PETA is condemning the movie A Dog’s Purpose for forcing one of its dog actors to do a risky scene for the film. A video clip from TMZ shows a German Shepherd desperately resisting its animal handler while being forced to dive into the turbulent water. At the end of the footage, a voice off-camera yelled “cut it,” and the crew rushed to rescue the seemingly submerged dog.
Birds & Animals Unlimited, the company that provided the dog actors in the movie, have sent out animals for TV and movie productions in the past. Their animals have starred in movies such as Marley and Me, Game of Thrones, and Pirates of the Caribbean. An investigation done by PETA exposed that this company has been leaving their animals sick, locking them up in filthy spaces, and denying them food to train them for tricks. They also said that “The living conditions documented at BAU are not uncommon for animals used in entertainment, and as this video shows, animal suffering may not end at BAU’s complex but continue right onto movie sets.” In light of this, the organization is asking dog lovers to boycott the movie which will be out on Jan. 27.
While the film industry is getting more progressive with its recent movies that tackle different societal issues related to feminism, LGBT community, and diversity, it seems to be taking a step back with regards to its ethical treatment of animals. Earlier this month, Oro, an entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival 2016, has been criticized for allegedly killing a dog in one of its scenes.
Local organizations like PAWS and other international official regulating bodies like the American Humane Organization (AH) have created easily accessible laws to protect the welfare of animals. American Humane’s 2015 Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media completely discusses its water safety guidelines for animals.
“Swimming shall be limited to experienced animals, and strict attention must be given to each animal’s logical limits of endurance. A plan for emergency rescue must be in place. If the water is swift, a swift-water animal rescue team should be consulted in the development of an emergency plan and should be on scene for the action.” – Section 5-26 of the American Humane’s 2015 Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media.
Given the technology that big-time filmmakers have access to, is it still necessary to use real animals in creating dangerous scenes like the one shown in the clip? CGI wasn’t just created to fabricate explosions or edit spaceships into movie set. Films like The Jungle Book proved that amazing films can be made without harming animal actors. With a Hollywood budget ready to back up a movie as big as this, this shouldn’t be a problem.
A Dog’s Purpose is a film based on the bestselling book by Bruce Cameron. The story comes from the point of view of a dog, who, after numerous reincarnations, realizes the meaning and purpose of his life. And we’re pretty sure that being poorly treated in a film for our entertainment is not one of them.