A Dog's Purpose producer Gavin Polone is opening up about the animal abuse controversy surrounding his new film.
Polone, who served as a producer on A Dog's Purpose, sat down with ET to address the leak of a controversial video of what appeared to a dog being forced to jump into a pool on the film's set.
"The video in the way it was shot and how it was cut together, was not portraying what happened on the set completely accurately," Polone told ET's Angelique Jackson on Monday.
"When I first saw the video, I was shocked by what I had seen, and initially, worried that something had happened to a dog on the movie, which seemed incomprehensible to me since the movie had wrapped shooting a year and three months earlier. I would have heard about something like that," Polone said. "I went to investigate to find out exactly what happened, and that was illuminating."
Polone admitted that "a couple of things did go wrong" during production and that he was "very upset about it." However, he staunchly rebuffed allegations that Hercules, the German Shephard in the leaked video, had suffered or been abused.
"I had seen video of the dog doing the scene in rehearsal," Polone said. "The dog not only wanted to get in the water but had to be held back from jumping in too soon because he really wanted to go ahead and do that, because it involved a toy of his, and clearly he wanted to go in and get that toy, so the dog was in no way afraid of the water."
Polone reiterated the explanation he gave in a lengthy op-ed he penned, which was published by the Hollywood Reporter on Monday, arguing that the controversial footage was misleading.
"What you don't see on the video … is that there are a lot of people around the dog," Polone said to ET. "There was a trainer in the water in a wetsuit, there was a safety diver under the water, there was also a safety officer on the deck, multiple trainers on the deck, there was a lot of people around and stunt people as well."
While he says that unedited footage from that day of filming clearly tells a different story than that of the edited video leaked to the press, Polone said the production is being careful about showing it to anyone, out of concern for those who worked on the film.
"There are legal issues involved because, keep in mind, there's a lot of people working on that set and exposing them could have negative consequences for them," he said. "I've received threats of violence. Bruce Cameron, the author of the book, received threats of violence, the director has had threats of violence."
"We very much want to show people that this dog was cared for. That the dog wanted to go into the water. That ultimately, when the dog went into the water it was not by being pushed, but he went and did it himself," Polone added. "So the studio is trying to figure out a way to do that. And that's in process."
Polone agreed that what was seen on the video should not have happened, explaining, "As soon as the dog resisted, meaning after one second, they should have stopped."
"That trainer should have stopped, but also the representative who as paid to be on the set to monitor and be in charge of all animal issues and for their safety should have stepped out and said, 'Stop. We're not doing it anymore,'" Polone explained. "That did not happen."
However, the producer said he was sent a time-stamped video of Hercules and that the German Shephard "looks great."
In regards to the person who leaked the video in question, Polone said he believes their actions were financially motivated.
"The person who shot the video waited 15 months to put it out. And when I say put it out, I'm guessing that he sold it," Polone speculated. "He wanted it to be I guess, more valuable, so he waited until right before the movie was going to open and that's when he'd be able to get the biggest payment. That's what I would have to believe happened."
Ultimately, Polone called the entire incident and subsequent controversy "depressing."
"I don't really care about my career as a movie producer. I've produced a lot of movies, I don't do anything for money anymore. I wanted to get this movie made because it told a story I felt was important," he said. "I felt like this movie could influence children to be thoughtful people when it comes to animals and to be compassionate toward animals, in the same way that when I was a kid, I saw movies with animals in it, and it probably influenced me to become the animals rights supporter that I have become."
A Dog's Purpose star Dennis Quaid also sat down with ET on Monday where he strongly defended the film, and shot down the allegations of animal cruelty.
"I was there. I never saw any abuse of any animal. If there had been, I would have walked," Quaid said. "My experience is that the animals were treated great. There was no animal abuse." Check out the video below to hear more.