Footage of battery-caged hens. Video taken inside research labs. Undercover shots of circus cruelty. Activists probably understand better than anyone the transformative power of images, and such videos are readily accessible on YouTube, Google, Yahoo and social-networking sites. Sometimes the resolution is excellent and other times, well, not so much. Television news programs doing a story on animals, however, prefer broadcast-quality video ― and if they can download clips for free from the Internet, all the better.

But high-quality video of animals can be hard to acquire, especially when the subject is animal exploitation. Stepping in to meet this demand is the recently launched site FreeAnimalVideo.org. A tool for animal activists as well as mainstream media outlets, FreeAnimalVideo.org is a digital library of video clips offered to anyone at no charge.

The site is the brainchild of two Los Angeles-based activists, Sandra Mohr and Patty Shenker. Sandra has been shooting, directing and editing videos for animal causes since the mid-‘90s (among many other projects, she edited the documentary Behind the Mask); Patty is a longtime fixture in the animal-rights movement, well known for her tenacity and generosity.

Sandra Mohr

“We wanted to start the website for three reasons,” explains Sandra. “First, to get everyone’s footage off the shelf and have it reused by students, media and documentarians to help animals. Second, to create a site where the press could immediately get video of animals and animal issues — with no strings attached — so that they can create their news packages and put them on TV. And third, to help distribute breaking news about animals instantaneously via the Internet.”

Although the site has only been active since July 1, CNN’s “Headline News” has already used their footage to cover a story about rescued Bolivian lions, and they now host the FreeAnimalVideo.org link on their main page for the show “Issues” with Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Patty Shenker and friends

Videos on FreeAnimalVideo.org are provided by animal-protection organizations, animal sanctuaries and individual activists. Categories include farmed animals, animals used in entertainment, marine animals, pets, animals used in research, wildlife and animals used for fashion and sports. In addition to lions, the site currently offers downloadable clips of tigers, elephants, bison, cows, chickens, pigs, horses, turkeys, sheep, goats and monkeys, as well as shots of animal activists in action. Some of the videos are heartwarming, and some of them are heartbreaking.

If you have a high-resolution video depicting animals or animal activism, even if it’s unedited, uploading your clip to FreeAnimalVideo.org is a great way to help our message go mainstream. Videos promoting an animal-related cause or organization are also welcome. “We want activists to call us first when they have video they want distributed to the media,” says Sandra. “This is where we can really help. We know how to put the video up so that news stations can grab it and use it in minutes.”