Social media appeals to reunite owner with injured dog are likely hoaxes

4 December 2023
What was claimed

A dog has been found on the roadside after being hit by a car. They were taken to a vet but were not microchipped, and their owner is being urgently sought.

Our verdict

This appeal is unlikely to be genuine. The same image and identical wording has been used for multiple posts claiming the dog was injured in locations across England, Scotland, and the USA, as well as in Canada.

Social media posts appealing to find the owner of a dog allegedly struck by a car have been shared widely across Facebook. But this does not appear to be genuine, as locations for the same “hit-and-run” incident claimed to have injured the same dog have been repeated across local groups ranging from the UK to America.

Multiple Facebook posts circulating since 28 November use the same image of a dog with cream fur being held wrapped in a blanket with blood on its muzzle, inside what appears to be a veterinary surgery.

The posts, some of which have been shared more than a thousand times, all share almost identical captions. They say: “I am urgently looking for this guy’s owner [heartbreak emoji] found him lying on the side road in [location].

“He was hit by a car in a hit-and-run incident. I took him to the vet he is not chipped I know someone is looking for him. He misses his family, I'll continue to take care of him in the meantime. Please bump this post to help me find his owner!!”.

Sometimes the wording of the post says “desperately” rather than “urgently” looking for the owner. The use of near-identical text alongside the same image in multiple posts is a strong indicator that the appeal is not a genuine attempt to connect with the owner. 

There is no evidence that the appeal is genuine. Duplicate posts name different locations for the incident across the UK, including in Doncaster, Tameside, Grimsby, Wyton in Cambridgeshire, Camberley in Surrey, Aberdeen and Edinburgh in Scotland.

Appeals using almost identical wording and the same image are also being shared widely across Facebook groups in the USA, claiming the dog was injured in Rittman, Ohio; Sangamon County, Illinois; Tucson, Arizona and Lake Jackson in Texas. Other posts place the incident as being in Cayey, Puerto Rico, and Saskatoon in Canada.

Searches for the same text on Facebook reveal scores of posts allegedly about the same dog being hit by cars in different locations worldwide. However it is impossible for the same dog to have been involved in so many different places, if the incidents had taken place.

Another clue that the posts may be hoaxes is that in the majority of cases where they have been shared in community groups, comments have been switched off. 

If the appeals were genuine, people seeking information to reunite a dog with its owner would be unlikely to limit the ways in which they can be contacted. 

We have previously checked many different posts using the same or similar wording alongside a different picture, suggesting that the authors of the posts are reusing content to share in different community Facebook groups. 

Hoaxes can damage people’s trust in local community news, because groups can become overwhelmed with false information. As a result, genuine posts may be ignored or dismissed as false. 

You can read more about how to spot Facebook hoax posts using our guide here. We’ve also published an investigation into how and why these posts are shared so widely. 

We have written many times before about other hoax posts, such as reports of missing children, abandoned infants or missing elderly relatives

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