In the video, which was shot in Canada in November 2015, the dog can be seen repeatedly clawing the pool’s edge, struggling to get away from its trainer. A man, presumably the video’s recorder, can be heard laughing and saying, “You just got to throw him in.”
The dog eventually got in the water, but was immediately submerged. The German Shepherd is one of at least 5 dogs used in the production.
In response to the video, which has since gone viral, Amblin Entertainment said, “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.”
Upon watching the footage, netizens have expressed their anger toward the movie’s production team on social media. One Facebook user commented, “Its a shame because this movie was supposed to celebrate dogs and the important role they play in our lives. I hope those responsible are dealt with.”
PETA (short for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has called for a boycott of the film. “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.”
Amid accusations of animal abuse, the film’s production team has addressed the matter, saying that the German Shepherd, named Hercules, had “several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure he was comfortable with all of the stunts” and that he “wasn’t forced to 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,” they explained.
They told TMZ that the director, Lasse Hallstrom, called for a break during the shoot. When they resumed, Hercules was fine with doing the water scene, emphasising that he was not thrown into the turbulent water.
Watch the controversial video below:
Based on the 2010 novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron, “A Dog’s Purpose” revolves around one endearing dog’s journey over the course of several lives and how he looks for his purpose through each of his lives.
Slated for release on 27th January 2017, the film stars Josh Gad, Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton, and Juliet Rylance.
For more information, visit the film’s website.