Nails in pieces of cheese left at dog parks? A Facebook scare ignites

Filed Under: Facebook, Social networks, Spam

If you want a rumour to go into overdrive, then Facebook is the place to kick things off.

A message is being shared widely between Facebook users, telling dog owners to be careful if they take their pet to the park - as there might be pieces of cheese lying around containing nails.

New trend at dog parks, nails in pieces of cheese, if you take your dogs to dog parks, please be careful!!

New trend at dog parks, nails in pieces of cheese, if you take your dogs to dog parks, please be careful!!

Some messages also refer to anti-freeze being antifreeze found in dogs' water bowls.

As a dog owner myself, the warning strikes a chill in my heart - and I can well understand why animal-loving Facebook users have shared it thousands of times. But the lack of any further information rings an alarm bell in my mind.

Is this a legitimate warning, or is it a hoax? After all, the warning doesn't say *where* in the world or *when* this has happened, and doesn't include any links where dog owners can find out any more information.

Here's what the real skinny is.

The warning *does* appear to be based upon a genuine incident. However, the nails were found in pieces of cheese in a park in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In July. You can read the Spanish-language news report here.

So, a dog walker in Argentina, in July, found some pieces of cheese, ham and sausage which contained nails scattered near a kennel. That's clearly horrible and alarming for people who may live nearby, but that's a far cry from saying that such sick acts are a "new trend".

Websites like Facebook have made the world a much smaller place, and allowed rumours and scares to spread more quickly around the world than ever before. Yes, you should always be careful about what your dog eats in a public place - but you should also be quick to check the facts before sharing a link or a photograph with all of your Facebook friends.

Archibald CluleyA warning without background information isn't really useful to anyone at all - and may simply lead to people being frightened unnecessarily that their pet may be in peril. We see similar scares started about viruses on Facebook - time and time again.

Don't feel too bad if you helped this message spread across Facebook without including the right background information to put it in context, I'm sure you had the right intentions. Just make sure that next time you think before you click.

To make you feel better, here is a picture of my dog Archibald.

Make sure that you keep informed about the latest hoaxes and scams spreading fast across Facebook and other internet attacks. Join the Sophos page on Facebook, where over 100,000 people regularly share information on threats and discuss the latest security news.


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19 Responses to Nails in pieces of cheese left at dog parks? A Facebook scare ignites

  1. Lisa · 1467 days ago

    Thank you for posting this article. I had literally just seen it on a fellow dog lovers page and was considering re-posting it. when I saw your article. Normally I am weary of these articles, but in the post I saw it specifically mentioned people having done this in Chicago and Mass, so I thought there was more validity to it. Can you recommend ways to verify posts such as this? Sometimes it seems like important info info is truncated due to Facebook's character limit. Thank you for any guidance you can provide.

  2. krystal · 1467 days ago

    I heard about thus on Facebook this morning, and there was a comment about it being in Chicago and another place..

  3. Siobhan · 1467 days ago

    What kind of dog is Archibald? My dog looks exactly like him! I know it's silly, but I rescued my dog Sam and they said he was a poodle, who knows.. thanks for you posting too!

  4. Mystery · 1467 days ago

    Disgusting! People are so mean.

  5. Amberblaiz · 1467 days ago

    I don`t think its a bad thing this spread, maybe people should be more careful at dog parks or wherever they take their dog, people don`t realize a lot of the things dogs can`t eat. I hope this rumor made a few people do research and find out things they didn't know can hurt their dogs if eaten.

    If this scares anyone so much that they stop taking there dog places or change how they live their life those people will probably fall for a lot worse then this. They should probably just stay at home anyways.

    I am glad that I read this though. I will admit I was one of the people who passed it along, although I was very curious to know more details. I`m very very happy to read that this was only in one place. I hope it doesn`t become a trend! There are some really sick people in the world.

  6. pst · 1467 days ago

    Anti freeze was put in dogs water bowls here in Toronto. The person was caught and charged... it's well documented

  7. DSB · 1467 days ago

    I did not send the story out but I feel better by seeing your dog, Archibald!

  8. F Anderson · 1467 days ago

    still does NOT hurt to be careful,copycats do have away of coming out of the woodwork in any continent,if you love your animals,keep von the look-out for their safety!!!

  9. There are so many more common dangers lurking out there that dog walkers should be looking out for. Silly alarmist messages like this will detract from more serious issues.

    Thanks for the hat-tip :)

  10. Paula · 1467 days ago

    It's sad to think, but all this does is give sick minded people idea's. This kind of activity will now probably start showing up in the dog parks because the sicko's have seen how to do this.

  11. Lisa · 1467 days ago

    Well here in OC ca. A person was putting razor blades in the sand boxes where children played in plublic parks. She was caught and put away.. . So this story is not all that far fetched!

  12. Dragyn Phage · 1467 days ago

    See here's the problem with that theory, is that even though it happened in another country, there are sick, twisted people here in America as well. Someone could have-and probably did-easily heard about it and decided you know, I might try that.
    Or through the countless amounts of shared-which is probably how it got to be such a popular story in the first place. And somewhere, in the dark, in his mama's basement, a Jeffrey Dahmer enthusiast is going "Damn!. Why didn't I think of that?"

  13. Deb · 1467 days ago

    This sort of thing does happen (as in the case of a friends young Labrador eating baited cheese intended for rats)... but i dont think its done deliberately, or that anyone is specifically targeting dogs. Its always best to be careful when walking them though, or if possible, train them to not eat things they find (which is EXTREMELY hard to do, but can be done)....

    I agree with the above posters though, it will give sicko's ideas. This one is best buried and not circulated...for Dogs sakes everywhere!

  14. Dorrie · 1466 days ago

    Thanks for the reality check and I couldn't agree with you more. I learned about this from a concerned friend who, by the time the rumor got to her, thought it was at our local dog park. It is unfortunate, but there are sick people out there looking for their 15 minutes of fame who would try something like this if given the idea. Don't give them the idea or the opportunity.

  15. @Amberblaiz, you said "I don`t think its a bad thing this spread, maybe people should be more careful at dog parks or wherever they take their dog" - well I and Graham disagree. These scares just, well, scare people unnecessarily. There is enough scary stuff going on without a one-off story from Argentina being re-posted as a genuine event in Chicago, London or wherever.

    It distresses people, and makes genuine warnings about real threats more likely to be ignored, like the boy who cried wolf.

    If the viral story had been "hey, nails have been found in cheese near a dog pound in Argentina, what a nasty thing to do" then I would have no problem, but it didn't, people lied and said it was happening "everywhere" and caused a lot of distress.

    So take the advice and don't pass on viral status updates without checking. Or in fact just don't. 99.99% are total rubbish. If it sounds unlikely, then it almost always is.

  16. Sam · 1464 days ago

    I think this does serve as a reminder that you should always watch your dog in public. Yes, I did repost the original FB note - I wanted to remind people to keep an eye on their dogs. This may be a near hoax, but we have had incidents (in the news, yes limited to one area, maybe a dozen incidents, verifiable) about poisoned meat left in dog parks and dropped over fences.

    Please see article:


  17. KA1 · 975 days ago

    There was a similar case in MA where a man was soaking hotdogs in antifreeze and leaving them for dogs who were walking on a small patch of grass. This was this year, possibly past September or October. I am glad this is not an immediate threat but the reality is these things do happen.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley