A Dog's Purpose premiere canceled

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Canceled Amid Dog Abuse Scandal

The A Dog’s Purpose premiere has been canceled after claims of animal abuse on set, according to the BBC. Universal Pictures canceled the U.S. premiere of the family film after animal rights activists boycotted the film following a leaked video showing a handler abusing a dog on set.

Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures released a joint statement on Friday announcing they were canceling the U.S. premiere of A Dog’s Purpose and its weekend’s promotional events.

The announcement came less than 48 hours after a leaked video from the set of the Canadian production showed a German Shepherd being forced into a torrent of water. The leaked video prompted animal charities, including PETA, to boycott A Dog’s Purpose.

While A Dog’s Purpose producers and distributors have denied that the dog was abused on the set, director Lasse Hallstrom and actor Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the film, said they were “disturbed” by the video.

In their joint statement, Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures canceled the weekend’s premiere of A Dog’s Purpose as well as its press event, saying they didn’t want anything to “overshadow” the film, which they claim “celebrates the relationship between humans and animals.”

The minute-long footage, which was leaked on the internet and appeared on the TMZ website on Wednesday, shows the German Shepherd, Hercules, resisting the handler’s attempts to force it into a torrent of water, according to TMZ.

The footage is said to have been recorded in 2015 on the movie set of A Dog’s Purpose, while the title of the video says “terrified dog.” And really, the dog in the video appears to be in distress, but it doesn’t stop the handler from pushing the dog into the water to complete the scene.

The video shows Hercules clawing the side of the pool, while its handler keeps pushing the dog back into the water. But animal charities appeared to be even more shocked by a man that can be overheard advising the handler to “just throw him [the dog] in.”

“Don’t worry, it’s warm water at least. He ain’t going to calm down until he goes in the water. Just got to throw him in.”

Animal Justice, an animal rights organization, says A Dog’s Purpose filmmakers breached several federal and provincial laws by abusing the dog. Animal Justice even filed cruelty complaints with the Winnipeg Humane Society and the Winnipeg Police.

In a statement released shortly after the leaked footage, the Winnipeg Humane Society says it was consulted for two scenes in A Dog’s Purpose, while adding that the dog was “fearful and not properly trained” for the scene seen in the leaked footage.

“Training for a scene like this should take place weeks — if not months — in advance to help a dog get comfortable with not only being in water of that depth, but also the turbulence.”

Even though they canceled the U.S. premiere of A Dog’s Purpose, Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures keep defending themselves by suggesting the leaked footage was edited. The companies claim that the water scenes featuring Hercules took several days to make sure the dog was comfortable with the water.

“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.”

A Dog’s Purpose director Lasse Hallstrom took to Twitter to say he was “very disturbed” by the footage showing animal abuse, but denied TMZ‘s report alleging that he had witnessed the whole thing when the video was being shot.

“I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”

[Featured Image by Marie Dirgova/Shutterstock]