Dear Councilor Hendsbee,
I want to thank you for taking the time to assist your constituent Francesca Rogier over the issue of her dog Brindi. Now that you are familiar with the case, I am sure you understand that beyond the individual impacts this situation is having on Ms. Rogier, there is a larger issue.
You probably don't recall a discussion I had with you a couple of years ago when I was reviewing the issue of how municipal councilors were remunerated in HRM. I was the co-chair of the commission struck to determine rates of pay for municipally elected officials. At that time, there was a myth that the work of a councilor was "part-time" and something which could be done in addition to making a living at another type of work. This current situation illustrates exactly the kind of scenario which shows the importance of having municipal councilors fully available to their constituents.
Prior to the implementation for the current regulations, I recall some of the comments you made about this animal control by-law when it was being formulated. In short, I would say you were an advocate of the law primarily focusing on protecting humans. This is a point I strongly agree with. A dog which is dangerous to a human being has no place in our community.
Now the case of Brindi. I believe this case shows how badly things can get twisted. The spirit and intent of the regulation has been so badly mangled that an animal that has not only never harmed a human but has universally shown affection for every human she has ever encountered can end up sentenced to death. I would be amazed to the point of shock if you or any of your colleagues on Council ever envisioned a scenario like this arising from the by-law. This hopefully sends a signal to you that there is a huge problem here that needs to be rectified.
Councilor Hendsbee, with all due respect, how can this Council continue to support a by-law that requires a person such as Ms. Rogier who is a newcomer here, someone who is trying to better the community by moving here to go to the Supreme Court to save an animal that has never caused harm to a human? Does this not clearly send a message that changes have to be made now?
I recall discussing a number of scenarios when we were in deliberations on what to recommend as a remuneration value for Councilors. My arguments were always that "No, a councilor is NOT merely a conduit for information to and from the community. We elected councilors to keep municipal bureaucracy in check." This role, as advocate for the individual resident against municipal bureaucracy running amok is the most important role of an elected official and one which should be remunerated at the level of a professional.
As a citizen of HRM if I so much as get a parking ticket I have the right to be heard before an impartial authority. That is how laws evolve, mature and ultimately serve those for whom the legislators have brought them forth. This by-law has no such avenue. It has no way to be reshaped through precedent and reasonable adjudication. I submit to you this is the time to shine by taking on this cause and bringing some rationality to this law.
As a person duly elected to represent the interests of the community, this is an opportunity for you to take this badly executed law and help us all build a workable, and supportable set of rules which will respond effectively to the real needs of the community.
21 Highwood Street
Nova Scotia B2Y 3B9