Article researched and written by David M. White
The link to this petition recirculates periodically, most often accompanied by the photo of a dog with large hooks impaled through its snout. The petition, addressed to ‘the French government’ accuses French Islanders of using live dogs as shark bait and demands the French authorities end the practice. Some versions also link an article from the internet publication The Inquisitr.
The original expose on this activity in the waters of Reunion Island was from Sea Shepard in 2005. The Inquisitr article summarizes an article in the UK publication The Sun that was written 2 years after the fact – and after the French Government had already started taking action. As of this writing, the practice is entirely illegal, as is all shark fishing in Reunion Island’s waters, making the continued forwarding of that petition entirely pointless.
PETITION: Please help stop French Islanders using live dogs and kittens as shark baitBecause this is horrendous and hideous. Can you imagine the fear these animals must be in the last minutes of their lives? No living being deserves to be treated and used this way. These are private fishermen and the penalty is ONLY 2 years and a monetary fine we want the penalty to be stiffened to deter this horrific crime!
In August 2005, marine conservation organization Sea Shepard posted a story on their website about the use of dogs as shark bait by fishermen around Reunion Island (a French territory in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar). They went as far as offering a reward for any law enforcement arresting someone for committing what was already against existing law in that territory. Included among the photos was the oft-circulated photo of the dog with a hook impaling its snout.
In October 2005, National Geographic picked up on the story and published an article on their website, including a link to that same hooked pooch. Adding to the dog’s story, they indicated that unlike the other dogs usually found, this one was not a stray, but someone’s pet.
2 years later, and 2 years after the French government began actively putting an end to the practice, word of the Sea Shepard article finally made it round to The Sun, who published a 6 sentence article about what was already becoming a non-issue – presumably motivated primarily by the fact that Prince William spent two holidays on Reunion Island. By 2008, even the US television show MythBusters got into the act, effectively demonstrating that the paddling and scent of a dog in the water is not an effective shark bait. That was soon challenged by an article from How Stuff Works indicating that tiger sharks aren’t that discriminatory in their diet and probably would go for a dog.
By 2011, not only had the French authorities effectively ended the practice of using dogs as bait, there had also been other non-profit groups step in to aid in controlling the islands burgeoning population of stray and feral animals. (Recall the Sea Shepard article – this has the additional benefit of preventing damage to more native species).
On a related topic – a recent increase in shark attacks on surfers had prompted authorities to announce there would be a large shark cull. After a great hue and cry from environmentalists, those plans were cancelled. Which means pretty much all shark fishing in the waters of Reunion Island is illegal, no matter what sort of bait is used. A final word about the picture – it is highly unlikely that anyone with any experience in a boat would even remotely envision hooking a dog through its upper lip with the intent of dragging it behind a boat. While the thrashing might attract a predator’s attention, it would take only seconds for that hook to pull through the skin. And the most likely attack would be at the moving legs or larger body ‘ not the head. Having the hooks there is just pointless. Other photos indicated hooks embedded through the feet and lower limbs – that would be more expected. Most reports also indicated the rogue fishermen were not trolling the dogs – they were tying them up on platforms and buoys. The Sea Shepard report indicates the nose hooked dog ‘had apparently escaped its captors and was taken to the SPA by a concerned citizen’. It is far more likely, as anyone who has ever taken a dog fishing will attest, that the dog got a little too nosy around someone’s tackle box or stringer and hooked itself.
In the end, of course, it is not an issue the French government has turned a blind eye to, and continuing to forward the petition some 7 years after they began cracking down on the criminals is pointless. Readers should also be wary of Facebook scammers simply using the photo and caption to pad their page’s like/share numbers.
Article researched and written by David M. White
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!