“A Dog’s Purpose” Controversial Video: The Other Side of the Story

A Dog's Purpose

Hollywood has finally produced a family-friendly live-action film. But after TMZ’s release of its controversial video, will A Dog’s Purpose have any chance of hitting it big at the box office this weekend? The A Dog’s Purpose trailer alone elicited tears in many fans; perhaps its persuasive ad campaign is strong enough to fight off the onslaught of hate against the film.

The internet is teeming with articles about the A Dog’s Purpose boycott and abuse video. But, not everything on the web is true (crazy, right?). You may have heard bits and pieces of the A Dog’s Purpose controversy on the web. We are here to tell the whole truth, including full statements from PETA and some of the actors and producers of A Dog’s Purpose.

The Missing Context

TMZ’s leaked video of a “terrified German Shepherd forced into turbulent water” appears appalling until further context is unearthed. The video has been taken wildly out of context, causing the unfortunate revolt against the film.

Some parts of this controversial video don’t add up. For example, why did the filmer wait for almost a year and a half to release the video? Obviously, he or she was not actually concerned about the safety of the German Shepherd. Otherwise, the video would have been used as evidence against the A Dog’s Purpose production back in 2015.

The Stunt

A Dog's Purpose conflict

The German Shepherd actor is said to have willingly performed this water stunt before on multiple occasions. His nervousness in the video is explained by the switch of his stunt position. He had moved from the left side of the pool, where he had previously rehearsed the stunt, to the right side. Still, this is no excuse for forcing the dog into the water. However, the idea that the dog was terrified of the rushing water and thrown in it against its will is highly misconstrued.

Above all, everyone admits that the part in the video where the dog’s head is submerged should have never happened. Animal abuse is the conscious mistreatment or neglect of an animal. On the contrary, nobody in the crew expected or wanted the German Shepherd to feel unsafe in the water. Instead, the dog had completed the stunt several times before and no problems with the equipment or pool was evident.

People are saying that the dog, “nearly drowned,” but this is far from the truth. The crew obviously had several divers and handlers working with the dog to ensure its safety. Although, the prudence of these dog trainers can be questioned. The second the German Shepherd’s head submerged under the water, the crew raced to rescue the animal. One or two of the handlers even shouted to cut the shot. Several witnesses affirm that the A Dog’s Purpose German Shepherd was okay emotionally and physically immediately after.

The Sad Other Side of the Story

A Dog's Purpose

Within hours of the video’s release, PETA tweeted a call for dog lovers to boycott A Dog’s Purpose. Their intention was to send a message to Hollywood about the inhumane treatment of animals on the set. Even though PETA’s boycott sprouted from good intentions, the A Dog’s Purpose film is not the problem. PETA’s negative response roots from its comprehensive stance against the use of animals in any and all productions.

Producer Gavin Polone shares that he struggled for years to create this movie. All because of the mistakes of the handlers (unknown until now), Polone’s dream has been crushed. Insult was added to injury with Universal Pictures’ cancellation of the A Dog’s Purpose premiere.

“PETA asks whether ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ was written from the heart or just to make a buck,” PETA VP Lisa Lange said to Variety. Do Palone’s words, “Love of animals defines my existence,” mean nothing?

The suppliers, handlers, and supervisors of the animal actors are responsible for this incident. This includes Birds and Animals Unlimited and American Humane. Despite this, the actors, author, producers, and others who, for years, put their heart into creating this inspiring film are the ones who have to suffer.

It is up to you whether you decide to support PETA or the crew of A Dog’s Purpose. However, this whole experience affirms several harrowing facts about the media. Most importantly it highlights that people’s words are taken for granted. Gavin Polone, W. Bruce Cameron, and Dennis Quaid all offered heartfelt statements about their regret of this incident. Each affirmed their own dog-loving intentions behind creating this film.

Full Statements That Reveal the Truth

A Dog's Purpose film

If you want the facts, this is the place to get them. These testimonies of the incident reveal a full account of what really happened. Many articles have released partial statements from one or two of these sources. Our team, however, has curated an entire list of relevant quotes pertaining to the A Dog’s Purpose abuse video.

Gavin Palone, Producer of A Dog’s Purpose

I’m horrified by this. The first thing I asked was, ‘Is the dog OK?’ He’s fine. But if I had seen that, I would have stopped it in a minute. People have to be held responsible for this. It was someone’s job to watch out for this kind of thing. Why didn’t they? This is something I’ve written about before, whether it be circus animals or animals on set. American Humane are supposed to be there supervising. That’s their job that someone is paid a lot of money to do. Why wasn’t this stopped? There needs to be a better system than this. That’s what I’ve called for in the past.

I agree with PETA that they not only need to make sure animals are treated properly on set, but they also need to find out where the animals are kept outside of the set. To make sure they are treated properly at all times.

In the time I was on set, I never saw, in any way, the animal handlers stressing out the animal. But I wasn’t there for the second unit. If I had been, I would have stopped it. All I can say is that I hope that bringing this out leads to better treatment of animals. I know the studio is outraged and investigating this.”

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

A Dog's Purpose boycott

PETA released a video expose of Hollywood animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU), which claimed to a PETA eyewitness they provided dogs used in the film A Dog’s Purpose. New footage shows a terrified dog who is forced into churning water on set. At one point, a dog who is in danger of drowning has to be rescued. PETA is calling on dog lovers to boycott the film in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props. PETA’s investigation at BAU revealed that animals are denied veterinary care, forced to sleep outdoors in the cold without bedding for warmth, made to live in filthy conditions, and more.

Josh Gad, Voice Actor of A Dog’s Purpose

“A few months ago, I was approached to lend my voice to the film “A Dog’s Purpose.” As I sat in a dark screening room, I was beyond touched and moved by what I saw…a movie that captures the beauty and pain of loving a pet. I signed on for a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen. Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German Shepherd being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this 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 a proud dog owner 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.”

Dennis Quaid, Actor, A Dog’s Purpose

A Dog's Purpose

“I was there. I never saw any abuse of any animal. If there had been, I would have walked. My experience is that the animals were treated great. There was no animal abuse. That video that someone took and sold for money and held onto for a year and a half until right before the film’s coming out, does not tell the whole story. First of all, it’s been edited and manipulated. And I think it’s a scam, to tell you the truth. That was towards the end of the day and I would not say, in real context, that the dog was frightened. The dog was acting like a dog who was kind of tired of taking a bath and was ready to get out. And, in fact, that’s what happened. They took the dog out.”

More Statements from Gavin Palone

And by the way, this happened in October of 2015 and not only did none of us hear of it, this should have been investigated immediately. Who waited a year and three months to call attention to this? That’s wrong in itself.”

“Like you, I’m sure, I was appalled when I saw the video, shot on the set of A Dog’s Purpose in Winnipeg in October 2015, of a dog trainer trying to coerce a frightened German [Shepherd] into a pool. Love of animals defines my existence, and that love is what drove me to struggle for years to get Bruce Cameron’s brilliant and widely cherished novel about the bond between a person and a dog made into a movie.

W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose Author

A Dog's Purpose movie

“I found the video we’ve all seen to be shocking because when I was on set, the ethic of everyone was the safety and comfort of the dog. If the people who shot and edited the video thought something was wrong, why did they wait 15 months to do anything about it, instead of immediately going to the authorities? I have since viewed footage taken of the day in question, when I wasn’t there, and it paints an entirely different picture.

“The written commentary accompanying the edited video mischaracterizes what happened. The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water—I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool. When he was asked to perform the stunt from the other side of the pool, which was not how he had been doing it all day, he balked.

“The mistake was trying to dip the dog in the water to show him it was okay—the water wasn’t his issue, it was the location that was the issue, and the dog happily did the stunt when he was allowed to return to his original spot. I also didn’t like it when Hercules’ head briefly went under water, but there was a scuba diver and a trainer in the pool to protect him. He loves the water, wasn’t in danger, and wasn’t upset.”

What This Proves About Media

A Dogs Purpose movie

As shown by this incident, video has the powerful ability to alter people’s perceptions about certain events. You can harness this power to your own advantage. If you have an idea for a video project, Valoso is here to help. Our online marketplace is teeming with freelance video editors and videographers who can help you create the best videos. Start by clicking on the banner below to receive a free quote from our team.