Missing dogs: internet hoax or real deal?

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 14:30 04/10/2013

Recently someone I know noticed strange markings had been sprayed on her fence but assumed it was just graffiti.

When her dog went missing shortly afterwards she put something up on Facebook and had a dozen people email her to say that the same thing had happened to them.

She asked me to use my blog in an attempt to find out how often this is happening in Christchurch.

I looked on the Christchurch police's Facebook page and saw that in August they had posted:

DOG THEFT MESSAGES LIKELY A HOAX

''Messages circulating via email and social media about an alleged string of dog thefts in Christchurch appear to be a continuation of a long-running internet hoax or urban legend. Almost identical messages, which allege gang involvement in organised dog thefts link to dog fighting rings, have previously been reported circulating in the United Kingdom, Australia and other locations. Police in Christchurch say they have not recorded any increase in reported dog thefts, and there is no indication of any organised string of thefts. If anyone receives these messages by email or on social media, Police recommend they delete or ignore them.''

The police later clarified their post to say they weren't downplaying any dog-theft situation.

The comments underneath their post are filled with people who have had markings or ribbons tied to their fence shortly before having their dog stolen.

One person commented: ''So why is there random markings on fences of those whose dogs have gone missing at the same time?''

And other: ''Uh, yes, I know of a lot of people who have had these markings on their fence. A close friend of mine has three dogs, she has had to remove markings on her fence. And only yesterday a puppy disappeared from a property, the owner having found a yellow mark on her fence. I don't know why anyone would choose to be blind to what is happening, especially Chch Police. It's very disappointing.''

As my acquaintance pointed out, people are more likely to phone the SPCA and post on Facebook than notify the police and might not notice the markings on fences, or connect it with their dog's disappearance.

Recently Tiki Taane and Paw Justice released the song Enough Is Enough in a bid to ''expose and eradicate New Zealand's most covert yet most gruesome animal abuse crimes, dog fighting''.

The song was created through crowdsourcing via the Paw Justice Facebook page which has over 277,000 likes.

Users were encouraged to submit their feelings and experiences to provide Tiki with inspiration for the song and help craft the incredibly powerful lyrics.

''Enough Is Enough is the hardest thing I have ever done in my musical career,'' Tiki said.

''It's really challenging accepting the fact that dog fighting exists in New Zealand, especially at this level of aggression. It's something I've always felt strongly about as I've had experiences with it as a kid.''

So I want to know - have you noticed strange markings on your fence and then had your dog go missing? Is it just an internet hoax or urban legend as police believe? Comment below or email me.

- The Press

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