In previews of the film, A Dog’s Purpose promises to be a tear-jerker, telling the story of a loving canine who is reborn again and again as he learns and seeks out his purpose in this world. But a recently-released behind-the-scenes video has outraged pet lovers and animal rights activists due to alleged animal cruelty.
In the video, an animal trainer on the set of the film pushes a frightened German Shepherd into a pool of churning water. A voice can be heard off camera telling the trainer, “He ain’t gonna calm down ‘til he goes in the water. Just got to throw him in.” The dog frantically tries to claw its way back up the side of the pool to no avail.
The video is edited and cuts to another part in which the dog, immersed and struggling to keep its head above the turbulent water, suddenly goes under. A voice yells, “Cut it!” as onlookers rush towards the edge of the pool.
PETA is calling for a boycott of the film “in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props.”
The American Humane Society, which had a representative present on the set of the film, told the Associated Press that they are hiring an independent investigator to look into the alleged animal cruelty incident. They have put the representative who was involved with the film on administrative leave.
Director Lasse Halström said on Twitter that while he did not witness the incident, he was “disturbed by the video” that was released.
“We were all committed to providing a loving and safe environment for all the animals in the film,” he tweeted. “I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”
By Dawn Henderson, Earth.com Staff Writer