The film came under fire after a video surfaced showing a trainer apparently forcing one of the film's animals into turbulent waters


A Dog’s Purpose has released a statement in response to a controversial video that surfaced on Wednesday that shows a trainer appearing to force one of the film’s animals into turbulent waters.

In the statement, obtained by PEOPLE, the film’s production team, Amblin Entertainment, and distributor, Universal Pictures, defends its treatment of the animal actors.

A Dog’s Purpose is a celebration of the special connection between humans and their dogs. And in the spirit of this relationship, the Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals,” the statement reads.

“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,” it continued.

“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.”

The statement concludes by saying, “Hercules is happy and healthy.”

In the video obtained by TMZ, a German Shepherd, which was one of at least five dogs used in production, is seen clawing at a pool’s edge and trying to run away as a trainer attempts to force the dog into the rushing water. The site reports that the scene was shot for the movie in Winnipeg, Canada, in November 2015.

Based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose tells the soulful story of one dog’s journey to find the meaning of his own life through the lives of the humans he touches along the way.

The film is slated for a Jan. 27 release.