This is a story which highlights what I believe is quite a common situation on social media. On occasion there can be an underlying level of aggressive commenting on social media and an eagerness to criticise. This is dangerous because often the facts and circumstances are not completely clear. Information is passed from one to another so that people who comment don’t have firsthand knowledge of what they’re commenting about. This phenomenon probably occurs because commenters and users can be semi-anonymous or use a pseudonym. This protects them and allows them to go in all guns blazing.
In this instance Jenny Candler, living in Doncaster, UK, was driving down the street with her friend going to an outdoor PT session (I believe in compliance with coronavirus regulations) when they saw what they believed to be a starving cat on the street.
They stopped to help. In fact, she believe that a woman was about to reverse her car onto the cat. Jenny said that she put on some gloves before lifting the cat into her van. She said she put the gloves on to stop any transmission of disease from the cat to her. This may also be a reflection of the information provided by the scientists about the possibility of transmission of Covid-19 from domestic cats to people.
It appears that she then drove the van to her mum who she telephoned ahead for assistance in providing food for the cat. Her mother said that the cat had an owner (the cat probably had a collar) and that she had to take the cat back to where she found her.
She took the cat back and put down some food at that place for the cat. The next bit of the story is unclear because for some reason the Cats Action Trust in Doncaster issued a warning to cat owners in the town after they appear to have received a report that a cat had been taken i.e. stolen in broad daylight on Saturday. I presume that they were referring to the cat that Jenny fed.
Since then she has received abuse on social media. It appears, therefore, that someone photographed her van and the registration number and has uploaded the photograph to social media where it has been shared and commented upon in the belief that Jenny had stolen a cat.
It got so bad that Jenny had to change the registration number on her car. She was frightened that people were going to attack her if she used her van.
People just see what they want to see and can’t believe that someone would just be doing a good thing. If anyone else finds a cat they think needs help I would suggest ringing Cats Protection or the RSPCA straight away so you don’t get into the mess that I have. I’m not a cat snatcher. I was just trying to do a good thing. – Jenny Candler
Comment: it’s my time to comment. As mentioned in the opening paragraph there is sometimes an eagerness and a tendency on social media to jump in with both feet without fully checking the story. This can only be done properly by careful investigation and first-hand knowledge or at least comments should be framed cautiously. Unfortunately when people comment critically they can spread fake news which is not removed by the social media websites. Or at least it is difficult to remove it. Therefore the information persists and one’s reputation is besmirched unjustifiably and unfairly. Technically it is defamation of character and probably actionable in the courts but that is the last thing one wants to do. I feel sorry for Jenny. She has a good face. She looks honest to me and she is a kind person judging by her desire to help this cat.