Fact Check: River City California Dogs Do NOT Need To Wear Masks -- Joke Post From Satire Page

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: River City California Dogs Do NOT Need To Wear Masks -- Joke Post From Satire Page Satire Joke

Did the mayor of River City, California, make a proclamation that all dogs must wear face masks to protect them from getting sick or else their owners will be cited by police and fined? No, that's not true: The River City, California, Police Department Facebook Page is a satire page for a fictional city, and satire disclaimers are clearly posted on the page and in the subheading at the top of every post.

The images of a police dog demonstrating the correct way for a person to wear a face mask first appeared in a semi-serious tweet from New Zealand police on August 18, 2021. The photos were repurposed and resurfaced in a satirical post on Facebook by the fictitious River City, California, Police Department on December 3, 2021. The post was captioned:

By proclamation of our mayor, all dogs In the city must have a face covering. Our K9 friends can get sick just like our humans and we must protect them. If your companion is not masked, our officers will cite you. The first offense is a $500 fine. RCPD K9 Kilo shows us the proper way and the not so proper way to wear a mask. Help us help you. Mask up and save your companion's life.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:


Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Dec 7 15:06:32 2021 UTC)

The page transparency information shows the page was created on December 3, 2021, and the "About" section of the page explains:

River City, California Police Department is a fictional city that the California POST uses to depict in training videos and some documentation.

Lead Stories reached out to California POST (Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training) to find out if the satirical River City, California Police Department Facebook page is run by the commission. Public Information Officer Meagan Poulos replied by email on December 7, 2021:

Thank you very much for reaching out and bringing this to our attention. This was not a FB page that was created by us and we will be reporting it. It is true that the River City Police Department is a fictional department that is used in our video training, but [the Facebook page is] not one that we have created or contribute to.

These pictures were first posted on Twitter by New Zealand Police on August 18, 2021. The pictures show a dog named Kase demonstrating proper and improper mask-fitting. The use of the dog model was just for social media attention. The message of the post was authentic encouragement for humans to wear face masks properly, covering nose, mouth, and chin.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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