Editor’s note: Video included in this story may be disturbing to some readers
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Thousands of people are outraged Wednesday over a video that apparently shows someone choking their dog with a leash.
Animal rights activists and neighbors say it happened somewhere in Savannah.
The video shows a man swinging what appears to be a small animal as it goes airborne.
The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation shared the video with News 3. The foundation says someone — who wants to remain anonymous — saw the video online and shared it with them to take action.
The foundation says it wanted to handle the situation privately but eventually made it public to try and identify the man in the video. A representative says the video was recorded at the end of September.
Chatham County Animal Services cannot confirm the small animal is a dog or that it was a live animal. They have not ruled out that it could be a stuffed animal.
Regardless, Dr. Jake Harper, Director of Animal Services, says the video is disturbing.
“That looks inappropriate,” he said of his first reaction. “Animal abuse is one of those things that you know it when you see it.”
Savannah Police Department (SPD) says it is working with Animal Services to conduct an investigation. SPD says it has an idea of who the man may be but has not been able to confirm his identity or where he lives.
The video gets worse when the man uses the leash to make the “dog” do several pinwheels.
Some people say the man lives at Live Oak Plantation on Waters Avenue. News 3 met the man’s neighbor who did not want to be identified.
He says what you see in the video is not the whole story.
“It was a leash that was made to do that,” he said. “He wasn’t hurting his dog. I understand social media can be very dramatic and can take things out of [con]text… but he didn’t hurt the dog.”
Dr. Harper says if the dog is real, the behavior he saw in the video can cause severe injuries. He says the actions can bruise the dog or break its legs.
“Regardless of what type of instrument was on the dog, there’s no reason to do that at all,” said Dr. Harper.
If you see anything that could be animal abuse, authorities advise reporting it as soon as possible. The best number to call is 911 because the response will be immediate and thorough.
According to the Humane Society, 71 percent of domestic violence victims say their abuser also abused or neglected animals. Dr. Harper says that is one reason why he wants people to call authorities, even if they feel uncomfortable doing so.
“Hopefully we can find out where the dog is, where the person is and do a proper investigation,” said Dr. Harper.
“There’s a lot of animal cruelty going on around here, but he would never definitely hurt his own dog,” said the man’s neighbor. “He loves his dog. That’s his baby.”
Despite rumors on Facebook, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it is not assisting SPD and Chatham County Animal Services with the investigation.