Police raid mistakenly nets two Toronto veterinarians following G-20 protests


Toronto DVM John Booth woke up to see a gun staring back at him.

Toronto, Canada

-- Toronto veterinarian John Booth was abruptly awakened early Saturday morning and opened his eyes only to see a gun staring right back at him.

Police entered the home he shares with his wife, Hanna Booth, DVM, and their 6-month-old son, in search of a protestor accused of posing a threat to The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting this weekend.

“The police entered without my permission and claimed they had a warrant that had my name on it,” Booth, an associate veterinarian at Richview Animal Hospital in western Toronto, told DVM Newsmagazine in a phone interview this morning.

At approximately 4 a.m., about six police officers entered the home, which has two units, through a side door Booth says he forgot to lock. Police were actually looking for Peter Hopperton, who Booth says was staying with activists in his building’s first-floor unit.

Nevertheless, police searched Booth’s apartment and woke his wife and son, who were sleeping upstairs.

“My child woke up crying and alarmed,” Booth says. The Booth family occupies the top two floors of the home.

After searching the premises, police arrested Booth.

“They decided it was appropriate to arrest me, but didn’t explain why,” Booth says. Booth asked police to show him the warrant on several occasions, he says, but officers brushed off his questions.

Booth was told he was being charged with conspiracy to commit mischief. He was taken from his home and forced to stay on his front lawn in handcuffs for a half an hour.

“[The police] just looked for all of the males on the premises and put [us] in handcuffs,” Booth says, adding that four additional men were handcuffed from the other unit in the house.

“I told them I had no association with the G-20, no criminal history, and this was a huge mistake they were making,” he recalls. Ultimately, the lead detective on the case arrived and conferred with the other officers and determined that they should release Booth. “They released three of us and took the one guy, Peter.”

Booth has since filed a formal complaint with the police review director, an independent body, and says he still has not seen the warrant officers used to enter his home. He remained agitated about the incident even two days later.

“The police should have known there were two apartments, and if they had done their research, this wouldn’t have happened,” he says.

Booth, who earned his DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph in 2004, has been with Richview Animal Hospital since 2008. He joined the practice after spending a year traveling through Central and South America with his wife performing sterilizations on street animals for various humane organizations. Hannah now is on maternity leave and recently took a position on the board of directors for the Toronto Humane Society.

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