Universal Cancels 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere After Video Surfaces of Mistreatment of a German Shepard

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After multiple boycotts and talks of animal abuse on the set of the new family feel-good movie A Dog’s Purpose, Universal has decided to pull the premiere of the film.

This comes after PETA is calling for a boycott of the movie’s release after a video of a trainer is seen “forcing” a German Shepard into rushing waters.

The movie’s star KJ Apa is speaking out about the film’s backlash and his love for animals to E! News. "First things first, I LOVE ALL ANIMALS and would never EVER condone inhumane treatment or abuse of an animal at any time. I was saddened to see the footage from the set of A Dog's Purpose—a film I was honored to act in, in 2015," he continued.

"The video was hard to watch, and I understand why many of you have had the reactions that you did because I had the same ones. The footage is still being investigated, from my own experience, I only encountered cast and crewmembers who had unconditional love and respect for every single dog on set, and went to great lengths to assure their safety and wellbeing."

He concluded, "I want you guys to know that I would NEVER attach myself to a project that didn't treat animals with the utmost care, and honestly, the possibility that an animal could've been hurt is troubling to me. I have been assured that Hercules is happy and healthy."

Afterward, PETA’s senior vice president Lisa Lange released a statement saying, "This movie is directed towards those who love dogs and, clearly, this is not a dog's purpose."

In response to the comments and backlash towards the movie. Universal and Amblin released a statement saying, "Because Amblin's review into the edited video released yesterday is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog's Purpose to cancel this weekend's premiere and press junket. Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals.”

The statement continued, "Since the emergence of the footage, Amblin has engaged with many associated with the production of the film, including safety personnel, trainers and stunt coordinators as part of their in-depth review.  While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking."

Josh Gad, who is the voice for the dog in the film also made a statement saying, "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," Gad began.

"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 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," the 35-year-old actor said, "I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation."

Peta has written to the AHA requesting a report from those who say they monitored the animals on set. “We’re hearing that the monitor did not report [the incident] to her supervisors but the AHA gave the movie an acceptable rating anyway,” says Lange. “We don’t know if that is true, but we’re asking.”


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