Both are correct in grammar, but have subtly different implications. The first refers to (unspecified) reports, whereas the second is closer to "(these) report of animal abuse... ".
You might say that the article is correct but redundant.
statement: "The" "precedes the definite article".
That statement is not quite right.
The use of the definite article "the" can be accurate or inaccurate in utterances (or sentences). It takes practice to get the hang of it.
The use of a definite article in a sentence can be fine. [generality]. That does not mean English has more than one definite article.
You can use articles, definite and indefinite, before other parts of speech: a noun, the noun, a verb, the verb, a preposition, the preposition.
In the same way, you can also say the article, an article, and all the variants:
a definite article
the definite article
an indefinite article
the indefinite article
You have to make a distinction between ...
When an entity is first introduced into the discourse (other than by name), we don't use the definite article unless we are expecting the hearer to be able to identify the elmeent already.
So "I have the (anything)" is unusual except in a context where speaker and hearer both know that there is a particular thing that I have been trying to obtain or find.
To say I have a daughter means that you are the parent of a female (child).
It tells us nothing about the child except that you are her parent.
It implies that you have no other daughters - unless you go on to say something like ....who has done whatever.
So the statement is just about the sex and number of your (female) offspring.
That is why we ...
This is the use of the for "the prototype", "the abstract", "X-s in general".
We see it also in the phrase that used to be common in the middle of the last century "splitting the atom".
It used to be more common that it is now - it has particularly gone out of fashion for talking about animals and people - The elephant is a quadruped with a long trunk ...
The use of prepositions is not determined by general rules. It is a mess of special cases. But the rules about determiners do follow general rules.
Nouns that are proper names do not take determiners.
Nouns that are mass nouns do not take determiners.
Nouns that are countable nouns, are in the singular, and are not being used as proper names do require ...
It's "listen to me for a second", NOT "the second". If you saw an example that said "the second", either the writer made a mistake or you're taking out of context.
This is a classic example of the use of articles "a" vs "the". You're asking the person to listen for "a second". It is not some particular second, it's any second (presumably within the next ...
STAFF is a plural word to talk collectively about some individuals working for an organization. It has no singular.
e.g., The staff are on strike. (NOT, 'A staff is . . . ' but you can say 'a staff of workers', 'a staff of 10' etc.)
Three staff, four staff, etc.
However, we can say "A member of staff".
You say "A MEMBER OF STAFF" or A STAFF MEMBER (phrase ...