Peta calls for boycott of A Dog's Purpose following distressed German shepherd video

The leaked footage, which appears to show a dog being forced into churning waters, has prompted the animal welfare group to urge audiences to avoid the film

A disturbing video that appears to show a stunt dog being pushed into a pool of water meant to recreate a raging river has been condemned by Peta – and one of the stars of the movie.

According to TMZ, the leaked footage shows a German shepherd that stars in forthcoming adventure A Dog’s Purpose being forced into the pool, scrabbling at the bank in an effort to resist. Finally submerged, the dog is then buffeted by the waves for a few seconds while the camera crews get the shot.

The dog, named Hercules, was apparently on hire to the movie from animal wranglers Birds and Animals Unlimited (BAU), which Peta accused last week of violating a variety of Animal Welfare Act regulations. BAU responded in a statement in which it calls Peta’s claims “fiction”.

Peta has since said it was “calling on dog lovers to boycott the film A Dog’s Purpose in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props.”

On Wednesday evening, a joint statement was issued by producers Amblin Entertainment and distributors Universal Pictures. It said that while they were reviewing the footage, “great care and concern” were shown to the dogs used in the movie. The stunt in question had been rehearsed to ease Hercules’s comfort, but “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”.

They added: “Hercules is happy and healthy.”

Action on set was monitored by the American Humane Association, who said on Wednesday it was “disturbed and concerned” by the footage.

“When the dog showed signs of resistance to jumping in the water, the scene should have been stopped. We are placing the safety representative who was on the set on administrative leave immediately and are bringing in an independent third party to conduct an investigation into this matter.”

The shoot took place in November 2015 in Winnipeg, Canada. A Dog’s Purpose – which opens in the US on 27 January and in the UK in April – is the story of one dog’s healing powers over several owners and lifetimes. Directed by Lasse Hallström, its cast includes Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad. Both Hallström and Gad have responded to the video by expressing their concern on social media.

Hallström posted on Facebook: “I did not witness these actions, which are unacceptable and would never happen with my knowledge. We were all committed to providing a loving, respectful 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.”

Meanwhile Gad, who voices the dog, said he was “shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will”.

— Josh Gad (@joshgad) January 19, 2017


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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