'A Dog's Purpose' Accused of Animal Abuse on Film Set
Published Jan 19, 2017The Lasse Hallström-directed A Dog's Purpose is set to hit theatres later this month, warming animal lovers hearts with its tale of a pup's life (and his reincarnation as a variety of different kinds of dogs). Behind the scenes, though, things are much less warm and fuzzy. Allegations of animal abuse have been made against the film crew, following the online appearance of footage from the set.
In a disturbing video clip via TMZ, a German shepherd is seen being forced into a swirling pool of rushing water. According to TMZ's sources, the effects were created using eight outboard motors to simulate river rapids. The scene was shot in Winnipeg.
The dog, named Hercules, appears scared, resisting his trainers orders to enter the water. Once he is in the man-made pool, the dog can be seen trying to claw his way up the side of the pool.
Later in the upsetting clip, the dog disappears from sight, totally submerged in the waves. It's at this point that the onlooker stops filming and someone can be heard yelling "Cut it!" in the background.
Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures reviewed the footage and issued the following statement to TMZ: "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 and we will look into the circumstances surrounding this video."
Cast member Josh Gad has spoken out against the allegations of animal abuse, saying he was "shaken and sad" to see the footage.
Amblin and Universal also have issued the following statement:
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 all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film. 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.
PETA, meanwhile, is urging dog lovers to boycott the film (and "any other movies that use live animals").
UPDATE (1/19, 2:35 p.m. EST): After receiving numerous complaints, the Chief Veterinary Office of Canada will now investigate the on-set incident. The following statement was issued to Deadline from the CVO:
Manitoba's office of the chief veterinarian can confirm it has received a complaint on January 18, 2017, related to a movie filmed in our province and is assigning an animal protection officer to evaluate the matter. We are unable to provide further information at this time about the complaint, as reports made to Manitoba's Animal Care Line are considered confidential. Generally speaking, it's important for individuals who have first-hand information about an animal welfare issue to report it to our Animal Care Line as quickly as possible.
We were not involved with or consulted about the filming of the movie; however, it's our understanding that an observer was hired to be on set to advocate on behalf of the animals.
Watch the unsettling video clip in question from the set of A Dog's Purpose below.