Dog tormenting video triggers murder threats

Martin Laine
, reporter, Pärnu Postimees
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Photo: Kuvatõmmis

At her leisure, a young mother uploaded the video in Internet, showing tormenting of dogs. Great was the public outrage and in social media the clip quickly reached thousands. 

Seen in the video are two men turning dogs on one another, one of the animals being chained. Though soon realising she’d made a mistake, the genie was out of the bottle. Swiftly, the names, residences, jobs and phone numbers were public knowledge in comments to the video.

Calling one of the numbers, a tired-sounding guy picked up the phone. «Not me in the video,» he said. «How do you know, does the face show?» he asked thereafter. To the question why then was his phone number shared he said «don’t know» and hanged up.

The woman who uploaded the video said the dogs are okay and it was far from a dog fight. «It was not as bad as it seems,» she explained, adding that her mailbox is jammed with cursing and killing threats. «Let these commentators deal with the more serious problems, such where animals indeed are tormented,» advised the woman. She said she was not afraid the threats would be carried out.

Commenting on the behaviour seen in the video, dog trainer Aliftina Petrova said that when encouraging dogs to attack and fight one another, they will be aggressive even in the future: if an animal knows such behaviour is favoured, it may repeat the acts. «There is always the risk that the dog may turn against his owner,» she said.

Pärnu police department prevention and procedures head Üllar Kütt said they received information of the video as soon as it got uploaded on Facebook. Based on the clause of being cruel to animal, the police has initiated criminal procedure. Law prescribes financial penalty or imprisonment up to a year.

To begin with, an administrator of a Facebook group «Märgatud Pärnus» (Noticed in Pärnu) asked for names of both med seen in the video to let the authorities know. Afterwards, all kinds of information begun to be spread on the participators with wild justice in mind.

«These mindless guys might just as well look over their shoulder in the streets soon,» says a young woman in the Facebook group. «If anyone knows the persons in the video, I would be willing to meet them in person,» adds another. «Bastards! I’d kill them with mine own hand,» threatens the third. Such outbursts of anger were in their dozens. Also, the video has been set up on own Facebook pages by thousands, who all have something to say.

«We do ask the people to abstain from threats and retain dignity,» asked the police chief, adding that such video content understandably troubles lots of watchers.

«The police will promptly intervene if there is basis to believe that the threats spreading in social media will become real,» he assured.

Mr Kütt said people do need to consider that social media is public space as well with equal rules applying as in society at large. «Without exceptions, judgment in Estonia is under court authority alone and it is not acceptable to publicly threaten anyone,» he underlined.

Estonian Society of the Protection of Animals communication manager Liisi Moosaar said they have received loads of noticed regarding said video. According to her assessment, the people in the video are violating Animal Protection Act which prohibits the causing of injuries to animals and allows no organising of animal fights.

The society has also had recourse to Veterinary and Food Board to have the living conditions of dogs in question checked. The animal protectors do not think it is right to publicly threaten people: «We do hope, however, that the public denouncement of the act will help perpetrators realise what they did was stupid.»

Pärnu city council child protection head Jaanus Mäe said an individual had addressed them regarding the young mother who posted the video. «On the basis of the video, we cannot presumptuously arrive at the conclusion that the family may feature a child protection related problem,» he said, adding the department does deal with the complaint.