The upcoming movie A Dog's Purpose shares the story of one dog living many lives through reincarnation, and in one of those lives, the brave pup saves a kidnapped girl from drowning. In a video released by TMZ from November 2015, it appears that a terrified dog was forced into the water to film the scene in question, and people are furious.
In the clip, reportedly filmed in a pool outside Winnipeg, Canada, a German Shephard appears to be forced into turbulent water in order to film, before appearing to go under and prompting multiple handlers to jump in and retrieve him.
“Don’t worry, it’s warm water at least,” a man can be heard saying in the video. “He ain’t gonna calm down ‘till he goes in the water. Just gotta throw him in."
The American Humane Association (AHA), which enforces safety guidelines for animals during filming, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that it was “disturbed and concerned” by the footage.
“When the dog showed signs of resistance to jumping in the water, the scene should have been stopped,” the AHA said. “We are placing the safety representative who was on the set on administrative leave immediately and are bringing in an independent third party to conduct an investigation into this matter.”
Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures issued a statement saying the dog in the clip, named Hercules, had rehearsed for the water scene for several days but got nervous when it came time to film.
“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," the statement read. "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.”
“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,” the group said.
A Dog's Purpose is set to open Jan. 27.