On Wednesday, January 18th, TMZ released a video that has now caused a firestorm against the upcoming Universal film A Dog’s Purpose, and now PETA is calling for a boycott, while the studio attempts to do damage control.
The video shows a trainer on set seemingly forcing a terrified dog into turbulent waters for filming and the German Shepard can be seen trying to cling to the side of the pool in order to keep itself from going into the water while voices can be heard laughing and saying, “You just got to throw him in.”
The end of the video shows the trainer successfully getting the dog into the water only for the dog to almost immediately become completely submerged. After the dog goes completely under, it does not seem planned as someone yells “Cut it!” and there is frantic yelling as crew members race towards the animal.
Now, the film’s production team Amblin Entertainment and the distributor Universal Pictures have come to the defense of its treatment of animals. They released a statement, reading: “A Dog’s Purpose is a celebration of the special connection between humans and their dogs. And in the spirit of this relationship, the Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals.”
It continues, “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.” They concluded with, “Hercules is happy and healthy.”
Despite their statement, animal rights groups are now calling for a boycott of the film, including PETA who released their own statement: “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.”