A warning circulating online states that an organized gang is tagging houses and stealing dogs for use in dog fighting. Today we’ll look at this claim a little closer.
It is a hoax.
The original version of the rumor claimed that the “Perth Dog Fighting Gang” in Australia was engaging in the alleged activity. The story has since migrated to other countries, with virtually the same unfounded claims and minor variations in the details. Later versions claimed that homes were being marked with plastic bags tied to trees.
The rumor claims that scouts for these gangs will inspect a neighborhood and tag houses with stickers: red (big dogs), yellow (medium dogs), and pink (small dogs).
When the hoax originally surfaced, Tim Mayne of the RSPCA told Fairfax Media, “It’s a viral hoax. Police and the RSPCA have no solid evidence on this at all. We’ve been monitoring this situation for the last week and a half and still, to the best of our knowledge, it’s a viral hoax.”
The story offers no details, no follow-up reports, and no official statements regarding the claims being made.
The image below is often circulated as proof of the tagging performed by the dog fighting ring. This is the only such image and there is no corroborating evidence that the image is related to criminal activity.
Below is one variant of the rumor that has circulated in recent years.
Dog thieves are operating in this area!
They are possibly under the guise of two men asking people if they have any scrap metal but they are really checking out your dogs, which they may take then or come back later for.
Also, coloured stickers are being put on fences or walls so the thieves know which properties to target. If you see any stickers, please remove them, tell the property owner and then ring the police.
Please be vigilant and contact the police if you see anything or anyone suspicious.
Variation 2 (UK)
The version below appears to be targeting the UK only.
Important… Must read! Please share this.
Any dog owners beware, leaflet droppers or anyone walking around housing estates. Keep your eye out for small colored STICKERS on gates or doors, gangs are marking how many dogs live there to steal and they are using them for DOG BAIT FOR FIGHTING.
…Ring the police immediately if you see any and inform the home owners. Remove the stickers immediately!
Red stickers are for big dogs
Yellow for medium and
Pink for small breeds.
Please re-share and keep your dogs safe! This is already happening in the Goole Yorkshire area, UK and could be spreading across the country. This is disgusting.
Variation 3 (Australia)
This appears to have been the original version of the dog fighting hoax, and it continues to circulate to this day.
Pet Owner Alert
There is currently a group of people in Perth running DOG FIGHTS
They are taking ALL animals, the larger dogs for fighting and small dogs, cats and rabbits for blood animals and training
They have been stealing dogs from South and North of the river and are very well organised. They stake out properties, take photos and follow people from popular dog walking areas.
They have recently taken pets from Armandale in the South and Clarkson in the North
No suburb is safe.
A 2012 version of the rumor included a man named Michael Burdis who was allegedly attempting to steal dogs for use as bait in dog fighting. There is, however, no evidence that a man by this name has been involved with this type of activity.
Dog fighting does occur, as do dog thefts. There is no evidence that gangs are patrolling neighborhoods and tagging homes as part of a dog fighting ring. This rumor has persisted for about three years with no tangible evidence that such events are real. At least one RSPCA representative has called the rumor a “hoax.”
- Perth’s vicious dog fighting hoax (Rania Spooner)
Updated February 21, 2015
Originally published September 2013