A movie meant to portray the bond between man and dog is facing backlash after an on-set video surfaced showing footage of an apparently fearful dog being thrown into a fast-moving pool of water.
The minute-long clip published Wednesday by TMZ shows a trainer tossinga German Shepherdinto a turbulent pool of water, appearing to simulate a rushing river, as the dog claws to get back to dry land.
Toward the end of the video, the dog appears to be fighting to keep his head above water during the filming of the movie, “A Dog’s Purpose,” in Canada.
WARNING: Video contains disturbing imagry
Now PETA and other animal rights groups are calling on moviegoers to boycott the movie.
— PETA (@peta) January 18, 2017
Actor Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the movie, called for an explanation from the studio.
“As the proud owner of a rescued dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images,” he tweeted.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) January 19, 2017
An on-set monitor with American Humane, an organization that ensures animal safety on thousands of TV and film sets every year, has been placed on leave.
“American Humane has reviewed the video and we are disturbed and concerned by the footage. When the dog showed signs of resistance to jumping in the water, the scene should have been stopped,” they said in a statement to CNN. “We are placing the safety representative who was on the set on administrative leave immediately and are bringing in an independent third party to conduct an investigation into this matter.”
The movie is based on a book by W. Bruce Cameron and it follows the fantastical lifetimes of a dog named Bailey over five decades as he experiences multiple owners and forms and “finds the meaning of his own existence.”
At least five other German Shepheds played Bailey in the film, which will be released Jan. 27.