W. Bruce Cameron, author of the book “A Dog’s Purpose” and co-screenwriter of the film, which was made controversial by a leaked video from on set, has asserted that no dogs were harmed during the shoot.
Cameron, in a statement issued Friday, said the commentary accompanying TMZ’s leaked video of a German Shepard mischaracterizes the incident. TMZ’s story began, “One of the dogs in the upcoming film “A Dog’s Purpose” desperately resisted shooting a risky scene, but chilling footage shows filmmakers apparently forcing the animal into rushing water.”
Cameron admits that mistakes were made on the set but adds that TMZ’s version of the events isn’t accurate.
“I found the video we’ve all seen to be shocking because when I was on set, the ethic of everyone was the safety and comfort of the dogs,” he said. “If the people who shot and edited the video thought something was wrong, why did they wait fifteen months to do anything about it, instead of immediately going to the authorities? I have since viewed footage taken of the day in question, when I wasn’t there, and it paints an entirely different picture.”
Cameron said the dog, named Hercules, balked at doing the stunt because of the location.
“The written commentary accompanying the edited video mischaracterizes what happened. The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water — I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool. When he was asked to perform the stunt from the other side of the pool, which was not how he had been doing it all day, he balked. The mistake was trying to dip the dog in the water to show him it was okay — 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.”
“I also didn’t like it when Hercules’s head briefly went under water, but there was a scuba diver and a trainer in the pool to protect him. He loves the water, wasn’t in danger, and wasn’t upset,” he added. “On a movie where the mantra was the safety and comfort of the dogs, mistakes were made, and everything needs to be done to make sure those errors are not repeated. But the reason American Humane certifies that no animals were harmed during the making of the film is that no animals were harmed during the making of the film.”
Cameron also said, “I celebrate animal rescue and am proud of the values that show up in ‘A Dog’s Purpose.'”
The movie is still set to open on Jan. 27. Earlier on Friday, a petition was launched calling for a boycott of the family film — a day after its premiere was canceled — unless the creators donate a “significant” portion of the proceeds to animal welfare organizations.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also called for a boycott on Wednesday, resulting in Universal and Amblin Entertainment calling off the movie’s Saturday premiere. Universal released a statement on Thursday saying that Amblin was still reviewing the edited video.
“While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking,” the statement reads. “We continue to support this film, are incredibly proud of it, and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday.”
“A Dog’s Purpose” is directed by Lasse Hallstrom and based on Cameron’s 2010 novel about a canine who is reincarnated into several dogs over the course of multiple lifetimes. Dennis Quaid and Britt Robertson star while Josh Gad voices the dog.