Shot in Winnipeg, Canada, the video shows a German Shepherd named Hercules being pushed into and pulled out of a rushing stream of water, clearly against its will; with the voice heard saying, "Well, he ain't going to calm down until he goes in the water. Just got to throw him in." A second clip shows the dog being completely submerged in the water, while people begin shouting and rushing towards the animal.
The dog seen is one of at least five dogs used in the production; directed by Lasse Hallström, the film adapts the 2010 novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron, and is supposedly meant to pay tribute to the unique relationship between dog and man - as one dog Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), is reincarnated through different breeds.
PETA's boycott includes the statement, "The apparent on-set incident, which is hard to watch, may come as an unwelcome surprise to unsuspecting moviegoers who care about dogs — especially given the title of the film, based on the hit book of the same name."
TMZ later reported that a member of the American Humane Association who was on set at the time of the incident, responsible for the safety of animal actors, has since been suspended; though Amblin Pictures and Universal Pictures have responded to the incident with, "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."
Peta campaigns in pictures
Peta campaigns in pictures
1/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Anti-fur protestors from Peta are seen on the runway at the Julien MacDonald fashion show as part of London Fashion Week in September 2006
MJ Kim/Getty Images
2/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
The poster from the animal rights group PETA
3/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Animals on the mind: Staunch PETA supporter Morrissey casually poses with a cat on his head for one particularly literal campaign
4/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Helen Flanagan poses beside a poster featuring her wearing reptile skin, to promote a PETA campaign, in Covent Garden
5/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Skin trade: PETA protests against Canadian seal hunting
AFP / GETTY IMAGES
6/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
A member of the 'Taiji Dolphin Action Group' curls up on a sheet depicting the Japanese flag, during a protest against the killing of dolphins
7/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gather to lie in a heap in Trafalgar Square to raise awareness on World Vegan Day
8/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
9/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Ingrid Newkirk outside Fortnum & Mason with a bloodied mouth and feeding tube
10/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
A member of the association 'People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (Peta) demonstrates to denounce the way birds' livers are fatten during the foie gras production
11/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Peta's leader protesting against fur in Paris in 2006
12/12 Peta campaigns in pictures
Protesting against Canadian seal hunting
"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."
Both the director and star Josh Gad have since responded to the incident; with Lasse Hallström stating he was not on set when the incident took place and that, "we were all committed to providing a loving 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."
Gad took to Facebook to write, "A few months ago, I was approached to lend my voice to the film A Dog's Purpose. As I sat in a dark screening room, I was beyond touched and moved by what I saw... a movie that captures the beauty and pain of loving a pet. I signed on to a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen."
"Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German Shepard [sic] being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this film. While I do not know all of the details and cannot speak to the level of care and caution that went into this moment (as I was never on set for the making of this film), I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will."
"As the proud owner of a rescue dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images."
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