‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Producer Reacts to Disturbing On-Set Video Footage + Abuse Allegations
The forthcoming movie A Dog's Purpose recently came under fire when a behind-the-scenes video showed a visibly distressed German Shepherd being forced into a churning pool of water, sparking abuse allegations. The film's premiere was subsequently canceled, but a producer for the movie claims the video fails to paint an accurate portrayal of the overall treatment of animals on set.
Gavin Polone -- a self-proclaimed animal rights activist who took on A Dog's Purpose as a passion project -- wrote in a lengthy op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter that he was deeply disturbed by the footage when it first began circulating and looked into the situation. Polone ultimately concluded that while forcing the dog into the water was inexcusable, the clip was not indicative of ongoing, grand scale abuse.
As with the TMZ video that you saw, two things were evident: 1) the dog handler tries to force the dog, for 35 to 40 seconds, into the water when, clearly, he didn’t want to go in; and 2) in a separate take filmed sometime later, the dog did go into the water, on his own, and, at the end, his head is submerged for about 4 seconds. These two things are absolutely INEXCUSABLE and should NEVER have happened. The dog trainer should have stopped trying to get the dog to go in the water as soon as the dog seemed uncomfortable, and the trainers should have had support under the dog as soon as he came to the side of the pool and/or had less turbulence in the water so he never would have gone under.
Polone continued, noting the representative for the American Human Association (AMA) who was on set to prevent a scenario like the one seen in the footage “should have also intervened immediately on both of those parts of the filming,” and admits, “those individuals should be held accountable and never used again by that studio or its affiliates.”
But, he insists, the footage is taken out of context. Video of rehearsal for the same scene reportedly shows the German Shepherd completing the stunt “without problem.” It wasn’t until they changed the layout of the scene to opposite what the dog had rehearsed that the dog panicked.
Polone says the production should accept full responsibility for the dog's distress and doesn't excuse the hander's actions, but he also warns viewers against taking the video at face value, claiming controversial animal rights organization PETA -- who has called for a boycott of A Dog's Purpose -- is circulating false information:
Not only have they been circulating the TMZ video, which portrays an inaccurate picture of what happened, but they have included a clip from our trailer where you see the dog jumping into a treacherous rushing wall of water. But THAT ISN’T A REAL DOG, it is a computer-generated dog leaping into the water. Isn’t that the definition of “fake news"? In another post, they show a German Shepard in a dismal steel cage, which isn’t our dog. Again, misleading.
Head over to The Hollywood Reporter to read Polone's full take on the footage.
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