A Dog's Purpose abuse video falsified, claims American Humane Association

Investigation finds video which appeared to show a German shepherd in distress on set was ‘deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public’

A video which appeared to show a distressed dog on the set of new family movie A Dog’s Purpose was “deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking public outrage”, according to an independent, third-party investigation.

American Humane, an organisation which seeks to ensure the well-being of movie animals, said the investigation’s findings “confirm that no animals were harmed in those scenes and numerous preventative safety measures were in place”.

The video, which was leaked last month to TMZ, sparked outrage and prompted calls by Peta for audiences to boycott the movie. Around a minute in length, it shows a German shepherd apparently unwilling to leap into a pool of churning water which simulates rapids. The dog is then forced in and becomes submerged before being hauled to safety.

American Humane said the “respected animal cruelty expert” viewed additional footage and spoke to people present before drawing the conclusion that the video “mischaracterised the events on set”. “A full spectrum of preparation and safety measures were in place,” they concluded, echoing the statement from production company Amblin and distributor Universal that the team “followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals”.

The report does state that the handling of the dog on the edge of the pool “should have been gentler and signs of stress recognised earlier”, but it confirms that the two scenes were shot at different times.

“The dog was selected for his love of the water, and had been professionally trained and conditioned for the water scenes over the course of six weeks, using positive training techniques,” said American Humane.

“During the last scene, handlers immediately assisted the dog out of the water, at which point he was placed in a warming tent and received an examination that found no signs of stress. Eyewitnesses report the dog wanted to go back in the water. Still, out of an abundance of caution, American Humane stopped the filming of any more scenes with the dog.”

Last week Dennis Quaid, who stars in the film, called the video “a sham”.

“I was there,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “I never saw any abuse of any animal. If there had been, I would have walked.” He went on to say: “My experience is that the animals were treated great. There was no animal abuse. That video that someone took and sold for money and held on to for a year and a half until right before the film’s coming out does not tell the whole story. First of all, it’s been edited and manipulated. And I think it’s a scam, to tell you the truth.”

Box-office takings for A Dog’s Purpose do not appear to have been too affected by the negative publicity. The film opened in second place at the US box office last week, only falling to third place over the weekend.


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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