“It’s pretty ironic that they filmed a movie about the purpose of a dog–building up how important dogs and those relationships can be, and they’re treating (the dogs) like they are expendable props,” said Zack Peters, senior nursing major.
On Jan. 18, a video shot from behind the scenes of “A Dog’s Purpose” leaked. The content was graphic–an employee on set is shown trying to shove a German Shepherd into raging and rushing waters created on set.
Since the release of the footage, the film and its producers have experienced large amounts of backlash from People for the Ethnic Treatment of Animals (PETA), who boycotted the film resulting in the cancellation of the original premiere date.
Despite the appearance of the forceful nature on set, W. Bruce Cameron, author of the book “A Dog’s Purpose,” and co-writer and co-screenwriter of the film, stated his explanation and defense about the dog, Hercules, in a Facebook post Jan. 20.
“I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool,” Cameron wrote. “When he was asked to perform the stunt from the other side of the pool…he balked…the water wasn’t his issue, it was the location that was the issue, and the dog happily did the stunt when he was allowed to return to his original spot.”
Peters, who has seen 555 movies and has written 20 movie reviews on Letterboxd, a social media platform for rating and reviewing movies, said that no matter how important a scene is to a movie, that is not worth making an animal comply against its own will.
“When it comes to that kind of thing, the animal’s well-being is more important than getting a specific shot,” Peters said. “You can always re-write or re-shoot. Regardless of how important that scene was to the movie, it’s not going to matter now that the footage got out.”