Animal cruelty should never be tolerated. When The Hollywood Reporter released an investigative report in 2013 revealing the abuse of King, the tiger in Life of Pi, swift action was taken. Now, it looks like there may be a similar instance of abuse with a German Shepherd in A Dog’s Purpose.
Yesterday, TMZ released a leaked video online of what they claimed to be a scene shot for the film in Winnipeg, Canada back in November of 2015. As shown in the disturbing footage, a trainer forces the terrified animal into a pool with eight outboard motors used to recreate a rushing river. TMZ also reported director Lasse Hallström was present on set for the scene and someone yelled “Cut it!” when the dog became fully submerged in the water.
A Dog’s Purpose, which Josh Gad called “one of the most beautiful love letters to animals,” features the voice actor as a dog who attempts to learn his purpose in life as he’s reincarnated as different breeds over the course of several lifetimes. As shown in the trailer around the 1:28 mark, the German Shepherd is a police dog who leaps into rushing water to pull a girl to safety.
Representatives of Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures saw the set video and released this joint statement to TMZ:
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.
Hallström and Gad also responded to the incident. The filmmaker tweeted that he was very “disturbed” by the video and promised he “did not witness these actions.” Gad, who stated he was never on set during the production, wrote in a message on social media that he “reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”
See their statements in full below.
A Dog’s Purpose will open in theaters on January 27th.