Fake animal rescue videos; how to spot the disturbing trend

A common google search lately is ‘are animal rescue videos staged’? The rising trend of fake animal rescue videos online is making it hard to distinguish the real from the fraudulent, and they’re causing significant harm to countless animals in the process.

We explore the disturbing trend and share how to spot a fake, and we learn why people make fake animal rescue videos.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Are animal rescue videos staged?

The short answer is, yes.

Fake animal rescue videos have been popular on social media for a few years now.

Despite countless animals suffering, social media companies are seemingly powerless to stop them.

Creators of fake animal rescue videos often follow a disturbing pattern.

They deliberately place animals in dangerous situations, only to ‘rescue’ them on camera.

This not only causes immediate physical and psychological harm to the animals but also perpetuates a cycle of abuse.

The animals are often reused in multiple videos, leading to continuous suffering.

These videos are typically characterised by dramatic scenarios, such as animals being trapped or attacked.

The creators stage these situations, filming the entire process to appear as heroes.

Unfortunately, the reality is far from heroic.

These animals are subjected to extreme stress and, in many cases, do not survive the ordeal.

Creators of fake rescue videos exploit the compassion of animal lovers and divert crucial resources away from legitimate rescue operations.

Worst of all, they subject animals to unnecessary distress for the sake of views and clicks.

How and why people make fake animal rescue videos

Fake animal rescue videos often include the same animals being used over and over again, most likely until they die.

It’s often the same theme; a kitten being eaten by a python, a puppy stuck in a flooded drain, or a deer stuck in a pit.

They involve animals being trapped, attacked, or in distress before being ‘rescued’ (and filmed, of course).

The truth is these ‘rescuers’ are the ones who stage the situations in order to make themselves seem like a hero.

Animals are often taken from the streets and put in positions where they must fight to protect their babies or other animals.

These videos, often made in developing countries, are designed to be heart-warming, but the truth is they are heartbreaking.

Ultimately, the subject animal will likely die during filming of the fake animal rescue.

In order to get around that, the creators will edit the videos to end them with earlier footage of the animal before they died.

Well-meaning people engage with these videos, which allows the creators to earn a profit, often equating to big money.

monkey and snake in a fake animal rescue video
Still image from a fake animal rescue (credit World Animal Protection Australia)

How to spot a fake

Fake animal rescue videos are actually very easy to spot, once you know what to look for.

The trends are often the same; the scene, location, even the animal, appear in multiple videos.

To spot fake animal rescue videos, look for repetitive themes and settings.

Often, the same animals and locations even appear in multiple videos on the same channel.

The fake clips are almost always accompanied by extremely cheesy music, along with subtitles with poor grammar.

Additionally, the behaviour of the ‘rescuer’ towards the animal can be a giveaway; in fake animal rescues, they are often mishandled.

Another telltale sign of a fake animal rescue video is the way the creator responds to criticism.

If they respond rudely, or turn the comments off all together, then it’s almost certainly a fake.

These channels often have millions of views per video and have hundreds of thousands of subscribers on You Tube.

Questions to ask yourself if deciding whether a rescue video is legitimate or fake

If the video involves someone randomly happening upon an animal in need of rescue, it is likely fake.

Does the video involve a reputable organisation, such as a legitimate animal welfare agency or emergency service?

Does it seem unusual that someone is filming this? Would the rescue be made easier or quicker if the person filming was actually assisting with the rescue?

When looking at multiple videos, does it look like the same animal and location?

Is there any other description or context given?  Legitimate organisations will always provide a description of the video and how they help in the rescue.

How does the ‘rescuer’ interact with the animal? In a fake animal rescue video, the ‘rescuer’ often mishandles the animal once rescued.

Snake attacking puppy in fake animal rescue video
Image from fake rescue video

Fake animal rescue videos not only deceive viewers but also cast a shadow over legitimate animal rescue organisations.

These videos create a mistrust among the public, making it harder for genuine rescuers to gain the support they desperately need.

People start questioning the authenticity of real rescue operations, which can lead to a decrease in donations and volunteer support for these organisations.

Legitimate animal welfare groups work tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome animals in need.

Their efforts are often hindered by the skepticism bred by fake rescue videos.

This skepticism can lead to a reduction in funding and resources, which are vital for their operations.

Furthermore, these videos can desensitise viewers to real animal suffering, making it harder for genuine rescue stories to evoke the empathy and action they require.

What to do if you spot a fake animal rescue video

  • If you have the slightest inkling something is not right, do not engage with the video.
  • Don’t like, don’t comment, don’t share.
  • Bottom line is, use your common sense; if it seems staged, it probably is.
  • Report the video as animal abuse.

Genuine animal organisations campaign to end the online cruelty

Many animal rescue organisations are campaigning to end fake online animal rescue videos.

The organisations are also campaigning for greater awareness of the staged animal rescues.

They’ve urged social media companies, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, to take stronger measures to identify and remove the clips.

FOUR PAWS in Australia has been campaigning for an end to these staged videos.

 They’ve shared some further information on the videos on their website along with more great tips for spotting them.

World Animal Protection Australia also conducted their own investigation into this disturbing trend.

The organisation is urging social media platforms, such as You Tube, to do more to stop animals suffering for profit.




  1. Unfortunately people don’t use their brains. Dogmeat market rescue is so sickening and great for click bait. FB and YT don’t do a thing about it. If you report it, they are just as blind as the people who thank these so called rescuers.

  2. How to report fake animal rescue sites,makes me so angry but their is not a category and many are from the same account