Hoax posts about missing dog use photograph that has appeared in blogs for years

30 May 2023
What was claimed

A photo shared in social media posts shows a dog that has been found by a member of the public.

Our verdict

These posts are hoaxes. The photograph has appeared in online blogs for years.

Multiple Facebook posts have used the same photograph of a dog that they each claim has been found in their local area. But the posts are hoaxes. 

The posts appeared in local community groups across the UK on 25 May. One of the posts, in a group called “Dagenham and Surrounding Areas Bargains”, has been shared almost 250 times. It says: “Hello, I haven't found the owner of this sweet pup we picked up on the road in #dagenham. She's really depressed and she's not eating. We took her to the vet she's not chipped. Please bump this post to help me find the owner [sic].”

Almost identical posts in similar groups claim that the dog in the photo has been found in Blackpool and Stoke-on-Trent

A reverse image search shows that the photo has been used in multiple online blogs about dog care, with one one dating back to 2018. While Full Fact has been unable to confirm the original source of the photo, it is not true that the image has been taken recently by a member of the public who found a dog, as the posts claim.

The text in these posts is very similar to hoax posts we’ve written about before. They often use the word “sweet”, say the animal was picked up on a road and is not microchipped and ask the public to “bump” the post. 

We’ve also seen similar phrasing for hoax posts about missing children, injured pets and abandoned babies. Another clue that a post may not be genuine is that the comments section is disabled to prevent people from being able to alert others that it is a hoax. 

These posts are sometimes edited later to promote freebies, cashback or property listings. This behaviour can mean that genuine posts could 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. 

It’s always worth checking whether content is real before you share it. We have written a guide on how to verify viral images which you can read here.

Image courtesy of Book Catalog

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.