Video causes controversy surrounding “A Dog’s Purpose”

Michelle Kaganovsky

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“A Dog’s Purpose” debuts in theatres on Jan. 27.

The new movie “A Dog’s Purpose” tells the story of a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) trying to find its meaning in life throughout various lifetimes and owners. Once TMZ released a video taken during the production of the movie, viewers were propelled to question what the filmmakers truly considered a dog’s purpose to be.

The controversial video consisted of a German Shepherd named Hercules reluctantly being forced into turbulent water in order to capture a scene for the movie. Once the trainer finally got the dog into the water, the German Shepherd desperately struggles to escape the fast-moving water. The clip cuts to Hercules swimming with a trainer; suddenly the dog is completely submerged underwater and frantic voices start screaming “Cut it, cut it!”

In response to the video, the producer Gavin Polone claims that the video “portrays an inaccurate picture of what happened.” According to USA Today’s account of the story, after watching footage of the entire day, Polone concludes that Hercules was frightened of jumping in from a different side and the whole footage shows the dog undaunted by the water and eager to jump in.

Producer Gavin Polone believed the trainer, American Humane Association representative and workers on set that day should be charged with the accountability of the events shown in the video. Polone also admits some responsibility in not ensuring the animal’s safety and well-being.

The producer also claims that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is utilizing the video as a platform to enact the removal of animals from film. In addition to spreading the TMZ video, PETA also includes a clip from the movie’s trailer of a dog jumping into dangerous waters, which according to Polone, was a computer-generated dog.

The video provoked an international uproar over the movie, inspiring PETA to call for a boycott of “A Dog’s Purpose.” As a result, the film’s Hollywood premiere was canceled, but is still expected to appear in theaters Jan. 27.