Investigation Determines There Was No Animal Abuse on Set of 'A Dog's Purpose'

Posted by Amber King
woman and boy with puppy

The investigation on what happened on the set of  "A Dog's Purpose" has come to a close.

An independent, third-party organization has spent the last three weeks investigating the claims of animal abuse on the set of "A Dog's Purpose." After evaluating leaked footage originally published by TMZ, talking to witnesses, and reviewing the rest of the footage filmed on set, they have determined that no animal was harmed during the making of the movie.

When TMZ first shared leaked footage from the set of the Universal and Amblin Entertainment film, "A Dog's Purpose," animal abuse was the first thing the public saw. The edited footage showed two separate clips of a German Shepherd named Hercules seemingly in distress while performing a specific stunt for the movie. Animal advocates were outraged, and PETA called for a boycott on the film.

All of this happened less than a week before the movie's premier. But the facts that the footage was obviously edited and the person who filmed it had waited 15 months before releasing it only led to more questions.

American Humane, the organization responsible for giving movies the "no animals were harmed" seal of approval, immediately responded by suspending their on-set representative and agreeing to cooperate with the independent investigation. While the movie's premier event and press junket were canceled amidst the controversy, both the actors and producers of the film stood by their claim that the animals were treated well and were never in danger.

dog holding football from "A Dog's Purpose"

Actor Dennis Quaid and producer Gavin Palone made statements saying the leaked footage was out of context. And that's exactly what the investigation has determined. According to a press release from American Humane, the investigation has concluded the leaked footage was "deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking outrage."

After reviewing the rest of the footage from that day, it became apparent the dog was never forced to perform the stunt in question, which involved him jumping into a pool of rushing water. Extensive safety measures were in place to ensure the dog's well-being. And Hercules was specifically chosen for the role because of his love of water. He spent six weeks preparing for the scene and was enthusiastic about doing his job.

Eye witness reports detail how after the dog showed signs of distress, filming was stopped. And while he was momentarily stressed, he soon recovered and was wagging his tail ready to jump into the water. A board of certified Veterinary Behaviorists concluded that;

"No lasting stress response or conditioned fear of the water was a result."

A veterinary examination was also performed on the dog and determined he is healthy and happy. Dr. Kwane Stewart, the head veterinarian of American Humane's "No Animals Were Harmed" program, made a statement saying,

"It is disappointing that the public was misled by a manufactured controversy promoted by a radical organization like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals with a mission to remove animals from films and other parts of our lives. We are the first to address and fight cruelty and abuse, and no such things happened on the set of 'A Dog's Purpose.'

Despite the controversy and proposed  boycott, "A Dog's Purpose," had a successful debut weekend. The $22 million film earned $18.3 million during its first few days on screen, and ranks ninth on the list of all-time popular dog movies. It's up there with big names including "Marley & Me" and "Snow Dogs."

Now that the investigation has come to a close, box office analysts predict the movie's earnings will continue to climb.

Have you seen "A Dog's Purpose" yet? Let us know in the comments.

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Investigation Determines There Was No Animal Abuse on Set of 'A Dog's Purpose'