My thoughts on the TMZ clip from the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” that shows a trainer forcing a German Shepherd into raging water for a movie scene.
Watch the Video: TMZ Video from A Dog’s Purpose Set
By now, the studio, producers, and writers have weighed in and found ways to justify and minimize what we saw in this disturbing video. Unfortunately, it is a series of deflections to justify what happened.
This is What Happened
The reality is the dog was in distress in this scene and to say otherwise is a blatant lie. The Birds and Animals Unlimited trainer forced the dog into the pool, barely hanging on with his two front paws from the side, scared for his life. To say otherwise is a blatant lie. That he happily performed the stunt from the other side of the pool doesn’t make this better; it makes it worse because the handler is trying to force the dog to do something it doesn’t want to do instead of calming it down so it can perform what it supposedly learned. How is this a dog’s purpose? To say the timing of the leaked video is suspicious is a deflection. The statement, “The dog wasn’t harmed,” is a deflection. Saying he was not in danger is a deflection.
This is Not Acceptable
A dog was put in distress for no valid reason. And that is the problem. The part of the video I am talking about is also a continuous shot. It doesn’t matter what happened before or after. In this scene, the dog is in distress, which cannot be justified. This is a matter of principle. What happened in this scene should never have happened. How is this a dog’s purpose? The psychological damage such an incident can cause a dog is far more severe than any physical injury. So, saying the dog wasn’t harmed because there were no physical injuries is ridiculous.
Giving studios money for treating animals this way is a problem. I won’t. I hope you don’t either. The dog was not trained well enough to shoot this scene. They were lazy. The trainer didn’t spend the time training Hercules to be ready. The studio wanted to save money. They took shortcuts. The animal is terrified and scared out of its mind. For what? Our entertainment? How is that a dog’s purpose? I don’t find that acceptable. Just because he wasn’t in any physical danger and survived, it doesn’t mean this was okay.
The dog didn’t know it wasn’t in real danger. From its perspective, it was. Put there by someone it trusted. He was hanging on for his life from its perspective. How is that a dog’s purpose? The only way animals get treated well on movie sets is by making things like this public and making them pay the price. Living in California, I live and work around the movie industry. I assure you, they only understand one language. Losing money for what they did.
This Was Animal Abuse, But I Don’t Agree With P.E.T.A.
To be clear, I don’t agree with PETA that dogs should not work in movies. It is fine if they are trained for the job and treated well. This just crossed a line for me, and the line was when the handler tried to shove the distressed dog into the water with force. This shouldn’t have happened, and I don’t find the deflections put out as excuses acceptable. An animal rights supervisor from the American Humane Association (AHA) was on set. That person failed. The AHA representative should have stopped this.
What you also see in response to the public outrage now is the typical strategy of a public relations firm. Claiming concern and understanding and then finding a justification for why it was fine in the first place so they don’t lose money.
Make no mistake. Not losing money is their only concern. A dog’s purpose, this is not!
1st Author’s Response: ‘Mistakes Were Made,’ but ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ (according to author W. Bruce Cameron)
2nd Author’s Response: A Dog’s Purpose Author W. Bruce Cameron Speaks Out About Controversial Video
Producer’s (Initial) Response: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Producer & Author After Seeing Full Tape: Dog Was Not In Danger
We must do better!
Despite what happened and all initial deflections, we should appreciate producer Gavin Polone’s later response. He provided an accurate, fair, and accountable response. Ultimately, people like him are best positioned to improve animal welfare in movies. I encourage everyone to read his article on the Hollywood Reporter website below.
Producer Gavin Polone’s Article: Producer Gavin Polone on ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Outcry, What Really Happened and Who’s to Blame