There are few certainties in life, but on Facebook there’s one that’s guaranteed. Anytime we post a graphic story or photo of abuse, a parade of people de-friend us. Those de-friendings often come with private messages that usually start with “we love your page” followed by the big “BUT.” They then go on to say they depend on us to entertain and make them smile, not horrify and depress. In the beginning, we used to comment on the fact we had just lost friends, but have since become immune to it all. We’ve also stopped trying to defend our actions.
Truth is, there are days when after seeing story after story about abused, neglected and dumped animals – we have to shut down Facebook and walk away for our own sanity. We’re also the first to admit that sometimes we’ll post a video that we can’t bear to watch ourselves. However, if posting that video, that image or that story can identify a perpetrator or get help for an animal in need, we’ll gladly give up a few hundred or a few thousand friends.
The most recent one was a Twitter image of a young woman holding a cat by its tail with the caption “LMAO. I hate cats.” In addition to showing that she lacked any heart or conscience, this not-so-bright bulb did it while wearing a local team’s t-shirt. Within moments, people had not only identified her, but also contacted local police. Shortly afterwards, we received a message from the police in that jurisdiction that they were investigating.
A similar situation happened in Maryland earlier this summer when someone messaged us a video they had stumbled across online. Not only were they horrified to see a group of teens abusing a kitty, they recognized one of the faces. After calling the authorities and getting no response, the person contacted Soft Side for help. In this case, we did not post the video, but we did tell the story and asked viewers if they had any direct contacts to that county’s police and animal control. Within minutes, authorities from that county messaged us asking for more information. As luck would have it, one of our viewers had done a screen save – this proved critical since the video was promptly removed once people’s outrage went viral. A few weeks later, we were heartened to learn that charges had, indeed, been filed.
Did we lose a few friends that day? Probably. Would we do anything differently if given the chance? Not a chance. While it’s true that our campaign is all about encouraging people to discover their soft side, we believe that sometimes that requires a cold, hard look at reality.