The Ontario SPCA is investigating after a video surfaced online of a dog being abused on the subway in Toronto.
The video shows a small dog whimpering while a woman strikes the animal, tugs on its fur and violently pulls its leash. The woman’s mental state is not known and CityNews has chosen not to identify her.
Someone on the Line 2 train activated the emergency alarm shortly before 4:30 p.m. Friday, and uniformed crews escorted the woman away at St. George Station.
Toronto police responded, spoke with the woman and witnesses and assessed the dog, determining it to be in good health.
WARNING: Video below may be disturbing to some viewers.
“It’s very concerning what we see, with this woman and the dog,” said Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook.
But she said the officers didn’t have enough information to investigate further and the woman was cautioned and released.
Some of those reacting to the video online have been asking why people didn’t step in sooner to help the dog — a man did eventually confront the owner.
“You never know the circumstances, you never know the outcome,” Douglas-Cook said. “By all means you want it to stop, but that’s why we’re here.”
Toronto psychotherapist Demian Brown said there could be a range of reasons why passengers weren’t quicker to intervene — one being the unpredictability of the situation.
“Few people want to take a leadership role at the risk of not really knowing what’s going on and not wanting to screw things up, take charge and look like an idiot and do the wrong thing and hurt someone,” he said. “So it’s not just selfish, it’s worrying about everyone else too.
“It’s almost like a person is taking their cue from everyone else. Well, nobody else is doing anything, so it must be it’s not really that big of an emergency.”
He said “diffusion of responsibility” could also come into play.
“Well, there are a lot of other people, so chances are someone’s going to do something,” he said. “So, I’m not going to do it, because I’m going to look stupid.”
If there were fewer people on the train, someone might have intervened sooner, Brown added.