When mail stopped being delivered to a community mailbox on Towercrest Drive in Newmarket, residents said they were given no notice. It was only after a couple of weeks and some digging of their own that they found out the reason was a dog named Moe.
Greg Marinoff has lived on the street for three years with his dog, Moe, and two daughters. The house is on the corner and the mailbox for the street is located by the side of his house.
Moe is a mixed breed, including Belgian Mallinois and German Shepherd. Since the house doesn't have a backyard, Moe's outdoor space is the front and side yard and roams around freely without a leash. He is well trained and won't leave the property, won't bark, and doesn't bother people walking by.
“At first it’s scary, it’s intimidating but as you walk by, you understand that he’s friendly,” said Kira Nox, one of Marinoff's daughters. "Everybody knows Moe to be this lovely, friendly dog."
A woman soon walks by, stopping and greeting Moe by name, saying, "You’re so special, such a gentleman.”
Marinoff is always outside whenever Moe is and spends most of his time working on his car or sitting and waving to everyone going by. He was forced to retire after a battle with neck cancer, which left him with a hole in his throat and limited speaking ability.
For two years, Marinoff said they had no problem with the mail delivery but back in May, they noticed they weren't receiving anything. After two weeks, they heard from a neighbour and learned that Moe was the reason why. Because the dog was considered "at large," it was deemed a safety issue and mail was stopped.
“They just thought by looking at him he was this vicious dog that’s unleashed. Instead of saying 'hi,' they just left with everybody’s mail. Then they started withholding it because they didn’t want to come around the dog,” Nox said.
Canada Post wouldn't speak about the specific situation but representative Phil Legault said, "If a delivery agent identifies a health and safety threat on their delivery route, we will stop delivery to that address and possibly street if the dog is at large. We have a process that sees our joint local and health safety team visit the area to determine the situation. Our local safety and operations teams will then work on proposed solutions with the dog owner."
However, Marinoff said for weeks they didn't hear anything from Canada Post.
“The frustrating part is instead of coming up and saying, ‘hey, look, can you keep your dog in from this point to this point for delivery at this time’ they just stopped delivering it. I didn’t know anything about it,” he said.
Betty Durocher, who lives on the street, was also impacted by this. She agreed that they didn't receive any official notice about the issue.
“We were notified of nothing, nothing at all,” she said.
Durocher heard about it from another neighbour after about two weeks of not receiving mail. She said Canada Post should have sent notices to everyone's door or at least left something on the mailbox.
“Why all of a sudden does this one postal person decide they’re not delivering mail?” she said. “One of the things I really objected to is we weren’t advised.”
She said she started a petition and wrote a letter to Canada Post stating that Moe is a friendly dog and the situation should be remedied in a way that doesn't stop Marinoff and his dog from enjoying their property.
“Moe has really become a friend to the neighbourhood,” Durocher said.
He has especially become a friend to her grandchildren, Raquel and Ethan, who stay with her after school multiple times a week. Ethan said that Moe is friendly and gentle and he'll often stop to pet him or play with him when he walks by.
“I feel like the guy wouldn’t let the dog loose to walk around if it was dangerous. He’s such a nice dog,” Raquel said.
Even the first time she ever saw Moe unleashed, she said it was fine. She said Marinoff was washing his car and “Moe was calm, he was just walking around. He was minding his own business, so I didn’t get nervous."
Marinoff's daughter, Adrian, said they were touched when they caught wind of the petition that was going around.
"Basically, it was strongly worded petition, every neighbour except one [signed]," she said.
Around the same time, a representative from Canada Post came to their door with a letter demanding Marinoff sign it stating Moe would be kept inside so the mail could be delivered, an idea he said his family wasn't thrilled about.
“It is their job and we don’t want them to be uncomfortable doing their job because that’s unfair to them, because that’s what they work to do,” Nox said. “Instead of just saying ‘keep him inside during these times,’ if they said ‘if you wouldn’t mind just during these times that you could watch me do the mail so that I know you’re there’ that’s easier to understand.”
Marinoff agreed this whole situation could have been avoided if there had been a civil conversation from the start. Adrian said she wants the same thing but thinks it didn't happen because her dad is non-verbal and looks intimidating.
“The frustrating part is that people think because he looks scary, he looks scary that they can’t approach and ask questions. Because he has a hard time talking people just yell at him,” she said of her dad and dog. “It’s difficult because it feels like it’s the world against a disabled man and that’s not really cool. We’re not doing anything wrong and the dog’s not doing anything wrong.”
Marinoff did eventually sign the notice from Canada Post and said he delivered it to them on June 9 but it wasn't until June 17 that mail delivery was resumed. They're not sure if it was because of the letter or because of the efforts of their neighbours.
“I think it was a neighbourhood effort where the petition was sent and then everybody was following up because, you know, it is frustrating when you lose your mail and it’s not your fault, so obviously people were calling. I think it was just a neighbourhood effort where everybody was so frustrated that at one point even though Canada Post tried to pressure my dad, the neighbourhood pressured them more," Adrian said.
Durocher agreed that the petition might have contributed to the situation being remedied and said, “I have a good idea that it was from everyone involved."
Canada Post spokesperson Legault confirmed delivery resumed June 17 and will continue as long as it's safe to do so. He said on days were they are unable to deliver, residents will have to get their mail from the post office at 190 Mulock Dr.
Adrian said she hopes by sharing their experience, people will become more understanding overall and that similar situations will be avoided in the future.
“At the end of the day. I just want people to leave my dad alone. I just want him to be able to do his thing, Moe to do his thing and people to stop making assumptions over people they don’t know,” she said.