The Internet is one of our most powerful tools in combatting animal cruelty, educating the public and exchanging ideas with other animal advocates. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet also makes it very easy for criminals and those that find humor in animal cruelty to spread their message.
We have seen an increase in the number of cruel hoax sites, which while they may be distasteful and offensive to you, are not actually committing any crimes. An example of these types of sites would be the Bonsai Kitten website and the Save Toby website.
If you encounter online cruelty, check to see if more information is available. Search the Urban Legends Reference Pages and Google to see whether or not the site may have already been determined to be a hoax.
- Do not contact the website. The author isn't interested in how you feel about him and what he is doing, and he will likely get a rise out of the attention*.
- Do not send emails to all of your friends and associates telling them about the site. Doing so would be promoting the site and, thusly, giving them what they want -- attention. It is what they crave and you would only be fueling their fire. Don't give them any satisfaction.
- Contact the company that hosts the website to let them know about the abusive content. If the content is in violation of the company's term of service, they may be willing to cancel or suspend the site owner's account until the content is removed.
To find out who hosts a website, go to Whois.Net, type in the url of the website and click on the button marked "Whois". The results should list the "Domain name servers" and domain name contacts. The technical and administrative contacts will usually be the site owner. If you click on the name of the Domain name servers, it will display the contact information for the hosting company. This is the contact information you want.
* An important exception to this would be if you witness cruelty on a site that posts videos, images or stories from many sources. In June 2005, a legitimate case of animal cruelty was discovered thanks to responsible site owners who contacted authorities after a video of teens dousing opossums with lighter fluid and setting them on fire was submitted to their site.
If the site owner is responsible for the offensive content itself, contacting them will only give them additional attention and will usually relish the fact that they have managed to get so many people in an uproar. Just as is the case with abused and neglected children, these site owners welcome exposure and attention, even if that attention is negative.
Websites Depicting or Promoting Actual Child or Animal Cruelty
If you encounter a website that clearly depicts actual animal cruelty (such as bestiality), follow the steps above to determine the hosting company of the site. Unfortunately, with bestiality cases and child pornography in particular, many site owners will host their websites with companies based in states or countries that do not have laws against the content they are promoting.
To report child pornography, contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at www.cybertipline.com.