By Gianna D’Argento
Many dog lovers plan to boycott the new film, “A Dog’s Purpose” after viewing TMZ’s leaked video of a German Shepherd allegedly being forced into turbulent waters on set.
The film depicts a dog that is reincarnated and impacts different owners in various ways. Many dog-lovers were excited and looking forward to seeing the film, which premiered in theaters January 26th. That is, until TMZ leaked the “abuse” video.
The video revealed an apprehensive German Shepherd standing on a platform with its trainer that is forcing the actor dog into a simulated stream with choppy waters. The canine was clinging to its trainer’s side and had the look of panic on her face. The trainer was pulling the German Shepherd into the water, and once successful, she was clawing back up at the trainer to be rescued.
It was almost a replica of a scene from “The Lion King” where Mufasa is dangling from the cliff and Scar flings him off to his demise.
The leaked video then cuts out to an even more disturbing scene of trainers rushing through the water. Meanwhile there is no sight of the dog—she is allegedly under water.
Animal lovers took to social media platforms to share the disturbing video and to proclaim their boycott against the film while urging their friends and followers to also.
In response to this backlash, the filmmakers of “A Dog’s Purpose” reassured those concerned that no animal was harmed during the production of the film and will further investigate the mishandling of the German Shepherd.
The film’s premiere ended up being cancelled due to the allegations. Dennis Quaid, who stars in the film, said on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on January 23 that the animals “were treated with the greatest respect and care and compassion.” It isn’t doubtful that, for the most part, the animals on set were treated properly but the leaked video seems to contradict that statement by Quaid.
It was also stated that the dog actually seemed happy in the water and that the video was manipulated to reveal animal abuse.
Holli Berger, a certified canine water therapist who owns Aqua Dog, Inc., in suburban Schaumburg said: “It is reprehensible to unnecessarily put a dog through the trauma of being forced into raging waters—it will negatively impact that dog for life.”
Having experience with various canine breeds, Berger also said that German Shepherds have a tendency to dislike the water to begin with. Berger has an effective way of lowering and lifting dogs in and out of her pool safely. She was displeased by the animal trainer’s lack of remorse, saying “there are much safer and gentler ways to get the dog into that body of water.” Regardless if the video was edited or cut, the way that the German shepherd was being handled prior to being forced into the water is nonetheless abusive and cruel.
Despite the controversy over animal treatment, “A Dog’s Purpose” still got subpar reviews, receiving a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger comments, “You don’t need an animal-rights boycott to give you permission to avoid ‘A Dog’s Purpose.’ You can skip it just because it’s a clumsily manipulative dreck.”
If you were planning to see the film because of its touching plot about a dog’s soul, but are uneasy about condoning the alleged animal abuse, the film is based off of a book by W. Bruce Cameron called, you named it, “A Dog’s Purpose”—where, for sure, no animals were harmed in the making.