Paradoxically, Indigo Pearl Resort Phuket became embroiled in the online rumble on its own Facebook page, intended more for ''likes'' than pieces of hate mail.
Today an Indigo Pearl spokesperson denied the accusations. The resort tolerated local dogs, including strays, and had no reason to change its policy, the spokesperson said.
As of today, the resort appeared to be winning the ''dog fight.'' In the 21st century era of social media, more resorts are likely to find themselves in similar situations - public disputes that falsely inflame passions.
The latest post by Indigo Pearl on the resort's Facebook site says: ''Dear Fans, Indigo Pearl refutes all claims by Albert Ruswell concerning the welfare of stray dogs in the area of Nai Yang Beach and National Park. Social responsibility is at the core of Indigo Pearl's operation which protects and supports of all aspects of the local community including the welfare of animals. Kind Regards.''
A search on Facebook failed to produce an entry for an ''Albert Ruswell'' and the original post, said to accuse the resort of trucking local dogs away from the area and dumping them, could also not be found.
The posting, even pulled down after being posted by someone of uncertain identity, has produced people whose firm beliefs are not shaken by Indigo Pearl's unequivocal denial.
A correspondent named Tracy Harper writes: ''We live in Phuket and actually heard about these claims about 4 days before they were posted and not by Albert Ruswell (we have no idea who he is). So before you condemn him for having the guts to speak out, maybe one needs to think how he or anyone else would benefit from this if you think his claims are false. If you think things like this do not happen in Phuket then you walk around with rose tinted glasses. Over the past 10 days or so we have personally seen more dead dogs on the highway near Nai Yang than we have ever before. Unfortunately, many people and companies have the perception of out of sight, out of mind and they think it is okay to dispose of dogs in their own way. There is a major soi dog problem on the island that the Soi Dog foundation are trying to manage with the support of local people and businesses.''
There you go, guilt by association. Dogs are inclined to excite extreme emotions.
Tracy Harper was not dissuaded from posting by the more reasonable and logical Tiana Gooneratne, who wrote:
''All that we see on these posts is conjecture and people adding narrative to baseless claims. Why is everyone so quick to judge a hotel that does its utmost to look after their guests? If a fact was presented, fair enough. But we haven't seen indisputable facts.''
Indeed. The absence of facts didn't stop Rosemary Fanning from assuming the position of judge and jury: Are you (Indigo Pearl) refuting the allegations that your staff took or arranged for dogs who had been living in or around the resort to be taken to the main highway to meet a certain death in order to get rid of them? This is not clear in your vague post about social responsibility, and caring for the welfare of the community. The guests who stay with you obviously have no idea of the cruelty to animals, especially dogs and cats, in Thailand. I suggest that they look at the cases of deliberate abuse and abandonment on the Soi Dog Foundation Facebook page to see what can happen both inside and outside resorts - but always out of guest/tourist sight! I look forward to a post from Indigo Pearl with the results of their investigation, and the action they take, because these are serious allegations of animal cruelty, which must be publicly addressed.
More mellow and moderate thinking came Nikolay Pavlov: I am sorry, Rosemary Fanning, because I don't know whether or not you are a real person or just a facebook account made for some unknown reasons, but to me all those allegations look like organized attack towards Indigo Pearl. If you just look at the IP's facebook wall, you will see that some strange facebook accounts posting more or less same comments almost simultaneously, which actually never happens in real facebook conversation. I don't know who arranges this, but I know Indigo Pearl for many years and can say with great confidence that I don't believe in those allegations at all. I am sure that people who really know Indigo Pearl will support my opinion. People, please don't be fooled by some chat bots posting their comments from nowhere, just trust your own brain!
Some people, it seems, are never going to be satisfied. Christophe Kennis writes: Give the people what they want, just post a picture from your dogs and staff. You should have done that yesterday...so easy!? Helping people doesn't mean helping animals, Hitler was an animal lover!
The incident posed an alarming example of the ease with which some readers accept statements on Facebook as fact, whether or not there is supporting evidence. Expect a witch to be burned on Phuket any day now.