While stopped at a red light in Farragut, Tenn., Saturday, a driver spotted a Jack Russell Terrier sitting on the railing of a utility trailer attached to a Toyota Prius. A chain was wrapped tightly around the dog’s lower hind legs.
The driver snapped a picture of the dog. Someone else took another photo when Bob Hill, the Prius driver, emerged from his car and untangled the dog (but left him standing on the trailer, just a foot or two above the roadway).
Both photos were posted on social media, including the WBIR Channel 10 Facebook page.Within a few hours, the photos had been commented on and shared more than a thousand times, with most people demanding that criminal charges be filed against Hill.
The reaction caught the attention of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), which is investigating the incident.
“We’re seeing a lot of how social media affects law enforcement,” Martha Dooley, a KCSO spokeswoman, told WBIR. “We can go back several months and talk about pictures that have been taken on crime scenes and how that makes a story explode. Well, look at this.”
Dooley said the KCSO is investigating how the dog was being transported — “If it is injuring the animal in any way and also how an animal is restrained. Is that causing pain or injury?”
She told WVLT that additional photos of the dog, taken from other angles, are being scrutinized by the KCSO.
According to a KCSO news release, Hill told animal cruelty officers that his dog, named Buddy, had been inside the car, but was whining and wanted to go outside. So Hill said he used the dog’s leash and collar to tie him to the trailer railing.
He said that as soon as he noticed Buddy’s situation, he got out and untangled him.
“We agree that placing the dog on the trailer was not the best choice,” Hill’s family said in a statement released to WBIR. “However, the pictures posted do not show an accurate representation of the events. The dog was thought to be secured safely and at no time was ‘hog-tied,’ and was being watched by the driver.”
Facebook commenters disagree. “There is no way in hell that dog hog-tied itself like that! If you think that’s possible, you’re crazy as the SOB that did it!” wrote one woman.
“I was in the white car pictured beside this jerk and yes, I will freely admit I called the police on him,” wrote another commenter. “This poor dog was scared to death, falling around, trying to get free, causing the rope to cut into his leg. The man had some kind of small black rope clipped to his collar, pulling his neck down towards his back leg, which was hog-tied to the trailer. This jerk had no passengers in his car and even had blankets on every seat. Even if he had passengers, this poor pup should have been inside the car.”
While many states have laws against transporting dogs on trailers and truck beds, Tennessee is not one of them.
“We highly recommend that you always put your animal in a crate,” Amy Johnston, director of the Young-Williams Animal Shelter in Knoxville, told WBIR. “If your car is not big enough for a crate, there are seatbelts that you can actually purchase for your pet.”
Fortunately, Buddy’s legs were not injured, according to the KCSO, which said it is keeping the district attorney’s office updated on its investigation.
“At no time was the dog ever harmed,” Hill’s family insisted in its statement. “It is very concerning to our family of the multiple postings of threats of verbal and physical attacks along with identifying the address of where they live. Our family loves all of our animals and we believe the safety of an elderly couple is also a great concern.”
Photos via Facebook