A viral story about a stolen puppy allegedly tortured and killed by a Tennessee protester continues to spread across social media on Wednesday. A disturbing video, posted by Local 24News, showed a man standing behind a reporter, roughly picking up a puppy by the loose skin on his back and bobbing it up and down – the puppy appeared very frightened and in pain.
Shortly thereafter, another video appeared, and this time was posted on Twitter by @litepimp, capturing another angle of the dog being mistreated. Animal lovers called the action abusive; the videos picked up steam on social media throughout the evening and through Tuesday night; the narrative claiming the puppy was dead.
As the evening went on, Ian Miles Cheong tweeted the photos and added more details – unproven, however with more than one million views, promoted the unsubstantiated story adding the dog had been stolen “from a rescue yard” and was later “found strangled to death” and the rescue involved had been too frightened because of retaliation.
As the photos and videos were posted through page after page on Facebook, monetary rewards were being offered for anyone who could identify the man or as Cheong wrote, put a “bounty out on the killer. Soon the political angles emerged on Facebook pages bringing more divisive comments under most of the pages where the story had been posted.
More than 72,000 people have since signed a Change.org petition.
“The sick torture on live tv and eventual hanging/murder of an innocent animal on a fence is horrendous! We demand Memphis Police and DA take immediate action arrest and enforce maximum penalty for this innocent, voiceless, dog. This is a horrible act from a dangerous man obviously without conscious. Show the country we will not tolerate animal abuse and we will stop it!”
Facebook pages posted the viral story claims:
- He was stolen out of a rescue’s yard.
- News sent video to police.
- Memphis Animal Services has been notified.
- He was returned to the rescue dead on the fence.
- He has been identified.
- The rescue is very afraid of retaliation.
According to the Memphis Animal Services, no information has been received about the man in the video and no one has been able to verify the information nor has anyone supplied any evidence to prove the puppy was stolen or is deceased.
On the Memphis Animal Services page, the following statement was posted earlier on Wednesday.
Memphis Animal Services If anyone has concerns about the welfare of a pet in Memphis, it is our job to investigate, and we will always do so. If you have information about the dog or man in the photos, email email@example.com so we can conduct a welfare check. At this point, we have received no information about who the man in the photos/video is.
All we have seen about the puppy being deceased are unsubstantiated claims on social media. No one has been able to share the source of that information or present any concrete evidence to indicate the puppy was killed. No one has made any reports to us (and we are animal control, the agency charged with investigating animal cruelty in Memphis) that a puppy or dog matching this description was found deceased.
An investigation is currently underway; anyone with information can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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