Animal lovers everywhere are shocked, saddened, and outraged at the disturbing footage from the set of the film “A Dog’s Purpose,” which shows a German Shepherd enduring abuse during the filming of a scene.
The shocking clip, which was released by TMZ on January 18 (just two days before the film hits theaters), shows the dog named Hercules being forced against his will into a pool for a water sequence in the movie.
In the video, it is apparent the dog is resistant to get into the water. Off-screen, a person on set can be heard saying, “You just gotta throw him in.”
Throughout the minute-long video, Hercules tries to get away from the water and appears to be visibly struggling to get out. In an even more upsetting moment, it appears the dog struggles to keep his head afloat, as they call for cameras to cease filming.
According to Variety, the movie’s production company Amblin and its distributor Universal, released a joint statement saying that the “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.”
But even if the company did not proceed with that particular shot, what was captured has sparked an outcry from animal activists, as well as the film’s cast and crew.
In a statement released to BeChewy, PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange, notes that this video comes days after PETA released a video exposé about Hollywood animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU)—the company that allegedly provided the dogs used in “A Dog’s Purpose.” In the statement Lange wrote: “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.” (The BAU website is currently down.)
Lange adds, “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.”
The damage may already be done with moviegoers, who have shared their disgust on social media and preemptively reviewed the movie with dismal 1-star ratings on iMDB.
But, PETA isn’t the only organization to speak out in the wake of the video. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) released a statement to PawCulture stating: “The ASPCA is opposed to using animals for entertainment in any circumstance where their physical, social or psychological needs cannot be appropriately met.” Additionally, The Humane Society of the United States, who say they are “disheartened by the footage,” released a statement which reads: “For all of us who’ve been fortunate to experience friendships with dogs, what was shown in the video is certainly not a dog’s purpose.”
The Humane Society of the United States is in no way affiliated with The American Humane Association (AHA), the organization that was allegedly on set during the filming of the movie to ensure the humane treatment of the dogs in the film. The AHA is being criticized for the clip. A spokesperson for the organization told USA Today that they are “disturbed and concerned by the footage,” and that they are placing the “safety representative” that worked on “A Dog’s Purpose” on administrative leave while a third-party investigation gets underway.
Some of the people who worked on the filmhave also expressed their anger with the situation that unfolded. Producers Gavin Polone, told Variety, “Had I been on the set, this would have never happened. This movie got made because of how I feel about animals. So this happened 15 months ago and should have been investigated immediately. It’s unconscionable that someone waited a year and three months to call attention to this.”
Actor Josh Gad, who voices the titular dog, took to his Twitter to say that he was “shaken and sad” by what he saw in the TMZ clip.
Director Lasse Hallstrom also expressed his concerns in a statement that read: “I am very disturbed by the video. I did not witness these actions, which are unacceptable and would never happen with my knowledge. We were all committed to providing a loving, respectful, and safe environment for all the animals in the film. I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”
Image via TMZ
Aly Semigran is a lifestyle writer for the world, and roommate of Ruby, the cutest dog in the world.