Saint John police have seized a dog and a hamster in response to a viral video showing a young woman striking a dog.
The video, which has been reviewed by Global News, was circulating on Facebook and other social media over the weekend.
“As of around 12:30 (Monday) afternoon the dog and the hamster that were in the video have been turned over to the SPCA,” said Jim Hennessy, a spokesman for the Saint John Police Force. “The family is co-operating with the investigation and Saint John Police continues to look into the matter.”
Global News is not identifying the woman as charges have not been laid and because the Saint John Police Force says the person in the video is a minor.
The New Brunswick SPCA says it is also investigating the videos.
One video shows a young woman yelling and striking a dog multiple times. The dog barks in response to being hit.
A second video shows the same individual grabbing the dog, which appears to be a golden retriever, and striking it repeatedly on its head.
Feelings of anger and disgust dominated the comments sections of the various social media posts and shares. Many targeted the suspect and her family. People also protested Sunday at a home where the incidents allegedly took place calling for justice and for the animals to be removed.
“It just struck a chord in me,” said Brenda Gerrior, founder of the animal advocacy group Justice for MEEKO, speaking of the videos of the dog. “I have two dogs of my own and I would never think in a million years to treat an animal — any type of animal — the way she was treating the animal.”
Gerrior said she does not endorse any type of vigilante justice, but she said it’s important police and SPCA officials are contacted when necessary. She also said circulating the videos can help save and protect animals.
“Animals don’t have the ability to speak for themselves,” Gerrior said. “We need to be their voice. In my opinion, if we’re not standing up for animals and we know the abuse is happening, we’re just as guilty as the abuser.”
Hennessy said police understand the “raw emotion” involved but emphasized the importance of “due process.”
“A lot of us on the police force own pets of our own,” Hennessy said. “So we understand that there’s a lot of raw emotion when people see these types of videos. But people have to understand that there’s a due process that goes along with this as well. The investigation is ongoing. We’re making sure we look into every aspect of the videos that were posted online.”
The animals, which Hennessy said appeared to be in good condition, are now in the custody of the New Brunswick SPCA. No charges have been laid.
“They will (be) turned over to one of the SPCA shelters in the Province where they will be subsequently adopted out to a caring home, although we can not divulge the exact location of these two animals,” said Tony Porter, chief animal protection officer for the New Brunswick SPCA, in an email to Global News.
Porter also stressed that protests can be disruptive to the investigative process by tying up resources.
“By protesting and making threats towards the persons who may be the subjects of an investigation offers NO assistance in the actual investigation itself or the details of what occurred,” Porter said. “I do know that these sorts of cases outrages people but we ask that they, please, allow the Police and the NB SPCA do to the jobs we’re trained to do.”