"I just saw disturbing images of animal cruelty on a social media site (Facebook). I want to report this to the police. What should I do?"
Thank you for writing. This sounds like a horrible story to read. It can be very disturbing to come upon Facebook pages that depict animal cruelty, fighting, or neglect. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to report such depictions to local law enforcement because it is sometimes difficult to establish the true identity of the individuals (i.e., they could be logging into the system with another person's identity or a fake name). Additionally, it is difficult to establish the jurisdiction in which the alleged crime occurred as well as whether this was a real act and not just something someone staged. That being said, depicting such deplorable acts typically violates Facebook's terms of service and the Internet Service Provider's (ISP) terms of service. You can report such violations to those companies. The FBI and Department of Justice do look into such allegations of cruelty since they have jurisdiction across all state lines. If you go to ASPCA's page on "Reporting Animal Cruelty," there is a specific FAQ on this issue: http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/report-animal-cruelty/report-animal-cruelty-faq.
For more on reporting animal cruelty, see our Comparative Table of Laws on Reporting Animal Cruelty.
Animal Legal & Historical Center