Does this video show a dog being rescued from a train track?
In September 2021, a TikTok Video was posted which showed a man rescuing a dog tied to a train track just before a train hit the two of them.
The good news is that the dog is fine. The even better news is that neither the man nor the dog were ever in danger because the video was faked. All of this involved some pretty clever digital editing. Here’s how we know.
On the @random_crap.69 account, the brief clip has been viewed tens of millions of times within hours. The vast majority of the tens of thousands of comments seemed to believe that the man in the TikTok video really saved the dog from being killed by the train.
The top comment read, “What kind of person leaves a dog tied to a train track!” Other commenters expressed disbelief that some men were shouting to “let it go”. The man who appeared to save the dog has been called a “legend”.
However, a few select commenters mentioned that it appeared to be “staged” and “fake”. Others mentioned “CGI”. They were right.
How do we know it’s wrong
Initially, there are some initial issues leading us to find out that the TikTok video was digitally edited and the man and dog were in no danger of being hit by a train. One way to do this would have been to record the man running towards and untying the dog when no train was coming, then recording a completely separate moment with only the train coming down the tracks. The clips could then be combined and manipulated in the editing process to make it look like they happened at the same time.
First, we couldn’t find any local news reports that covered the incident. We also couldn’t find any details about the identity of the men, where the video was recorded or what happened to the dog afterwards. It could also be argued that the screaming men were explaining things to the viewers in a way that perhaps wouldn’t happen if it was an authentic script. These data points alone are not enough evidence to show that the video was faked. However, we found more clues that showed the moment was staged.
The video’s most glaring problem came from the digital editing process. After the man pulls the dog off the tracks, he falls to the ground to rest with the dog as the locomotive passes. At this moment, the train casts a shadow over the man and the dog. However, there is still a shadow visible under the man’s head, even though he is in the shadows.
We also noticed that a blur is visible on the tracks when the train enters the shadow of a tree off-screen. Another blur was also noticed in the TikTok video when the front of the train hit the same space in the frame as the man and the dog. This blur can be seen below:
The video looked blurry at this point because the video editor had to merge all the elements without there being a visible line because the two separately recorded clips were combined. A blur is one way to achieve this, especially if done quickly with so much movement in the passing train video.
The origins of video
We found the TikTok video of the rescued dog from the train tracks on the TikTok channel @random_crap.69. The original channel the clip was posted to seemed to be on a the musicians account known as @richysand. However, the video was deleted by TikTok. A company spokesperson confirmed to us that it was removed for violating the “Community Guidelines on Unsafe Acts.” We also reached out to @richysand to ask questions about the video creation. We’ll update this story if we receive more details.
While looking for the video, we came across a Yahoo News Australia coin by author Michael Dahlstrom. In the story, Dahlstrom wrote that “world experts have cast doubt on the authenticity of the images” and that the dog “appears to be a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.” The article also said that the men speaking in the clip had “Australian voices”.
Hany Farid, associate dean of UC Berkeley, was interviewed for the story, who “specializes in digital image analysis and is one of six founding members of TikTok’s content advisory board” . Farid told Dahlstrom, “I’m pretty sure this video is fake.”
Also mentioned in the Yahoo News article is the fact that fake videos like these can sometimes distract from genuine efforts to help animals in desperate need.
We later found a Reddit post with commenters who explained why the video was fake. The post was partially deleted by the moderators so it could not rank well in the r/holdmybeer subreddit. However, it was always available for consultation and comment.
In summary, a TikTok video showing a man rescuing a dog from train tracks was faked during the digital editing process. Its origins are unclear. For more, we previously reported another faked video involving a man and a train.
“HMB while I save a dog.” Reddit and r/holdmybeerSeptember 27, 2021, www.reddit.com/r/holdmybeer/comments/pwloef/hmb_while_i_save_a_dog/.
TikTok Community Guidelines. https://www.tiktok.com/community-guidelines.
“TikTok removes ‘Hero’ dog rescue video after Sinister Twist leak.” Yahoo News AU. https://au.news.yahoo.com/analysis-raises-questions-about-hero-dog-rescue-tiktok-091152106.html.