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‘Raccoon is eating lasagna’: NY reveals bizarre enquiries on 311

New York’s non-emergency hotline is largely intended for noise complaints, rat sightings and enquiries about much-loathed alternate side parking rules.

But the 311 number has, in its 20 years in operation, also received its fair share of obscure enquiries that operators may have struggled to answer, the city has revealed.

“Can you tell me the steps for boiling a live chicken?” one caller asked, according to a list released on Thursday to mark the service’s 20-year history.

Another wanted to know whether their dog could be claimed as a dependent on their taxes.

“Can you transfer me to a ufo-ologist?” was another request. 

One caller wanted to know who won TV talent show American Idol while another informed the city that “a goat is tied to the stairwell in my building.”

“A raccoon is eating lasagna on my porch,” also made the “calls to remember” list.

Other questions and complaints operators struggled to answer included someone asking if he could file a noise complaint against his refrigerator, and another asking if someone could spray the tree so leaves stop falling. 

‘Indispensable resource’

The city said that 311 had received more than 525 million contacts by phone, text, social media posts and other means since it was launched in March 2003.

As the service turns 20, Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement that the number had become “an indispensable resource for New Yorkers” over the past two decades.

Adams said in a news release that the city’s first-ever 311 call was for a noise complaint in the Jackson Heights neighbourhood of Queens.

Baltimore was the first US city to use 311 for non-emergency calls in 1996.

New York City’s 311 system was inaugurated by then-mayor Mike Bloomberg on March 9, 2003 and grew to become the nation’s largest such service.

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