An animal training company is in hot water after a video has surfaced showing a scared dog being forced into churning water on the set of the movie A Dog’s Purpose.
In the footage, viewers can see a distressed German shepherd named Hercules from animal talent agency Birds & Animals Unlimited continually being lowered into a pool of water, despite the fact he does not want to go in. In another clip, it appears Hercules goes under water, and viewers can hear someone yell “cut.”
“I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”
I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.
— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
The production company behind the movie, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, defended the treatment of the animals in the movie.
“Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German Shepherd Hercules, as well as for all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
The company added, “[T]he Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals.”
The American Humane Association, an organization responsible for the welfare of animals in entertainment, did have a representative on set but that person has now been suspended. (The Hollywood Reporter did a big expose into AHA in 2013, questioning its standards.)
PETA, along with animal lovers all over the world, has called for a boycott of A Dog’s Purpose, which is about “one devoted dog who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.”
Since the clip came out, the movie has one star (the lowest) on movie site IMDB.
While the clip was filmed in October of 2015, the leak was most likely to coincide with the release date of the movie, which is set to hit theaters on Jan. 27.
Last week, The Hollywood Reporter reported that PETA filed a complaint with the USDA against Birds & Animals Unlimited after the animal welfare organization accused the Hollywood animal training company of neglect and mistreatment.
This isn’t the first time Birds & Animal Unlimited has come under fire. There are several complaints made to the USDA on site 911 Animal Abuse, with some dating back to 2005. The company has provided animals to a number of high-profile movies including 101 Dalmatians, Game of Thrones, Marley and Me, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
At the time of publication, the website for Birds & Animals was down and there has been no comment.