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Real Estate News

Canadian Realtor Suspended and Fined After Taking Man’s Dog

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A Canadian realtor from Nova Scotia is facing penalties — including suspension and $2,500 in fines — after taking a man’s dog and failing to return the animal last spring.

As reported by CBC News, Sarah Sullivan of Century 21 Realty took a bichon frise named Snoopy from a Dartmouth, N.S. man named Mike Smaggus, before rehoming the pet.

Smaggus and his dog were renting a north-end Dartmouth home that was listed for sale last spring. And while Sullivan was not the listing agent, the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission says Sullivan had viewed the property with a potential buyer.

At a later date, Sullivan asked whether Smaggus would consider selling the animal, but was told that the dog was not for sale. The real estate agent then offered to take Snoopy for a night while Smaggus moved out of the home and found a new, pet-friendly place to live.

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According to CBC, Smaggus said Sullivan gave him $200, to either help him pay for the move or for Snoopy’s care. However, when Smaggus tried to get his dog back, he was told that Snoopy was no longer with Sullivan and that the animal had been rehomed.

As Smaggus tried to get his pet back, the Commission said Sullivan used or threatened “to use information acquired only as a result of her access to the property as a real estate licensee.”

Following the incident, CBC says Smaggus tried calling the police but was told it was a civil matter and not a theft, as money had been exchanged.

“I’m pretty sure I won’t get the dog back,” Smaggus told CBC News. “It’s left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, the whole thing.”

“Whoever has my dog has had him since last June, so I don’t think it’s really fair for me to take the dog back,” he said. “I’d like to see him, make sure he’s just doing alright.”

When the matter was investigated, the Commission said Sullivan provided false/misleading information to the investigator on several occasions. Additionally, Sullivan had previously been disciplined in 2014 for providing false information to the Commission during the course of an investigation.

“This conduct is dishonourable, unprofessional, harmful to the best interests of the public and to the reputation of the industry at large,” the Commission said in its decision to fine and suspend Sullivan.

“The public must have confidence that when they provide access to their property to members of the profession, that their privacy will be respected and information shall be gathered, used and shared, only for reasons related to the trading in real estate. Further, it is a violation to provide false/misleading information to the Commission.”

The suspension of Sullivan’s licence is expected to be last until February 15.

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