Warning: This post contains descriptions of videos depicting animal cruelty.
Anyone who wants to see animals going after each other for some reason can just search on YouTube and find a wealth of disturbing videos. But there’s one especially disgusting sub-genre of animal attack content on the platform that seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon: fake rescue videos.
The producers of these videos seem to set up an animal—often a puppy or kitten—as bait for another animal, often a snake, to attack, so a person can then “save” the victim. And despite what appear to be clear violations against YouTube’s policy prohibiting videos that depict “infliction of unnecessary suffering or harm deliberately causing an animal distress,” far too many of these hell videos remain on the platform.
A redditor brought attention to this disturbing trend in a post on r/YouTube on Monday. The user found several channels in which a pet bites and strangles puppies so that children can “rescue” the dogs.
A quick Gizmodo YouTube search of “save puppy from python” immediately turned up about 20 videos showing snakes attacking dogs and cats before people, often children, intervene to stop the snake from killing the mammals.
These videos seem amateurishly staged, with a group of puppies waiting in a pit as the snake comes slithering up to attack. Then as the snake wraps around one of the animals, moments from killing it, someone “discovers” the situation and pries the snake from the cats or dogs.
**Warning: Disturbing images below**
One video posted on the Wilderness Exploration channel, titled “Brave Man three Rescues Family Puppies From Giant Python Attack And Saved Both Lives,” shows a mother dog leaving her puppies in a small crevice. Then a python approaches and bites a few of the dogs, before wrapping around one. Eventually, two young boys approach and pull the snake away. The video has many shots from various angles, as well as continuity errors, that show the entire video must have been staged.
A disclaimer at the beginning of the video reads: “This video is for entertainment purposes. We do not hurt the snake, the snake ir [sic] our pet. This video has some graphic content and scenes of animals being killed.”
The message does not say whether or not the puppies were hurt—but they absolutely were. The video depicts animal cruelty. The video had been viewed almost half a million times before the entire channel disappeared on Monday afternoon.
The Wilderness Exploration page said it was based in the United States, but it had some text written in Khmer, suggesting it was made in Southeast Asia.
A video posted on the page Animal World, titled “Man Saves Family Dog From Python Snake - Python Attack On Puppies in Nest,” had an eerily similar premise. Before it was removed on Monday for violating YouTube’s policies, it showed a few puppies in a small crevice that easily contains them, then a python approaches, starts biting the dogs, then wraps around one puppy. A young man strolls by and pulls the dog from the snake’s grasp.
Halfway through the video, after the snake has started biting the dogs, a notice scrolled across the bottom that reads: “This video is only for entertainment purpose, only. If you feel upset, please kindly don’t watch this video. Killing animals are not recommended. The boys are trained to play with dangero” [sic].
The video also appears as if it could have been filmed in Southeast Asia, but there is no contact or identifying information for the channel or video.
Another video YouTube removed Monday, titled “Real Anaconda Stalks Cat Home - Brave Cat’s Mother Protect and Save Her Baby Cat Life From Anaconda,” depicted almost the exact same storyline, except the snake attacked cats in a crevice.
The video had been viewed more than 113 million times since it was posted in August 2018.
There are several others staged rescue videos with similar titles: “Big Snake Attack a little Puppy .- Rescue little dog from python attack” (removed), “Terrifying! Man Found Family Dog From Python Attack - Python Attack Dog Nest,” “Real Anaconda Stalks Dog Home - Real Footage A Man Save Three Wild Dog From Giant Anaconda.” Many of the videos have hundreds of thousands or millions of views. Some of them remained available on YouTube at the time of publication.
This is far from the first time people have tried to spotlight animal cruelty content on social media and video-sharing platforms. YouTube temporarily cut off advertising on Logan Paul’s YouTube channel in February 2018 following the backlash to his video in which he tasered a dead rat, and there have been a few petitions to ban videos of animal cruelty from YouTube.
A YouTube spokesperson told Gizmodo he would look at examples of fake rescue videos shared by Gizmodo, but the company did not answer Gizmodo’s inquiry about whether these videos violate YouTube’s community guidelines or if YouTube planned on taking action. Moments before Gizmodo published this article, many of the videos, some of which redditors were also flagging, were removed from YouTube.
YouTube encourages users to report content that violates its violent or graphic content policy through its reporting tool.