Mercer Co. humane officer cautions animal abuse posts on social - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Mercer Co. humane officer cautions animal abuse posts on social media

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Mercer County, Pa. -

Social media can be a very useful and powerful tool to get a message across. A warning though from a Mercer County Humane Officer about being cautious when posting alleged animal abuse.

Officer Paul Tobin says a post about alleged neglect of a dog in Farrell actually did more harm than good.

"Make sure you have the facts together before you do this stuff because we have this poor guy that's going through all this aggravation of being bothered for no reason at all," said Tobin. "We have a bunch of people up in arms wanting to come to the area wanting to help so now we're burning resources that could be used somewhere else for absolutely no reason."

While the picture in the post makes the dog look like it's in bad shape, Tobin says one photo doesn't tell the whole story. He says the investigation, which included 4 different trips to see the dog over several days revealed he was just fine.

"The dog had food, the dog had water, has a dog house, is in on a sun porch. The gentleman has a heating duct in, so the dog actually has a heated space. The homeowner produced vet records, the dog is perfectly healthy, up to date on all his shots, all his vaccinations, he's just an elder senior dog," said Tobin.

Tobin says investigations can often take time and he wants the public to have patience. He says they were inundated with phone calls and emails about the post and even harassed by people on Facebook. He hopes people understand that the organization is run by volunteers including the humane officers.

"We have 3 agents that rotate shifts that cover the entire Mercer County area and it's quite a bit of area," said Tobin.

Tobin says social media is a great tool for helping pets get adopted, finding lost dogs and reporting animal neglect. In this case though, with the photo shared hundreds of times and containing inaccurate information, Tobin says it creates unnecessary complications.

"Biggest thing that can come out of this, be cautious with social media," said Tobin. "It's just like anything else, you have police, fire, EMS, resources are already stressed, you start creating issues like this, it's unnecessary and it taxes things that could be used somewhere else."

21 News talked to the dogs owner said his dog is 15 years old and has arthritis. He's extremely hurt that someone would accuse him of abusing his dog.

Tobin says if you suspect animal neglect in Mercer County, call the Humane Society and leave a message with the details, someone is always monitoring it. 

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