For the past two years, Ashley Lamothe says her family pets have been targeted by complete strangers — with everything from anonymous complaint letters to what she says are attempts to poison her dogs. And it's gotten so bad, she says she and her family plan to move.
Since moving into their North Kildonan home, the soon-to-be mother says she's received anonymous complaint letters. The majority of the complaints, she says, revolve around her two dogs barking.
"We were told to better care for our dog. Buy a muzzle, and try a shock collar. But she had never spent time outside because we didn't have a fence to contain her," says Lamothe.
When they first bought the house two years ago, Lamothe and her family only had one dog. They started getting the anonymous letters, which they assumed were directed at the home's previous owners. She was particularly puzzled because the couple were completing major renovations on the new home and weren't living at the house for the first few months.
Raw meat, chocolate muffins left in yard
After moving in, Lamothe says the threats became all too real and more frequent.
"Last year we had raw meat thrown into our yard. We have paper records of this all," says Lamothe.
While the threats have continued, incidents over the past two weekends have pushed Lamothe over the edge. She says chocolate muffins were strategically placed throughout her yard.
Chocolate can be toxic to dogs, and Lamothe says written threats are one thing but to purposely place food that is poisonous to dogs throughout her yard is taking the issue too far.
"I was ticked off. This time with there being six of them … They were Costco-sized muffins," says Lamothe. "My husband thinks someone trespassed and placed them. It's scary."
Lamothe is seven-and-a-half months pregnant and says she's tired of worrying whether it will be safe for her kids to play in their backyard. Considering the threats have continued for months on end, the couple is already planning on putting their home up for sale next summer.
"We will be out of here once our terms of mortgage are up. We've talked about moving now, but with the baby coming it's just too hard to up and move," said Lamothe.
"Not only do I think it's inappropriate for someone to say [the dogs] should never make a peep in their lives, but I'm not OK with people trying to poison my family."
Over the past year, Lamothe has tried to figure out where the threats are coming from. Her dogs spend most of their days indoors, she said.
Last year, both dogs were taken to obedience school and passed with flying colours, she said, and she went as far as hiring a licensed trainer to come to her house and work with their dogs. Lamothe says the trainer told her there's no way to keep a dog from ever barking but was impressed with their behaviour.
"If my dogs' two-minute bark is legitimately keeping you up, please come and tell me. I'd be more than happy to take them for a walk at that time [rather] than have them run around the yard."
Lamothe has filed numerous reports to Winnipeg police. She's hoping whoever has been targeting their family comes over to speak with her directly rather than trying to hurt their dogs.
The family is planning on putting up surveillance cameras in hopes of catching whoever is behind the threatening behaviour.
Winnipeg police say they are investigating.