Who here hasn’t seen a picture or video of animal neglect? I’m willing to bet a great number of my readers have seen multiple, and not just ones reposted by someone else. I’m sure many of you have come across a questionable Facebook post, or forum thread, or Craigslist ad. You’ve seen an animal who looks neglected or abused.
Many of us will do what we can to rectify the situation. Some of us try to educate the owner. Some try calling local law enforcement and animal control. Some even gather personal information about the owner and use it against them.
So what happens when it’s *you* being accused of animal neglect or abuse?
For the purpose of this blog, we’re going to say that you are innocent of what you are being accused of. Perhaps the animal has a medical condition. Perhaps you just recently procured the animal, which came from a bad situation.
So what do you do when the internet begins calling for blood?
First and foremost: Stay calm!
I simply cannot stress this enough. Your innocence doesn’t matter worth a shit if you immediately jump to the defensive. If you hit your capslock and begin “screaming” at people, you have lost any and all credibility right away. When you begin to insult people, they begin to automatically assume your guilt.
Stay calm. Step away if you must, until you have full control over your mouth/fingers.
Next, believe it or not, you need to *thank* the people who are questioning your animal. Thank them for their concern. After all, they wouldn’t bother doing so if they weren’t actually worried about the animal. (With a few exceptions, of course)
Tell them your appreciate their feedback. Thank them for caring enough to say something.
Explain yourself, calmly. If you are innocent of what you are being accused of, no doubt you have a damn good reason for having an animal that appears neglected/abused. Outline the situation. There’s no need to go into a great deal of detail as long as you lay down the factual foundation.
To those threatening to call the Sheriff or Animal Control, tell them they are welcome to it. Whether or not they actually do so, this shows that you are unconcerned about what these agencies will find. Now, make note, Animal Control has had it’s share of epic screw-ups, but for the most part, if you are doing things correctly, they will find no reason to bring charges against you.
You will of course, need to provide some sort of proof to back up your reasons for the animal’s condition, but you need only present this to an agency of the law. The people on the internet do not *need* this information. Posting it can help, but take care to remove *any* and *all* personal information posted on said documentation.
Staying safe is paramount. There are people out there who truly only care about the animal(s) and will not bring harm to you or yours.
But there are a great deal of insane lunatics out there who will not think twice about spreading your name, personal information, and even going further and beyond.
Just remember – we are all in this together. Take a moment to *ask* about a situation you may see online. Not every neglected or abused animal being posted became that way via the person posting it.