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Tag: investigation

“A Dog’s Purpose” cancels premiere after video shows dog mistreated

dogspurpose

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.”

harmedThe 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.

gadOne of the movie’s stars, Josh Gad, who provides the voice of the dog in the movie and never appeared on set, said the video left him “shaken.”

“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.”

harrison

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.

A dog’s purpose? It’s not this

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.

Dog show goes on, despite 14 dog deaths

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Thirteen golden retrievers and a Brittany spaniel scheduled to take part in an Indiana dog show over the weekend died Friday from heat related causes.

The dogs, in town for Michiana Kennel Club AKC Dog Show, were spending the night inside the back of a truck, parked in a lot at the Quality Inn in Roseland.

The truck’s air conditioning, powered by an extension cord plugged into the exterior of the hotel, shut down when a circuit breaker in the truck tripped during Friday’s heat and humidity, according to WBST in South Bend, Indiana.

A kennel operator from Ohio, who was caring for the dogs during the trip, found them dead when she went to check on them Friday night.

The dogs — three of them puppies — were supposed to be a part of the weekend show at St. Joseph County fairgrounds.

“To have something this tragic happen, it affects everybody,” said Cheryl Crompton, of the Michiana Kennel Club. “It’s been very solemn all day. I’ve cried, just at the loss of life.”

“It was an unfortunate incident, that was not in any way the fault of anybody,” she added. “It was an accident, just like a car wreck. An unfortunate car wreck, where lives are lost.”

“It appeared it was just a very tragic accident,” said Lt. William Redman of the St. Joseph County Police Department. “It was difficult, no question.”

Some of the dogs belonged to the woman caring for the dogs, Cortney Corral of Lakesyde Kennels; at least eight of them belonged to other people who entrusted her to care for them during the show.

Necropsies will be performed on some of the dogs this week as part of an investigation by the St. Joseph County Humane Society.

National officers with the American Kennel Club will also be investigating the incident, Crompton told the South Bend Tribune.

The annual dog show, which began Thursday and concluded Saturday, is hosted by three AKC clubs — Michiana, LaPorte and Berrien Springs.

(Photo: Michael Caterina / South Bend Tribune)

Who stole the giant turd of Torrelodones?

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Officials in Torrelodones, a town outside Spain’s capital of Madrid, are scratching their heads after someone made off with a giant inflatable replica of dog poop — a municipally-sanctioned artwork (and we use the term loosely) intended to remind citizens to pick up after their dogs.

The victim, when on display, is brown, nearly 10 feet high, and weighs about 65 pounds.

Once the air is let out, it is small enough to be packed in a carrying case, which is the condition it was in when someone walked off with it.

The town says it will cost more than $2,700 to replace.

Speaking to the ABC newspaper, a town official said staff were shocked and perplexed by the theft, and a replacement excrement was already on order because “we know that the campaign has been a great success.”

No word on how long it may take for that to come to pass.

Nor is there any mention of a ransom note being sent by those who pinched it.

The inflatable poop is one of several symbols being used in the municipality’s “Lay an egg” campaign. Torrelodones has also placed concrete dog poops around town bearing the message “This is a big blockage to living together. If you have a dog, help us.”

Should an arrest be made, we think the suspect would be able to put on a pretty good defense.

After all, he or she was only doing — albeit on a far larger scale — what the campaign urges.

D.A.’s office not bringing charges in the case of Cesar, Simon and the pot-bellied pig

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Cesar Millan will not be charged with animal cruelty in connection with an episode of “Cesar 911” in which a dog he was training attacked a pot-bellied pig.

Los Angeles County animal control authorities said Monday that they’d completed a month-long investigation into the complaint and found no evidence of neglect or harmful intent, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“After a comprehensive investigation by our officers, we presented a very thorough and complete report to the District Attorney’s office and they were unable to find anything to charge Mr. Millan with,” said Aaron Reyes, deputy director for animal care and control. “It’s a fair decision.”

Reyes said investigators watched the full video “several times,” interviewed people involved in the episode and reviewed veterinary reports.

“You can tell that it was not intentional and [Millan’s] reactions were swift and effective,” Reyes said. “The injuries to the pig looked worse than they really were, and they got immediate veterinary care.”

In the episode, which aired Feb. 26, a French bulldog Millan was training bit a pot-bellied pig standing nearby.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Jacobs wrote in a case evaluation statement that “there is no evidence that the pig was used as bait, and all parties who witnessed the incident felt it was an accident. Although in the video the pig is seen bleeding, the dog’s act was merely a nip and did not tear or bite the skin off.”

The dog, named Simon, remains with his owner.

“The clip caused some concern for viewers who did not see or understand the full context of the encounter,” National Geographic Wild said in a statement. “The pig that was nipped by Simon was tended to immediately afterward, healed quickly and showed no lasting signs of distress.”

Millan said in a statment he was pleased with the investigation’s findings.

“My team and I are 100% dedicated to the proper care of all animals, including the farm pig in this case,” he said. “I am continuing my work rescuing and rehabilitating even the most difficult problem dogs, which has saved the lives of thousands of animals that otherwise would have been euthanized.”

(Photo: National Geographic Wild)

What is the “truth” about Just Pups?

Police investigating the source of a stench in Paramus found 67 puppies packed in a van parked behind Just Pups, a North Jersey pet store.

The pups — some covered in feces — were seized early Monday and taken to a North Jersey animal hospital, where 15 of them were determined to be in need of medical treatment.

Found locked in steel crates, the puppies were scheduled to go to other stores in the Just Pups chain. They had come from the Missouri breeding kennel of store owner Vincent LoSacco.

That’s him in the video above — responding last week to allegations of animal cruelty filed by the New Jersey SPCA in connection with the chain’s largest outlet in East Brunswick, N.J.

Last week, East Brunswick’s council unanimously voted to revoke LoSacco’s license at that store, prompting him to post a video he called “The Truth About Just Pups.”

Despite the scrutiny, LoSacco still apparently saw no problem with leaving 67 puppies in a parked van in Paramus on a night that temperatures dropped to 35 degrees.

Authorities said that about 3 a.m. Monday, Paramus police officers approached the van and detected the stench of urine and feces.

The officers, hearing whines coming from inside the van, opened an unlocked sliding door and found the dogs.

paramus1Police said the temperature inside the poorly ventilated van was 38 degrees, and that some of the crates did not contain food or water. The small crates held two to four puppies each.

LoSacco on Monday told NorthJersey.com that the van was temperature controlled, and leaving puppies parked in the van overnight was not an uncommon practice.

“It’s not unnormal to leave them in the van, as long as they have air conditioning or heat — depending on the season — and food and water,” LoSacco said. “It’s the same thing with the pet store. People aren’t there 24 hours.”

He denied that the cages were overcrowded, and suggested that any dogs who were covered in feces got that way when police officers loaded the van onto a flatbed truck to transport it.

paramus2As of Monday night, four pups remained at the vet’s office. The rest — golden retrievers, Labradors and terriers — were transferred to Tyco Animal Control, which has contracts with more than 20 municipalities in Bergen and Passaic counties.

The incident is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force, Paramus police detectives and the Paramus Health Department.

The Paramus was closed Monday pending the investigation. It reopened Tuesday.

paramus3Paramus Mayor Richard La­Barbiera said the store had been the subject of complaints in recent weeks from residents about unsanitary conditions and animal cruelty.

The mayor said a Paramus inspector visited the store in response to the complaints and found some unsanitary conditions, but no signs of cruelty. The store was closed for about 24 hours while those sanitary conditions were addressed.

Just Pups has four New Jersey locations — in Paramus, East Hanover, East Brunswick and Emerson, according to its website.

“Just Pups is the only puppy or pet store that you can shop at where you have a 100% guarantee that 100% of our puppies have come from reputable breeders only,” the website says. “..We have never ever purchased a single puppy from a questionable source or a puppy broker.”

In February, LoSacco’s attempts to renew his license for a Just Pups location in Valhalla, N.Y., were denied, according to the New York Daily News.

The charges filed by the NJSPCA against the East Brunswick store came after three dead dogs were found in the store’s freezer on Feb. 29. In total, 267 animal cruelty charges were filed by the NJSPCA, alleging, among other things, that LoSacco exposed puppies to illnesses by commingling healthy and sick animals.

An online petition calling for that store to be shut down and for a state Department of Health investigation into all Just Pups locations has gathered nearly 160,000 signatures.

(Photos: Paramus Police Department)

Remembering Pickles, the dog who, 50 years ago, sniffed out the missing World Cup

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When soccer’s World Cup was stolen from a display case in London in 1966, the week that followed saw huge tabloid headlines, a ransom demand, threats to melt the trophy down and a botched undercover police operation to exchange a bag of fake money for the treasured hunk of gold.

It wasn’t until seven days after the theft that the trophy the best minds of Scotland Yard were unable to find was easily sniffed out by a re-homed, furniture-chewing mutt named Pickles.

England was hosting the World Cup that year, and ended up winning it, but if not for Pickles there might have been no trophy to hoist.

Pickles was a four-year-old border collie mix whose owner, Dave Corbett, had taken him in as a puppy when his brother could no longer put up with his habit of chewing up furniture.

The cup had been on display in central London, and supposedly was being heavily guarded when it was stolen in the months leading up to the tournament.

Police made the case a high priority, but were still stumbling by the time Pickles, out for a walk, sniffed out the Jules Rimet Trophy in a clump of shrubs. That was 50 years ago yesterday.

“I put the lead on Pickles and he went over to the neighbor’s car,” Corbett recalled in this recent interview with the BBC.

“Pickles drew my attention to a package, tightly bound in newspaper, lying by the front wheel. I picked it up and tore some paper and saw a woman holding a dish over her head, and disks with the words Germany, Uruguay, Brazil. I rushed inside to my wife. She was one of those anti-sport wives. But I said, ‘I’ve found the World Cup! I’ve found the World Cup!'”

Corbett duly rushed the cup to the police station, and immediately became a suspect.

Two days earlier, the police investigation had taken a turn for the worse, according to The Guardian.

A man calling himself Jackson had contacted league officials about how they might reclaim the trophy for £15,000.

An undercover officer was sent to meet Jackson and make the exchange, but Jackson became suspicious it was a set up and fled.

He was caught, but the trophy was not.

Jackson’s real name was Edward Betchley, a small-time thief, and he would only admit to being a middleman.

He refused to disclose the location of the trophy.

cupTwo days later Pickles found it.

Once police became assured Corbett had no part in the theft, he would get the reward money for the trophy, and Pickles became a celebrity. He starred in a feature film, appeared on numerous TV shows and was proclaimed Dog of the Year.

After England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final, Corbett and Pickles were invited to a party celebrating the victory.

The World Cup trophy would be stolen again in 1983 in Brazil, and never recovered.

Pickles died the year after his big find. He saw a cat and took off, his leash trailing behind him. Somehow it got tangled on a tree limb and the dog choked to death.

Corbett buried him in the garden behind his house in Surrey — the house that, thanks to Pickles, he was able to buy with the reward money.