Thursday, June 3, 2010

Toronto's Pet Detectives Too Nosy

The city’s pet detectives got a little too nosy for one Toronto woman.
When a city animal services bylaw enforcement officer knocked on her door this week to ask if she has a cat or a dog, the intrusion did not sit well with the homeowner.
Having just been let go after 24 years at her job, and deep into a computer search for a new position, Renata ­ — who doesn’t have any pets — thought it a ridiculous use of city resources and just a little creepy to go door-to-door looking for evidence of a pet.
It didn’t help that Renata, who asked that her last name not be used, had also just received her city property tax bill.
“And then this woman knocks on my door and says, ‘Hi, do you have any dogs or cats?’”
Renata answered “no,” but the look on the bylaw officer’s face seemed to suggest that she did not believe her.
“Then I said, ‘Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell,’ then I slammed the door in her face because I was so angry,” she said. “Two days later I get this notice in the door saying, ‘We believe you are hiding pets. We believe you have pets in the house. Pay up.’”
Renata said she believes her angry response earned her the notice.
Mary Lou Leiher, a supervisor with Toronto Animal Services, confirmed bylaw officers have been going door to door to determine if there’s an unlicensed dog or cat in residences.
Leiher said she had not spoken directly to the female bylaw officer who attended Renata’s home and did not know what reasons she had to suspect a pet was living there.
Officers generally issue a notice if they see a pet dish or leash, and people will usually call into animal services if a mistake has been made, she said.
Renata said there was nothing on her property that pointed to a pet because she doesn’t have one.
“I think the only reason they probably gave me this request is because I, you know, was kind of snappy with her,” she said.
Leiher said if someone doesn’t respond to a pet licence request, a bylaw officer usually follows up with another in-person visit.
The funds go directly to animal care, providing shelter, adoption and rescue services, Leiher said.
Renata said she doesn’t believe this is about animals.
“All this is, is just a tax,” she said.

*Taken from the Toronto Sun