Francesca Rogier v. The Halifax Regional Municipality-- excerpts

[Editor's note: this article is related to today's feature story, Saving Brindi.]

Here is a list of excerpts from the January 16, 2009, decision of Justice Duncan Beveridge in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia decision in the case of Francesca Rogier v. The Halifax Regional Municipality, the Field Operations Supervisor, Animal Services, Halifax Regional Police and an Animal Control Officer for Halifax Regional Municipality.

Find the full text here.

Beveridge wrote in the Introduction to his decision---which declared certain portions of By-law A-300 invalid and quashed the decision to have Brindi the dog euthanized---that:

[3] … the statutory decision-maker did not accord to its owner even the most minimal requirements for procedural fairness.

Part of the reason Beveridge ruled in that manner was that Animal Control Officer Tim Hamm, who delivered Francesca Rogier the May 2, 2008, muzzle order and had visited her on other complaints, failed to:

[21] … tell her about any policy of HRM that euthanasia would automatically follow in the event she should fail to comply with the order. I note that there is no evidence before me of any such policy.

During the investigation into the subsequent attack by Brindi on July 20, 2008, which resulted in the euthanization order:

[29] It does not appear that ACO Hamm, or any other officer from HRM Animal Control Services ever contacted or interviewed [Rogier].

And, Beveridge ruled, Rogier:

[100] …had at least a legitimate expectation that she would have a meaningful opportunity for input as to how the discretion would be exercised by the animal control officer.

Without that input, Beveridge ruled, Rogier:

[108] … had no opportunity to know what was being contemplated and why and perhaps more importantly, an opportunity to influence the exercise of discretion by Hamm. Animal Control Officer Hamm had absolutely no information from the applicant as to how and under what circumstances Brindi had gotten loose….

Rogier, Beveridge decided:

[109] … may ultimately have not been successful in influencing the discretionary decision of Hamm, but that is not the issue. The issue is she had no opportunity to have any input, let alone a meaningful one.

The decision-making flexibility granted Animal Control Officers is part of the process of enforcing By-Law A-300, but so are the formal practices in use. Beveridge noted, however, that while Rogier was encouraged in writing at the time of Brindi’s seizure and euthanization order to seek legal counsel and contact the HRM Legal Department if she disagreed with the euthanization decision:

[113] … [HRM] acknowledges that there is in fact no appeal procedure available to the applicant….

And, while Rogier sent correspondence in her dog’s defence to the Animal Services Field Operations Supervisor:

[113] … There is a complete absence of evidence in the record that these materials were ever reviewed and considered by the statutory decision-maker, Animal Control Officer Hamm.

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