There was a lot of hype surrounding the movie A Dog’s Purpose. Who doesn’t want to see a feel good movie about man’s best friend? But a video released by TMZ on Wednesday showing a terrified German Shepherd being forced into rushing water has led many fans and animal activists alike to call the film’s treatment of animals into question. PETA has gone as far as calling for a boycott of the movie and has stated that they have been trying to expose Birds & Animals Unlimited, the company that the dog and handler were hired from, for quite some time.
Those behind the movie took to social media following the video’s release to express their thoughts and opinions on the matter.
“I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film A Dog's Purpose,” Lasse Hallstrom, the director of A Dog’s Purpose, wrote on Twitter regarding the video. “I did not witness these actions. 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.”
Voice actor Josh Gad also had words to share. “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 beauty and pain of loving a pet. I signed on for a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen,” Josh wrote on Facebook. “Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German Shepherd being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this film. While I do not know all 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 a proud dog owner and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”
In response to the outrage, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment decided Thursday to cancel the premiere. The movie is still set to hit theaters on January 27, however.