New app gives animal abuse witnesses a way to assist law enforcement

In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to know what actions to take if a person witnesses animal abuse happening right in front of them.

But with the help of a new free app called ICE BlackBox, witnesses can catch the abuser in the act and give law enforcement officials the evidence they need to pursue justice, according to WLJA in Alexandria, Va.

The app stems from a collaboration between the National Sheriff's Association and the Humane Society of the United States, and it fits into their goal to help citizens "root out this violence and cruelty from their communities," Michael Markarian, chief program & policy officer for the Humane Society of the United States, told the television station.

Using technology to capture evidence in real time

ICE BlackBox enables anyone with a smartphone and the downloaded app to capture video and audio of the abuse incident, the app's developers said on their website.

With one touch, users can transmit their video, audio, and GPS location to ICE BlackBox's secure cloud and 911. Simultaneously, the user's emergency contacts are notified of the situation by text or email. Because videos are sent to the cloud in 30-second segments for quicker uploading, they can appear on the ICE BlackBox cloud in under 30 seconds, developers said.

Putting video footage in the right hands

According to WJLA, videos recorded with ICE BlackBox are relayed to the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse - part of the National Sheriff's Association - and are eventually filtered to the right police agencies. 

John Thompson, interim executive director of the National Sheriff's Association, cautioned that the app is not a replacement for contacting police during an emergency situation.

"If it's an animal abuse emergency, then they need to call 911. This does not take the place of 911," Thompson said.

How to download the app

Visit the iTunes Store to download the app for the iPhone, or Google Play to download the app for Android.