A Ceres man learned the effectiveness of social media quickly after his threat to shoot his dog went viral and resulted in police officers on his doorstep.
The Facebook threat came to light after Mark Joiner II, 28, posted a photograph of a dog on his personal page Wednesday, saying he wanted to get rid of it because the dog defecated on his bed and chewed up his belongings.
"Anybody want her? She's FREE," he posted. "Pick her up today or she will be shot and stuck in a hole by 9 p.m." He went on to offer anyone who takes the dog $20.
Other Facebook members, including several from out of state, took screen shots of the page and posted it on the Ceres Police Department's page, asking investigators to look into the matter.
The dog was well when police went to check on her Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon, Joiner said he never would hurt his dogs and that the post was meant to be a joke.
"I started this little story to stir up my friends' attitudes," he said. "I tell little stories to get an 'aw' or maybe to get a laugh. I like people's reaction; I studied sociology, so I get a kick out of it."
He wanted reaction, but didn't expect outrage from strangers in Alabama and Texas and around the state.
One of Joiner's friends had reposted his comment, and it multiplied from that point. Friends of friends of friends shared it with one another, and some of them reached out to police. Ceres police fielded nearly 50 reports about the post, which came from people in at least five states.
Officers were sent to Joiner's home to check on the dog, a 2-month-old miniature Papillon named Stella.
Joiner knew the police were coming because he said the Sheriff's Department already had visited his parents' home, and they also had received phone calls from about a dozen strangers who offered to take the dog.
Joiner said one man even threatened to hurt him. He said the man told his mother, "If someone doesn't take care of this guy, I will."
Meanwhile, the indignation continued on Facebook, in messages directly to Joiner and in posts on different pages. Many of the people appalled by Joiner's threat against his dog were willing to make threats to his life.
Joiner hopes the Facebook fiasco soon will fizzle and wants people to know he never would hurt Stella or his 12-year-old pit bull, Brutus.
As for his Facebook activity, Joiner said, "I am not going to post anything like that. I am going to keep my stories PG."
The welfare check on Stella was one of three animal-related calls Ceres police handled Thursday morning.
The others involved a puppy abandoned with curdled milk and a dog owner who took his pets out of the Stanislaus County animal shelter without paying impound fees.
Thursday morning, officer Ross Bays went to Roeding Heights Park, where someone reported an abandoned puppy in a box with curdled milk. Bays brought the puppy to the Ceres Police Department, gave it a bath and took it to City Hall to see if anyone wanted to adopt it.
The puppy was named Parker and adopted by a city employee, who has taken it to a local veterinarian to be checked out. The dog has bronchitis but is expected to recover fully.
The other call came two hours later when officers were called to the Stanislaus County Animal Services facility. A man reportedly took his impounded dogs without paying the fees. Officers made contact with the owner, who said he took the dogs because he had to be at work and could not wait. The owner agreed to return to pay the fees; no further action was taken.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter @ModestoBeeCrime.