As someone with great fondness for dogs and all other animals, I was looking forward to seeing the new Universal Pictures and Amblin Partners movie A Dog's Purpose. Now, not so much.
My big chill is a result of viewing this disturbing video released by TMZ Wednesday showing a clearly terrified German Shepherd named Hercules being forced against his will into a body of wildly churning water-- then going under until a couple of people jump in and rescue the distressed animal.
Reportedly, the dog was provided by Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU) , and someone from The American Humane Association (AAH) was on the set at the time of the abuse. Prudence prevents me from commenting further on BAU of AAH-- "Ouch, ouch, ouch!" (That's me biting my tongue). But I do encourage readers to research both entities online and draw their own conclusions about their respective reputations.
Amblin reportedly released the following statement:
Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals. 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. There were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure Hercules was comfortable with all of the stunts. 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. Hercules is happy and healthy.
I have several issues with their statement, starting with the reference to this video as "edited footage." That sounds to me like they are attempting to discredit or undermine the video. They certainly should have unedited footage since the scene was being filmed. Perhaps they would like to share that with us? And where is there any expression of outrage or even disapproval of what the saw? In addition, one might ask who hired Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU) and did they research them before doing so? And then there is the broader ethical issue of using animals as movie props at all.
Some associated with the film have expressed surprise, dismay, and disappointment about what they saw in the video. That reminds me a famous scene in another film, Casablanca.
PETA is calling for a boycott of the film, and I concur. If you really want to stop this type of animal abuse, hit them where it hurts the most-- in their wallets.