(WIS) - A new viral hashtag - #PitBullDropOff - is creating a storm on social media, but appears to be nothing more than a troll from the popular anonymous image-based message board 4chan.
The original post was made on Twitter on May 3, with one user urging others to adopt pit bulls or purchase them from places like Craigslist and take the animals to high-kill shelters to be euthanized.
"This pit bull thing is getting out of hand. So I've decided to join the growing wave of activists who are adopting pit bulls and taking them directly to kill shelters. #PitbullDropOff." Twitter user Bixxy Noodles wrote on May 3.
Several days later, the message board 4chan took credit for the hashtag, saying that they desired a media-based mass hysteria where "naive pitmommies and various other low IQ individuals are falling for the bait."
But as several have pointed out on Reddit and other places, it's merely an internet troll that some are taking too seriously. It's unclear if people are actually following through with the troll's premise, despite claims on social media that they are following through - thus, the hashtag is a troll.
Snopes has debunked the action outright, going further to link the troll to racism.
Suzy Blocker of Carolina Big Hearts, Big Barks Pit Bull Rescue in Charlotte hopes that this trend isn't actually happening.
"I honestly hope the posts and stories about this #pitbulldropoff are made up and not true," she said. "I just can't fathom someone would do something this cruel."
There are several U.S. cities that practice breed restrictive legislation and ban the bully breed - a collection of breeds that are called "pit bulls" - outright.
The "pit bull" is a term to classify a number of dogs: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Bully, and the American Bulldog.
"Pit bulls are some of the most loyal dogs out there," Blocker said. "They are very stoic and strong."
Several people believe "pit bulls" are dangerous and source the website DogsBite.org who states that 66 percent of all dog attacks come from pit bulls. The group is consistently called "unethical" by bully breed advocates.
According to the American Temperament Test Society, bully breeds like the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier score high on temperament tests.
Blocker says a part of the misconception about the breed is the media and what happens when a bully breed is involved in an attack.
"They are constantly mislabeled in huge part by the media," Blocker said. "Every time there is a dog attack or dog bite reported on it's always a 'pit bull' when in reality many times it's not. This only adds to people's misconceptions of the breed."
Blocker says bully breeds are not the only dogs that have a bad reputation.
"Pit bulls have been fighting these bad labels for so long. Before them it was German Shepherds and Dobermans, etc.," she said. "As long as breed specific legislation is in place all over the country and we keep seeing these stories all over social media we will have to keep fighting to change people's minds."
Many are taking the trend in stride on social media by sharing photos of the bully breeds in their lives. In the interim, the American Pit Bull Foundation has laid out a series of myths.