Cue sigh of relief. A new investigative report into the filming of A Dog’s Purpose concluded on Friday, February 3, that “no animals were harmed” during the filming of the flick.
In January, a controversial video showing what appeared to be a terrified German shepherd being forced to perform a stunt during filming went viral, sparking outrage from celebs and animal-rights activists. On Friday, however, the American Humane Society reported that the videos were presented out of context.
“An independent, third-party investigation conducted by a respected animal cruelty expert into the treatment of animals in the filming of A Dog’s Purpose concluded that an edited video given to the gossip site TMZ mischaracterized the events on the set,” the American Humane Society said in a statement. “The decisions by the individual or individuals who captured and deliberately edited the footage, and then waited longer than 15 months to release the manipulated video only days before the movie’s premiere, raise serious questions about their motives and ethics.”
The statement further reports that the video appears to have been “deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking outrage,” and lists a detailed number of steps that the on-set crew took to ensure the safe treatment of its animal actors.
“The dog was selected for his love of the water, and had been professionally trained and conditioned for the water scenes over the course of six weeks, using positive training techniques,” one of the bullet points reads.
When the controversial video first surfaced in January, stars were quick to denounce the damaging claims of animal abuse.
“I signed on to a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen,” actor Josh Gad, who voices one of the titular dogs in the movie, wrote in a message on Twitter shortly after the video began to circulate. “Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German Shepard being forced to perform a stunt on the set of the film. While I do not know all of the details and cannot speak to the level of care and caution that went into this moment (as I was never on set for the making of this film), I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will. As the proud owner of a rescue dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”
The fallout from the footage got so intense that on Thursday, January 19, Amblin Entertainment, the producer of the film, announced that it was canceling the premiere and press junket for the film amid ongoing controversy.
“Because Amblin’s review into the edited video released yesterday is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog’s Purpose to cancel this weekend’s premiere and press junket,” Amblin and Universal said in a statement to Us Weekly. “Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans.”
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