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'Causes' Petition Calling To End Using Dogs As Shark Bait


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.

© adogslifephoto

Brief Analysis

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.


Live Dogs as Shark Bait Protest
PETITION: Please help stop French Islanders using live dogs and kittens as shark bait

Because 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!

Detailed Analysis

In August 2005, marine conservation organization Sea Shepard posted a story on their website about the use of dogs as shark bait by fisherman 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 less scrupulous likewhores simply using the photo and caption to pad their page’s like/share numbers.

Last updated: September 11, 2012
First published: September 11, 2012
Article researched and written by David M. White
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