Fake animal rescue videos; tips for spotting the online cruelty

Animal rescue videos on social media are extremely popular, but they are also often incredibly misleading and cruel. In reality animals are being abused, and killed, so the creators can make some money. 

Here we explain what these fake rescue videos are all about, and tips for spotting them.


What are staged animal rescue videos?

Fake rescues involve animals being trapped, attacked, or in distress who are “rescued” by a person (with a camera nearby).

These animals have been put in these horrible situations by the “rescuer” to make him or her seem like a hero.

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

These videos are designed to be heart-warming, but the truth is they are heartbreaking.

They often originate from developing countries and are usually accompanied by extremely cheesy music and subtitles with poor grammar.

Well-meaning people engage with these videos, which allows the creators to monetize their channels, often equating to big money.

Social media platforms see how popular these videos are and continue to off

er money to the creators. Unfortunately this just increases the demand, meaning more animals will suffer.

How to spot a fake video

Fake animal rescue videos often in

clude the same animals being used over and over again, most likely until they die.

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

The scene or location is usually the same in every video; once you spot a fake it’s easy to start noticing the trends in each creators’ posts.

The animal often dies during the “rescue”, and they then use earlier filmed footage to make it look like the animal lived.

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

These channels often have millions of views per video and on YouTube they have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.


Distressing image of a staged rescue from a video being shared on social media


Ask yourself these questions before engaging:

  • 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 put down the phone and helped with the rescue?
  • When looking at multiple videos, does it look like the same animal and location is being used?
  • Is there any other description/context given?  Legitimate organisations will always provide a description of the video and how they are involved in the rescue.


What to do if you spot a fake

Animals are being killed, injured and tortured every day because of how lucrative this is.

Once you spot a fake, it’s important not to share it, or even open it as that encourages the platforms to keep sending you the same ‘suggested’ content.

Bottom line is, use your common sense; if it seems staged, it probably is.

These creators take your empathy, compassion and hope, and turn it into torture, death and cash.

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.

Report the video as animal abuse, and if enough people do it, social media companies might take notice, and this cruelty can finally be removed from our feeds.

Animal welfare organisation Four Paws has been campaigning for an end to these staged videos, they’ve shared some further information and more great tips for spotting them.