Last week, A Dog’s Purpose faced public backlash after a disturbing on-set video was shared online. The video showed some apparent mistreatment of the dog actors on the film’s set. Since then, it has sparked calls to boycott the movie, with the netizens lambasting the whole production for its supposed animal abuse. The film’s Los Angeles premiere has also been cancelled.
In the video, a German Shepard looked like he was being forced into a makeshift river. The dog struggles to avoid the rapids, but his handler steadily forces his paws to dip into the water. The video then cuts forward to the dog already in the rapids, before his head is submerged under the river, and handlers rush to save him from drowning. Now, the A Dog’s Purpose producer is speaking out to ease the tension and explain the video.
The Producer’s Explanation
Producer Gavin Polone, in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, confesses himself as a huge promoter of animal rights. He recounts how he’s a dog owner himself, and has participated in various causes benefiting animals. And, he admits that the two moments specifically in the video should never have been allowed to happen.
However, he goes on to explain that the video was misleading. The dog had apparently been afraid of the water because he had rehearsed to leap into the pool from the left side. When they tried to film his jump from the right side, he became agitated. He says the clip with the dog in the water was from a take where he had jumped in himself.
“In footage of rehearsal for the scene, you can see the dog not only unafraid of the water, but desperate to jump in,” Polone said, “In fact, he had to be held back from going in too soon.”
With his case explained (and A Dog’s Purpose author W. Bruce Cameron basically agreeing with him), Polone slammed PETA in their call to boycott the movie. He states that the animal rights group is using the incident to put an extreme agenda forward: the removal of all animals from all films.
“The fact that a producer like Polone, someone who genuinely cares about animals… failed to stop a dog from being terrorized during shooting, exemplifies just how deeply entrenched the problems are in this business,” PETA Senior VP Lisa Lange said in a response.
What do you think? Would you still watch A Dog’s Purpose after hearing those sides of the story?