Video that appeared to show a frightened German shepherd being forced to swim during filming of “A Dog’s Purpose” was misleading, according to the watchdog organization that certifies that “no animals were harmed” during TV and movie shoots.
American Humane says in a news release that an independent, third-party investigation into the filming which took place in Winnipeg in 2015, determined the video was “deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking outrage.”
The minute-long clip showed a trainer trying to put a resistant German shepherd named Hercules into a turbulent pool and the dog scrambling out.
A subsequent scene showed the dog becoming submerged in the water for several seconds as trainers shout “Stop!”
American Humane says the investigation confirmed preliminary findings that the two scenes shown in the edited video were filmed at different times and that the first scene was stopped after the dog showed signs of stress.
It says the dog was not forced to swim in the water at any time.
“The dog was selected for his love of the water, and had been professionally trained and conditioned for the water scenes over the course of six weeks, using positive training techniques,” the news release from American Humane states.
“During the last scene, handlers immediately assisted the dog out of the water, at which point he was placed in a warming tent and received an examination that found no signs of stress. Eyewitnesses report that the dog wanted to go back in the water. Still, out of an abundance of caution, American Humane stopped filming of any more scenes with the dog.”
The video surfaced Jan. 18 on TMZ.com and quickly went viral. At the time TMZ did not reveal where it obtained the video from.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called for a boycott of “A Dog’s Purpose,” which opened in theatres on Jan. 27.
Dennis Quaid, who stars in the movie, went on TV’s “Entertainment Tonight” and called the leaked video “a scam.”
The American Humane news release says the investigation was conducted by a respected animal cruelty expert. The organization questioned the motivation and ethics of releasing the video more than 15 months after it was shot, and only days before the movie opening.
It said it believes that the handling of the dog in the first scene in the video should have been gentler and signs of stress recognized earlier. However, it said that this was recognized and the scene did not proceed as insinuated by the video.
Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press