Owner of Brindi the dog found guilty

The Halifax woman behind a high-profile battle over her dog was found guilty on all three counts relating to 2010 attack on a neighbour's pet Thursday.

Halifax Regional Municipality asked that Francesca Rogier's dog, Brindi, be put down.

Rogier said the 2010 attack near her home in East Chezzetcook was not serious. "They were flesh wounds. They didn't go deep into the fatty tissue," she told CBC News outside the court.

Brindi jumped out of the window of Rogier's car and sank its teeth into a neighbour's smaller dog. The attacked dog was on a leashed walk with its owners. Brindi had recently been released after an earlier attack on another dog.

The judge ruled the 2010 attack broke three bylaws because Brindi was running at large and attacked another dog when Brindi was supposed to be wearing a muzzle.

The dog was seized after the attack and is still at the city pound. The city argued Brindi should be destroyed.

"They would never have seized her in the first place if they didn't want to kill her," Rogier said.

Rogier's dog first got into trouble when it attacked another dog in 2008. Rogier fought a long and costly court battle to save her pet.

A court spared Brindi but imposed several conditions. Rogier was ordered to take a training course with her dog and muzzle her pet if it wasn't in a fenced-in area.

The judge warned that Brindi would likely be put to death if there was another attack.

Rogier said she plans to appeal the decision, arguing there were "strong charter" issues at play. She will be sentenced at the end of June. The dog's fate will be decided at the same time.

The Brindi case has changed the way municipalities in Nova Scotia handle dog seizures. Many are re-examining bylaws or changing the way they enforce them.

The case lead to a Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision that a bylaw did not give Halifax the right to seize and destroy an animal just on a suspicion of wrongdoing.

Pet owner Eric Hagen had a run-in with a Chester dog bylaw enforcer. A neighbour complained in November that Hagen's poodle bit their dog. A bylaw officer went to Hagen's home the next day.

"He said, 'I have more power than any RCMP officer in Canada. We're taking the dog,'" Hagen said.

He said the officer told him he would decide whether the poodle was put down.

Hagen said the seizure powers were too broad, especially because nothing was proven. "Without due process, no one should be allowed to come on your property in that fashion," he said.

Defining the scope of a bylaw officer's power to seize animals led Bridgewater to rewrite its dog bylaw.

"We need to put the interests of the community, and the safety of the community, but we also need to consider the interests of the dog owner, as well as of the pet itself," said town spokeswoman Christina Wentzell.

Bridgewater will now have to go to court to get permission to destroy a pet. "It would actually be more valuable and a more fair process if we actually did take it to court," Wentzell said.

Halifax now seeks court orders to seize and destroy an animal in non-emergencies.

Hagen saw his charges withdrawn. Chester has asked the province to clarify its powers in such cases as it considers how to handle future incidents.

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