Hoaxes & Rumors

Investigating the Hanging Puppy Photo

Investigating the Hanging Puppy Photo
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It’s a disturbing sight, regardless of its origin: two men holding a wire, wrapped around a puppy’s neck, while laughing and flipping us the bird. The photo has seen a resurgence on the internet recently, especially on Facebook. The captions vary, but they usually encourage people to share the photo in hopes that the culprits can be found.

But is this photo real and is it recent?

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The short explanation is (as best as we can tell) that the photo is probably not a hoax, but the story is old and inaccurate as shared in 2011.

Because there are no definite answers about who is in the photo and if it’s a hoax, we can at least go back to its origins, some of the original stories, and some theories behind it.

History

• The photo pre-dates 2011.
It can be found readily from news posts and blog posts from 2010. Claims of it being years old cannot be substantiated as of this writing because I simply couldn’t find any references to it or copies of it on any pages prior to mid-2010. 

** Update: See comments below. A commenter has found this photo from a Portuguese blog dated 2008. The blogger states that he/she received that photo in an email, which corroborates many of the 2010 comments I read which stated that this photo had been floating around via email for some time. That blog also points to this page, which has some forwarded emails referring to this photo.

• (If real) The dog is was probably killed and mutilated
There were additional photos purportedly of the same puppy, which unfortunately had been brutally killed. One photo shows it having been stabbed, while another shows an eye that had been apparently carved out of its head. It appeared to be the same dog as in the picture.

Summary

Because a rather lengthy explanation follows, some readers would want to see my conclusion first. The story as we can best piece it together is:

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The photo was taken sometime before August 2010. A Facebook “troll” group started a page using this photo in August 2010, which led to its eventual proliferation in October 2010. That’s when a prominent Malaysian actress retweeted the photo, authorities took notice, and news of it exploded. Since then, the photo has kept resurfacing on sites such as Facebook.

These don’t appear to be the same men who were caught in Tepic, Mexico (see below), nor the ones who apologized for abuse on YouTube. The men in the photo are still unknown, and the photo has probably been slightly altered, but abuse of a dog did seem to occur.

Because the men have (mistakenly) been identified as the men in Mexico, and also because the story exploded in Malaysia, we often hear that these men are Mexican or Malaysian.

Below are additional details about the photo.

August 2010 – Facebook Page and Reddit Forums

Here is the first reference to the photo in question that we could find, and it’s from a Reddit discussion posted on 8/8/2010. It’s a rather lengthy discussion, which perhaps spanned a couple months. According to readers here, a Facebook page called Dile Si Al Maltrato was created and claimed that it would kill an animal for every 100 likes it received. Although Facebook quickly took the page down, the page apparently made it over 200 likes and did post pictures of dogs they claimed to have killed. Dile Se Al Maltrato means “Say Yes to Mistreat” or possibly “Say Yes to Abuse.”

The Reddit discussion includes purported names of the men in the photo, but researching the links provided leads to photos and videos of people that don’t resemble the two men in this photo. The names listed are are of known animal abusers, but we couldn’t find a clear connection to the two men in the photo. Other users claim to have seen some images used on the Facebook page (but don’t specifically mention the hanging puppy photo) years earlier.

The consensus of the discussion is that this Facebook page was not created by those in the photos, but by someone merely hoping to stir up and enrage people by using older animal cruelty photos.

Many in the forums claim the story to be old, that the men were arrested in Tepic, Mexico. The problem is that the Tepic teens appear to be the ones seen wearing red shirts in this picture, posting other (equally horrifying) abuse pictures. We have yet to see anything definitively linking the Tepic story with the “hanging puppy” photo.

The Reddit forums link to a now-nonexistent blog post which claims that the story is old and that the men have already been punished. According to later comments, this article also seems to be assigning blame to the Tepic teens.

A Facebook group (in Spanish) dealing with the Tepic teens is also attributed to the hanging puppy photo.

The reason for the confusion appears to be that the original Facebook abuse group culled abuse photos from different sources – including the Tepic incident and the hanging puppy photo, thus leading people to believe these are the same people, a point with which we do not agree.

One commenter points to an article that supposedly names the two men. The link provided gives us a 404 error now, but searching site we find the article in question here. That article leads us to photos other than the one we’re discussing here, and the men in the photos don’t resemble the two we’re looking for.

This site and this one are also are listed, but again seems to point to the “other” story of young men torturing dogs. A YouTube video of the men supposedly apologizing is linked, but again this shows three men (not two), and none of them resemble the two men in the photo.

October 2010 – Malaysian Tweet

A Malaysian actress received a Tweet of the photo on Twitter and re-tweeted it, sparking an outcry in that country. The following timeline is a result of this.

10/15/2010
•  The photo appeared on this blog

10/16/2010
• The photo appears in a Malaysian blog called Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better
• Petpositive posts an article about the photo
This article mentions that the photo was widely circulated on Twitter. A commenter claims the photo is as old as 2007 and has most likely been altered. No evidence is offered.

10/17/2010 – The story starts to explode, appearing on many news websites, some of which are listed below.
• A traditional newspaper published an article with the photo
• More news reports of Malaysian authorities investigating photo. (thestar.com)
This one claims the photo was originally posted on the Twitter page of a Malaysian actress, who was uncooperative with authorities.

10/21/2010
Napizsar.com posts the photo, according to cached records (site is currently unavailable).
The user craftnation posts a video on YouTube to spread the word about it.

10/24/2010
• Care2.com publishes the photo in a high-profile article

10/25/2010
• The Malay Mail published an article with the photo, claiming that an investigation had been launched.
• Hungarian website Kuruc.info reposts the photo, which has the URL napizsar.com superimposed on it.
• Malay Mail reports that it was actress Lisa Surihani named as the person who re-tweeted it and bringing it to light, and that she didn’t know the individuals.
A commenter on this article claims it is an 8-year-old photo that has been floating around emails since then. Another commenter mentions that they had seen it much earlier. Again, no evidence is given.

10/31/2010
• Blog discussing photo

12/5/2010
• The photo is posted on current.com, asking people to contact PETA.

12/10/2010
• Here the photo is published in a blog referencing the Malay Mail article.

1/21/2011
• Another blogger expresses outrage over the photo

October 2011

The photo is once again being circulated on Facebook. Although the image is disturbing, it is a relatively old event. A popular caption read:

“Hi guys, i need to ask you a huge favor. Please circulate this photo on your…profiles and send it to your friends. We need to find these people and make them pay for the abuse and pain they are inflicting on innocent animals. We don’t know what country they are at, but Facebook is worldwide, so let’s use the power of social media and friends to capture these abusers. Thank you in advance, i would be so grateful if you could do that for the little animals out there. Please notify the police and animal protection services as soon as you come across some valid information.”

Analysis of the photo

There have been claims that the photo was altered, which is certainly possible, but there were other photos published alongside this one which showed a mutilated puppy that resembled the one in this photo.

The photo has certainly been altered, at least minimally, as we see the top left of the picture contains a black band where the man’s arm should continue to the edge of the image. Something was apparently blacked out, such as a website, or some other identifying information.

In reading the various forums from the October 2010 version of this incident, we find several who claimed that the photo at that time was years old, perhaps 5 to 8 years old, but no evidence was offered.

We never found the results of the Malaysian police investigation, which apparently didn’t get very far.

If you have any additional info about this photo, especially about earlier sightings online than August 2010, please post a comment.

Modified May 17, 2015

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