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    Posted on Jan 19, 2017

    The Premiere And Press Junket For "A Dog's Purpose" Have Been Canceled

    "We continue to support this film, are incredibly proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday." (UPDATED)

    On Jan. 18, TMZ posted a video of a German shepherd being forced into fast-moving water, reportedly from the set of A Dog's Purpose, prompting an investigation into the upcoming film's treatment of animals.

    'A Dog's Purpose' Video Shows Terrified German Shepherd Forced to Film https://t.co/14o6CZqmPV

    The director of A Dog's Purpose, Lasse Hallstrom, responded to the leaked video on Twitter, explaining that he never witnessed the German shepherd being mishandled.

    I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film A dog's purpose.

    I did not witness these actions. 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.

    I have been a lifelong animal lover and A DOG’S PURPOSE is my third film about dogs. The animals’ safety was of utmost priority.

    for both myself and everyone on the set. I have been a lifelong animal lover and A DOG’S PURPOSE is my third film about dogs.

    We were all committed to providing a loving, respectful and safe environment for all the animals in the film.

    Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the film, also shared his thoughts about the "disturbing" video on Twitter. "I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will," he wrote.

    Amblin Entertainment, the production company behind A Dog's Purpose, issued a statement regarding the German shepherd, named Hercules, promising that he's "happy and healthy."

    "A Dog's Purpose, produced by Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures, is a celebration of the special connection between humans and their dogs. And in the spirit of this relationship, the Amblin 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. There were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure Hercules was comfortable with all of the stunts. 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.

    Hercules is happy and healthy."

    But the American Humane Association, which enforces safety regulations for animals during filming, has suspended the safety monitor assigned to the film, and the Chief Veterinary Office of Canada, where A Dog's Purpose was shot, has also opened an investigation.

    Universal Pictures

    According to the Winnipeg Humane Society in Manitoba, an animal safety organization that was "consulted" for two scenes during production, the CVO is looking into whether any animals were harmed during the making of the film.

    PETA has also called for dog lovers to boycott A Dog's Purpose when it opens in theaters on Jan. 27.

    "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," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange wrote in a statement to BuzzFeed News.

    PETA recently did an investigation into Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU), which reportedly provided the dogs used in A Dog's Purpose. According to their findings, BAU animals "are denied veterinary care, forced to sleep outdoors in the cold without bedding for warmth, made to live in filthy conditions, and more."

    On Thursday evening, Universal, the movie's distributor, announced it was canceling the premiere event and press junket.

    Universal Pictures / Via people.com

    "Because Amblin’s review into the edited video released yesterday is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog's Purpose to cancel this weekend’s premiere and press junket. Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans.

    "Since the emergence of the footage, Amblin has engaged with many associated with the production of the film, including safety personnel, trainers and stunt coordinators as part of their in-depth review. While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking.

    We continue to support this film, are incredibly proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday."

    BuzzFeed News has reached out to Universal regarding the release date and the petition for the proceeds to be donated to animal welfare.

    UPDATE

    The headline and body of this post have been updated to include the fact that Universal canceled the premiere event and press junket for A Dog's Purpose.

    Claudia Rosenbaum contributed reporting to this post.

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