Anne-Marie was putting her son to sleep one night when she received a threatening phone call from a man with a clear threat.
Pet detective Anne-Marie has helped hundreds of dogs find their way home with her skilled team of ex-police officers, drone operators and hackers.
When pets go missing or get stolen, the Sydney-based investigator, who runs Arthur and Co Pet Detectives, works tirelessly to have them reunited with their owner.
“Over the years, we’ve been involved in the finding and retrieval of over hundreds of pets across Australia,” she told news.com.au podcast The Dog Detective.
One part of the job she was never prepared to face however, was dealing with an ongoing flow of trolling and hate mail – something most wouldn’t expect someone in her position would experience.
“There is these people out there who are like a negative, toxic hate club that say we’re all about the money. They don’t just deter people from contacting us, they actually contact our clients and harass them,” Anne-Marie said.
Her most harrowing experience to date was receiving a threatening phone call while putting her son to bed.
“I took the call, and because my son was so close to me, he could hear the caller,” she recalled.
“The caller said, ‘is that Anne Marie?’ And I said, ‘yes, speaking’. And he goes, ‘I know all about you. I know all about you and your animal group’.”
The man then claimed to be a NSW Police officer and told Anne Marie she could record the phone call if she liked.
She remembered him saying, “I’m going to keep finding out all about you” – a comment that left her feeling sick to the stomach.
“I was silent and my heart started racing. I started sweating and I had that horrible, burning, sinking feeling that starts from your heart and goes all the way down to your stomach and almost encompasses your entire body like it’s frozen in fear,” she said.
“I just said, ‘what’s your name?’ And he said, ‘I’ll get someone else to contact you’.”
Anne-Marie called the police straight after and explained the situation, later finding out the man had no association with police whatsoever.
She said the “haters, bullies and the death threats” often kept her up at night.
Trolls have made a habit of accusing Anne-Marie of stealing the dogs and then returning them to their owners, storing dogs in a warehouse, and even writing fake testimonials on her Facebook page.
“It has gone to very inappropriate lengths at times, where they have sought to not only defame us but destroy our life. That to me is very scary, because they are sitting behind the safety of a computer,” she said.
The harassment became so bad at one stage that Anne-Marie and her family had to move house.
The Dog Detective is news.com.au’s new six part podcast series lifting the lid on the complicated world of dog detectives, and the dark side of the pet community in Australia