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‘A Dog’s Purpose’: Petition Urges Boycott Unless “Significant Portion” Of Proceeds Goes To Animal Welfare Groups

Deadline logo Deadline 1/20/2017 Anita Busch
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In response to a video of “a dog being mishandled” on the set of Amblin Entertainment/Universal PicturesA Dog’s Purpose, a Care2 petition has been launched calling for a boycott of the film unless the movie’s creators donate “a significant portion of the film’s proceeds” to animal welfare organizations. The petition added 1,200 signatures over the past 20 minutes and is now at more than 13,000 signees.

The actions in the video, which have been condemned by the film’s producer Gavin Polone, the movie’s voice-over actor Josh Gad the film’s director Lasse Hallstrom and even the voice-over artist for the Spanish-language trailerJane The Virgin‘s Anthony Mendez — shows an animal handler forcing a German Shepherd into rushing water after the dog tries to resist over and over again. After being forced into the water, the handler then pulls up the dog by his neck. Later the dog is shows struggling to stay afloat as a handler tries to coax him to her and the dog goes under water as those around him panic to get to him and someone from the second unit is heard screaming, “Cut it! Cut it! Cut it!” It is not known how many takes the dog was put through prior to him slipping under the raging water.

The petition states:

Please sign this petition to pledge to boycott “A Dog’s Purpose” unless the creators make a significant donation to animal welfare organizations!

The director of the film tweeted that he is “disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film…”

If the director is so disturbed, he ought to do something about it. Donating to an animal welfare cause is the least he can do to make up for this act.

American Humane safety rep has been put on leave and are investigating it  and the Canadian Chief Veterinary Office is also looking into it. The second unit shoot, where this particular scene with the dog took place, was done in Winnipeg last fall. The video from the shoot only came out this week — only about two weeks before the launch of the film on January 27.

The company that provided and handled the dog for the film was Birds & Animals Unlimited in Action, CA, an outfit that has been targeted for some time for the mistreatment of animals by PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals). PETA is also asking for a boycott of the film.

In addition, Universal Pictures — in an effort to avoid the press — cancelled its weekend film premiere and press junket. The studio has pretty much battened down the hatches, waiting for the storm to pass. We are awaiting any comment and will update if we receive one.

The handling of this has now become a public relations catastrophe. “They are hoping that people are going to forget, but the problem is that they still have to release a product. They think probably the news cycle will go through this but here’s the issue: when they release the product, (the news is) going to cycle through again and the current conduct is going to bite them economically,” said Eric Schiffer, CEO of crisis management firm Reputation Management Consultants in Los Angeles. “Ultimately, they are going to have to own it. The best thing they could do is make a donation to these animal welfare organizations. PT Barnum died and the message was not how great the showman was but how bad the animals were treated.”

Schiffer represents no animal welfare groups.

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