A producer from "A Dog's Purpose" hopes to tell the whole story surrounding the controversial leaked footage.
When Gavin Palone, a producer of "A Dog's Purpose," first learned about the leaked footage of one of the dogs being abused while filming, he was determined to find answers. As a self-proclaimed animal lover who has supported animal rights causes and has set up his will to donate everything he has to animal charities, he felt personally responsible for what happened. Polone said in a letter published by The Hollywood Reporter;
"Love of animals defines my existence, and that love is what drove me to struggle for years to get Bruce Cameron's brilliant and widely cherished novel about the bond between a person and a dog made into a movie. In part, my feelings about animals were formed as a child by films like 'Sounder' and 'Born Free' and TV shows like 'Lassie'. I wanted to promote the feelings I developed for animals by making a meaningful movie about the same. So now, the idea that I'm connected to an accusation of the abuse of a dog is, to understate, painful."
In his letter, Polone calls the incident on set when a German Shepherd named Hercules was pushed against his will toward rushing water, "absolutely inexcusable" and says, "it never should have happened." While he wasn't present for filming on that particular day, he expressed his opinion that the TMZ footage didn't line up with what he witnessed on set. He met with Amblin Studios to find out the details surrounding the incident.
Polone agrees with the general public that the trainer should have stopped pushing the dog toward the water immediately after he showed signs of distress. The American Humane Association representative taxed with the responsibility of ensuring the dog's safety should have intervened, and so should have the set manager.
But at the same time, Polone writes that TMZ's edited footage doesn't tell the entire story.
"In footage of the rehearsal for the scene, you can see the dog not only unafraid of the water, but desperate to jump in. In fact, he had to be held back by the trainer from going in too soon (the dog was trained to retrieve a toy sewed into the hoodie of the stunt woman and give the illusion that he was pulling her to safety). The dog did the scene in rehearsal without problem, though it was from the left side of the pool, not the right side, which is where the dog is in the TMZ video."
According to Palone, the problem started when the dog was asked to do the stunt from the opposite side of the pool. The trainer spends 35-40 seconds attempting to get the dog in the rushing water. Polone writes;
"The TMZ video only shows the unfinished take of when the dog was on the right side. What is clear from viewing all the footage was that the dog was NEVER forced into the water."
Polone goes on to address the second clip that shows Hercules being submerged by water before a delayed rescue is performed. He writes;
"TMZ's edited version gives the impression that the dog was thrown in and eventually drowned, since the two parts seem to be connected. You never see him pulled out and OK. This is highly misleading."
PETA has since called for a boycott of the movie and has also taken a stand saying animals should never be used in filming. Lisa Lange, a senior vice president at PETA, sent an email statement to ABC News in response to Polone saying;
"The fact that a producer like Polone -- someone who genuinely cares about animals -- failed to prevent cruel training techniques, failed to ensure that animals aren't living in squalor and failed to stop a dog from being terrorized during shooting exemplifies just how deeply entrenched the problems are in this business."
You can see the leaked TMZ footage here.
What do you think about what happened on the set of "A Dog's Purpose? Let us know in the comments below.
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