It started as a fight to save one dog’s life, but now the whole animal-control system is on the line.
Francesca Rogier’s dog, Brindi, has been on death row for more than five months after it attacked a guide dog — its third attack on another animal.
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The city sentenced Brindi to be put down despite Rogier’s insistence that Brindi was affectionate and generally well-behaved.
Rogier took the city to court. Yesterday, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court heard the case of whether the system that sentenced Brindi to death is fair.
“There’s much more involved than a dog,” said lawyer Blair Mitchell. “What it is, is the exercise of administrative power by the city unfairly.”
Mitchell argued the animal-control bylaw is essentially illegal because there is no element of fairness or accountability. Mitchell said the decision to put down an animal shouldn’t just be made by an animal-control officer, but must go before a judge or some sort of independent review.
He also said owners have no opportunity to appeal a decision or offer evidence to support the animal. If Rogier wins, it would almost certainly mean the system will be overhauled.
“Believe me, no one in Francesca Rogier’s position or no lawyer representing her would want to be in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia litigating a case like this. The point is, they haven’t given us any option,” said Mitchell.
But lawyers for the city argued the bylaw is valid and the animal’s history of aggressive behaviour gave adequate reason for euthanization.
“This dog seems to find a victim every time it’s free. The province doesn’t tolerate these kinds of dogs,” said lawyer Kishan Persaud.
Mayor Peter Kelly said regional council is waiting on the outcome of the court case before looking at the animal-control bylaw.