The Journey for a Life(time)

By isak, January 27, 2010


“They say you have to walk in someone’s shoes to understand what they feel. But sometimes, all you have to do is look down the path they have walked to understand enough to stand with them. These days, we seem to be given few options BUT to stand with Francesca Rogier as she continues her journey to her dog’s freedom.”

That’s how I opened a post on this blog almost 7 months ago. How naive I was, how noble my gesture, how I utterly underestimated the adventure.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” says Lao-Tzu, a Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC). Although this is the more recognized version of this quotation, a more correct translation from the original Chinese would be “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.” Rather than emphasizing the first step, Lau Tzu regarded action as something that arises naturally from stillness. From stillness, Francesca began her journey to save the life of Brindi, her companion dog, from a death sentence laid on her for minor “offenses” by Animal Control in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The A-300 By-Laws offered her no recourse to challenge this arbitrary ruling except to sue the city.

So Francesca sued the city. She won. Part of the By-Law was quashed. Brindi should have been freed.

But the authorities regrouped for a special session and hatched a new plan. Rather than work with the owner on an amicable resolution, the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) opted to file NEW charges against the owner and continue to hold Brindi — in a facility intended to house animals for no more than 30 days. By this point, Brindi had already been held in that facility for six months. This decision was not imposed by necessity. Read the court records of the By-Law violations in the Halifax Regional Municipality from January 2007 – September 2009: incidences of dogs attacking animals and/or people have resulted in fines ranging from $1 to $760. Per their records, one dog was ordered destroyed (may as well call it what it is) in 2007.

I have made this journey with Francesca since April, 2008. I have walked behind her, beside her, in front of her, anytime of the day or night, through smiles and through tears. I have read it all and heard it all. I have sought my own answers. I have rested along the side of the path when I have grown weary. I have considered leaving the march when it gets hard — hey, it’s not my problem. But I will not quit. Regardless of the obstacles, I will not abandon my commitment. I will be there because I believe in Francesca, I believe in Brindi, and I believe they should be together.

The journey has been allowed to go on for too long. People that have privately told me they support Francesca bash her when they are among their friends. How small we become when we give in to our vanities.

What is the logic behind HRM’s vicious attack on this dog owner? Is there any? I cannot find a substantive reason.

The bottom line is that Brindi is not a threat to the safety of the community in which she lives and Francesca has offered “good faith” resolutions that have gone unanswered. Perhaps HRM will see this soon. Maybe they will take a step back and discuss an amicable resolution with Francesca. What could it hurt?

It would be the right thing to do, Halifax.

The trial resumes January 29, 2010.

Note: In case I was not clear, it is HRM’s goal to DESTROY Brindi. Though owners of dogs with more serious infractions have paid their fine and gone back to life as usual, HRM’s narrow focus seems further fueled by the Supreme Court ruling in January, 2009 quashing Animal Control’s original plan to euthanize Brindi. The justice they hand out for animals in Halifax is not equal. If your knew some of the behind-the-scenes events, you, too, would arrive at the decision this situation is motivated by personal issues. Brindi is being used as a pawn by HRM in this unnecessary, irrational and inappropriately one-sided pursuit.