A Dog’s Purpose author and co-screenwriter W. Bruce Cameron says a controversial video that appears to show a German shepherd being forced into turbulent water on the set of the movie is misleading and doesn’t tell the whole story.
In a statement released Friday, Cameron said he initially found the footage “shocking” but questioned the intentions of whoever was behind it. “If the people who shot and edited the video thought something was wrong,” he said, “why did they wait fifteen months to do anything about it, instead of immediately going to the authorities?”
Having reviewed additional footage from the day in question, Cameron said “it paints an entirely different picture.”
According to Cameron, “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.” The dog only balked after being asked to perform the stunt from a different side of the pool than was rehearsed, and he “happily did the stunt when he was allowed to return to his original spot.”
Cameron conceded that “mistakes were made” during production of the film but added, “the reason American Humane certifies that no animals were harmed during the making of the film is that no animals were harmed during the making of the film.”
The filmmakers behind A Dog’s Purpose first came under criticism Wednesday, when TMZ published a video in which Hercules is seen clawing at a pool’s edge and trying to get away as a trainer attempts to force him into churning water. Off-camera, a voice can be heard chuckling at the dog’s resistance and saying, “You just got to throw him in.”
Director Lasse Hallstrom and voice actor Josh Gad, neither of whom were on set for the incident, both said on social media they found the video disturbing, and PETA has called for a boycott of the film.
Distributor Universal Pictures canceled the weekend premiere and press junket while producer Amblin Entertainment continues to investigate the incident. The companies said in a statement Thursday,”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. We continue to support this film, are incredibly proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide” on Jan. 27.