The upcoming feel-good boy and dog movie, A Dog’s Purpose from Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures is set to release next week, however it’s campaign has just been broadsided by accusations of animal cruelty from a video surfaced by TMZ. In it a terrified German Shepherd is lowered into a swirling pool of water being churned up by a series of eight outboard motors to simulate a raging river.
The dog can be seen in the video resisting going in, and when finally pushed in tries to scramble out before going under the water. At that point they call cut and animal handlers go in to pull the animal out.
The representative from the American Humane Association who was on duty on the set at the time of the incident has been suspended after association officials saw the video. The organization is charged with overseeing animals being used during film and television shoots and ensuring their safety and good treatment.
The Association told TMZ:
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.
During the video, an off-camera individual can be heard saying, “He ain’t gonna calm down until he goes in the water … you just gotta throw him in.”
Universal Pictures and entertainment company Amblin told TMZ they would investigate, and issued a brief canned statement:
“Fostering a safe environment and ensuring the ethical treatment of our animal actors was of the utmost importance to those involved in making this film.”
PETA has jumped into the fray calling for a general boycott of the film in response, but expanded it beyond A Dog’s Purpose, asking that no-one patronize any movies which use live animals. The general boycott notwithstanding, PETA is reporting that the company which provided the animals, Birds & Animals Unlimited, owned by Hollywood trainer Gary Gero, has had a prior history of poor conduct.
Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose, from director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Dear John, The 100-Foot Journey), shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. The family film told from the dog’s perspective also stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, Juliet Rylance, Luke Kirby, Peggy Lipton, Pooch Hall and Dennis Quaid.
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