A Movie’s Purpose Overshadowed


Bergen Romness

The movie A Dog’s Purpose had a controversial video come out just before the film

Claire Kuwana, Sentry Staff Reporter

The official trailer released for the new movie A Dog’s Purpose pulls at one’s heartstrings; however, a recent video exposing some controversial production methods regarding the animals does quite the opposite.

The film centers around one dog who searches for his purpose throughout multiple lifetimes. He forms a lasting connection with each of his owners, and even ends up reconnecting with a boy named Ethan in another life. As fetching as the plot is, A Dog’s Purpose has recently stirred up a lot of controversy. This past month, just three weeks before the movie was scheduled for release, a behind the scenes video from the set of the film was released by TMZ. The video shows a German shepherd, one of many animals used during filming, being forced into choppy water despite his obvious resistance. The dog looks terrified, and some claim that it appears as though he comes “close to drowning.”

A Dog’s Purpose was originally estimated to gross over $25 million in the opening weekend; after the release of the video, estimates decreased by over 20%. The film ended up bringing in about $18.4 million, proving that the controversy hindered its success. Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for a boycott of the film and urged people to protest on the night of release. In response to the dispute, Universal Pictures canceled the film’s red carpet premiere, as well as the press junket, where the film is promoted.

Many people who worked on the film have acknowledged the video and refuted the accusations made against them. Filmmakers claimed that the video made the situation seem much more extreme than it actually was, and Producer Gavin Palone stated that during rehearsals the German shepherd had been excited about going in the water. However, Palone did admit that he wishes he had not elected to employ the American Humane Association to oversee the care and treatment of the animals, seeing that the organization had received criticism for overlooking cases of abuse in the past.

Dennis Quaid, the actor starring in A Dog’s Purpose, declared that he believes the video was “edited and manipulated.” He called it a scam and challenged the true intentions behind releasing the video. For starters, the video was filmed over a year and a half ago, which brings up the question of why it was only recently released. If the filmer had really been concerned about the treatment of the dogs on the set of A Dog’s Purpose, why not release the footage as soon as it was captured?

“Absolutely no dogs were harmed in this [production]… [the video was] manipulated to make it look as though the dog was being abused,” Quaid said during an interview with the Today show.

Additionally, Quaid revealed what the video does not show, which is the many precautions that were taken to ensure the dog’s safety. There were divers in the water with him and platforms under the surface for the dog to stand on, both of which helped to make the dog more comfortable and make certain that he was in no danger. Additionally, producers asserted that there are multiple rehearsal videos (although they have not been released) that show the same German shepherd jumping willingly into the water.

It is impossible to determine exactly what occurred, as the whole story cannot be assumed based on one video clip. Though it is dangerous to jump to conclusions regarding what may have transpired on set, it is also dangerous to ignore the video based on claims of over exaggeration, particularly when those making these claims have incentive to paint the movie in a positive light. This video may have exposed immoral methods used on set, but it also may have incorrectly tainted the reputation of an otherwise loveable movie. Although this video provides great cause for hesitation in supporting the film, there is no way to truly establish whether or not it is valid. Nonetheless, it is important to remember what the film is really about: the significant impact a dog has on a human’s life, and the purpose they serve in making each day a little less ruff.