Search for owner of dog and puppy posts circulating online are a hoax

8 December 2023
What was claimed

A Facebook user is appealing for help finding the owners of a lost dog and its puppy.

Our verdict

This is a hoax. The photo has been shared in many different places online since at least 2021.

Multiple posts are being shared in community groups on Facebook claiming to be searching for the owner of a lost dog and its pup. But these posts are not genuine. 

One post, which has more than 1,000 shares, appears in a Facebook group for selling cars and motorbikes in Belfast. It says: “l found this sweet girl with her pup by our gate in Belfast. I got her checked at a vet she’s not microchipped and is now sleeping. She definitely misses her family. I fed her and I will continue feeding her until I find the owner. Please bump this post to help me find the owner, or someone who can take her in”. 

Almost identical posts appear in community groups across the UK, including Solihull in Birmingham, Barnsley in South Yorkshire, Didcot in Oxfordshire, as well as in groups across the USA including Himesville in Georgia, The Villages in Florida and Massillon Canton in Ohio. The posts all share the same photo of a dog seemingly asleep alongside a puppy.

There are several clues that these posts are hoaxes. Besides from the fact the same dogs can’t have been found in all these places at once, the photo has been circulating on Facebook since at least 2021. It also appears in different contexts on Instagram, Reddit, in a Korean blog showing a collection of different animal images and on two websites that claim the dogs are for sale

Moreover, the posts use very similar phrasing to other hoax posts we’ve seen before, for example referring to a “sweet girl”, saying the dog hasn’t been microchipped and asking people to “please bump this post”. 

We’ve seen hoax posts like this take many different forms, including those about missing children, abandoned infants or missing elderly relatives. 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. 

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. 

We have written to Meta expressing these concerns and asking the company to take stronger action in response to this problem. 

Image courtesy of Yuri Samoilov

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