The director of A Dog's Purpose, the bestselling book by W. Bruce Cameron that's been made into a movie due to be released on January 27, has responded to outrage over a video TMZ leaked on Wednesday, showing one of the dogs in the movie being forced to do a water stunt that he clearly did not want to.
Warning: the clip will be upsetting to some folks.
When the dog, a German shepherd named Hercules, finally ends up in the water, judging from the footage shown in the clip, he almost drowns. Not the best day at work, especially when you're being paid in food and affection only.
Warning two: not even kidding, do not click this video unless you want to see a very frightened dog be forced into an unsafe situation.
The producer and distributor of A Dog's Purpose issued a statement.
Producer Amblin Entertainment and distributor Universal Pictures said that the production team “followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals." It went on,
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 producers and studio had originally said that when the dog balked at the water scene, they stopped filming altogether, according to Fox 31 Denver News. They'd made a statement asserting that they'd rehearsed the scene for a few days, but when Hercules was hesitant, they decided not to shoot it.
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.
Clearly, that's a lie.
The movie's director, Lasse Hallstrom, was pretty upset.
He took to Twitter to express his feelings about seeing the leaked clip.
I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film A dog's purpose.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
I did not witness these actions.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
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.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
I have been a lifelong animal lover and A DOG’S PURPOSE is my third film about dogs. The animals’ safety was of utmost priority.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
for both myself and everyone on the set. I have been a lifelong animal lover and A DOG’S PURPOSE is my third film about dogs.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
We were all committed to providing a loving, respectful and safe environment for all the animals in the film.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
Actor Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the movie, posted on Facebook about the "disturbing images" in the clip.
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 beautiful 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 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 rescued dog and a fervent support of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.