??? Yes, heads are shaking, but not at Francesca! And you think Gail was going overboard?

  5. David H.3:18 AM

    I heard a different story entirely:
    - it was a peace bond, not a lawsuit or charges.
    - the RCMP urged "this person" (we all know who you mean) to file for a peace bond after they reviewed the evidence.
    - Also, charges are criminal: lawsuits are civil. They are never filed together.

    You say yourself that Gail (I will go ahead and name her) went way overboard. Given that, it's obvious the bullying was one- sided on her part, unless you have some real evidence.

    I find it odd that Janet Chernin seems to approve of by-law A300 as it exists. Why? And hasn't Brindi's owner said from day one that she wants to work with experts??? Let's see some responsible, informed opinions, not melodrama!

  6. Anonymous8:03 AM

    A-300 is flawed we all know it, but there are people who decided to oppose it only when it effected them directly.
    Mean while there have been individuals (like Janet) that have been working on changing the legislation to make it better for all companion animals and their owners.
    where were these others when we were working on the BSL, A-300, bill-186, S-203?
    In order to make effective changes in the laws and assist in doing this, you MUST be a responsible dog owner your self, or no one will want your help or listen to what you have to say if you are not.

  7. Janet Chernin8:53 AM

    David H says:"I find it odd that Janet Chernin seems to approve of by-law A300 as it exists. Why? And hasn't Brindi's owner said from day one that she wants to work with experts??? Let's see some responsible, informed opinions, not melodrama!"
    That paragraph is melodramatic.
    I have never said that I approve of the existing A300 bylaw - nothing can be further from the truth. I have in the past gone to speak with Mayor Peter Kelly when the rumour was rife that BSL was going to be considered for the then D100 bylaw - I have gone and presented to Council on A300 which needs serious revamping. YET it is the law and whether one agrees with the laws as currently written - to be a responsible pet owner you MUST abid by the law.
    1. a dog should not be considered dangerous on heresay - or because it 'appears' to be threatening - this is way to subjective.
    2. I queried about the training AC officers have to work in this capacity.
    I have been informed that AC officers recieve a seminar course on how to 'handle' dogs - period.

    I asked Bill Bruce the then Head of Bylaw Enforcement to come to HRM to present to Council and the public. I find it highly distrubing that NONE of the AC officers were informed of these presentations nor were present.

    Melodrama is when given a muzzle order - you fail to comply - and then you then start to speak out about the injusitice of the Bill well after the fact.

    Melodrama is when EXPERTS give advice - assess the dog in question - are willing to work with a person to address the issues and the owner publicly says that they will do the opposite to what the EXPERTS advised when or if she gets her dog back. That is not willing participation in a rehabilitaion program PERIOD. These same EXPERTS are now not willing to work with FR after her public statements of intent to allow Brindi to run free.

    I care about a dog that has been left to languish - I care about the SPCA that has been maligned by the Free Brindi group. It is HRM that signed the order to have Brindi seized for failure by her owner to comply with an order.

    That is the MELODRAMA of this case.

  8. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Can anyone say "harassment"? That's what this is starting to amount to and sound like - to me....

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Facebook
    Date: Wed, Aug 12, 2009
    Subject: Gail Gallant sent you a message on Facebook...

    Gail sent you a message.

    Subject: Fran's blog

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009
    Racing against time, coming up a tad short
    Well, with my hectic life, no surprise that I missed my evening date at the Dartmouth courthouse. That my computer would give out a few hours earlier was not to be predicted, however (except perhaps by Murphy's Law faithful). Arriving seven minutes late due to that struggle, I found they had called all the names to check attendance, and dismissed my case already, before calling any cases. Fortunately, however, a friendly court official assured me I could refile the application in the morning and get a new date. So that's what I'll do. He said he thought the date would be sooner than later.

    The bigger problem is what to do about my computer. I don't relish that at all - hours of phoning customer service, etc. etc.

    But at least tomorrow is the welcome moment of the week, a bright spot of Brindi, always a boost that strengthens my resolve to keep working to get her back. And I am looking forward to Thursday, to hear some beautiful music and be among friends, old and new.

    now, I was there at 6:30.. doors opened at 7 sharp and our case was 6th on the docket .. it was called at 20 mins after 7. They never called the names UNTIL the case was to be .

  9. Anonymous9:29 AM

    Peacebonds fall into both, criminal and civil.

  10. I am really disgusted and disheartened by this whole debacle. People on both sides have behaved poorly and not in the best interests of the dog as far as I am concerned. Brindi has needed a voice for a very long time.

    Fran started the public ruckus in seeking support for her "plight". When you put yourself/situation out in public be prepared to accept that there will be public scrutiny too. Fran didnt seem ready for that. Fran's answer seemed to be to try and bully people to shut up as far as I could see.

    My opinion is that if you are so convinced that you are right and your beliefs are right why concern yourself with public naysayers? None of them have a voice in the courtroom where Fran really has to answer and the only place that has the power to free brindi!

    Why waste valuable time and energy debating with the public at this point. If you are so right and have done nothing wrong go get your dog back in court and then say ...see I told you so I won my case!

    Why go after people with peacebonds etc.? I just don't understand.

    What this says to me is that Fran isnt convinced she has done nothing wrong and isnt convinced herself that she wont be found guilty of the charges filed against her.

    Sure most of us can agree from public rambling and looking at court documents etc that this case may not have been handled in the best way from the begining by HRM.Also that A300 is flawed. Yet Fran will get her day in court if she stops post-poning it to answer to the charges and possibly free brindi.

    So why is Fran so concerned about public opinion and why has she made an attempt to shut people up?

    OH WAIT...maybe I get it...is it about the MONEY and FRAN? WAIT Fran doesnt like people saying negative things about her behaviours as a dog owner? Then why talk about it in public?

    MONEY? Oh this legal court case has cost YOU money Fran? GUESS WHAT - I am a TAXPAYER and this case has cost me MONEY as a citzen of HRM. MONEY and TIME where the city could be doing more valuable work. I guess I should have a right to talk about it too and how my tax dollars are being spent!

    In the midst of all this FRACKUS is BRINDI...no voice..no rights..BRINDI is PROPERTY! Shouldnt we all be working for the rights of BRINDI by getting a voice for the animals. By getting an ombudsmen or community council in place to deal with these issues!

    I really hope when this case FINALLY gets to court that the judge is able to hear Brindi's voice in all this. To be able to look at all sides of the case including Brindi's. I think it is unfair that Brindi doesnt have a legal representation presented by an ombudsman or a community council report.

    It is the voices in the courtroom that matter - why waste time and energy trying to silence public debate!

  11. David H.

    I wonder if you are the same David H. who doesnt answer my emails regarding requests to when you are putting forward proposals of changes to A300?

    If so can I ask you here...when are you putting forward your amendment recommendations or whatever you want to call them to council on A300?

    Perhaps we all can prevent another dog from ever going through a debacle like this again.

  12. I personally think the "David H" is just somebody pretending to be the "David H" you think it is - to give themselves a respectable air - but in reality it's somebody entirely different.

  13. Joan..you most certainly could be right...but if it was at a slim chance the David H who doesnt reply to my emails..I really would like it if he did..even privately. I am a citizen of HRM.

  14. "Fortunately, however, a friendly court official assured me I could refile the application in the morning and get a new date. So that's what I'll do. He said he thought the date would be sooner than later."

    That is just so sad. Why bother. Why not just go have a good cup of tea and just focus on the case for court regarding freeing Brindi. Isn't that what this is all about?

    Really sad..

  15. Anonymous10:10 AM

    From what was in a blog on a letter someone wrote David H, seems unless they are in his riding he will not respond. Far as I am concerned, any HRM citizen ( taxpayer) should be responded to with concerns.

  16. Anonymous11:15 AM

    I would be interested in seeing a definition of a "Puppy Mill" .I looked on PJAC and CFHS but could see any. Do you know where else I could look?RG.

  17. Oh my dog RG - you're right - the 2 definitions are the same! Fred has the definition from PIJAC in his post at http://onebarkatatime.blogspot.com/2009/07/dog-court.html -

    PIJAC is part of the "National Companion Animal Committee" - which I'm not going to get into here, but that's a pretty dirty committee - and they define a puppy mill as - A puppy mill is defined by the NCAC as a high-volume, sub-standard dog
    breeding operation, which sells purebred or mixed breed dogs, to unsuspecting
    buyers. Some of the characteristics common to puppy mills are:
    a) Sub-standard health and/or environmental issues;
    b) Sub-standard animal care, treatment, and/or socialization;
    c) Sub-standard breeding practices which lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders;
    d) Erroneous or falsified certificates of registration, pedigrees, and/or genetic background.
    Note: These conditions may also exist in small volume or single-breed

    And I found the CFHS definition on their website at http://cfhs.ca/info/companion_animals -

    I forgot that PIJAC and the CFHS are both on the same sick little committee with the CKC, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Assocation.

    This post was meant to be about Lorie Gordon and her court case - and the comments have turned it into something else - but this post was originally about the dirtiness of of the court system and the pet industry - and this shows just how awful it still is for the protection of companion animals - meaning that there is none - or for the people trying to help them.

  18. Anonymous12:14 PM

    The sad part is when there's money to be made there are so many individuals and organizations who will exploit and abuse/neglect animals and not lose a night's sleep over it.
    In my opinion those same types of people would traffic in humans if there weren't laws against it.

    We have fought hard to keep our rescue independent of municipalities and other levels of gov. for this very reason. We don't get their money, but we also don't get their influence or have to worry about offending or speaking up when we need to for fear of losing funding.

  19. Connie Hurtze2:23 PM

    I have been following this situation with Brindi because we had a similar case in my part of Canada. It dragged on for too long and supporters became opposers and the exchanges between the two "camps" became as heated. In our case -- which has been resolved -- Mildred (funny name for a dog at one point deemed "dangerous") was returned to her family. I think Brindi's owner did the residents of Halifax a favor by bringing to light the flaws in the original By-Laws, something that seems to take almost an act of God to change. Sadly, her hard work has not yet resulted in the release of her own dog which I just do not understand.

    The last minute charges filed against the owner, by their very nature, seem malicious and ill-spirited. As do the posts against the owner. I have to wonder, if this situation would have been dealt with in a timely manner, would these attacks have even occurred?

    Granted I am from a different generation than the people commenting here. My parents taught me to be respectful of other people, especially when they were different from me, and to, of course, do unto others as I would have them do unto me. These days, it seems the youth are quicker to criticize then compliment, and faster to step upon people then offer a hand up. And this is very sad indeed. So many missed opportunities with this division.

    I hope the city of Halifax will reach into its heart and see the needless distress this situation is creating and release Brindi to her owner. I see a woman with every good intention and that is probably more than many pet owners in your city and mine. In hindsight, we can ALL do a better job. But we live life looking forward without the option of hindsight. That's why our values to be kind and helpful are so important to our integrity.

    God bless you all and please send Brindi home to her mom.

    Thank you.

  20. Just as an aside - according to the statistics for this blog - you are commenting from Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Connie - not from another part of Canada - so you're confusing me a little bit. But I certainly do appreciate the kindness in your writing, and I hope it's sincere. You are exactly right in that if we had a well written bylaw here in Halifax - we would not be living any of this drama now - this case would have been dealt with in a timely manner.

    There are quite a few people who have put forward amendments to A300 that include having strict time limits on when cases have to be dealt with by the courts and they have to be within 30 days of a dog being seized - which would mean that this case would have been done with by last August 2008 - one way or the other - and everybody would be well on with their lives by now - but unfortunately that isn't how it is - and we have this horrible situation now. There would probably even be a lot of friendships still left intact too that aren't which is such a shame - because we are the same people now that we were before this all started, so why can't we get along now and we got along so well before?

    But reality is not black and white, it is unbelievable the injustices that happen everyday. Look at the case of Lorie Gordon or Chapman Kennels in New Brunswick. Life is nasty, brutish, and short and then you die. It's all bad.

  21. Anonymous3:23 PM

    Just like drunk driving was to subjective (walk a straight line, glassy eyes, smelly breath) to consistently get convictions, a number was arrived at (.08) if you are over that number you are drunk,very objective and more convictions were achieved. Similarly a definition for a puppy mill requires a limited placed on the numbers of animals. Regardless of the conditions any thing over this number is by definition a puppy mill and therefore should be illegal.Two breeding females and twenty dogs in total would be my limit. Anything over that and its a puppy mill. Without some objective definition the cases such as the Chapman will continue to flourish.RG.

  22. Joan, thanks for your e-mail on Dog Court. Why anyone would consult with PIJAC for a fair and balanced opinion on animal treatment is beyond me. I'll definitely checkout your posts on those guys.

  23. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Since when is "failure to comply with an order" sufficient justification for killing a dog? In the law, it's an offense punishable with a fine. Was it one time? Is there any proof that the order was constantly ignored?
    If all cases were handled this zealously, dozens of dogs would be seized and killed every month in HRM. Be for real, Janet. You know very well there are plenty of cases where dogs have bitten people and animals more than one in this town, and all they get is a fine -if that. This case is off the charts, and without an appeal process, who can blame the owner for taking it to the press. Nobody's perfect; little if any harm was done, ultimately. What the heck would you have done?
    And when is the law going to get changed?

  24. Anonymous5:24 PM

    "You must abide by the law?" HRM did not abide by their own law. The SPCA is not abiding by the law. Janet Chernin has spent the past number of years not abiding by the law - still flouting the zoning laws? So I guess there's one law for certain people and another for unpopular others, eh?

    Brindi should not have been seized as she was; Francesca should have been charged at that time (why wasn't she?); Brindi should have been returned long before now and the matter should have been properly heard in court, which HRM avoided. Why? They are liable. Interesting that Chernin & crew wants to protect the same city that has been prosecuting her for years. Can anyone say donkey kisser??

    You people don't love dogs, you love yourselves. Shame on you all.

  25. Anonymous8:56 AM

    I believe the canine casbah is a legal business, with proper zoning

  26. Anonymous1:56 AM

    Correct me if I am wrong: after years of the canine casbah being an illegal business, the charges against Chernin were merely stayed, meaning they can be pursued at any time; and HRM council voted in favour of amending the law in favour of allowing rezoning for such a business in that zone BUT the actual law itself has not been changed to allow canine casbah or any other similar operation to operate legally - meaning Chernin is still, technically, breaking the law.

    Having said that I understand it is a well run, much needed business, but Chernin should not throw stones while running a glass doggy daycare.