Never doubt the power of social media to ignite a virtual firestorm.
An online petition calling for #JusticeForDuke has gathered thousands of signatures, many from Michigan but also from across the country and around the world after international news media, including the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, picked up the story.
By mid-day Tuesday, more than 6,800 people had signed the petition on a change.org web site.
Duke, readers may recall, is the German Shepherd dog who died after he was allegedly beaten with a baseball bat and mauled by a neighbor’s pit bull.
The family used social media to help raise awareness about what happened to their family pet that day and have now launched a drive on change.org petitioning the White Lake Police Department to “prosecute the heartless man who beat an innocent dog, Duke, to death with a baseball bat.”
A police department spokesman said the case is still active and authorities are awaiting the results of a necropsy – the equivalent of an autopsy for animals.
“Once that’s in, we’ll be able to review it,” the spokesman said. “It most likely will be sent to the county prosecutor for a decision.”
The case isn’t black-and-white. Duke, a 9-year-old shepherd, and a neighbor’s pit bull reportedly had a history of aggression and the owners had agreed to let them out at different times to avoid a confrontation.
Linda Lorenzen said Duke was killed in a “psychotic” attack that she alleges included 25 strikes with an aluminum baseball bat. The man she accused, a friend of her neighbor, said he was merely trying to stop the attack on the pit bull, which reportedly was leashed at the time, and only struck Duke twice with the bat.
According to the JusticeForDuke Facebook page, which had nearly 13,000 ”likes” by mid-day Tuesday, the police department has been receiving emails and calls from all over the country since reports of the incident went viral.“We’ve been getting pretty beat up and battered by the public,” the police spokesman told Patch, “but we don’t want to rush to judgment.”