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Alleged 'dog thieves' nothing more than social media hype

A Facebook trend claiming two women and a man are travelling around the province stealing people’s dogs and horses is, it seems, little more than FB-driven mass hysteria, despite the fact it took local social media by storm this past weekend.

Trail top cop RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich said that, while police are aware of the claims being made on Facebook, they have had no reported incidents or investigations to back up any of the hype.

“We don’t have any reports except from what people have seen on Facebook,” he said, adding it’s not a crime that would make any sense at all. “The risk of inflaming the community like this … what is the reward?  As far as we can tell, this is just a (social media) panic. For some reason, it took hold, and it’s everywhere.”

He said he has heard some of the social media speculation – for example, that the dogs are being taken to fight each other in illegal underground gambling arenas.

“Dogs just don’t do that. Maybe ones that are abused and trained from birth to be vicious fighters … but not a family dog.”

He said that once a panic like this starts, otherwise totally normal behaviours can be interpreted as having malign intent.

“People at dog parks take pictures of dogs all the time, it’s perfectly normal, but this makes people see that sort of thing differently,” he said. “We urge people, if they are concerned, to contact RCMP and report any suspicious behaviour (ideally including descriptions and license plate numbers).

Of course, he added, were they to get any such reports, they would launch a theft (and perhaps an animal cruelty) investigation.

In the meantime, if it’s really troubling you, there is, in fact action, you can take.

“There are literally hundreds of dogs available and waiting for adoption,” he said. “If you’re really concerned about animal welfare, go to your local BC SPCA and give a dog a safe and happy home.”