The Pet Lab swiped a pic of a rescued dog and put it in a product review

Published on June 13, 2019

It seems like pirating personal pictures and photo-shopping diversity is all the rage these days. It’s also unethical.

In a move analogous to Buzzfeed reporter Ryan Mac’s keen eye that spotted a photoshopped pic of tech bros trying to look diverse (on GQ), Grit Daily’s Watchdog Mary caught her own version of a fake — this time with a pet pic seemingly thieved by a company called “The Pet Lab.”

The dog was a rescue named Millie. The Pet Lab “renamed” it Barney.

When Holly Dean, from Canyon Lake, Texas jumped on Facebook yesterday and started scrolling through her feed, a picture of a dog discovered in a garbage bin immediately caught her eye.

Pet Lab Facebook post, likely misleading readers.

The post said, “I found Barney limping in a dumpster…” but Dean thought the photo of the yellow Lab looked just like “Millie the Dumpster Dog.”

Millie’s sad story became quite well known back in 2016 after a pedestrian found the poor pooch in a San Antonio, Texas dumpster.

When officers from the city’s Animal Control Services department picked Millie up, she was dehydrated, neglected and near death. The shelter’s medical team raced to save her.

As the dog recovered she was eventually transferred to Lucky Lab Rescue and Adoption. Dean fostered Millie, helped continue her medical care, and later adopted her.

Millie’s miraculous story was featured on several San Antonio television stations, made national headlines, and now the Lab has her own Facebook page, Millie the Dumpster Dog. 

So when Dean saw the now somewhat famous dumpster photo posted on the Pet Lab Company’s Facebook page, she curiously clicked on the post. She was quite surprised to see the link led her to a product review written by someone named Jilly G., a “Happy Customer.”

Pet Lab Review.

The reviewer claimed she rescued a Golden Retriever, named Barney, from a dumpster who, “came into my life a few weeks ago close to death…”

Jilly G. went on to say what rough shape the dog was in, and how Petlab’s joint chews changed the dog’s life.

Dean was floored. “I couldn’t believe it, so I went back and compared pictures, just to be sure,” Dean said.

Millie’s positioning in the dumpster was the same as “Barney’s.” The red and white plastic garbage next to Millie was the same as “Barney’s.” The large cardboard box which nearly covered Millie was the same as “Barney’s.”

“Sure enough it was her exact picture,” Dean said. “I was dumbfounded. Millie’s story was tragic and took a lot of healing, so for her story to be stolen to sell products was just mind-boggling.”

Millie the Dumpster Dog, original photo, San Antonio Animal Care Services.

After many Lucky Lab Rescue volunteers, upset over the misuse of Millie’s picture, and this author contacted Petlab. The company eventually took the post and product review down.

Dog “identity theft?”

How did this happen? The company’s founder emailed Dean saying he was so sorry, accepts full responsibility, and that, “this was a real low point for us as a company.”

His email went onto to claim that Pet Lab was working with marketing agencies that create and run ads to sell the company’s products.

The email continued: “We have since stopped working with the agency and severed all ties with this affiliate immediately.”

Dean says that Pet Lab or one of its affiliates used Millie’s photo and falsified a story about how the joint chews helped her.

Today The Pet Lab’s CEO, Damian Grabarczyk, told Grit Daily’s Watchdog Mary, “Thank you for raising this with us. I apologize for the mess this article has caused and rest assured action is being taken.”

But Dean and other rescue volunteers are still barking up a storm about Millie’s identity theft. “It’s just sad that people might believe the story and buy their products,” Dean said. “I feel awful for the consumers.”

Looking for more news from Watchdog Mary on Grit Daily? Check out her full column, here.



"Watchdog" Mary Schwager is a Columnist at Grit Daily. She is a television and print journalist watch-dogging for consumers and animals. She is honored to have won 16 Emmy awards, seven Edward R. Murrow awards, and Associated Press awards for investigative reporting and writing.

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