Dogs, Puppies, Cats Used as Shark Bait
Netlore Archive: Online petitions accuse rogue fishermen on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean of using live dogs, puppies and cats as shark bait.
Description: Email rumor / Viral petition
Circulating since: Sep. 2005
Status: True (see details below)
Email text contributed by Barbara S., Oct. 2, 2005:
Fw: RSPCA Petition
This is really upsetting but so important.
Stray dogs & cats are being skewered on hooks and dragged behind boats as live shark bait. The cruel practice takes place on French-controlled Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Below is a petition from the RSPCA to the French government demanding they stop allowing this to happen.
I've passed it on to the ASPCA for them to take action on as well. Please pass it on to everyone, and put heat on the ASPCA & Humane Society to take a stand. I'm off to call the French Embassy.
Analysis: As of Dec. 2005, it would appear there's some truth to this story. According to Clicanoo, the French-language daily newspaper of Réunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean, an amateur fisherman there was tried and convicted of animal cruelty in Sep. 2005 for inserting hooks into the flesh of a stray pup with the intention of using the animal as shark bait.
Nor was this an isolated incident, according to several animal rights groups including the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the RSPCA, and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. Citing a number of documented cases, the Bardot Foundation has lobbied local officials and the French Foreign Ministry for the past 10 years in hopes of putting a stop to the practice by enforcing existing laws against animal cruelty.
It's probably an exaggeration to characterize the phenomenon as widespread, however. The technique is "seldom used" by commercial fishermen, Clicanoo reports, and is favored instead by "rogue" shark hunters who ply their illicit trade in the dark of night. Some have already been caught and prosecuted.
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Sources and further reading:
Saving Dogs & Cats and Sharks in Paradise
Sea Shepherd News, 18 August 2005 (w/images)
Stop Using Puppies as Shark Bait, Says Bardot
AFP, 26 August 2005
Dogs Used as Shark Bait
The Sun Online (w/image), 28 September 2005
Arrest Over Shark Dogs
The Sun Online, 29 September 2005
Man, Dog's Best Enemy
Clicanoo (French language), 30 September 2005
Three Hooks, Three Months of Prison...
Clicanoo (French language), 1 October 2005
Last updated: 10/04/05