SPRINGFIELD - Local authorities are investigating a possible case of animal cruelty that's gained attention all over the southeast. It started with a picture posted on Facebook.
The photo showed a dog tied up with a jump rope, but police and the dog's owners said there's more to this story than what's in the photo.
The grandmother of the two girls in the photo is facing misdemeanor animal cruelty charges for posting the picture.
The mother of one of the girls, who goes by Katie said the children weren't trying to hurt the dog. She said they were just playing "animal rescue".
Katie said "My mom posted the kids were playing animal rescue. They had seen it on TV. It wasn't intentionally trying to harm the dog in any ways. But my mom posted it on Facebook and a whole lot of people took it the wrong way and it wasn't meant to be like that."
Katie also said the young girls had been watching a show named, Call of the Wildman which airs on Animal Planet.
The star of the show, named Turtleman, operates a nuisance animal removal service that also rescues trapped animals and the girls were trying to reenact a scene where an animal had been pulled out of deep hole.
Katie added, "It wasn't in a bad way. The kids were just pretending to save the dog and that's what my mom took the picture of."
Someone who saw the picture called Bay County Animal Control officials, who contacted Springfield police.
Phillip Thorne is the Chief of the Springfield Police Deptartment and said "Animal control started getting phone calls almost immediately somehow and using the name, we were somehow able to get an address. We responded with them and she readily admitted that she had done it. As a result of the charges, the animal control took the dog into custody."
The small dog in the photo and another dog from the residence were taken to Bay County Animal Control Center. What happens to them next depends on a judge's decision.
Katie's daughter in the photo is prone to seizures and the small chihuahua mix dog helps alert Katie to the seizures minutes before they happen.
Katie is most concerned about death threats the girls and her mother are getting on Facebook, she said "They were talking about killing my kids and my mother and shooting them in the face and my mom get a lot of messages threatening to kill her and hanging my kids upside down and crazy stuff."
Chief Thorne added, "500 threats made against her health and safety? That doesn't need to happen. Yes, we're concerned, about anything with the animals but we don't need to be making threats to someone's welfare."
The grandmother was issued a summons for a court date when a judge will take a look at the situation and decide whether or not to return the dogs.
Katie has explained the situation to the young girls and they feel bad and are sorry. The grandmother has also taken to Facebook to apologize.
Authorities said the dog was not injured.