Producer of Upcoming Movie ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Is ‘Horrified’ by Footage of Dog’s Treatment on the Set; PETA Calls for Boycott of Movie

Jan 19, 2017  •  Post A Comment

After video surfaced from the set of the upcoming Universal movie “A Dog’s Purpose” showing a dog apparently being traumatized over a water stunt, producer Gavin Polone said he was “horrified” by the footage and the animal rights group PETA called for a boycott of the movie.

The video was first posted by TMZ.com — you can see it by clicking here. The dog “desperately resisted shooting a risky scene, but chilling footage shows filmmakers apparently forcing the animal into rushing water,” TMZ reports.

The incident reportedly took place near Winnipeg during filming in November 2015. The movie is due in theaters Jan. 27.

“You can see a trainer forcibly shoving a German Shepherd — one of at least 5 dogs used in the production — into the frothing water, but the animal wanted NO part of it … and repeatedly clawed at the pool’s edge,” TMZ reports.

The report notes that director Lasse Hallstrom was present throughout the shoot.

Deadline.com reports that producer Polone, an outspoken animal rights activist who has written about the need for proper treatment of animals used in the entertainment industry, reacted strongly after learning of the incident.

Polone is quoted by Deadline saying: “I’m horrified by this. 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?”

Amblin, one of the producers of the film, released a statement Wednesday night saying: “Amblin 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. Hercules is happy and healthy.”

PETA, meanwhile, was calling for a boycott of the movie, with the organization’s focus mainly on the animal supplier for the film, Birds & Animals Unlimited, based in Acton, Calif. PETA has had run-ins with the company before, and posted a video earlier this month about BAU, which you can see below.

PETA released a statement about the latest incident, noting that BAU was the supplier of dogs for “A Dog’s Purpose” and saying: “New footage shows a terrified dog who is forced into churning water on set. At one point, a dog who is in danger of drowning has to be rescued. 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. 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.”

Here’s the video posted earlier this month by PETA …


  1. While I am horrified by this footage, I take anything that PETA says with a huge grain of salt. After all, this is the organization that believes all pets should be euthanized because death is preferable to a loving home. (Or as they see it, in servitude to humans.) I wanted to see this movie, but now I’m worried I wouldn’t enjoy it. Any dangerous scene would have me worrying if the dog was harmed instead of being confident it wasn’t.

    • On the image sharing site Imgur a dog trainer (not associated with the film) has responded to the video and allegations raised by PETA. Based on his experience and training, and after viewing the video, he refutes their allegations. He also raises the point that this would have occurred under the observation of an animal welfare observer who is legally mandated to be on set for all filming that involves an animal.

      AFAIC, due to their stance (which you mention) and their policy of euthanizing animals (reportedly over 90%) they “liberate”, PETA has absolutely no credibility. They are a political action committee and concerned about anything other than animal welfare. Most pets are spoiled by their “owners”. The pet care industry generates over 53 Billion dollars a year… that’s right, 53 BILLION. All from people who routinely mistreat their animals.

      That last part was sarcasm, btw.

  2. H would you feel if you watched a child react in the same way while his/her parent attempted to force the child into a swimming.pool? If the shoe were on the other paw perhaps the “humans” involved might behave differently.

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