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'Social media has really unleashed this': Reported cat abuse video draws outrage

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WARNING: Some of the content in this story may be disturbing. 

Public outrage over an online video that appears to show the abuse of a pet cat is mounting.

Animal advocacy groups are now weighing in as London police step in.

Interviewed at a city dog park to react to the video, Animal Alliance of Canada board member Vicki Van Linden could not help but point out the irony.

“These animals are the lucky ones [referring to the dogs in the park]. They have guardians who care about them,” she said.

But Linden adds not all pets are as fortunate.

She and others are concerned about the social media post appearing to show the abuse of a domestic cat.

In it, a person throws a lifeless cat on a bed. They later show the cat to the camera before hanging it upside down by its hind legs. At another point, the person appears to be smiling.

A lifeless cat is held upside in a video posted online in April 2024. The London Police Service has received multiple public calls of concern as animal advocacy groups call for action. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

The London Police Service confirms to CTV News London that officers have received multiple inquiries about a video appearing to show the abuse of a cat.

“Members of the London Police Service are aware of social media posts and videos circulating online,” said Sgt. Sandasha Bough. “But under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, there is nothing further we can share at this time.”

Given the high level of public concern surrounding the video, police have issued a warning that “any personal acts of retribution could result in criminal charges.”

But as the force works to protect people and animals, Van Linden worries about the societal impact of online animal abuse.

“Social media has really unleashed this,” she said. “Really, there are reports of this happening all around the world.”

Vicki Van Linden, a board member of Animal Alliance of Canada, is seen at the Greenway Dog Park in London, Ont. on April 9, 2024. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

While the circumstances leading up to the video are not yet known or proven, Van Linden suggests any post showing intentional animal cruelty should raise alarm.

She points to cases where pets were harmed by perpetrators who eventually hurt people.

“We know that Luka Magnotta, who later went on to kill and dismember, abused and killed a kitten online,” she explained. “That was long before that murder of a human took place.”

Van Linden said Canada’s animal protection laws must be strengthened.

“We have to study this more. We need more understanding of why people abuse animals. We have to put more money behind it. And, we have to take it more seriously in the courts,” she said. 

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