On June 2 2019, the Facebook page “Pawz” shared the following post (archived here), tugging on readers’ heartstrings by claiming that the photograph represented routine daily euthanizations in an average shelter:
A caption implied that the dogs were recently euthanized in the United States:
Take a good, hard look at this picture. This is just ONE euthanasia day in ONE shelter. This happens everyday in shelters all over this country. These dogs were once pets. They were the products of “accidental” litters. They were the “free to good home” puppies posted in every online yard sale group. All of them had a story, and none of them deserved to have their stories end like this. Shelters cannot kill what they never receive, so please, we are begging you, spay and neuter your pets.
According to the page, the depicted dogs were “once pets” and former pets were euthanized in similar numbers at American shelters each day. However, no backstory about the image in question was included, nor did the page include statistics or further reading relevant to the United States.
In May 2017, a user shared a similar sentiment to Imgur:
An unverified blog post claimed that the images came from a shelter in Belgium in 2017. No contextual information about the images accompanied the original photograph nor a similar image from a different vantage point on the same page.
According to the ASPCA, 1.5 million shelter animals (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) are euthanized annually as of 2018, down from 2.6 million in 2011. As such, the message of the original post was not entirely off-base.
However, the image almost certainly did not originate within the United States, and we were unable to track down the circumstances under which the purported mass dog euthanization took place is not known. It is possible that the depicted dogs were surrendered former pets, but we were unable to verify where the claim or the photograph originated. The image as presented was certainly engagement bait designed to maximize Facebook’s algorithms for visibility and user interaction.