Thursday, 16 February 2017

Hoaxes of Facebook uncovered: The "Sticker Gang"


    In text:

    URGENT
    ALL DOG OWNERS
    BE AWARE :-
    KEEP AN EYE OPEN FOR SMALL COLOURED STICKERS ON GATES, WALLS, FENCES AND DOORS. GANGS ARE MARKING HOW MANY DOGS LIVE, IN THE PROPERTY, TO STEAL THEM. THEY ARE USING THEM FOR DOG BAIT FOR FIGHTING DOGS, AND DOG FIGHTING!!!!!
    RED: STICKER FOR BIG DOGS YELLOW: STICKER FOR MEDIUM DOGS
    PINK: STICKER FOR SMALL DOGS
    IF YOU SEE ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS,
    PLEASE CONTACT THE POLICE OR YOUR NEAREST SPCA.

    This was recently shared on our Richwood Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Richwood.WC/posts/10155005343092953 - though originally a photo posted/uploaded in the "Lost and Found Pets Edgemead/Bothasig" Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154959839877154&set=gm.1086294001497088&type=3&theater

    I'll be honest. I know pictures say more than words, but I react very allergic on such shared pamphlets. Especially those with a big and bold title "URGENT" or "CAREFUL", because they just cry for too much attention.

    Apart from the spelling errors and the multiple exclamation marks, I was very suspicious on the content itself - or in other words: it just did not make any sense, and it left me with more questions than answers. Why would a criminal raise the risk by visiting the target site a second time instead of stealing the dog the first time? Why even leave traces in form of a sticker, only for it to be found by the owner who would then just tighten up the security? Why not just use a map of the area or even a smartphone? Is it not cheaper to just breed dogs for those usage? And why am I hearing about this the first time?

    I mean, it even seems like some have already been targeted!




    Fortunately the logo at the bottom left corner is real, DBV SPCA does exist - it is an organisation to help animals (simplified version of what they do, so if you are into that, just support them) and they do have a website: https://capespca.co.za/ - with a very competent and helpful media spokesperson (Belinda) who was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had via email - with the first answer directly being:

    We can confirm that the image below did not originate from the SPCA and is in fact a hoax. Dog fighting is however a very real threat to not only our animals but to society as well. I have answered some of your questions below, let me know if you require any further information.

    Interesting. My suspicions were in fact correct. The image being shared is nothing but a hoax, a lie. There is currently no evidence that can back it up, but most importantly it was not created by SPCA, nor is being endorsed by them!

    Some further questions were answered as well:

    How many of such cases are known per year?
    We have no reason to believe that the "sticker gang" is real. The SPCA logo has been used without our knowledge and as a movement we do not endorse this message.

    In what areas are dog fights popular (e.g. is this even a Cape Town problem? If so, which suburbs?)
    Dog fighting in Cape Town is very real. With varying levels of engagement in this blood sport, participation is widespread across all socio-economic sectors.

    Why is it important to steal dogs, wouldn't it be risk freer and cheaper to breed dogs for fighting?
    Breeding a winning bloodline is expensive.  A dog with all the physical characteristics of good fighting capabilities are targeted potentially for breeding and fighting purposes. Small breeds / very submissive animals are stolen for bait purposes - explained further below.

    What is "dog bait"?
    Bait dogs suffer the worst fates imaginable and are essentially the dogs used to train fighting dogs to attack. Picked for their submissive demeanours and unwillingness to fight, they become the practise dogs to encourage unbridled aggression, often with their mouths taped shut to ensure no injury to the attacker.  These dogs can be used over and over again until they are eventually killed or left to die. The attached article will provide you with more information on the training process and the use of bait animals.

    So why would this even bother me to write a blog article about it? Well with all the chatter about fake-news on Facebook and Donald Trump becoming president, this is sadly something that is real and I had to experience as well. People will share things without checking the facts as long as it fits their narrative. Why did the person original upload this image? I can't tell as she did not reply to my messages. Maybe she just wanted to troll, maybe she wanted to spread some good old fear amongst others - I would not know.

    People are just naively believing what some stranger shared on the internet without even checking the facts - or using just a pinch of common sense in first place.
    We have enough real problems in our community (like does nobody smell that stinky air pollution from that caltex refinery??), and also a bunch of great people helping out - no reason to spread false information.

    2 comments:

    1. there are no spelling errors that I can see the word "Coloured" is Canadian spelling and correct. Check sources first before coming to a full conclusion.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Jackie: you are right, I have difficulties re-finding the spelling errors I mentioned, however, if you would have read the complete blog post, you'd realise that I indeed check the sources before coming to a "full conclusion". In this case I did a email interview with the actual, real and official "DBV SPCA".

        Meanwhile all facebook posts (that I know of) were taken down, and the original person who shared it, apologised for not knowing better and that it was being shared "with love" and had no malice intention.

        So all good :)

        Delete