Just hours removed from releasing a statement in which the producer of A Dog’s Purpose declared “I’m horrified by this” regarding the apparent abuse of a German Shepherd on-set, Gavin Polone has publicly altered his stance after seeing the entire footage.
The producer of such titles as Ghost Town, Zombieland and Premium Rush, Polone is reportedly a long-standing animal rights supporter who believes his initial stance of shock and apparent horror was as a reaction to doctored footage fulfilling an agenda on behalf of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). He stated:
“I care about the truth, and I care about animals. I want to use this to figure out how to benefit animals. I know the movie helps to benefit animals because it shows the deep relationships that forms between people and dogs. I looked at the video of all of this. [The dog] gets under the froth of the water, but he is lifted up by the diver. He came up and he was fine. If your stated goal is to never use any animal on a movie set ever again, then they are trying to use the video that someone probably sold to TMZ to get a commitment for that. I’m not saying there were no mistakes made, but the whole thing is becoming untrue and unfair, and I feel like they and the person who cut the cellphone video together are using the media for their own agendas. It’s a cellphone video that was cut in a certain way. There are so many things that you don’t see … there are raised platforms under the water. There is a (scuba) diver under the water. You don’t see the safety people on the other side. The person who cut it probably wanted to sell it, and it doesn’t sell if it looks like the dog is OK. (The person) made it look like the dog could die … or did die. I’ve done more investigating and also had more conversations with PETA. Whoever was in control of the set should have told them to stop, but the dog was not in danger and the dog was and is OK.”
The producer’s change of stance comes after Amblin Entertainment and their producing partners made the decision to cancel the premiere and press junkets that they had previously planned for of the movie. Amblin, and their studio Universal, are looking to have the full and unedited clip released to the public as a means of supporting their claims of correct procedure.
The author of the original novel from which the movie is based, W. Bruce Cameron, has reaffirmed the stance of Amblin and Polone in a statement released via his Facebook page:
“First I want to thank everyone—and there have been literally thousands of you—who have written to express support. Your words and thoughts mean the world to us.
I found the video we’ve all seen to be shocking because when I was on set, the ethic of everyone was the safety and comfort of the dogs.
If the people who shot and edited the video thought something was wrong, why did they wait fifteen months to do anything about it, instead of immediately going to the authorities?
I have since viewed footage taken of the day in question, when I wasn’t there, and it paints an entirely different picture.
The written commentary accompanying the edited video mischaracterizes what happened. The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water—I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool. When he was asked to perform the stunt from the other side of the pool, which was not how he had been doing it all day, he balked. The mistake was trying to dip the dog in the water to show him it was okay—the water wasn’t his issue, it was the location that was the issue, and the dog happily did the stunt when he was allowed to return to his original spot.
I also didn’t like it when Hercules’s head briefly went under water, but there was a scuba diver and a trainer in the pool to protect him. He loves the water, wasn’t in danger, and wasn’t upset.
On a movie where the mantra was the safety and comfort of the dogs, mistakes were made, and everything needs to be done to make sure those errors are not repeated. But the reason American Humane certifies that no animals were harmed during the making of the film is that no animals were harmed during the making of the film.
I celebrate animal rescue and am proud of the values that show up in A Dog’s Purpose.”