Was there animal abuse in a dogs purpose? Here’s the Answer

The alleged abuse revolves around a German shepherd seemingly forced into rough watersYour browser does not support HTML5 video.

The center of this controversy is an exclusive video released by TMZ. In it, you can see a trainer trying to force a distressed German shepherd into a pool of rough water, as the dog tries to wriggle out of the trainer’s grasp. At one point, the dog is hanging on to the edge of the pool. Toward the end of the video, it appears to go underwater and it looks like people on the set panic a bit. All throughout, there’s running commentary from an unidentified person who’s watching the incident from offscreen, giving a play-by-play about how the dog wants to get away and will just have to be thrown in.

It’s hard to watch, as you can visibly see the dog in distress. The German shepherd clearly does not want to be in the water, and is not in a playful mood.

But what must also be made clear is that the video is edited.

“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,” the company said in an official statement obtained by CNN.

According to Amblin Entertainment via a statement provided to CNN, the dog didn’t have to complete the scene after being forced in — where the first part of the video cuts off. TMZ says the company claims that the filming resumed when the dog was comfortable and it was not thrown into the water. “Hercules [the dog] ended up going under once filming resumed, but divers and handlers quickly rescued him,” the statement said.

About 10 seconds before the video ends, there’s a jump cut between the dog being distressed and the dog being in the water and going under. Since the video cuts where it does, it creates a narrative that the dog was distressed and thrown into the pool. But the video doesn’t actually confirm that. The dog could have, as the production company states, entered the water in a calmer state and then gone underwater. Though it’s clear the dog was distressed for at least some time, as seen in the video, we currently have no way of knowing how it actually ended up in the water.

Quaid said that in reality, the dog was not frightened—and had, in fact, needed to be restrained from jumping in the water earlier in the day. As the actor saw it, the dog was simply tired of performing the stunt and was ready to get out. “And, in fact, that’s what happened. They took the dog out.”

PETA evidently found the Cameron’s remarks insufficient, rebutting with its own statement: “It takes a cold heart not to find this footage disturbing, so PETA asks whether ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ was written from the heart or just to make a buck,” PETA VP Lisa Lange told Variety. “If additional footage exists, it should be made public, but it won’t change the footage of a terrified dog forced into churning water any more than nanny cam footage of a bedtime story changes footage of a caregiver hitting a child.”

But producer Gavin Polone—himself a passionate animal rights activist who immediately expressed dismay at what he saw in the video—questioned the animal rights group’s own ethics in handling the situation, in an op-ed published Monday by The Hollywood Reporter:

Polone outlined a scenario similar to the one Cameron laid out—noting the same discrepancy in which the dog had been asked to perform the stunt, and adding that the video was cut deceptively to make it look as though the dog had been forced into the water and subsequently submerged. In fact, shooting did stop, and the dog was returned to the side of the pool on which he had rehearsed the stunt—at which point he jumped in on his own. The portion of the video that showed the dog going under the water occurred during that take. Polone added that after seeing the footage of Hercules that was taken on Thursday, “I’m happy to say that Hercules is obviously quite well.”

On Kimmel, the actor noted, as others have, that whoever leaked the video held onto it until just before the movie came out—asking, “If the dog was abused, why didn’t he raise something at the time?” (Presumably, the video would be more valuable to TMZ, which sometimes pays for such material, closer to the film’s release.)

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A Dog’s Purpose, the upcoming film from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment about how dogs don’t really die but instead are reincarnated over and over as other dogs to teach humans about love, was never going to be more than a slightly manipulative, feel-good movie targeted at anyone who has a soft-spot for puppies. It’s safe to say its audience might include almost everyone, but especially animal lovers.

The recent news surrounding the movie might change that.

On January 18, TMZ published footage of what could possibly be animal cruelty involving one of the dogs on set. The video appears to be authentic, as the American Humane Association has responded by suspending its field representative who was supposed to be supervising the film’s treatment of its animal performers, and the film’s director has publicly rebuked the alleged abuse taking place. PETA has called for a boycott. The companies involved in producing and distributing the film are now investigating the incident as well. And the movie’s premiere has been canceled.

Here’s what we know so far:

Animal Abuse On “A Dog’s Purpose” Set? (VIDEO)

Leaked video showing a frightened dog being forced into churning water during filming of A Dogs Purpose was “misleadingly edited” and the German shepherd was unharmed, says American Humane, the group responsible for overseeing animal safety on the movie set.

A report conducted by a third-party animal-cruelty expert found preventative safety measures were in place to protect the dog, Hercules.

Animal Humane said the outside expert, whose name was withheld because of the public outcry following the videos release, found it to be a misrepresentation of events.

“The decisions by the individual or individuals who captured and deliberately edited the footage, and then waited longer than 15 months to release the manipulated video only days before the movies premiere, raise serious questions about their motives and ethics,” American Humane said.

“The video was deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking outrage. In fact, the two scenes shown in the edited video were filmed at different times.”

That conclusion was based on viewing unedited footage from the set and on eyewitness accounts, group spokesman Mark Stubis said.

Who may have leaked the video was not addressed in the report, and American Humane does not know who is responsible, he said.