Nova Scotia

Dartmouth real estate agent fined, suspended for taking dog

A Dartmouth, N.S., real estate agent has been fined $2,500 and had her licence suspended for a month for taking a man’s dog and failing to return it. The decision against Sarah Sullivan by the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission took effect on the weekend and runs until mid-February.

N.S. Real Estate Commission calls agent's actions 'dishonourable, unprofessional, harmful'

Mike Smaggus's bichon frise, Snoopy. (Mike Smaggus)

A Dartmouth, N.S., real estate agent has been fined $2,500 and had her professional licence suspended for a month after taking a man's dog and failing to return the pet.

Mike Smaggus said real estate agent Sarah Sullivan took his bichon frise, Snoopy, under the pretense of dog-sitting for a night last spring, but instead rehomed the animal.

"This conduct is dishonourable, unprofessional, harmful to the best interests of the public and to the reputation of the industry at large," the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission said in its decision.

At the time, Smaggus and Snoopy were living in a rented north-end Dartmouth house that was listed for sale. Though Sullivan was not the listing agent, she had been to the home.

Smaggus said Sullivan offered to buy Snoopy, but he told her the dog was not for sale. She then offered to take the dog for a night while Smaggus moved out and found a new, pet-friendly place to live.

Dog rehomed

Smaggus said Sullivan gave him $200, either to help pay for the move or for Snoopy's care. When he tried to get the dog back, Sullivan told him that Snoopy was no longer with her and that he had been rehomed. 

When Smaggus tried to get Snoopy back, Sullivan used or threatened "to use information acquired only as a result of her access to the property as a real estate licensee," the real estate commission said in its decision.

The commission also accused Sullivan of providing false or misleading information to investigators on several occasions. The board also noted a prior disciplinary action against Sullivan in 2014 when she provided false information to the commission.

Not a theft

Smaggus said he called police but was told it was a civil matter, not a theft, since money had changed hands.

"I'm pretty sure I won't get the dog back," he told CBC News. "It's left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, the whole thing."

Smaggus put out an appeal on social media, but has not heard anything. He said he doesn't think there's much he can do.

"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."

Sullivan told CBC News she is unable to tell her side of the story on the advice of her lawyer. The suspension on her licence is expected to be lifted in mid-February.


Blair Rhodes


Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 40 years, the last 31 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at