Claims of dog cruelty a hoax

Published 7:16 am Wednesday, November 23, 2016

At least two Facebook posts circulating throughout Lincoln County claiming to have skinned a dog alive are a hoax, authorities said.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing and Brookhaven Police Capt. Clint Earls said they’ve seen screenshots of the posts, which also showed a color photo of a skinned animal in a kitchen sink.

They’re not the only ones.

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Representatives from the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League as well as a Facebook group concerned with animal welfare also saw the horrific posts.

“One of our board members immediately called the police when we were made aware of the post. The police assured us it was a hoax,” BARL board member Rusty Adcock said Tuesday. “We certainly don’t take this lightly. It’s appalling that someone would pass such a horrible story off as fact.”

The Daily Leader received a message Tuesday from Adam Butcher in the United Kingdom with a link to a Facebook page dedicated to ending animal abuse and cruelty. “Please look at the above link,” he wrote. “Am not sure what your animal welfare laws are in your location but this is absolutely appalling and a terrible reflection upon your district. Please investigate.”

The group has nearly 115,000 members worldwide. The post Butcher linked to says the person who made the claims that he skinned a dog alive lives in “Bogus Chitto” and it calls him an “evil monster” for the act. It says the poster’s message on Facebook claimed he warned his neighbors to keep their animals out of his yard and that he was making a “very special BBQ just for them and only them” along with a color photo of a skinned animal in a sink.

The post on the animal cruelty page was shared 193 times with 407 reactions. Most of the those who commented called for karma and prosecution. At least one comment called the person a “Ted Bundy in the making.”

His Facebook page shows that he lives in Bogue Chitto, is self employed and attends Brookhaven High School.

Rushing said deputies found the teenager who posted it and talked with him Monday night.

“His neighbors aren’t missing a dog,” he said. “He has not done anything to an animal.”

The sheriff said the teen told him he copied the photo from the internet. “He was just being dumb,” he said.

Rushing said he talked with representatives from Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and they determined that the photograph is of a large skinned raccoon. It’s not known where the photograph was taken or when, he said.

One of the juvenile’s Facebook friends also posted a similar photo and message: “Well this dog kept getting in my trash every time I put it out to the road now I won’t have to worry about it no more I told the owners they never did <expletive> about it so now I’m bout to cook it and feed it to them I gave them 3 warning they didn’t listen here’s there treat time to start cooking”

Earls said he’d received some texts asking if he’d seen the first Facebook post. “We’ve been made aware of it and we’re monitoring the names and their activity,” he said.

He said there’s no actual evidence of a crime at this time.

Statewide, the first offense for animal cruelty is a misdemeanor. The second offense or above is a felony, Earls said.