- Amblin/Walden Media
Animal-rights supporters are up in arms over a video appearing to show the harsh treatment of a dog on the set of the coming movie “A Dog’s Purpose.”
On Wednesday, TMZ posted a video it said was taken on the set of the film that appears to show an animal trainer pushing a struggling dog into a pool.
The animal-rights organization PETA asked the public to boycott the movie later on Wednesday, claiming that a dog had to be rescued from drowning during the shooting of the movie. It also said it had investigated the company that provided animals for the movie, Birds & Animals Unlimited.
“PETA is calling on dog lovers to boycott the film in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props,” PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange said in a statement on Wednesday. “PETA’s investigation at BAU revealed that animals are denied veterinary care, forced to sleep outdoors in the cold without bedding for warmth, made to live in filthy conditions, and more.”
“A Dog’s Purpose,” which is scheduled to arrive in theaters January 27, is based on the best-selling book of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron. It tells the story of a dog that reincarnates many times and of the people whose lives he enriches. It stars Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton, and Britt Robertson. Josh Gad plays the voice of the dog.
As the video went viral, people involved in the movie have reacted with surprise and regret over what’s depicted in it.
Gad said he was “shaken and sad” about the footage in a statement posted on Twitter late on Wednesday.
Gavin Polone, who produced the movie and is an outspoken animal-rights activist, said he was “horrified” by the video.
“The first thing I asked was, ‘Is the dog OK?'” Polone said, according to Deadline. “He’s fine. But if I had seen that, I would have stopped it in a minute. People have to be held responsible for this. It was someone’s job to watch out for this kind of thing. Why didn’t they? This is something I’ve written about before, whether it be circus animals or animals on set.”
American Humane, the organization responsible for upholding animal-treatment standards on movie sets, including that of “A Dog’s Purpose,” released a statement saying it was “disturbed and concerned by the footage.” It also said the scene should have been stopped once the dog resisted being pushed into the pool.
“We are placing the safety representative who was on the set on administrative leave immediately and are bringing in an independent third party to conduct an investigation into this matter,” American Humane said in the statement.
Amblin, one of the studios that produced the film, defended its treatment of the dog seen in the video and of the other animals on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose” in a statement on Wednesday:
“Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals. While we continue to review the circumstances shown in the edited footage, Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German Shepherd Hercules, as well as for all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film. There were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure Hercules was comfortable with all of the stunts. On the day of the shoot, Hercules did not want to perform the stunt portrayed on the tape so the Amblin production team did not proceed with filming that shot. Hercules is happy and healthy.”
Watch the video in question from TMZ below: