WINNIPEG, Manitoba — One day after TMZ published video taken on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose,” director Lasse Hallstrom is speaking out about the “disturbing” footage.
Hallstrom took to Twitter to voice his anger and frustration with the video.
“I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film A dog’s purpose,” one tweet read.
“I did not witness these actions,” he said. “We were all committed to providing a loving and safe environment for all the animals in the film.”
He also says he is a “lifelong” animal fan and has been promised a thorough investigation.
On Wednesday, actor Josh Gad, who voices the dog, posted on Facebook about the incident he also considers to be “disturbing.”
A few months ago, I was approached to lend my voice to the film “A Dog’s Purpose.” As I sat in a dark screening room, I was beyond touched and moved by what I saw… a movie that captures the beautiful and pain of loving a pet. I signed on to a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen. Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German Shepard being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this film. While I do not know all of the details and cannot speak to the level of care and caution that went into this moment (as I was never on set for the making of this film), I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will. As the proud owner of a rescued dog and a fervent support of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.
The video was recorded in 2015 at a set outside Winnipeg, according to TMZ. The footage shows the dog struggling to stay out of the swirling, frothy water as a trainer forces it in.
Sources told TMZ that eight outboard motors were used to create the churning water.
Another man, who doesn’t appear on camera, can be heard saying, “He ain’t gonna calm down until he goes in the water … you just gotta throw him in.”
The second scene shows the dog struggling to keep its head up as the swirling water carries it across the pool. The German Shepherd finally slips under the surface after running into the wall of the pool and someone off camera can be heard yelling, “Cut it,” as trainers rush over.
The movie, based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron, follows the story of a dog named Bailey (Gad) over five decades as he experiences multiple owners and forms and “finds the meaning of his own existence” in the process, according to press materials.
The dog roles were played by a Golden Retriever named Trip, a German Shepherd named Shadow, a Corgi named Mailo and a St. Bernard-Australian Shepherd mix named Bolt.
“A Dog’s Purpose,” which stars Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson and Josh Grad, is scheduled to be released into theaters Jan. 27, 2017.