UPDATE with PETA statement: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is taking issue with the claim made by American Humane that no animals were harmed on the set of A Dog’s Purpose. PETA said today that the report “must be received with skepticism” given the track record of the animal watchdog group.
PETA is asking AH to release the actual report written about the day of the incident involving a German Shepard who was seen on video being forced into the water and also slipping under water for what the producer says was a total of four seconds during the shoot of the movie. PETA also has asked to see the full video that filmmakers said they saw.
In a statement just released from PETA SVP Lisa Lange, she states:
The new report commissioned by American Humane (AH) only confirms that there were at least two incidents in which a dog was terrified and forced into churning water and that during one of them, he was submerged.
AH is funded by the Screen Actors Guild and is the same agency that allowed 27 animals to die during the production of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, so this study must be received with the skepticism that AH’s longstanding failures warrant—in the same way that one would be cautious about a “third-party” study of the link between cancer and cigarettes commissioned by the tobacco industry.
As we’ve been doing since the day the video came out, PETA is calling on AH to release the report that was written on the day of the incident.
Also, American Humane also was monitoring the HBO series Luck on which three horses died.
PREVIOUS, February 4, 12:20 PM: American Humane announced that an independent, third-party investigation found that no animals were harmed on the set of A Dog’s Purpose and said that the video broadcast by TMZ showing a German Shepard being forced into the water and the later slipping under water “mischaracterized the events on the set.” They have not released the full video as yet to the public, but did acknowledge “that the handling of the dog in the first scene in the video should have been gentler and signs of stress recognized earlier.”
Here is what American Humane said the investigation found, according to its website:
The findings of the independent investigation confirm that no animals were harmed in those scenes and numerous preventative safety measures were in place.
The investigation and eyewitness reports have brought to light the following facts:
–The video was deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking outrage. In fact, the two scenes shown in the edited video were filmed at different times.
–The first video scene was stopped after the dog showed signs of stress. The dog was not forced to swim in the water at any time.
–A full spectrum of preparation and safety measures were in place, including the following:
–Prior to shooting the scene, safety meetings were held to go over and reinforce safety precautions and protocols.
–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.
–In addition to one of American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives, five experts—including safety specialists and animal handlers—were present to supervise and safeguard the dog throughout the water scene.
–During the last scene, handlers immediately assisted the dog out of the water, at which point he was placed in a warming tent and received an examination that found no signs of stress. Eyewitnesses report that the dog wanted to go back in the water. Still, out of an abundance of caution, American Humane stopped filming of any more scenes with the dog.
–A veterinary checkup was performed last week at the request of American Humane, which confirmed that the dog is healthy.
Further, they said that eyewitness reports and the investigation both “affirmed” that during the shoot “the dog was treated with great care, attentiveness and respect.” They said that although the dog was stressed, “based on studying additional footage not included in the video, body posture, and the fact that he quickly and willingly went into the water and performed the scene soon afterwards, a separate, independent, board certified Veterinary Behaviorist brought in to examine the events concluded that there was ‘no lasting stress response or conditioned fear of the water as a result.’ “
“American Humane is at the forefront of combating cruelty to animals through our rescue efforts, support of anti-cruelty raids, and work to improve conditions for animals around the world,” said Dr. Kwane Stewart, the veterinarian who heads American Humane’s “No Animals Were Harmed” program. “It is disappointing that the public was misled by a manufactured controversy promoted by a radical organization like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals with a mission to remove animals from films and other parts of our lives. We are the first to address and fight cruelty and abuse, and no such things happened on the set of A Dog Purpose.”