Weeks after a video surfaced from the set of the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” that raised concerns about the welfare of a German shepherd, a third-party investigation into the footage has been completed.
TMZ obtained footage from the filming of a stunt involving a German shepherd named Hercules struggling with a person who appears to be a trainer as rough waves churned in a pool.
The video quickly led to backlash, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals calling for a boycott of the film, producers and the author of the book the film is based on speaking out and the Los Angeles premiere getting canceled.
E! News reported that the American Humane Association had a news release about an independent third-party investigation into the footage.
The news release from the AHA said that TMZ “mischaracterized the events on the set” and that the footage was “deliberately edited.”
“The investigation and eyewitness reports affirmed that throughout its work on the set, the dog was treated with great care, attentiveness and respect,” the release said. “At the same time, American Humane believes that the handling of the dog in the first scene in the video should have been gentler and signs of stress recognized earlier.”
The statement adds that “a separate, independent, board certified Veterinary Behaviorist brought in to examine the events concluded that there was ‘no lasting stress response or conditioned fear of the water as a result.'”
“It is disappointing that the public was misled by a manufactured controversy prompted by a radical organization like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals with a mission to remove animals from films and other parts of our lives,” veterinarian Dr. Kwane Stewart, who leads a program at the AHA, said in the release. “We are the first to address and fight cruelty and abuse, and no such things happened on the set of ‘A Dog’s Purpose.'”
Despite the negative publicity, Variety reported that the film grossed $18.4 million opening weekend. It had a budget of $22 million.