The boycott was announced on Jan. 18 in conjunction with the release of a leaked video from the set showing a German Shepherd balking at performing a stunt in churning water. The movie’s director Lasse Hallstrom, co-screenwriter W. Bruce Cameron, producer Gavin Polone, and animal trainers from Birds & Animals Unlimited have said TMZ, which first released the video, and PETA mischaracterized what actually took place — insisting that the dog was reluctant to go into the water only because he had not rehearsed at that specific location.
Robin Ganzert of American Humane, which monitored the animals on the set, blasted PETA on the same grounds and attacked the group for its opposition to the use of any live animals in movies and TV. PETA remains undeterred, saying that the German Shepherd was “terrified.”
“As kind people everywhere react to a behind-the-scenes video of a terrified dog who was forced into churning water on the set of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ as well as footage from a 10-month investigation of the supplier of dogs used for the movie, PETA members will lead a coalition of concerned dog lovers in lively protests across North America on Friday, the film’s opening night,” the organization said.
Demonstrations will take place in Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Winnipeg, Canada, where the movie was shot. PETA said supporters are also mobilizing in more than 25 other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Seattle.
“No amount of spin from Hollywood will change the fact that being forced to do a terrifying stunt is not a dog’s purpose,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “PETA is calling on kind people to boycott this film and send the message that animals should be treated humanely, not exploited as movie props.”
Universal is opening the feel-good film, starring Dennis Quaid and an array of dogs, in about 3,050 locations in North America with forecasts in the $18 million to $22 million range for the weekend. It’s competing with the second frame of Universal’s James McAvoy horror film “Split” for first place.