Identifying and Reporting Animal Cruelty on Social Media

Categories: Pet Welfare

So many of us enjoy sharing our experiences on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Sadly, those individuals in our community who commit crimes against animals sometimes share too. As an organization that maintains an SPCA designation, we know firsthand just how difficult it can be to witness animal cruelty, and we rely on our community to help us identify it when they are able. While social media is sometimes abused, it can also be used as a tool for tremendous good when in the right hands. We want you, our friends and supporters, to be confident about how to address animal cruelty when you see it scrolling through your Instagram, shared on Twitter, or even popping up in your Facebook news feed. Regardless of whether or not you know the individual responsible for posting potential crimes against animals, you can help gather relevant information, report it to us (or your local SPCA or Humane Society), and potentially save an animal from an unsafe situation.

What you can do to help the pet:

Step 1:

Record as much relevant information as you can. This should include:

  • A screenshot of the photo (or video) in question
    • If you are able to download a video to your device, please do so. If not, capture a still image of a relevant moment in the video, and note what happens throughout the rest of the recording, including any words or comments by anyone in the video.
    • A screenshot of any comments on the post
  • A screenshot of the user’s profile photo
  • A screenshot of the user’s bio or “about me” section
  • Screenshots of any relevant recent posts that may show an address, license plate, other evidence of cruelty, or include the name of the individual
  • A copied link to the user’s profile or their handle so that it can be accessed again by humane law enforcement

If the individual in question is someone you know (as opposed to a random account that you scrolled past), be prepared to provide any additional information you may have. This might include a last name, address, license plate number, or other pertinent information.

Step 2:

Report the content you’ve collected to us (or your local Humane Society, SPCA, or police department).

Lollypop Farm serves Monroe, Orleans, Genesee, and Livingston counties. If you’re within one of these counties and see evidence of animal cruelty on social media, you can report it directly to our humane law enforcement dispatcher by emailing lawenf@lollypop.org or by calling our Animal Cruelty Hotline at 585-223-6500. Reports can, of course, be filed in a way that preserves your anonymity.

When you witness what you perceive to be animal cruelty on social media, you can help animals in need by reporting what you saw to Lollypop Farm.

What not to do:

  • Do not report or flag the content in question. In most cases, if you report a post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, the platform will remove the content relatively soon, which destroys any evidence that could be used by humane law enforcement.
  • Do not engage with the user. Don’t comment on the post, “save” it (if you’re on Instagram), or give any indication that you’re going to report the content. This is both for your own safety and privacy, and also as to not arouse suspicion that may cause them to remove the evidence of cruelty.

Once this information is shared with Lollypop Farm’s Humane Law Enforcement department, our team will determine whether or not we’re able to pull enough relevant information about the abuser from the content, and if we can, a Law Enforcement Officer will be sent to the location to investigate the situation further. We know it can be very difficult to identify an individual with any certainty on social media, but the more information you are able to gather, the better chance investigators have of positively identifying an individual who may be committing an animal crime and helping a pet in need.

Remember, if you see what you perceive to be animal cruelty on social media, gather whatever information you can (including screenshots of the content and the individual’s profile and bio), and email lawenf@lollypop.org or call 585-223-6500. By keeping an eye out for animal cruelty on social media, you’re helping to broaden our reach and helping keep pets safe in our community.

Humane law enforcement officer with cat
Our Humane Law Enforcement team is here to help when you witness animal cruelty on social media.

The Humane Law Enforcement Department at Lollypop Farm plays a critical role in addressing cruelty to animals in our community. In 2018 alone, our Humane Investigators handled 896 cases of animal cruelty and removed 338 animals from unsafe or neglectful conditions. As a nonprofit organization, Lollypop Farm does not receive any government or state funding and relies entirely on the generosity of our community. If you’re able, please consider making a donation today that will help keep a Humane Investigator on the road.

Learn more about Humane Law Enforcement at Lollypop Farm: lollypop.org/humane-law-enforcement

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