A Dog's Purpose film-makers accused of animal cruelty

VIDEO: TMZ/YOUTUBE

Los Angeles (AFP) - Animal lovers on Wednesday (Jan 18) called for a boycott of the upcoming movie A Dog's Purpose after video footage emerged of an apparently terrified dog on the set being forced into rushing water.

The video shot in 2015 and published by celebrity website TMZ shows a German shepherd struggling to get away from his handler at the edge of a pool with swirling water.

"He ain't gonna calm down till he goes in the water, you just gotta throw him in," someone is heard saying in the video, as the dog claws at the edges of the pool and is finally pushed into the turbulent water.

The one-minute video, which TMZ said was shot near Winnipeg, Canada, during the movie's production, ends with the dog going under the surface after running into the wall of the pool. Crew members are then seen rushing to recover the animal.

Animal rights groups expressed outrage at the footage and urged a boycott of the movie as many took to social media to express their anger.

"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," Ms Lisa Lange, vice-president for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said.

Another Canada-based group, Animal Justice, said it had filed a complaint with the Canadian authorities calling for the film-makers to be charged with animal cruelty.

"It is illegal to inflict suffering and anxiety onto animals, and there is no loophole that lets Hollywood moviemakers get away with abusing animals on a film set," said Ms Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice.

American Humane, the organisation that oversees animal safety on film sets, said it was investigating the incident.

Officials at Universal Pictures, which is releasing the movie that stars Dennis Quaid on Jan 27, could not be reached for comment.

But in a statement to TMZ, the company said that "fostering a safe environment and ensuring the ethical treatment of our animal actors was of the utmost importance to those involved in making this film".