Molalla, Ore. (KOIN) — It started as a possible animal abuse case that turned out not to be true. But by the time police were able to verify that, a social media tornado had already ripped through the small town of Molalla.
Molalla Police Department Chief Rod Lucich said, “People began to blog and post in an angry way.” Chief Lucich said the uproar began when someone shared a picture of their neighbor’s German Shepherd on one of the town’s community Facebook pages. It looks like the dog’s muzzle is taped shut, unable to drink or pant on a hot day.
When Molalla Police investigated, they found a homemade muzzle, fashioned from duct tape and cloth, strapped on behind the dog’s ears. Chief Lucich said, “Is there a cruelty issue? The officer felt clearly that there was not.” Trouble is, it was too late.
Facebook postings would lead to a small crowd gathering outside the dog owner’s house, demanding that police do something. Chief Lucich said, “We can’t take action and arrest somebody for something that they didn’t do.”
The dog’s owner tells me the make-shift muzzle, was simply to prevent their dog from harassing their chickens, “We wanted to train our dog to get along with our chickens, that’s what we were trying to do.”
Chief Lucich said, “It clearly was not an abuse.” Not abuse, but Chief Lucich was still left dealing with the Facebook fallout.
The person who posted the picture said she now regrets it, but said the upside is people have now decided to pitch in, and help the family with its dog training issue.
“Social media can be a great tool,” said Chief Lucich. “But it can be a devastating tool.”