Hashtags and Hate Mail

Hashtags and Hate Mail
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2020-03-10
Unit 1Slide Deck: Hashtags and Hate Mail
Unit 2Workbook: Hashtags and Hate Mail
Unit 3Recording: Hashtags and Hate Mail

By nature, the public sector is subjected to scrutiny on their decisions and actions, ensuring tax dollars are being spent sensibly. On social media, the criticism is amplified many times over. Behind the screen and under the guise of a screen name, keyboard warriors are empowered to make commentaries, no longer seeking a dialogue but resorting to online harassment or even personal attacks. It only makes sense that law enforcement and animal control agencies learn to talk back to uphold the truth and their reputation.

This session’s instructor is Nina Stively, the Director of Loudoun County Animal Services in northern Virginia. She is also a Certified Animal Cruelty Investigator, a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator, and an Animal Control Officer.

Some of the points Nina tackled on the course are:

  • The digital problem that animal service agencies are faced with every day.
  • Understanding how the profession, the industry, your ability to do your job, and your mental health are at stake if online harassment persists and is not corrected.
  • The common culprits behind the online harassment that public agencies are subjected to.
  • The three options that agencies may take – it’s risks, benefits, and the recommended approach to best deal with it.
  • The importance of a social media policy to set the scope and limitations of what an agency can do and how to handle hate speech and online harassment.
  • Scenarios, suggestions, and samples of how different animal care and control agencies can approach these situations.
    • Being proactive by having a public FAQ page where your agency can refer the public for recurring questions and talking points.
    • Creating templates that will serve as your consistent answer and statement for hot topics and inquiries that come up repeatedly.
    • Learning constructive call-outs where negative and false comments from the public are countered by debunking misinformation, providing data and education, and a call to action for the public to extend help to the agency.
    • Navigating sensitive topics by remaining factual while expressing sincerity, vulnerability, and humanity to gain the public’s trust.
    • Declining partnerships gracefully by letting the other party know the underlying reasons.

Questions Nina addressed in the Q&A are about:

  • The wellness training being offered to animal welfare organizations to deal with the staff’s compassion fatigue.
  • What publicly funded means in relation to First Amendment rights.
  • A sustainable approach to handling social media pages.
  • Instances when the constructive call-out tactic isn’t recommended.
  • How to best handle repetitive and nuisance commenters and ‘put them in their place’.
  • Answering questions on behalf of the organization.


Audience Comments

  • “Wonderful presenter and informative!” — Donald
  • “The most valuable thing I learned was when to use which option of responding to each type of complaint.” — Deborah
  • “This was a very good presentation and a subject many organizations are dealing with today via social media.” — Denise
  • “Brilliantly done. This is a topic that is not often explored, and she did a wonderful job. Well-spoken and well-informed, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very helpful.” — Nathalie
  • “Excellent insight into how to effectively handle responses on social media. Enjoyed this webinar.” — Phyllis



View our Animal Welfare Webinar  Schedule and Recordings



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





Additional Resources
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