Rescue Ink Unleashed

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Rescue Ink Unleashed TV Poster Image
Unlikely animal heroes spread message of acceptance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series illustrates the importance of looking beyond a person’s appearance to find their true worth. It also raises awareness about animal cruelty, neglect, overpopulation, and the need for adoptive families for homeless pets.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the rescuers have checkered pasts and a rough exterior, but they show their true colors in their devotion to the animals they help save. Some describe doing the work to make up for past sins; others just have a soft spot for animals. Either way, they’re an admirable bunch.


Lots of details about animal abuse and neglect, and some animals show signs of cruelty -- like scars and fresh injuries. Occasionally cameras accompany animals into the operating room, where they're shown being anesthetized and prepped for surgery. Some stories center on pet owners who've been victims of violence themselves, so their injuries (black eyes, cuts, broken bones) are shown. The rescuers often talk about their past experiences with violence and mention being shot, stabbed, and beaten up.


Tempers often flare in these high-pressure situations, and language gets heated. "Hell" and "damn" are often audible; stronger words like "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch" are edited.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the subjects of this reality series are a pretty rough crowd, so expect lots of strong language (including edited uses of words like "f--k" and "s--t") during frequent heated confrontations. Details of animal abuse -- as well as the rescuers' stories of their own violent pasts (some have been shot, stabbed, and beaten many times) -- will tug at viewers’ heartstrings, and the subject matter is far too intense for little kids and sensitive tweens. That said, teens and adults will be touched by the Rescue Ink team's devotion to their cause, and their stories will remind viewers of the importance of judging a person on character rather than appearance.

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What's the story?

Eight hardened New Yorkers wage war on animal abuse in RESCUE INK UNLEASHED. The unlikely activists are a brawny, street-wise, tattooed bunch -- but it’s the guys’ fierce love of animals that makes them truly terrifying to the offenders they confront. The self-appointed \"Army for animals\" fields 100 calls a week and investigates claims of cruelty, neglect, and abandonment, rescuing and relocating the most severe cases and using tough-talking \"encouragement\" to persuade neglectful owners to change their ways.

Is it any good?

Like its eclectic band of stars, this reality series is a diamond in the rough. On paper, the concept seems like just another extreme attempt to cash in on reality TV’s popularity, but these eight men -- who joined forces before their story became TV-worthy -- are the real deal when it comes to their passion, and their experiences are at different times heartbreaking, inspirational, and laughable.

Viewers will be struck by the contrast between the guys’ soft hearts and their intimidating physiques. And the show's feel-good messages about the importance of strong character vs. surface appearances are present everywhere. The Rescue Ink gang's salty language ("damn" and "hell" are used a lot, while "s--t," "bitch," and "f--k" are bleeped) and discussions of animal cruelty and violence between people makes it iffy for younger viewers, but teens and adults will be inspired by the rescue team’s labor of love.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about humans’ relationship with animals. Teens: What responsibilities do pet owners have toward their pets? What are the rewards of having a pet?

  • How does the show promote acceptance? Teens: Have you ever made incorrect assumptions about someone based on their appearance? Why are we often swayed by physical appearances? What are the risks of that?

TV details

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For kids who love reality TV

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