A Dog's Purpose Premiere, Press Junket Canceled Amid Animal Abuse Scandal

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The aftermath of an alleged animal cruelty scandal continues to affect A Dog's Purpose.

The movie, which launches nationwide on January 27, is under major fire across the country and across the Internet as a result of footage that surfaced online this week.

The footage in question depicts a German Shepherd named Hercules, clearly agitated and frightened about a stunt that involves throwing him into gushing water.

But a camera on set caught the dog's handler tossing the poor animal into the water anyway.

A Dog's Purpose Photo

TMZ shared the video (below) on Wednesday and the fallout has been swift.

Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the movie, and director Lasse Halstrom, have both spoken out against the treatment of Hercules, while PETA has pushed for a boycott of A Dog's Purpose.

The film centers around a canine who gets reincarnated several times while trying to figure out the meaning of life.

Now, in the middle of this controversy, we can confirm that the red carpet premiere of the movie has been canceled.

So has the press junket in which stars such as Gad and Dennis Quaid would have talked to reporters about the movie.

Production company Amblin Entertainment has said it is reviewing the above video and added via statement on Thursday:

"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."

That's good to know.

But the argument can be made that the intention to harm, or the disinterest in whether or not the dog was harmed, is the real issue here.

Actor KJ Apa, who also appears in the film, shared his take on this scandal yesterday via Twitter.

"First things first, I LOVE ALL ANIMALS and would never EVER condone inhumane treatment or abuse of an animal at any time," he wrote in a lengthy message.

"I was saddened to see the footage from the set of A Dog's Purpose—a film I was honored to act in, in 2015.

"The video was hard to watch, and I understand why many of you have had the reactions that you did because I had the same ones.

"The footage is still being investigated, from my own experience, I only encountered cast and crewmembers who had unconditional love and respect for every single dog on set, and went to great lengths to assure their safety and wellbeing."

A Dog's Purpose

Concluded Apa:

"I want you guys to know that I would NEVER attach myself to a project that didn't treat animals with the utmost care, and honestly, the possibility that an animal could've been hurt is troubling to me.

"I have been assured that Hercules is happy and healthy."

The questionable scene was shot in Winnipeg, Canada, in November 2015.

It's unclear why the footage was only released now.

Once it was was made public, however, PETA asked animal lovers to boycott the film "to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props."

After taking a look at the footage, Lisa Lange, PETA's senior vice president, added:

"This movie is directed towards those who love dogs and, clearly, this is not a dog's purpose."

The flick is based on W. Bruce Cameron's bestselling novel of the same.

The irony here, of course, is that it's intended to honor dogs and the impact they have on their human owners.

A Dog's Purpose Picture

Here is what Gad has said about the unfortunate situation:

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 beauty and pain of loving a pet.

I signed on for 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 Shepherd being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this film.

While I do not know all 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 a proud dog owner and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA. I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation.

Check out the trailer for A Dog's Purpose above.

You can see footage of Hercules in the water around the 1:20 mark.

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