A Dog’s Purpose premiere cancelled amid animal rights concerns

Dennis Quaid in A Dog's PurposeImage copyright
Amblin Entertainment

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Dennis Quaid stars in A Dog’s Purpose

The US premiere of family film A Dog’s Purpose has been cancelled following a campaign by animal rights activists.

Filmmakers made the announcement after animal charities, including Peta, to call for the film, which stars Dennis Quaid, to be boycotted.

It comes after a leaked video showed a German Shepherd struggling to stay out of a torrent of water during the filming of the Canadian production.

The film’s producer and distributor deny the dog was mishandled.

But in a joint statement, Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures called off the weekend’s promotional events, saying they did “not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals”.

The footage was posted on the TMZ website on Wednesday.

The director Lasse Hallstrom and actor Josh Gad said they were “disturbed” by the video.

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A video posted by TMZ shows the German Shepherd, Hercules, resisting attempts to push it in the frothing water

The minute-long 2015 video from the Winnipeg movie set posted online appears to show a dog in distress.

In the video, a man can be overheard saying: “Don’t worry, it’s warm water at least. He ain’t going to calm down until he goes in the water. Just got to throw him in.”

The dog, called Hercules, is seen struggling and clawing the side of the pool as his handler pushes him into the water.

One animal rights organisation, Animal Justice, alleged the filmmakers breached federal and provincial laws.

It filed cruelty complaints with the Winnipeg Humane Society, the Chief Veterinary Office of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Police.

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Getty Images

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Actor and comedian Josh Gad says he has asked for an explanation from the studio about the video

The Winnipeg Humane Society says it was consulted for two scenes in the film.

“This dog was fearful and not properly trained for this experience,” the organisation’s chief executive said in a statement.

“Training for a scene like this should take place weeks – if not months – in advance to help a dog get comfortable with not only being in water of that depth, but also the turbulence.”

American Humane, the organisation that oversees animal safety during filming, said it was investigating the incident and had suspended its representative who was on the set.

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Getty Images

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The film’s director Lasse Hallstrom has called for a ‘thorough investigation’

Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures have suggested that the TMZ footage was edited, saying there was several days of rehearsals for the water scenes to ensure the dog was comfortable with the shoot.

“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,” an earlier statement read.

Director Lasse Hallstrom, who is known for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Chocolat, expressed concern over the footage on Twitter.

“I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film A Dog’s Purpose,” he said, denying TMZ’s report that he had witnessed the incident.

“I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”

Actor Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the film, said he was “shaken and sad” after seeing the video.


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