Lasse Hallstrom, the director behind A Dog’s Purpose and Josh Gad who is one of the main actors of the film took to social media to voice their disgust that a dog was forced into the water during a second unit shoot on the film. The newly released video from TMZ shows a terrified German shepherd being pushed into the water by his handler as it tries to scale back up a wall, and then another part of the video clip shows the dog struggling to stay afloat and then disappearing under water while handlers scream to get to the animal and someone yelling, “Cut it! Cut it! Cut it!” What is not known is how many takes the dog went through before slipping under the water.
Hallstrom, who Tweeted out that he did not witness it, called the actions on the video “disturbing” while Gad said he was “shaken” by it. Gad said he has contacted “the production team and studio to ask for an explanation of these disturbing images.” Hallstrom wrote more tweets as the night went on saying this was his third film about dogs and that he is a “lifelong animal lover” and that “we were all committed to providing a loving, respectful and safe environment for all animals in the film.” Earlier today, the film’s producer Gavin Polone spoke to Deadline. He was clearly outraged and said he was “horrified” by what he saw in the video. The question is how many takes did the second unit make the dog do before he slipped under the water, unable to stay afloat any longer.
The dog and the particular handler on the video were supplied by Birds & Animals Unlimited, which People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it has been working hard to expose for some time. BAU was hired by Amblin, which oddly enough, is the only one who has not publicly said that they were disturbed by the video’s contents. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures has completely stuck their heads in the sand and are MIA after repeated tries to get a comment.
Here is Amblin’s statement followed by tweets from Hallstrom and Gad: “Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals. While we continue to review the circumstances shown in the edited footage, Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German Shepherd Hercules, as well as for all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film. There were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure Hercules was comfortable with all of the stunts. 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. Hercules is happy and healthy.”
Here is Gad’s reaction from Facebook: