An animal lover was left red-faced after responding to a Facebook post claiming a dalmatian had been struck by a car and left for dead – only to discover it was a life-sized cuddly toy.
Rachael Barraclough had been waiting for a bus when she spotted what she thought to be an injured animal by the side of the road and put out an appeal on social media in a bid to find the owners.
The post was spotted by concerned Bekah Irving, who jumped out of bed to attend to the injured dog as she didn’t want children to come across it on the school run.
Within 25 minutes Bekah was at the scene in Heaton, Newscastle-upon-Tyne, and said even from 10 meters away she believed it to be an animal frozen stiff as rigor mortis had set in.
As she approached, expecting the worst, she slowly realised it wasn’t a wounded pet at all, but a one metre-long furry toy.
The 29-year-old shared a photo on social media to ease the worries of those concerned, and even original poster Rachael admitted she was left in tears of laughter once she realised her blunder.
Bekah said: “Instead of going back to sleep I thought I’d get up and check it out because nobody else had bothered to go and do something.
“I was thinking I’d only ever seen one dalmatian in Heaton, so I thought it was that poor dog, and that’s the last thing kids would want to see on their way to school.
“There’s a vet a couple of doors down the road, so I was thinking that with a bit of difficulty I could pick it up and take it in, and if it was dead they could scan it for a chip.
“When I got there I noticed this black-spotted carcass lying on its side and it looked very real. It looked like it had been there for a while and rigor mortis had set in.
“I was standing on the other side of the road and people were just walking past it. I was angry, thinking ‘Why are you just walking past’?
“Its head was facing the wall and there was a metal frame inside it that made it rigid and gave it sort of a bone structure and it was life-sized as well.
“I ran across the road, looked down and it took me a couple of moments to realise what I was looking at. I couldn’t believe I’d ran down here worried about a plush toy.
“A little bit of me was a bit angry, but the more I thought about it I realised it was absolutely hilarious and was just laughing to myself. After I posted it, everyone found it hilarious.
“It was very convincing, so I can see why she got mixed up. I felt really bad for her, because she was really worried. I would have done the exact same thing.”
Rachael’s original post on Facebook had said: “I was on my way to work this morning and there was a dalmatian at the side of the road. I’m guessing it had been knocked down by a car.
“It was near the bus stop just past Tesco. Unfortunately it looked like he’d died. I’m so sorry to say this on here but I thought it would find the owner sooner.”
Bekah replied: “Just now? If so I’ll walk down and get them to the vet down the road to scan for a chip.
“Also what absolute disgusting scumbag driver doesn’t stop.”
But after Bekah posted an update to the local Facebook group, other members poked fun at the mix-up as Rachael owned up to her mistake.
“I went from crying due to thinking a dog was dead to crying because I was laughing too much,” she said.
“At first I was really embarrassed but soon saw the funny side, and was relieved that no dog was harmed.
“My husband also works at the same place so he thought it would be great to tell everyone and the girls who I work with shared it on Facebook and Instagram.
“So I don’t think I’m ever going to be allowed to forget it! My family enjoyed the story, my dad now sings Cruella De Vil down the phone.”
Despite the crossed wires, Bekah said she would do it again “in a heartbeat” and that she was glad what could have been a “terrible day” turned out only to be a poor discarded toy.