A dog’s abuse?

Scandal! 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose is exposed.


Photo courtesy of promotional material

Kayla Coleman and Kelly Cooke

Recently, many have been questioning if animal cruelty was present in the movie “A Dog’s Purpose.” This occurred after a video was leaked showing the dog, Hercules, getting forcibly pushed into rapids and being unable to stay above the water for about four seconds, followed by screaming and an abrupt cut of the scene.

The producer of “A Dog’s Purpose,” Gavin Polone, commented on the situation saying that,“As with the TMZ video that you saw, two things were evident: 1) the dog handler tries to force the dog, for 35 to 40 seconds, into the water when, clearly, he didn’t want to go in; and 2) in a separate take filmed sometime later, the dog did go into the water, on his own, and, at the end, his head is submerged for about 4 seconds. These two things are absolutely  inexcusable and should  never have happened. The dog trainer should have stopped trying to get the dog to go in the water as soon as the dog seemed uncomfortable, and the trainers should have had support under the dog as soon as he came to the side of the pool and/or had less turbulence in the water so he never would have gone under.”

Polone later added, “But, without excusing myself and others, there is more to this story that I think should be known. 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. Before the first real take, the handlers were asked to change the start point of the dog from the left side, where he had rehearsed, to the right side. That, evidentially, is what caused him to be spooked. When the dog didn’t want to do the scene from the new position, they cut, though not soon enough, and then went back to the original position. The dog was comfortable and went in on his own and they shot the scene. 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.”

Sophomore Kayla Cooke feels that the video exposing A Dog’s Purpose was “extremely aggravating and upsetting.” Cooke continues to say, “Even though special effects are not the go-to for films like this, I think it should be considered. The whole movie was supposed to be from a dog’s perspective and I don’t think they stopped and thought about how the dog felt about being forced into the water at that moment.” Cooke says she is still skeptical about seeing the movie because the producers and directors keep backtracking. “I feel that there should be laws against animal discrimination in the film industry.” she says. Cooke is not entirely sure what can be done to fix this problem, but she is optimistic about future laws being passed to protect the rights of animals.

On the flip side, Senior Sabrina Ahmad felt that the video attracted much more attention than it truly deserved. She says, “I think that it is inhumane to treat any animal the way it appeared in the video, but people seemed much more affected and hurt over it than some injustice towards actual humans.” To help this problem Amad suggests, “pointing out the double standard and have people look at the crucial issues in the same perspective of the dog issue.”

While this video was extremely controversial in its midst, it ultimately ended up being a probable publicity stunt by TMZ incorporating overly edited footage that was posted fifteen months too late. Although this was nothing, animal cruelty is a common occurrence in the entertainment industry. These occurrences range from animals being worked for long hours to horses being shot off camera, pushed onto the set and filmed bleeding out, which happened in the 1966 film Andrei Rublev. Overall the improvements within the industry over time have been monumental and it is a huge step to have people concerned about animal cruelty in a dog’s purpose.