PETA is calling for a boycott of A Dog’s Purpose, after a video showing apparent mistreatment of a dog surfaced. The film, set to come out Jan. 27, is about the love that dogs can give as man’s best friend. The reports of harming dog in the making of the film is now churning some strong backlash against the film.
First shared by TMZ, the video in question shows a German Shepard being urged into a makeshift river for a scene. And the dog actor is clearly hesitant to enter the water, pawing at the river’s sides and trying to evade the rapids. But his handler slowly, but forcibly, pushes it to make contact with the water.
The latter half of the video shows the dog already in the water, with a handler trying to direct him with calls of, “Here, boy!” But then the dog briefly goes under, and the crew on set urgently call to cut, to rescue him from drowning. You can see the video here. (Warning: The content may not be appropriate for all viewers).
Was It Animal Cruelty?
Netizens have responded quickly, with a strong majority supporting PETA’s call to boycott the film. Angry comments on the official A Dog’s Purpose trailer on YouTube have called the filmmakers “sick” and “cruel”. Others dropped sarcastic remarks regarding the disclaimer, “no animals were harmed in the making of this film”. PBS has previously reported why that statement has become less meaningful in Hollywood. Several movies have apparently downplayed animals being harmed, even killed, on the set of their movies.
A few others have responded to the criticisms with reminders that the dog was “working” and being “uncooperative”. However, those supporting the boycott point out the big difference between human actors and dog actors.
The below screenshot from the trailer shows what seems to be the same scene filmed. It appears as if the dog is rescuing a drowning character from the river.
Response by the Studio
Actor Josh Gad, who voices the dog in A Dog’s Purpose, also reacted to the video in a tweet. “I signed on to a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen,” he said, “While I do not know all of the details… I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will… (and) I have reached to the production team and studio for an explanation of these disturbing images.”
Universal Pictures and Amblin Pictures have since released a statement, as shared by The Hollywood Reporter: “The Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals… There were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure (the dog) 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,” the statement then concludes. What do you think? Did the production of A Dog’s Purpose go too far?