'Puppy pinata' photo sparks anger among animal advocates

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21 2013 11:15 a.m. MDT

SANDY — A picture of a small dog apparently hanging like a piñata has sparked outrage among animal advocates, but police say the dog's owners did not break the law.

Sandy police were recently asked by the Utah Humane Society to investigate a picture posted on Facebook of a dog that appeared to be hanging by a leash from the ceiling with a man standing next to it holding a stick as if he's about to swing at the animal. The caption of the photo was, "What we do for fun — puppy piñata lmao."

Sandy Police Sgt. Jon Arnold said the picture was apparently posted as a joke. But animal advocates aren't laughing.

Officers tracked down the dog and its owners and verified the dog did not show signs of abuse. He was not injured and was not skittish around others, and was even OK with being hooked up to the harness he was allegedly hanging from, he said. The collar was not around his neck, but rather he was hanging by his torso.

"The animal acted like normal dog, not abused," Arnold said.

But police say they have been flooded with calls from those who feel the owners should never be allowed to own a pet again.

Arnold said the owners weren't cited but were warned that not everyone found such pictures funny.

"When you do things like this, people don't find it funny. Technically, nothing criminally occurred," he said.

The incident was also a reminder for the public that even though a picture may be posted on your Facebook page just as a joke for your friends, that doesn't mean it will stay private.

"Once you put something out there, whether its private versus public, it ultimately all becomes public at some point," Arnold said. "If you put something personal on the Internet, even if you want it to be private, the ability to become public is quite easy."

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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