The director and one of the actors behind the upcoming movie “A Dog’s Purpose” took to social media to voice their disgust after TMZ released video showing a dog being forced into raging water during a shoot for the film.
Actor Josh Gad, who voices the dogs in the movie, said in a letter posted on Facebook that the “disturbing” footage left him “shaken and sad.”
“As the proud owner of a rescued dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images,” Gad wrote in his social media post.
Lasse Hallstrom, who directed the movie, said on Twitter that he was “very disturbed” by the video.
“I did not witness these actions,” Hallstrom wrote. “We were all committed to providing a loving and safe environment for all the animals in the film.”
“I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished,” he said.
Animal rights advocacy group PETA, meanwhile, is calling for a boycott of the film.
“PETA is calling on dog lovers to boycott the film in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props,” the organization said a statement.
“A Dog’s Purpose” producer Amblin Entertainment and distributor Universal Pictures said in a statement to CNN that the production team “followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals.”
“While we continue to review the circumstances shown in the edited footage, Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German Shepherd Hercules, as well as for all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film,” the statement said.
According to the producers and studio, several days of rehearsal took place to ensure the dog was comfortable while performing the water scenes. The statement confirmed that the dog was at one point hesitant to perform the water stunt, but it insisted filming did not continue.
“On the day of the shoot, Hercules did not want to perform the stunt portrayed on the tape so the Amblin production team did not proceed with filming that shot,” the statement said. “Hercules is happy and healthy.”
According to TMZ, the representative from the American Humane Association who was on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose” has been suspended following the incident.
The American Humane Association is responsible for enforcing safety guidelines for animals actors, TMZ reported.
“We are placing the safety representative who was on the set on administrative leave immediately and are bringing in an independent third party to conduct an investigation into this matter,” the AHA said in a statement to TMZ.
“A Dog’s Purpose” is set to hit theaters on January 27.