Beware of the Dog (the hamster has a nasty temper, too).
A few weeks ago I started seeing alerts on Facebook alleging that dogs and other animals are being stolen from houses in Perth, Western Australia – large dogs for training for dogfighting, small dogs and other animals for ‘blood animals and training.’
Other versions of the story claimed – as noted by Hoax-Slayer – that “gang members posing as leaflet deliverers or walkers are marking properties that have suitable dogs with coloured stickers so that they can come back later and steal the animals. Supposedly, red stickers are for large dogs, yellow for medium sized dogs and pink for small dogs.” (Perth Dog Fighting Gang ‘Coloured Stickers’ Hoax)
Even before I saw the Hoax-Slayer article, my hoax sensors were flashing, but I didn’t have time to follow it up at the time. Now I see that the same story has grown a UK variant.
I know that dogfights (and badger-baiting and so on) are a serious problem here in the UK as elsewhere, and pets could be stolen for related purposes (though fighting dogs are normally trained from puppies), but why would you mess about with this sticker stuff?
Snopes has also picked up this story. The police in Western Australia have already dismissed the hoax, and hopefully police forces in the UK will follow suit before this thing becomes epidemic. It does, after all, have the potential to waste an awful lot of their time. This story is exploiting natural concerns about cruelty in order to propagate a pointless hoax.
David “there must be more to the internet than hoaxwatching” Harley