More than 50 protesters demonstrated tonight outside the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood to air their grievances over the family film A Dog’s Purpose. Carrying signs that read, “A Dog’s Purpose Isn’t to Be a Prop” and “For Dog’s Sake Don’t See A Dog’s Purpose,” they were citing charges that a German shepherd named Hercules was subjected to “cruel and inhumane treatment” on the film’s set when the Amblin/Walden Media/Universal movie shot in Winnipeg in the fall.
The protest in front of theaters from New York to Los Angeles and even in Winnipeg was organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and comes after the organization had called for a boycott of the film shortly after a video was posted on TMZ showing the German shepherd supplied and handled by Birds & Animals Unlimited was forced against its will into the water on the set of the film. After forcing the dog into the water, the handler then pulled him up by his neck. Later the dog is shows struggling to stay afloat as a handler tries to coax him to her and the dog goes under water as those around him panic to get to him and someone is heard screaming, “Cut it! Cut it! Cut it!” The dog apparently was was under water for 4 seconds before being brought to the surface, according to the film’s producer Gavin Polone.
PETA has been targeting Hollywood supplier B&UA for some time. The footage caused an outcry from dog lovers across nation as the video went viral, as well as its own filmmakers and those involved in the film including Josh Gad, who voices the dog . Since then, the studio, production company and producer of the film as well as the dog’s author said they had seen the entire video and the dog was not harmed in the making of the film. Although the producer did say “mistakes were made.”
“This film was made to appeal to dog lovers,” said Lisa Lange, SVP of PETA. “None of us enjoy seeing a dog tormented the way this dog was in this scene. You can feel and see the dog’s fear and imagine his terror when he was submerged underwater. There is no excuse for this abuse or for the filmmakers defending it.”
Other theaters where they protested included the Gallery Place in Washington, D.C. and the AMC Empire 25 in New York. A Dog’s Purpose had its previews last night in 2,255 locales at 6 PM and grossed only $455K. Family moviegoing days are Saturday and Sunday, so we are waiting to see how this one will fare.