Leaked footage obtained by TMZ, which appears to show a German shepherd in distress on the set of Lasse Hallström’s A Dog’s Purpose, has been condemned by PETA, with the animal rights body even going so far as to call a boycott of Hallström’s family pic.
The video, which some viewers may find disturbing, showcases the stunt dog clearly being forced against its will into a pool of rushing water. Finally submerged, the German shepherd battles against the waves for a few seconds, before handlers scramble to the animal yelling “cut it! cut it! cut it!.” Exactly where this scene features in A Dog’s Purpose remains to be seen – the movie releases on January 27 – but the alarming footage has sparked outrage online. Birds and Animals Unlimited (BAU) reportedly provided the dog, named Hercules, for the movie, though TMZ’s findings have left the film’s producer Gavin Polone “horrified.”
Here’s the official statement, courtesy of Deadline.
“I’m horrified by this,” said Polone. “The first thing I asked was, ‘Is the dog OK?’ He’s fine. But if I had seen that, I would have stopped it in a minute. People have to be held responsible for this. It was someone’s job to watch out for this kind of thing. Why didn’t they? This is something I’ve written about before, whether it be circus animals or animals on set. American Humane are supposed to be there supervising. That’s their job that someone is paid a lot of money to do. Why wasn’t this stopped? There needs to be a better system than this. That’s what I’ve called for in the past. I agree with PETA that they not only need to make sure animals are treated properly on set, but they also need to find out where the animals are kept outside of the set. To make sure they are treated properly at all times.”
Beauty and the Beast star Josh Gad, who lends his voice to multiple canines in the film, took to Twitter with the following message:
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) January 19, 2017
In a joint statement, Amblin Entertainment and distributors Universal Pictures announced plans to review said footage with “great care and concern,” stressing that Hercules is currently “happy and healthy.”
“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.”
PETA has since called on moviegoers to boycott A Dog’s Purpose, writing that would-be viewers should vote with their wallet “to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props.”