Yesterday, TMZ released a video from the set of the upcoming movie A Dog’s Purpose that caused an uproar from animal lovers everywhere.
The above video shows a terrified German Shepard being forced into a pool of rushing water for a scene. The video then cuts to another clip of the dog becoming completely submerged in the water before someone yells “cut it.”
The well-known animal rights organization, PETA called for a boycott of the film on Twitter with the hashtag #BoycottaDogsPurpose. The hashtag has been one of the first topics in the moments section on Twitter since the leak of the video. Canada’s Chief Veterinary Office is also now investigating the situation. They may issue a fine up to $10K and/or sentence those involved to 6 months of jail time.
This is bad publicity for a movie with the target audience of the dog lovers, which are exactly the ones who are outraged by the situation.
As someone interested in PR, I immediately went to investigate what the people behind the movie and the video have to say about the abuse allegations.
Representative of Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures released a joint statement to TMZ after seeing the video saying “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.”
The statement is very basic and exactly what I expected them to say about the situation. Later in a statement to CNN, Amblin said: “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” and that the production team “followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals.” Later in the statement they went on to say that filming did not continue after the dog was resistant in the first part of the video.
I think this is a better statement. It brings up the point that viewers did not see everything. Nobody knows if the dog got pushed into the water or if they finally calmed him down enough for him to willingly jump in.
The director of the movie, Lasse Hallström made his statement about the situation on Twitter. TMZ claimed that he was on set when the incident occurred, however, he denied being there. See his full statement is below.
Josh Gad who is the voice actor of the dog also tweeted his response to the video. He called A Dog’s Purpose “one of the most beautiful love letters to animals” that he has ever seen but called the actions in the video disturbing. Read his full statement below.
Overall, I think that the statements were okay but since I had to go and search for them, I think the movie will still take a major hit. The amount of tweets sharing the video and boycotting the video are the majority of the conversation. Many of these people are not searching the responses of the movie makers and are just following the crowd. This will be damaging for the movie when it is released next week.
I think that A Dog’s Purpose could try harder to get their side of the story out there. I think they need to reach out to PETA and the other major animal rights activists to explain their side of the story that was not shown on camera. Donating some of the profit to these organizations would also help their image.