911 call for a stuck cat example of misuse in Mississauga and Brampton

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Published September 29, 2023 at 9:26 am

911 call cat on roof
Photo: Leo Arslan

Police have shared another example of people calling 911 for the wrong reason — this one involved a cat stuck on the side of a building.

The call comes as police say 911 dispatch are dealing with more and more frivolous or non-emergency calls to 911, tying up resources and leaving people waiting during actual emergencies in Mississauga and Brampton.

Numbers from Peel Regional Police show there were some 644,000 calls to 911 dispatched through the police call centre in 2022 – the most emergency calls the force has ever received in a single year. And 2023 is on track for another record year.

While many people may think of the fire department to rescue a stuck cat, this isn’t an emergency for 911. This stereotype of the fire department rescuing cats is often seen in movies and television but in reality fire crews need to respond to life and death emergencies.

The call, shared on Instagram by Peel Regional Police, starts with the dispatch operator asking if the caller needs police, fire or ambulance.

The caller responds: “I’ve got a cat stuck on a building…”

After asking the caller to repeat, the dispatcher clarifies: “Like a pet cat?”

Presumably, if it was a wild cat, this would be a reason to call 911.

The caller explains the cat escaped through a window and got stuck.

When dispatch asks how 911 would be able to help, the caller asks “Do you have a ladder or…”

Peel Regional Police suggest this caller should have called Animal Services instead.

“Seconds count! 911 will get you real-life heroes for real-life emergencies,” police said on Instagram. “For everything else, call our non-emergency line. Or in this case, animal services! 100,000+ calls in 2023 have been misuse of 911. Make the right call so real emergencies don’t wait!”

Peel police say people should call 911 for emergencies such as life-threatening situations or crimes that are in progress. An attack, assault, gunshots, fire, medical emergency or a serious crime that just occurred are reasons to call 911.

A noise complaint, crime that happened hours ago or with no suspect, and a ongoing crime issue are for the police non-emergency line at 905-453-3311.

Mississauga Animal Services is at 905-896-5858 or call 311.

An apartment building manager may be able to help with a cat stuck on a roof. And an arborist may be able to help a cat stuck in a tree.

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