Thursday, February 4, 2010

Deconstructing a BAD newspaper article

The Chronicle Herald published an article today about the Brindi case that is just so inaccurate that it borders on the ridiculous. If all journalism was done like this - there would be no truth that could be believed anywhere. I hope this doesn't happen very often at the Chronicle Herald. Let's go through this a bit.

Brindi the dog saga still not over
Judge reserves decision on whether to allow SPCA to euthanize allegedly dangerous dog

An East Chezzetcook woman says Halifax Regional Municipality charged her with violating its animal control bylaw only because it wants to destroy her dog,

“HRM is seeking to accept nothing short of murdering my dog,” Francesca Rogier said Wednesday at her trial in Dartmouth provincial court.

“They believe my dog is dangerous and should be put down. ... The issue isn't whether or not I broke bylaws.

Here's the first thing I want to comment on. Did Francesca say that in court under oath, or outside of court in an interview? “They believe my dog is dangerous and should be put down. ... The issue isn't whether or not I broke bylaws.

"The issue isn't whether or not I broke bylaws". Actually, it is. And it's not whether Brindi broke the bylaws - it's whether Francesca broke the bylaws. Let's be clear on this. It was Francesca who did not muzzle her dog before she chained her dog out on a pole so she could have a pee - because that's where she was when she broke free to go chase dogs at her property line - which caused all the havoc and heartache that is going on now. It's not that she got loose from Francesca's grip - that is the rewriting of history that Francesca has done in the last year and a half. She desribed this on her blog - she might have removed the posts by now - but the posts are all on hard drives across the world.

I'm very unhappy with the fact it was handled this way.”

Ms. Rogier is charged with 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.

Judge Alanna Murphy, who is presiding over the trial, reserved her decision until Feb. 23 after hearing final arguments Wednesday.

Animal control officers, acting on a complaint from another pet owner, seized Brindi in July 2008 and ordered the mixed-breed dog euthanized.

But a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge ruled last January that the bylaw that authorized the killing of Brindi exceeded the power of the municipality. Justice Duncan Beveridge also said Ms. Rogier was never given a chance to oppose the decision to seize and destroy her dog.

Three days later, and one day before the six-month limitation period would have expired, the municipality laid the charges against Ms. Rogier.

If Ms. Rogier is convicted, the municipality will seek to have Brindi euthanized.

Brindi has been kept at the SPCA shelter since she was seized. Ms. Rogier has been allowed to visit the dog once, and that was more than a year ago.

Jesus, where did this guy get his facts from? Obviously only from Francesca - because that is obviously not true. Francesca had weekly visits for months and months - until January, when Brindi came down with pancreatitis, and Francesca also freaked out at a volunteer in the parking lot at the Dartmouth SPCA and scared the bejeezus out of her, and Francesca's weekly visits were suspended. But Francesca had weekly visits - that she wrote about on her own blog all the time. Very easily verifiable.

Judge Murphy heard three days of evidence and arguments. The trial got underway Oct. 13 and also sat last Friday.

Dartmouth lawyer Geoff Newton is prosecuting the case for the municipality. Ms. Rogier, who has spent more than $30,000 on lawyers since her dog was seized, ended up representing herself at trial.

That is pretty much by her own doing - having to represent herself - she burned her way through every lawyer in Nova Scotia. And that is a fact. She is a tough lady to get along with.

Fifteen people, including Ms. Rogier, testified at the hearing.

Brindi was under a muzzle order in July 2008 because of three earlier complaints about her behaviour. On July 20, she allegedly ran off Ms. Rogier's property and
attacked a dog that was being walked along the road.

Ms. Rogier told the court that Brindi got away from her as she was putting on the muzzle.

“I can't be sure what was going through her mind when she escaped my double-handed grip,” she said.

Here's some Francesca quotes:

"The first time, she broke a thin leash chain; other times, she slipped past me, just as we were going out, or when I was just tying her up."

"I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT I SCREWED UP: if I had just gotten my butt out the door with her for a walk last Sunday instead of trying to tie her up for a pee, I would not be in this HELL,"

And I have more of these.

None of those quotes include holding Brindi in a "double-handed grip", unfortunately. The passage of time has created a new story around the events that have created this debacle - and I cannot let that happen. I cannot let this newspaper story go on unremarked. Because the truth should prevail. Especially when the truth is known by some.

In her closing submission, Ms. Rogier said she had rescued the dog a few months earlier from a shelter where it had been locked up for two years. Brindi needed more training, she said, but was making progress despite “understandable

It was actually one year earlier. And "understandable lapses"? What's up with that? Was she continuing to be abused? Is that why the lapses were understandable? Or was the training inconsistent? Is that why the lapses were understandable? Those are the only reason why I could think of training lapses as being understandable. Sheesh. That is what you call double-speak.

Ms. Rogier said she showed due diligence on the day in question by trying to muzzle the dog. She also said the order from the municipality that Brindi had to be muzzled when outside was ambiguous because it didn't specify whether that
applied to her property.

She did not show due diligence - she did not try to muzzle Brindi at all - she had tied her out to a pole - and she had never used a proper muzzle on Brindi - she had only ever used a gentle leader. This is her once again rewriting history.

Mr. Newton, in his closing comments, said the dog allegedly attacked by Brindi suffered puncture wounds to its neck area.

“If that's not a public safety issue, I don't know what is,” he said.

“She took Brindi outside the house without a leash and a muzzle,” Mr. Newton said of Ms. Rogier.

“She's guilty of all three counts on the information and I seek convictions on all three counts.”

So what am I saying by all of this? I've said it in previous blog posts. It is not Brindi who is at fault at all. It is the dog's owner. The dog should not suffer - it should be the dog owner. Brindi should not die, but Brindi's owner should suffer the consequences. And our legislation should reflect that.

We need to have legislation at the municipal level that allows for the removal of the dog from owners who don't follow compliance orders time after time - but doesn't involve the destruction of the dog - if the dog's not dangerous. The dog can be rehomed or rehabilated. But the dog is still taken away - because the owner is not responsible enough to have a dog that has issues. That owner cannot be trusted with that dog. That owner might be able to handle a little toy poodle that is well socialized and only has 3 legs, - because they might not be an animal abuser, they just aren't very responsible about the power a dog with issues can have.

We don't need to re-invent the wheel - the legislation is written very well for other cities - we just need to implement it here - and a lot of dog's lives will be saved, and the bureaucrats lives will be made easier, and the people will be safer. It's a win win situation. And citizens like Francesca - would save thousands and thousands of dollars and be able to get on with their lives a couple year's sooner - because they'd have good legislation and know what the rules are - you be a shitty dog owner - you have your dog taken away. No excuses. Period. Pretty simple. None of this bullshit like we've seen since July, 2008 that's gone from here to the other side of the world - and resulting newspaper articles - in our local newspaper even.

I do have to ask myself the question though, what happens if Francesca is found guilty on all counts - and they do say that they must kill Brindi because they've found her guilty of the offences? That they have no choice because of the way the legislation is written? Francesca has said all along that she is fighting so hard because if she's found guilty that they will kill Brindi - that the city has no other option - it is either win - or Brindi dies - there is no gray area at all.

Whereas almost everyone can't believe that the city will actually kill Brindi even if Francesca is found guilty - there is no one who has actually come out and said that Brindi is actually dangerous - everyone DOES acknowledge that Brindi is not in fact dangerous - and that's been sort of the unmentioned thing in this whole story - that Brindi IS NOT actually dangerous - she's just a rescue dog with a hard luck life who's got the same problems that a lot of dogs do - and it just so happens that Francesca couldn't deal with them very well. But that's the thing that Francseca will never admit too. But at the same time - there's tons of people who are the same way who don't have their dogs seized - so why pick on Francesca.

I think really - in the end - it was just a series of bad luck, after bad luck, and soBme more bad luck. Which led to today - it could have happened to anyone. It's what makes the world happen.

But back to the moral issue of Brindi - and what happens if her euthanization is actually ordered if Francesca's case is lost - what is all of our culpability? Those of us who have been saying that irresponsible owners should not have their dogs back?

It's a fine line. And this has been a very dirty war. I have been advocating legislation that would allow dogs like Brindi to live. Francesca has been fighting to keep her dog - understandably - and not acknowledging that anything she did is wrong, which to me isn't right - and others have been attacking Francesca very personally - which is also very wrong.

Dog owners like Francesca would say that what I'm advocating isn't any good - because they still lose their dogs - but if you've proven yourself not to be an adequate caretaker and a good member of dog society, so be it.

As for all the other nonsense that's gone on since July, 2008 - and an unbelieveable amount of it has - and it has affected the lives of a lot of people - I will be glad when February 23rd finally comes. I really hope that it doesn't mean the death of Brindi. I really do. And I hope that some closure can finally come so that people can move on with their lives. And the lies, intimidation, threats, harassment, and general nastiness can finally stop. And hopefully Brindi, can finally have some peace.


  1. Cannot wait for a decision to be made in this case. What a nightmare for everyone involved. I feel for Francesca, because it must be awful, spending so much time being afraid that your dog is going to be euthanized by the city. But I feel for the people she's accused of slander/libel/harassment and whatnot else all because they disagreed with her.

    Hopefully we can all move on from this after the 23rd, regardless what the outcome is.

  2. Anonymous9:30 AM

    So Dan, can I assume then that you think it's fair that the neighbours are afraid to walk their dogs down the road near Francesca's home? I definitely do not think that Brindi should be killed, but I also think that Francesca has proven numerous times over again that she is not responsible enough to care for the dog. If Brindi is placed back with Francesca, the other dog owners in the area, or at least the ones who have had their dogs attacked by Brindi in the past, will never feel safe again!! I sure don't think that's fair!!

  3. Anonymous9:58 AM

    By the way, Joan, thanks again for another great read. You seem to be such a down-to-earth person, and although you do certainly give your opinions, you also do not bash others for theirs. I read your blog faithfully because you are the one place I can go to read things without the bashing, name-calling, etc., and you always post the facts, not the one-sided crap that the facebook sites have (and I mean that for BOTH sides of the Brindi case!). Thanks again!

  4. KarenS.5:04 PM

    "This owner was not at fault for anything that should result in removing her dog."

    I don't understand how you can say this. This owner was at fault for not keeping her dog properly restrained when she had had previous warnings that she must, and chose to either disregard those warnings because she was overconfident or careless, or was less vigilant than she should have been. Your comment makes absolutely no sense.

  5. Anonymous5:47 PM

    I believe that HRM has to act in a consistent and fair manner when enforcing by-laws, not sure if they did so in this case when compared with the punishment in other incidences which resulted in death to other animals and/or injuries to humans.

    That being said, I find it disturbing the downplaying and revisionist history that is coming out of the "SB" camp. Mistakes and errors of judgment were certainly made by this owner. To deny mistakes were made, or to leave false impressions by omission of facts, or by the failure to correct falsehoods is wrong.

    To be a responsible dog owner, you have to first be able to take "responsibility" for your own behaviour and mistakes in this life.

    Does this owner realize that if she gets her dog back that there can NEVER be any more mistakes?

    I'm not sure, but I hope she does.

  6. Anonymous7:47 AM

    I guess we know different people in the area then, Janice, because I also know several people who live on the road, and they have all said they were very afraid to walk their dogs past Francesca's house. While I don't know if any of them actually want to see the dog destroyed, they do NOT want her back in their community. It's simple...if you can't control your dog, you shouldn't have her!

    Years ago I owned a dog that was aggressive with other dogs, however I was able to control her and never had a single issue with her. I believe Brindi needs to go to someone who takes her aggression seriously. Before the first complaint about Brindi was even made, people were afraid to walk by her house. There may not have been attacks at that point, but Brindi was so aggressive, both vocally and physically, that they were afraid she would get loose and attack them. Francesca proved that she did not take it seriously because it wasn't until the dog was taken that she put up a fence. I respect that she is so devoted to her dog to fight like she has, but I think she should stick to owning cats!

  7. I'm wondering how many hateful messages you have received after posting this. It's quite sad that you " JOAN " have to go thru to post the truth.

    Hopefully you will continue to cover the drama ship as it continues to sail. Hopefully it will all be over soon enough!

  8. You have no idea, "Special Viewer", and it's not just on my blog - they like to spread it around on other people's blogs. I don't take it personally though, because this is the internet, and everything is an illusion on the internet. Including almost all of this story.

  9. Anonymous10:06 PM

    One more inaccuracy that isn't mentioned "Judge reserves decision on whether to allow SPCA to euthanize allegedly dangerous dog" It's HRM not SPCA seeking to euthanize Brindi, even this first sentence is inaccurate. media should get thier facts straight