When members of a French animal rights activist group recently saw a situation involving a homeless man and a puppy that they deemed “illegal,” they took matters into their own hands… literally.
The homeless man was begging with his small dog near Châtelet, central Paris, last week, when representatives of Cause Animale Nord — an animal rights group based in Lille, northern France — wrestled the man to the ground and snatched the dog, The Telegraph reports.
The incident — and the homeless man wailing over the alleged theft of his dog — was all caught on tape.
The video, which a witness shared on Facebook following the incident, has been viewed more than 1.2 million times. In it, you see a man and woman push the homeless man out of the way before grabbing the dog and walking away down the street. The woman supposedly explains to the crowd they have taken matters into their own hands, as police have done nothing.
The video sparked outrage online and has resulted in an online petition calling for an investigation into Cause Animale Nord’s “extreme violence.” To date, about 160,000 people have signed the petition.
#causeanimalenord I want to report animal cruelty. A group of thugs assaulted a man and stole a puppy away from its rightful, loving owner!
— G (@Calliope16G) September 24, 2015
Those aren’t animal rights activists. They’re monsters in fine clothes stealing a puppy from a man who has nothing. #causeanimalenord
— Schultz (@JeremyJSchultz) September 25, 2015
Via Facebook, the animal rights group wrote: “We intervened because it was an urgent situation for the animal. There was no violence at any moment. The person had thrown himself to the ground, crushing the puppy. The puppy was stunned, had dilated pupils and was staggering around. We took (the dog) away from a Roma who was using it for begging. The police don’t do anything, we act.”
Reportedly, the dog now goes by the name of Vegan and is available for adoption.