MOVIES

Universal Pictures Cancels 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere and Press Junket Amid Animal Abuse Accusations

by Zach Seemayer 9:43 PM PST, January 19, 2017
Playing Universal Pictures Cancels 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere and Press Junket Amid Animal Abuse Accusations

The producers of A Dog's Purpose have addressed the recent allegations of animal abuse surrounding the film after footage surfaced on Wednesday showing a trainer apparently forcing a scared, struggling dog into a pool during filming.

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment released a statement to ET on Thursday announcing that they have decided to call off this weekend's red carpet premiere and press junket as they continue to review the allegations.

"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," the statement read. "Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans."

WATCH: 'A Dog's Purpose' Star Josh Gad 'Shaken and Sad' After Seeing Controversial Video, Investigation Launched

"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," the statement continued. "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."

Universal Pictures and Amblin emphasized that they "continue to support this film," even in the light of the planned PETA boycott and public outrage, adding that they are "incredibly proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday."

American Humane, an organization that ensures animal safety on movie and television sets, has hired an independent investigator to look into the incident. It has also suspended the safety representative that worked on A Dog's Purpose.

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Universal Pictures and Amblin previously released a statement stressing "the Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals," and thay they are "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."

Josh Gad, who provided voice-over for the film, took to Twitter on Wednesday to respond to the controversy, writing, "I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will."

Watch the video below for a look at the embattled film.

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