The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) haswarned the public on the dangers of social media, after a recent case was“made much more difficult” by misinformation spread this way.

After a dog was photographed by a member of the public with a visible abscess,widespread social media outrage ensued and “dozens” of calls were made to thecharity’s hotline.

The charity warns that misinformation about cases could spread easily, and inthis instance, the flooded hotline delayed “genuine emergencies” that neededto be reported.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent, Mike Flynn, said: “While we rely on thepublic to be our eyes and ears, we must stress that we can only take reportsabout incidents they have concrete information about or have witnessedthemselves.

“We can’t take reports via our social media channels and we can’t investigateincidents in other countries as we only operate in Scotland. Our helpline isthere is take reports of animals in need of help or provide advice to thepublic. The service is not there to give updates on social media posts.”

He added: “Often, when a case is ongoing we are very limited in what we cansay to the public as it could affect our chances of a successful prosecution.In fact, in the past, cases have fallen apart due to the interference ofpeople on social media.

“The Society is always happy to help and offer advice but when we receive ahigh number of calls from those who have seen a post on social media andcannot provide eyewitness testimony, this can tie up valuable resources andtime when we could be tending to animals in need of our help.

“We understand that animal welfare is an emotive subject and the public areoften acting with good intentions, but we would urge them to think carefullyabout what they post on social media, and when they contact us, as they couldend up doing more harm than good.”

Source: Heather Sandlin UK Pet Gazette

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