Earlier this week, Los Angeles-based, 20-year-old YouTuber Brooke Houts uploaded an incomplete prank video to her channel titled “plastic wrap prank on my doberman,” in which she is seen becoming violent with her Doberman puppy, Sphinx. In the clip, she screams at the dog, strikes him in the face, aggressively shoves him, grabs him by the fur, forces the pup to the floor and spits on him. When The Daily Dot reported on the story Wednesday, her subscriber count was a little over 340,000. According to a live subscriber counter at time of publishing, that number has dropped to 335,000 and continues to fall.
Naturally, Houts deleted the video as soon as she recognized her error, but the Internet never forgets. I won’t embed it here, but the video is easy to find on social media. According to BuzzFeed, Houts uploaded the correct version of the video which “was downvoted over 27,000 times,” and did not include any of the abusive images, but it, too, has been removed. Apparently fans of her channel didn’t like seeing a forced smile after viewing the horrific, behind-the-scenes reality of the shoot.
Houts apologized on Tuesday via the Notes app, the preferred mode of communication for a celeb who has to apologize for something, but denied spitting on Sphinx.
She wrote, “I want to clarify that I am NOT a dog abuser or animal abuser in any way, shape or form. Anyone who has witnessed or heard true animal abuse will be able to clearly see that.”
She continued, blaming her “less than exceptional” “outside life” on her behavior:
“On the day in particular that the video was filmed, and actually this past week, things in my outside life have been less than exceptional. I am not going to play the “victim card” or anything of that sort, but I do want to point out that I am rarely as upset as what was shown in the footage. The bubbly, happy-go-lucky Brooke that you often see in my videos is typically an accurate representation of me, but it’s obvious that I’m playing up my mood in this video when I’m clearly actually frustrated.
That being said, this does NOT justify me yelling at my dog in the way that I did, and I’m fully aware of that. Should I have gotten as angry as I did in the video? No. Should I have raised my voice and yelled at him? No. However, when my 75 lb. Doberman is jumping up in my face with his mouth open, I do, as a dog parent, have to show him that this behavior is unacceptable. But I want to make it known, REGARDLESS of what my dog does, I should not have acted that way towards him.”
She does know there are ways to train and discipline a dog that doesn’t require throwing them to the ground, right?
Here’s the lengthy note in full:
Because of the severity of the abuses shown in the video, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Animal Cruelty unit has become involved. A representative for the LAPD told BuzzFeed, “LAPD is aware of this incident. Animal Cruelty is looking into this, and there is an open investigation.”
Everyone’s pissed, including YouTuber Logan Paul, best known for posting a deeply offensive video messing around in Japan’s suicide forest and literally filming a corpse. (His subscribers are children.) Paul should be no one’s barometer for ethics, and has no moral high ground from which to speak, but he made one decent point in his Twitter threat about Houts: the shift from her on-camera personality, and the one shown in the violent, accidentally uploaded video, is “ugly.”
A YouTuber accidentally uploading a career-ending, damning video is mostly unheard of—the only other recent example I can think of that isn’t Houts is, well, Logan Paul, and his was purposeful—but it is always unnerving. In doing so, Houts has essentially broken the fourth wall on a platform where the most popular vloggers are the ones championed for their perceived authenticity. It’s jarring to see a smiling Houts talk about all the fun she has with her puppy only to watch her slam him to the ground seconds later. It’s unsettling because it forces the viewer to confront the reality that what they see on YouTube, even when it’s just a woman speaking into a camera, is not the truth. She’s clearly exploited her dog for content in the past—her viewers enjoy that stuff and because of that, she’s fed into the YouTube thirst cycle in perhaps the most disturbing way one could.