Dogs Were Used for Shark Bait by Fishermen on African Island-Truth!

Dogs Were Used for Shark Bait by Fishermen on African IslandTruth!

Summary of eRumor:
A forwarded email warning that dogs are used as shark bait by fishermen on the island of Réunion that lies off the coast of Africa.  It includes a plea to sign a petition to stop this cruel act.
The Truth:
According to a National Geographic article published October 19, 2005, there were at least three cases discovered of dogs being used for shark bait on the island of Réunion.   The island is under French control and lies off the east coast of the African Continent. Click for article

The article said that Reha Hutin, the president of Paris based Foundation 30 Millions d’Amis (the Thirty Million Friends Foundation) sent a film crew to the small volcanic island to document claims that live animals were being used by fishermen to catch sharks. They discovered that stray dogs and cats on the island are viewed as vermin and the foundation plans to finance a sterilization program to reduce the population of strays.

This still video photograph was in the National Geographic article taken by Thirty Million Friends Foundation.  This dog managed to escape fishermen before it could be used as live bait and was lucky enough to be found and taken for medical attention. He is shown here as a veterinarian prepares to remove the hook from it’s snout.   The operation was a success and the dog is now at home with its owners.

Fabienne Jouve  is a spokesperson for the French animal rights organization, Groupement de Réflexion et d’Action pour l’Animal (GRAAL). He noted that, “Lately, almost every week, one dog has been found with hooks on the island, not counting the cats found on the beaches partially eaten by the sharks.” 

This barbaric act isn’t just as simple as running a hook through the stray animals and tossing them over the side of their boats.  In order for the fishermen to entice the carnivorous predators off their coast they hook the dogs snouts and paws and let them bleed out for at least a day.

The article said that several animal rights activist groups have known about the inhumane practice of using live dogs for shark bait and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation has been fighting this for a decade.  Patti Davis, daughter of President Ronald Reagam wrote a web-exclusive commentary in Newsweek about this in October of 2005. The Friday Harbor, Washington based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has offered “a U.S. $1,000 reward to any Réunion police officer who arrests anyone using live dogs or cats as bait for sharks.”

In September of 2005, the government of Réunion responded to the outcries by passing into law a bill that would make it illegal for fishing boats to carry any dogs or cats, alive or dead.  

Shortly after the law was enacted the article said “the first court case was held involving a person charged with using live dogs as bait. Authorities had found a seven-month-old puppy on John Claude Clain’s property in July with three fishing hooks in its paws and snout.”  This resulted in a 5000 euro fine  for Clain.

The article also said that “Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the United Kingdom and the Thirty Million Friends Foundation are asking animal lovers to sign a petition urging the French government to step up enforcement of laws against the use of live dogs as bait.”

Click here for petition.

updated 02/16/09