When it comes to prank YouTubers, there's really not much that can be said in their favor. Whether they're doing a Jake Paul style "abusing their friends" joke, or a classic Sam Pepper sexual assault "butt grabbing stunt," it seems that they all too often miss the mark of hilarity - and land somewhere in the world of offensive and cruel.

But the latest scandal to hit prank YouTube is perhaps the worst in the history of the genre. In a horrendous social media error, actress and YouTuber, Brooke Houts, uploaded some unedited "prank" footage which appeared to show her abusing her dog in a variety of heartbreaking ways. The internet was quick to condemn the footage, but Houts has spoken out with an "explanation" of her vile actions.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

via: IMDB

Who exactly is Brooke Houts? Well, she's a twenty-year-old YouTuber and actress, born in Atlanta, Georgia, but she's currently living in Los Angeles.

She's pretty successful, too.

via: IMDB

Or at least, she was. Houts has over three hundred thousand subscribers on her YouTube channel, where she posts the usual type of "vlogger" content - favorites videos, day in the life montages, and, of course, pranks.

She's no stranger to clickbait.

via: YouTube

One of her most popular uploads supposedly features her making out with an ex - with extra bonus shocked emojis and Tabasco sauce overlays.

Fans of Houts will also know another huge aspect of her life.

For the past year and a half, Houts has had a pet Doberman, who's called Sphinx. Sphinx even has his own Instagram account, where he has over seven thousand followers.

And Houts certainly capitalizes on her doggie's popularity.

via: YouTube

She regularly uploads videos to her YouTube channel, where Sphinx is the focus, and, until recently, many thought that the pair had a typically loving pet-and-owner bond.

Houts had portrayed herself as a typically loving dog owner.

via: YouTube

And, although many dog fans know that Dobermans are usually pretty hard work, there weren't many worries about how this petite twenty-year-old was coping with her large pet.

Dobermans are a fairly new pedigree dog breed.

They're known for growing to pretty imposing sizes, with females weighing up to seventy-five pounds, and males, like Sphinx, sometimes reaching one-hundred pounds. Dobermans are very loving pets, but they're also hard work, requiring a lot of exercise and training.

Occasionally, Houts will upload a prank video to her channel.

The vids are usually pretty simplistic in nature - but, hey, if they get her views, then fair enough. Except for the most recent "prank" upload, which has attracted a lot of attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

Because the contents of this video are pretty disturbing.

In the opening, Houts claims to be playing a prank on her dog, by placing saran wrap over a doorway and seeing his reaction. Pretty generic stuff - but basically harmless right?

But things quickly take a horrific turn.

The footage that Houts actually uploaded was not the edited end-footage of the prank. Instead, it's some behind the scenes shots of her behaving in a pretty vile way.

Sphinx appears reluctant to play ball.

He jumps up in Houts' face (as dogs are sometimes wont to do) - but she violently smacks him down while cruelly telling him off.

But it gets worse.

As Houts sits cross-legged on the floor, Sphinx appears to attempt to jump into her lap. But Houts grabs him by the neck, holds him down, and appears to spit on him.

Understandably, the video generated almost immediate backlash.

Houts quickly took the video down from her channel and uploaded the "correct" version of the edited prank - but the damage to her reputation was already done.

Houts quickly took to Twitter to defend her actions.

She posted an incredibly long ... well, we can't exactly call it an "apology," more of an explanation.

She claims that she isn't going to play the "victim card."

But she also attempts to justify her actions as a way of disciplining her dog. Houts also totally denies spitting in her dog's face - in spite of the fact that it was captured on video.

Houts explains that her actions are out of character.

She says that anyone who knows her in real life knows that she's a total animal lover and that she'd never hurt or distress any pet of hers.

But it's clear that Houts knows that she's in the wrong.

As her YouTube subscriber count dwindles, and comments fill up with criticism of her behavior and concern for Sphinx, Houts has deleted her Instagram account.

And many on Twitter aren't having any of her apologies.

One of the primary reasons that people aren't keen to forgive Houts is the fact that she appears to still be denying her actions - even though they're literally captured on film.

And fellow YouTubers have spoken out.

Anthony Fantano, who runs popular music review channel, The Needle Drop, replied to her apology with this ingenious response.

While others have had this response.

Instead of directly attacking Houts, some have quite another priority - to ensure that her dog, Sphinx, is safe and happy.

And you know things are bad when this happens.

Logan Paul, main character in one of the best known YouTube scandals (filming the body of a man who had committed suicide then posting it to his channel), has even criticized Houts.

Others pointed this out.

The fact that this abuse only came to light because of an "accidental" upload suggests that there may have been even worse things that have happened which simply never saw the light of day.

Some pointed out the double standard.

Whether or not this is a one-off act of violence by Houts, a one-off act of violence by her dog would have been enough to warrant severe repercussions.

But it turns out that this wasn't a one-off incident.

It seems that Houts has a problematic history when it comes to training and taking care of Sphinx. We're not saying that raising a Doberman is easy, by any means. But what we are saying is that you shouldn't undertake the task if you aren't willing to put in the hard work that it requires.

And one Twitter user simply responded with this.

He shows how loving, calm, and well-behaved a properly trained and well looked-after Doberman can be. Quite the contrast to Houts' video.

Houts' original upload was deleted.

But, as any YouTuber should remember, the internet is forever. So: here's the video. But, trigger warning - it's pretty upsetting stuff, so don't watch if you're easily upset.

And it's not just the internet that has condemned the footage.

via: Shutterstock

It was announced that the Los Angeles Police Department has been made aware of the video, and investigated Houts for animal cruelty.

It's unknown exactly what the consequences will be.

It seems pretty likely that her YouTube channel will be at least temporarily suspended, if not taken down for good.

But some had hopes for a harsher punishment.

via: Shutterstock

If the case goes to court, Houts could have faced a hefty fine or even potential punitive sentencing.

While this whole story is pretty horrific stuff, there is some good to come out of it.

People are taking to Twitter to remind everyone out there to, not just look after their dogs, but to give them an extra bit of love.

And it's now been revealed that the LAPD has come to a verdict on the case.

As of right now, Houts's Doberman remains in her custody - in spite of the fact that there's clear proof of this dog's poor treatment at the hands of the YouTube star.

Their reason behind their decision?

via: Shutterstock

They claimed although the behavior exhibited by Houts is less than exemplary pet owner behavior, it doesn't constitute proof that Sphinx is in imminent danger.

This means Sphinx remains in Houts's home.

Even though the actions Sphinx is subjected to by Houts do constitute some level of mistreatment, his life and physical health are not currently at risk at the hands of the YouTuber.

Although this may not be the end of the story.

via: Shutterstock

While the LAPD has determined there's no immediate danger, they're undertaking a more thorough investigation into Sphinx's life and the conditions within Houts's home. When this is complete, there's a chance Sphinx will be taken from Houts by the Animal Cruelty Task Force.

But while this is ongoing, people are still really worried about Sphinx.

Many animal cruelty charities have Tweeted in concern for SPhix - although whether this will make any difference to the investigation's outcome remains to be seen. Sadly, this isn't even the first time that a vlogger has been caught abusing their pet on camera. Read on for the story of a Twitch user who was caught in a similar crossfire.