Universal Pictures has canceled a premiere and press junket scheduled for “A Dog’s Purpose” amid a growing furor over a video that shows one of its canine stars being mistreated during filming.
Distributor Universal and production company Amblin Entertainment announced late Thursday that the premiere and a Monday press day were being scrapped. The movie’s opening remains scheduled for Jan. 27.
“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,” a joint release stated. “Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans.”
Meanwhile, PETA has called for a boycott of the movie, actor Josh Gad has asked for an explanation, and the the American Humane Association has launched an independent investigation into why its safety representative overlooked an apparent case of cruelty during the movie’s filming.
For a scene in the movie, based on the popular book of the same name, a frightened German shepherd was forced into a churning pool of water and, at one point, sunk beneath the surface.
The video, shot in 2015, was released by TMZ — the week before the film’s opening — after the program received it from undisclosed sources.
“American Humane has reviewed the video and we are disturbed and concerned by the footage,” the AHA told PEOPLE in a statement. “When the dog showed signs of resistance to jumping in the water, the scene should have been stopped.”
The AHA monitors the safety of animals used in the entertainment industry and bestows the “No animals were harmed” label on the finished products — as it did in this case.
The AHA has suspended the safety representative who worked on the film, and has asked an outside party to conduct an investigation into the slip-up, said Mark Stubis, a spokesman for the organization.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement 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.”
“Sadly, such abuse appears to be the norm, not the exception, in the entertainment industry,” PETA said.
PETA reported on its website that the company that supplied the dogs in the film, Birds & Animals Unlimited, has a problematic record. PETA said it has filed previous complaints about the company with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“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 … 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,” he added.
In a joint statement, production company Amblin Entertainment and distributor Universal Pictures assured that Hercules, the dog in the video, was unharmed and is “happy and healthy.”
They said the movie’s crew “followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals,” but added they are looking into the situation.
Director Lasse Hallström, a three-time Oscar nominee, said he didn’t witness the scene recorded on video — even though TMZ initially reported he was on the set the day the scene was shot in Canada in 2015.
“I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”
The movie, based on the best selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, tells the story of a golden retriever passing away, being reincarnated as a German shepherd, corgi and then a St. Bernard. In his last incarnation he is reunited with his original owner.
The one-minute video clip shows the shepherd being coaxed, then shoved into the pool. Later it shows the dog sinking under the water, at which point someone yells “cut it,” and trainers rush to the dog’s aid.
That the video was leaked the week before the much-publicized movie’s release, as opposed to shortly after it was recorded, indicates someone was waiting until it reached peak market value.
TMZ hasn’t said whether they purchased the video, or how much they paid for it.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 20th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, aha, american humane, american humane association, animals, book, boycott, canceled, cruelty, dog, dogs, film, filming, forced, german shepherd, hercules, investigation, josh gad, lasse hallstrom, leaked, movie, movies, peta, pets, pool, premiere, video
A German shepherd was forced against his will into a churning pool of water and disappeared underneath it during the filming of “A Dog’s Purpose.”
Footage leaked to TMZ shows the German shepherd resisting efforts by a trainer to get him into a pool of water.
Once in the pool — whether it was by choice or force — the dog can be seen sinking under the water, which was being churned by eight outboard motors.
An alarmed voice yells “cut” and the dog is pulled out of the pool.
The footage — depending on how dog lovers react and how viral it goes — is likely to damage how well the movie fares at the box office after its release this month.
At the very least, it may earn its makers reputations as hypocrites, given the film’s dog-loving, feel-good message.
As of yesterday, there had been no reaction to the video from major animal welfare organizations, including the American Humane Association, which monitors productions and bestows the “No animals were harmed …” tag on the finished product.
The movie is based on the 2010 novel, “A Dog’s Purpose,” by W. Bruce Cameron, currently No. 1 on USA Today’s best-selling books list.
In the film, a dog’s story is told from the perspective of a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of life through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.
The German shepherd was one of at least five dogs used in the film, TMZ reported. The movie’s director, Lasse Hallstrom, was present during filming of the scene, TMZ said.
In the scene, a police dog rescues a young girl who has fallen into a rushing river.
The footage at the pool was shot outside of Winnipeg, Canada, in November 2015.
It shows a handler pushing an obviously frightened German shepherd into the churning pool of water. The dog manages to claw his way out. Later, the dog is seen back in the pool and, at one point, going under.
After a few seconds, someone yells, “Cut it!” and handlers rush to help the dog.
Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures say they have seen the video and are investigating.
“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 and we will look into the circumstances surrounding this video,” they said in a joint statement.
The movie debuts on Jan. 27. It stars Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid and Peggy Lipton.
According to USA Today, the book “A Dog’s Purpose” has sold 2.5 million copies. It is the first publication about a dog to top the chart since “Marley & Me,” which was also adapted into a film, in 2006.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, amblin pictures, animal welfare, animals, book, box office, churning, cruelty, dennis quaid, dog books, dog movies, dogs, entertainment, film, footage, forced, frightened, german shepherd, goes under, humane, investigation, lasse halstrom, leaked, movie, movies, novel, outboard motors, pets, pool, sinks, tmz, trainer, universal pictures, water
There’s a new dog in the Guinness Book of World Records.
And therein lies a tail.
It’s a whopping 30.2 inches long, and belongs to an Irish wolfhound named Keon.
Keon will appear in the 2017 edition of Guinness World Records, the staff of which recently visited his family in Westerlo, Belgium, to present them with an official certificate for having the world’s longest dog tail.
Keon’s never-ending tail topped that of the previous record holder in the category, another Irish wolfound, by nearly two inches.
A veterinarian determined the official length by measuring the tail from the top of the bone to the tip – not including the hair.
Keon is an Irish name that means “courageous warrior,” but his owner Ilse Loodts says — even though his tail can do some damage — he is a gentle giant.
(Photos: Guinness Book of World Records)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 18th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2017, animals, belgium, books, dog, dogs, edition, guinness, guinness book of world records, irish wolfhound, keon, longest, longest tail, pets, records, tail, tales, worlds record
Lois Pope, a Palm Beach philanthropist, Trump friend and widow of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope, says she has fallen in love with the goldendoodle she originally procured for the incoming president and his family.
Pope, though no one asked her to do so, began searching for a hypoallergenic breed for Trump once he won the election.
She found a handsome Goldendoodle, took him home and named the 8-week-old pup Patton, after Trump’s favorite military hero.
At Thanksgiving, when Pope joined the Trumps for Thanksgiving dinner at Mar-a-Lago, she showed Trump photos of the dog.
“Show it to Barron (Trump’s 10-year-old son). He’s going to fall in love with him,” Trump said, according to Pope.
But Pope fell in love first.
“I couldn’t sleep, and the reason I couldn’t sleep was because I fell in love with the dog,” she told The New York Post. “I thought, what am I going to do? I’m going to have to get him another dog.”
When the Trumps arrived in Palm Beach for Christmas, Pope again visited Mar-a-Lago, and informed Trump she couldn’t part with Patton.
“Donald said, ‘But, Lois, I can’t take the dog,'” Pope recalled. “He said, ‘Look at what I do. I’m here, I’m in New York, I’m in Washington. What am I going to do with the dog?’ And I said, ‘Well, you can’t have him!’
“We went back and forth between ‘You can’t have him’ and ‘I don’t want him’ for a little while,” she added.
Trump would be the first president since Reconstruction without a pet in the White House and the first since 1901 without a dog.
The last pet-less president, Andrew Johnson, was impeached.
Pope said her last conversation with Trump concluded with her offer to “scour the nation” for a first dog, should the family decide it wants one.
(Photo from The New York Post)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 17th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, dog, dogs, donald trump, family, first dog, gift, goldendoodle, heiress, keep, keeping, lois pope, love, offer, offered, palm beach, pet, pets, president, rescind, Trump, withdraws
Mailman Jeff Kramer met black Lab Tashi on his route in Boulder a few years ago.
“As fast as he could — which was not very fast — he ran up to me tail wagging, first day I met him,” Kramer said. “He’s just a really friendly dog. And I am a dog person, and they can tell.”
Kramer greeted and petted him nearly every day. But over the years, Tashi’s mobility declined — until the point that, after turning 13, the dog became unable to handle the steps of the front porch.
Kramer was in a position to help.
He’d built a ramp for his own elderly dog, Odie. But Odie passed away not long after that, about five years ago. The ramp sat in pieces in Kramer’s backyard.
So he offered it to Karen Dimetrosky and her family. Then he delivered it, in pieces.
“He’s just amazing,” she added. “We’ve had the ramp for a few months and he’s saved us …
“I can’t imagine not having the ramp now. It’s the only way he gets in and out.”
“We were literally carrying him up and down the stairs,” Dimetrosky told the Boulder Daily Camera. “And he weighs about 70 pounds.”
“I just noticed they needed it,” Kramer said. “I didn’t need it anymore and I hate throwing things away.”
Kramer said most of the dogs on his route are friendly.
“I’ve got about 30 or 40 that enthusiastically greet me,” Kramer said. “Then I’ve got three or four that enthusiastically want to eat me.”
Kramer recently attended Tashi’s 14th birthday party, and Dimetrosky said that Tashi, despite his achy bones, gets up off his bed whenever Kramer comes by.
Kramer said Tashi is one of his favorite dogs on the route.
“He’s just so happy with life.”
(Photo and video by Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 13th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aging, black lab, boulder, colorado, deliver, delivery, disability, dog, dog and mailman, dogs, friends, jeff kramer, labrador retriever, mail, mailman, old, post office, postal, ramp, tashi, usps
Look at you! Look at you! You are the cutest little reader I’ve ever seen. Yes you are. Yes you are! You’re just the sweetest reader ever. What a good reader! And, yes, you’re a genius, too. So very smart. Just a good good good pretty genius reader. Yes. Yes!
Talk to a baby like that (and most people do) and you’re going to get a reaction, studies show. You’re going to hold their attention, stimulate their brain, and (put most unscientifically) make them feel warm and bubbly inside.
Talk to a dog like that — especially if it’s a puppy and you have a higher-pitched, female type voice — and you’re going to achieve the same, a new study suggests. They’ll be more responsive and more likely to retain what (though it’s mostly gibberish) you’re saying.
Talk to your website readers like that, and they’re likely to think you’ve gone off the deep end, that you’re either stalking or patronizing them, and report you to the Internet police.
But you wouldn’t do that. Would you, pretty reader? Noooo. ‘Cuz you’re a good reader. Yes! You’re such a sweetie pie. Yes! Yes!
The findings show that the voice pitch and patterns of humans may help dogs learn words, as is believed to be the case with human babies.
To find out how dogs reacted to human speech, Nicolas Mathevon, a bioacoustician at the University of Lyon in Saint Étienne, France, recorded the voices of 30 women.
The women were asked to read the scripted phrases as they would to dogs, and as they would to humans. For the dog-directed readings, researchers provided them with photos of dogs to help them get in the mood.
Each woman read the following words: “Hi! Hello cutie! Who’s a good boy? Come here! Good boy! Yes! Come here sweetie pie! What a good boy!”
The women read the words as they would to a puppy, as they would to an older dog, and as they would to a human.
The recordings were then played to dogs — 10 puppies and 10 adult dogs at a New York City animal shelter.
Nine of the 10 puppies reacted strongly to the pupy-directed recordings, barking and running toward the loudspeaker and even going into a play stance.
The pups were less interested when the women were using the lower pitched, less playful voices they would use while talking to other humans.
The older dogs, possibly having heard their fill of baby talk, didn’t react at all — likely because they’d become more attuned to their master’s voice and less to those of strangers.
The study’s findings were presented this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Why we talk to babies this ultra-animated, affirmation-filled way — both our own and those we’re just meeting — is instinctual. Why we talk to dogs, especially puppies, like this, is a result of their big-eyed, baby-like appearance that brings out similar instincts in us.
In the study, the women’s exaggerated, high-pitched speech served far better to get the attention of the dogs, said Mathevon, who believes this way of talking may help dogs learn words.
I couldn’t find an explanation of why only women’s voices — 30 of them aged 18 to 55 — were used in the study, but I’d guess it’s because women are generally better at, and less embarrassed, at using baby talk in public.
Most of my dogs have favored women. Ace always preferred females, and my dog new dog, Jinjja, is much more comfortable around them too. If he hears a female voice in the distance he pulls toward it, if he hears a male one, he stops or retreats.
A lot of it I think is simply a matter of pitch. A higher pitch is less threatening.
Likely, with Jinjja, it also has to do with how he was raised. Probably, men ran the Korean dog farm he was rescued from, and during and after that rescue it was probably mostly women who were kind to him.
The same is probably true of many a shelter or rescue dog. Given women make up the bulk of the staff and volunteers at animal rescue and shelter operations, those dogs often tend to associate a female voice with food, warmth and safety.
Possibly, dogs have figured out females are the kinder and more nurturing gender (though that might be a little sexist to say). Or it could be women’s voices, in general, sound more like squeaky toys (though that might be a little sexist to say).
But you’re not going to hold that against me. Nooooooo. You’re too nice to do that, aren’t you? Aren’t you? You’re such a good reader. Yes, you are.
(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 12th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attention, babies, baby talk, bioacoustics, cognition, communicating, communication, dog, dog-directed speech, dogs, female, good dog, good reader, how you say it, human, inflections, interaction, learning, listen, listening, male, nurturing, older dogs, pets, pitch, puppies, shelter, speech, speech patterns, study, tones, University of Lyon, voice, voice patterns, voices
Another massive rescue of Korean farm dogs is underway.
Activists on Tuesday freed 10 more dogs from a 200-dog farm in Wonju, 55 miles outside of Seoul, Reuters reported.
Dogs on such farms are raised to be slaughtered for their meat.
The farm, once it closes, will become the sixth shut down by local advocates and activists from HSI, who negotiate with dog farmers and assist them in getting started in different occupations.
HSI estimates there are 17,000 dog-meat farms in the country.
The removal of the dogs follows six months of negotiations, medical examinations and vaccinations. Because airline flights can only carry a limited number of dogs a day, it will take a couple of weeks for HSI to rescue all 200 of the dogs at the farm.
You can see a Reuters slideshow of the operation here.
HSI officials expected the dogs will be quickly adopted once they arrive at shelters in the U.S.
“As soon as they’re ready for adoption, we find that there are line-ups of people – literally people would line up at shelters – in the U.S. to adopt these dogs because people are so engaged by their sad and compelling stories,” said Andrew Plumbly, another campaign manager for the HSI.
Plumbly said hygiene at the dog farm was “non-existent,” and that dogs spent most of their lives outside in rusty cages.
A minority of Koreans consume dog, and the consumption of dog meat is declining.
Humane Society International hopes bringing more attention to the issue will lead the government ban the breeding of meat dogs in South Korea, where the 2018 Winter Olympics are being held.
(You can read more about Korean farm dogs, including mine, here.)
(Photos: Kim Hong-Ji / REUTERS)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 11th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, closed, closing, dog farms, dog meat, dog meat trade, dogs, eating dog, farm, farms, hsi, humane society international, jinjja, korea, korean, korean farm dogs, pets, slaughter, south korea, u.s., united state