A Dog’s Purpose was to be another cute story about a dog who finds purpose in his life through the people he meets, but, before the film had a chance to tug at the heartstrings of moviegoers everywhere, a behind-the-scenes video brought scandal to A Dog’s Purpose. The video showed one of the canine stars of the film, an adult German Shepherd, being forced into water in spite of the animal’s obvious fear of getting deep in water. The controversy, which adversely affected the film’s premiere, has grown out of proportion, says A Dog’s Purpose producer, Gavin Polone, and suggests the video takes the entire situation out of context.
Gavin Polone Reveals The Truth Behind A Dog’s Life‘s Filming Scandal
USA Today reported that Polone is coming forward to claim that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are blowing the video out of proportion in an effort to support their own agenda. The A Dog’s Purpose producer, who also says he is an animal lover and an activist for animal protection, says PETA is trying to have the use of live animals prohibited in the making of feature films.
“Not only have they been circulating the TMZ video, which portrays an inaccurate picture of what happened, but they have included a clip from our trailer where you see the dog jumping into a treacherous rushing wall of water,” Polone wrote. “But THAT ISN’T A REAL DOG, it is a computer-generated dog leaping into the water. Isn’t that the definition of ‘fake news’?”
Sharing the video on the internet, PETA has been calling for a boycott of A Dog’s Purpose. Meanwhile, the film’s Hollywood premiere has been cancelled in light of the scandal.
Lisa Lange, PETA senior vice president, has issued a statement in response to Gavin’s press release in which she says the producer of A Dog’s Purpose has previously admitted to the truth of the video, adding that he is now adding a new spin on the story in the hopes that the public will set aside the incident and go see A Dog’s Purpose in theaters.
“The fact that a producer like Polone, someone who genuinely cares about animals, failed to prevent cruel training techniques… and failed to stop a dog from being terrorized during shooting exemplifies just how deeply entrenched the problems are in this business,” Lange said in her statement.
Gavin Polone Previously Condemned The Abuse
In addition to producing films, such as A Dog’s Purpose, Mr. Polone is also a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and, in that capacity, Gavin has condemned the abuse of the German Shepherd on the film’s set, suggesting Lisa Lange’s assessment of the situation may be based on truth. Gavin wasn’t on the set the day the incident took place, which consisted of forcing Hercules into water, when he was clearly having an obvious fearful reaction to the situation, but he later condemned the incident. The producer says the dog trainer should have ceased trying to get Hercules into the water.
“The dog trainer should have stopped trying to get the dog to go in the water as soon as the dog seemed uncomfortable, and the trainers should have had support under the dog as soon as he came to the side of the pool and/or had less turbulence in the water so he never would have gone under,” Polone wrote.
Gavin adds that the care for animals on the set of A Dog’s Purpose was of the utmost importance and that there were safeguards in place to ensure that the animals’ safety and happiness were being considered at all times.
“The American Humane Association (AHA) representative who is paid by the production to ‘ensure the safety and humane treatment of animal actors,’ as its website states, should have also intervened immediately on both of those parts of the filming,” writes Polone. “So should have whomever was running the set. Those individuals should be held accountable and never used again by that studio or its affiliates.”
Mr. Polone also revealed that the incident seen in the video presents Hercules acting out of character, sharing that the German Shepherd had been excited to jump into the water on previous occasions and had to be restrained. Hercules previously performed the shot for A Dog’s Purpose without incident, aided by two trainers, a stunt coordinator, and a safety officer.
“Before the first real take, the handlers were asked to change the start point of the dog from the left side, where he had rehearsed, to the right side,” explains the producer for A Dog’s Purpose. “That, evidentially [sic], is what caused him to be spooked.”
A Dog’s Purpose hits theaters on January 27.
[Featured Image by Amblin Entertainment]