My first instinct was to rant and rave at the website or page owner for participating in such awful and illegal deeds, and sharing it with my friends to do the same. This is the opposite of what should be done, and fortunately, I did not follow this instinct. The link I discovered happened to be a Facebook page. I could have befriended this creep with the intentions of posting my outrage for his actions on his "wall" and calling him every dirty word in the book. This would not have been very effective. He may have fed off of all the attention I was giving him, or he could simply delete my remarks. This would not be proactive.
I could have reported him to Facebook. Facebook has a report button on the bottom of each page and photo. Reporting him to Facebook may result in the removal of the offending photos or videos or remarks. It may lead to the cancellation of the account belonging to the person who posted the offending information by the Facebook team. Surprisingly, this action is also an extremely ineffective method of punishment for the offender. Removal of the information from Facebook, by Facebook personnel or any other website involved, may lead to permanent removal of the evidence which is required for prosecution for such internet crimes. He would continue to do what he does, and possibly open another website.
The proper method of reporting Internet animal cruelty, abuse, and crimes will work for offensive Facebook pages as well as any other website on the Internet.
The main things you must NOT do:
1. DO NOT CONTACT THE WEBSITE OWNER. While it may be mildly therapeutic to tell them what you think of them and their actions, you will be alerting them to their discovery and they may remove the offensive information.
2. DO NOT FLAG THE WEBSITE FOR REMOVAL FROM A PUBLIC SITE such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or others, as that may permanently delete evidence needed to build a case against the offender.
3. DO NOT SHARE the information with others, because they may act in either of the above ways which will defeat your purpose. Sharing the website may also increase traffic to the website in question which may support the offender or excite the offender.
4. DO NOT CREATE AN ONLINE PETITION for the same reasons as listed above.
Now you must collect your evidence
Collect as much information as possible. If you are lacking some of the information listed below, you should still share the information that you do have, and a link to the website with the appropriate reporting agency.
1. Download as much of the information from the website, IE photos, videos, etc. as you can and save them.
2. Print out copies of the offending pages.
3. Be sure to have as much personal information on the person running the website as possible including, but not limited to, the name, contact information, and location.
4. Try to determine if the offender is within the United States or elsewhere.
5. Try to determine the offender's ISP address. You can do this at http://www.dnsstuff.com/ . Instructions for using dnsstuff are here http://www.peta.org/action/get-active-online/cruelty-on-the-internet.aspx . I was unable to obtain this information for my report, so this is not a mandatory step.
Animal Cruelty Within the US
You would follow these instructions to report a US based crime, even if you are not a resident of the US or are not located within the US at the time of the discovery.
To report an animal cruelty or abuse crime that takes place within the United States, report the incident to the FBI. You must include as much information as you can including links to the offending material, names, locations, etc. The submission page for crime tips for the FBI is https://tips.fbi.gov/ .
You should also report a US based animal cruelty website to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, also known as IC3. To file a complaint, go to this page http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx . There is no category for animal abuse, so choose a category and explain the situation in the notes. As much information as possible should be included in the report including links to the offending website.
Other resources for reporting Internet animal abuse, especially if you believe an animal to be in danger at the current time IE livestreaming video, and you know the location of the offending party, include reporting to the local police and the possible offender's local FBI branch which can be determined here... http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field .
Animal Cruelty Outside of the US
If the crime is not within the US, it should be reported to INTERPOL. You must include as much information as you can including links to the offending material, names, locations, etc. The submission page for crime tips for INTERPOL is http://www.interpol.int/public/contact.asp .
For animal cruelty within the UK, The RSPCA ( Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ) has a 24 hour hotline available for such incidents. From within the UK, you can call the cruelty line at 0300 1234 999 .
Some International Humane Organizations accept Internet Animal Cruelty Reports such as:
HSUS Email email@example.com
PETA Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some websites with additional information regarding the reporting of online animal abuse and cruelty:
The following is interesting information from the American Humane Website that defines what animal related actions are considered to be illegal over the Internet:
"Because communications through the Internet have the ability to cross state lines, the Internet is largely governed by federal law. Improving the federal laws as they pertain to Internet animal abuse is critical. Currently, only a few federal laws address the issue directly:
The Crush Act (P.L.106-152) penalizes the display of acts of cruelty and sexual abuse of animals that is intended for interstate commerce. If convicted, offenders may receive up to five years in prison or a large fine. Two criteria must be met before this statute applies: 1) actual abuse must occur and 2) the website in question must intend to sell the images across state lines. In other words, a website may legally display images of animal cruelty and sexual abuse under this law as long as it is not charging visitors for access or otherwise selling the images. In 2005, the first conviction under this statute occurred in a federal district court in Virginia. (It has come to my attention that this Act has been nullified by our supreme court. Please read more at http://vetrescue.blogspot.com/2010/10/crush-videos-silent-but-deadly.html .)
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (P.L. 110-27) strengthens the ability of law enforcement to combat animal fighting by providing felony penalties for interstate commerce, import and export related to animal fighting activities, including commerce in cockfighting weapons. Each violation of this federal law is punishable by up to three years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for perpetrators.
Internet Hunting: The Computer-Assisted Remote Hunting Act (H.R. 2711/S. 2422) is a pending federal bill introduced by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). It seeks to prohibit knowingly making available a “computer-assisted remote hunt” (using a computer or other device, equipment or software to control the aiming and discharge of a weapon to hunt)."
If you are aware of information that I should include in this blog, or if I have posted incorrect information, feel free to discuss it with me so I can correct it. I want this information to be as complete, accurate, and effective as possible.
While I cannot guarantee that any of these organizations will act or respond in the way we hope or expect them to, we must do our part to get the wheel in motion. Do not let your silence let an animal abuser go unpunished.
The link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence has been recognized by human medical professionals. We must stop the perpetuation and escalation of such horrific actions at the most basic level. I hope this information helps guide someone in their fight, in the way I was guided today. Thank you CH, you know who you are!
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