Fake animal rescue videos; how to spot the online animal abuse

monkey used in online rescue video for fake animal rescue videos

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A common google search lately is ‘are animal rescue videos staged’? There are so many examples of online animal abuse masked as a heroic rescue these days, it’s 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.

So, are animal rescue videos staged?

The short answer is, yes. Well, many are.

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.

The videos are nothing but blatant online animal abuse and, sometimes, torture.

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 the online animal abuse

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.

monkey scared in fake rescue video for staged videos

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 example of online animal abuse
Image from fake rescue video

What to do if you spot a fake animal rescue video

  • Don’t like, don’t comment, don’t share. If you are questioning whether a video is fake or not, do not engage with it in any way.
  • 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

    1. Hi Larry, if you see a fake rescue on social media you can report it immediately; they all have options on the videos/content to report it. Animal Friendly Life team

        1. Thanks for that feedback, that’s really helpful to know where they can be reported to. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have been an animal lover since I was a child and it breaks my heart when I see what people do to animals for entertainment money that is also the reason why I am a dedicated vegan

    1. HI Inge, it is absolutely heartbreaking. We are trying to raise awareness so people can spot them and not engage and hopefully social media companies will do something serious about them real soon. Animal Friendly Life team

  4. Faked animal rescue videos are a black stain on society.
    Things I’ve noticed:
    Same emotion laddened music
    The long camera time of the suffering animal before ‘rescued’
    Thinking “put down the camera and do something”
    The in need animal appears ugly dirty ‘groomed’ evenly, nicely.
    You question how rough the rescuer is in holding and petting.
    Unrealistic healing and recovery from heinous situations.
    Country of origin. Poor grammar. Despondent condition of the peoples.
    The rescuers are not seen except for hands.
    No legit rescue organization. Can so many people really ‘find’ help and keep so many animals?
    People seen in scenes are neatly and cleaning dressed despite surroundings.
    Just a few I’ve noticed.

    Sudden discovery of animal

    1. Hi there, sorry we only just saw your reply as it went to our spam folder for some reason! yes agree, they are all very good signs that something isn’t right. Thanks for sharing, hopefully we can educate others to know when to spot a scam and not share or like it. Animal Friendly Life team.

  5. I clued in to the fact this going on just this week on my own.

    The bottom line is that true compassion demands immediacy. A true hero doesn’t whip out their smart phone when they see a baby monkey laying in the rain. These are not different than snuff videos in my opinion and should fall under the same policy umbrellas. Facebook is honestly degraded crap in many regards and this is one of them.

    1. Exactly! Once you think about it and realise that any kind hearted person’s natural instinct isn’t to record on their phone, then it’s really easy to spot the fakes!

  6. Thank you so much for informing me on this. People (like me) get so drawn in emotionally and are so heartwarmed to see the animal “recover” that we would NEVER consider the story being different! I am now convinced that basically all of these “animal rescue” videos are staged. Once you are aware and look for it, you see the same ‘fishy’ signs and how unrealistic they are in many ways. Horrible, unimaginable cruelty. May Jesus come soon. God bless you.

    1. Hi Emily, that’s so true- we would never naturally think anything bad or that people would be so cruel. So it’s understandable how so many people get drawn into the videos naively.
      Thanks for your feedback!
      AFL team