The ASPCA Speaks Out Against Bonsai Kitten Website
Monday, November 26, 2001
Encourages shutdown of offensive Web site.
Contact: ASPCA Media Dept.
(212) 876-7700 ext. 4661
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(NEW YORK) UPDATED January 17, 2005 -- The Bonsai Kitten Web site has generated a lot of feedback from concerned individuals in the animal welfare community. The ASPCA shares your anger and concern about Bonsai Kitten. While the Internet has made a positive contribution to our society, it has also resulted in the rapid expansion of publicity for individuals who promote animal abuse. The ASPCA as well as other major humane organizations across the U.S. have attempted to discourage the promoters of this Web site from their activity.
Our Humane Law Enforcement Department, as well as other law enforcement agencies, is aware of the Bonsai Kitten site and has determined that it is a hoax site operated by an MIT student in Massachusetts, (not in New York
, as had been stated on the Web site). Moreover, thanks to the active participation of Web-users such as yourselves, the Web site has been forced to shut down and move a number of times before finding its present host.
In the United States, individuals have the constitutional right to freedom of speech; therefore, they may discuss and advocate for animal abuse on the Internet and in other public forums as long as they don't practice what they preach. As such, the matter becomes the responsibility of the particular Internet service providers ("ISPs"). Unfortunately, Bonsai Kitten's new service provider, www.rotten.com
, refuses to remove the site on freedom of speech grounds. Since contacting the Web site directly has only increased the creators' resolve to maintain the site, and the new host is unwilling to remove it, we recommend that concerned citizens NOT contact the person running this site or any other Bonsai Kitten related sites. These are obviously individuals who are just looking for attention. The best thing that we can do is ignore the Web site creators and complain to the host Web site's advertisers.
We appreciate your effort in contacting us, and would like to give you some general information on how to fight against this and any other similar sites that you may encounter. Unfortunately, new ones appear every day.
A 1999 federal law bans the knowing creation, sale or possession of depictions of animal cruelty, with the intention of placing the depiction into interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain. The new law covers any visual or auditory depiction of intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding or killing a live animal. If the conduct in the depiction is illegal under federal law, or state law in the state where the creation, sale or possession takes place, then this new law will apply. The place where the actual animal cruelty took place is not significant under this statute. Anyone convicted of the interstate or foreign sale of these depictions of animal cruelty can be faced with a fine, or up to a five year prison sentence. An exception is made for depictions serious with religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.
If you have concrete information that an individual is engaged in the creation, sale or possession (with intent to sell) of these depictions of cruelty, and you know which city this person lives in, the most effective response is utilizing traditional measures. While the ASPCA is a national organization in many respects, our powers to enforce animal cruelty laws are limited by law to the State of New York; however, we are concerned with addressing acts of animal cruelty and neglect wherever they occur. In situations where acts of animal cruelty occur outside the State of New York, we would urge you to contact any or all of the following organizations and advise them of the situation:
1) your local society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA) and/or humane society (which may have the power to enforce animal cruelty laws in the area);
2) your local law enforcement officials;
3) your local city/county health department (because abuse of animals often involves unsafe or unsanitary conditions for humans);
4) your federal, state and local taxing authorities (because operations involving cruelty to animals often operate without filing or paying taxes);
5) The Internet Fraud Complaint Center at http://www.ifccfbi.gov/
, a joint partnership between the FBI and The National White Collar Crime Center established to address fraud committed over the Internet;
6) local and national media organizations;
, a group that is attempting to stop sites advocating cruelty to animals; 8) any ISP hosting a Web site advocating animal abuse. You can find the address of an ISP by connecting Network Solutions at http://www.networksolutions.com/
and inputting the name of the Web site. (NOTE: Network Solutions merely registers domain names and is not responsible in any way for the content of the Web sites it registers); and
9) the ISP that you regularly do business with, to encourage them to screen their own sites and not allow Web sites promoting animal cruelty.
Note: "Local", as used above, means based in the area from which the Web site originates.
For more information, please visit these Web sites:
ZDNet: "Bonsai Kitten: An Obvious Hoax"
Wired.com: "FBI Goes After Bonsaikitten.com"
"Bonsai Kitten Petition" (offers a history of the Bonsai Kitten Web site)
Founded in 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was the first humane organization established in the Western Hemisphere and today has one million supporters. The ASPCA's mission is to provide an effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides national leadership in humane education, government affairs and public policy, shelter support, and animal poison control. The NYC headquarters houses a full-service animal hospital, animal behavior center, and adoption facility. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York's animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series Animal Precinct on Animal Planet. Visit www.aspca.org
for more information.