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Tag: stunt

Grammy puppies-for-the-losers gag falls flat

At the 60th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night, host James Corden handed out puppies to the losers in the Best Comedy Album category.

Yuk. Yuk.

Amid all that self-righteousness about the “Me Too” too movement, all those white roses to show solidarity, and all that trying way too hard to make a point about exploitation of the vulnerable by rich and powerful show business figures, Corden’s boneheaded idea was to hand out puppies as booby prizes, apparently having no clue just how hypocritical that stunt was.

Not only did it put some very young dogs in a fearful and stressful situation, it sent a pretty revolting message at the same time — that dogs are property, or at least comedy props.

News media on the day after seemed to be going along with the stunt, portraying the dogs as actual gifts, and not one lifting a finger to find out where the dogs came from, or report on where they ended up.

EBL News, in one of the most insipid reports, called the use of the dogs “hilarious and darling.” Entertainment Tonight reported that “those adorable consolation prizes” all went home with their trainer.

The puppy distribution came after Dave Chappelle’s win for the Best Comedy Album.

“Congratulations Dave Chappelle. Now I should say to all the nominees this evening who are not going home with a Grammy … I don’t want anybody to be upset tonight,” Corden said. “So the good news is, nobody goes home empty handed, because all night we’ll be handing out consolation puppies. Okay, so if you didn’t get a Grammy, you get a puppy!”

Handlers then delivered puppies to the losers — Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan and Sarah Silverman.

PETA, in a statement, said the stunt showed how out of touch Grammy organizers are.

“It’s beyond belief that Grammy organizers are so out of touch with the issues of the day that they failed to grasp what is now commonly understood: that dogs are intelligent, complex animals — not toys, props, or prizes. While the stress of being passed around under bright lights by strangers may have been upsetting for these young pups, using them as prizes for runners-up sent a dangerous message to viewers that dogs aren’t the family members for life that they should be. In a country where millions of homeless dogs are waiting in shelters every year and are euthanized because there simply aren’t enough good homes for them, this stunt is no joke.”

Sarah Silverman later tweeted that she fell in love with her puppy at first sight, whereas Jim Gaffigan tweeted, “That dog was delicious.”

The sad part is, it could haven been a stunt that worked. It could have used adoptable pups. It could have made a point about adoption. It could have alerted and assured viewers that dogs were humanely treated and weren’t being handed out willy nilly, as if they were parting gifts for the also-rans.

AHA concludes no animals were harmed in the making of “A Dog’s Purpose”

dogspurp

As expected, the American Humane Association announced that an investigation into the treatment of a dog on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose” confirmed that — like their seal of approval says — no animals were harmed during the making of the movie.

The AHA said the investigation was conducted by a “respected animal cruelty expert,” who concluded that an edited video given to the website TMZ “mischaracterized” the events on the set.

“The decisions by the individual or individuals who captured and deliberately edited the footage, and then waited longer than 15 months to release the manipulated video only days before the movie’s premiere, raise serious questions about their motives and ethics,” the AHA said in a statement.

hercThe AHA (almost as an aside) did admit that Hercules, the German shepherd performing the stunt in question, showed signs of stress that should have been recognized earlier, and efforts to get the dog into the water should have been “gentler.”

Apparently it has no plans to further pursue that piece of the controversy — the one that initially led one actor and the executive producer to say the dog did not appear to have been handled correctly.

The video that aired on TMZ was actually two videos, shot on different days and spliced together in editing — the result of which was misleading, the AHA says, because it makes it appear the dog, after resisting going in the water and becoming stressed, was made to go back into the water.

“The first video scene was stopped after the dog showed signs of stress. The dog was not forced to swim in the water at any time,” the organization said.

While acknowledging attempts to get the dog in the water might have gone on too long, and been a little heavy handed, the investigation didn’t deem that “harmful” to the dog.

The dog resisted going into the pool after the location where he was to enter it had changed.

As for the second part of the video — showing the dog going under the churning water before someone on the set yells “cut it” — the AHA said:

“Handlers immediately assisted the dog out of the water, at which point he was placed in a warming tent and received an examination that found no signs of stress. Eyewitnesses report that the dog wanted to go back in the water. Still, out of an abundance of caution, American Humane stopped filming of any more scenes with the dog.”

The findings of the investigation come as no surprise, given AHA CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert said last week, in a piece she wrote for Variety, that the video was “misleading” and “edited” and reflected no wrongdoing on anyone’s part.

It seemed an unusual statement for the head of the watchdog group to be making, especially before the investigation was completed. While the video’s release was clearly timed to hurt the movie — or at least bring those who provided it to TMZ a maximum payoff — Ganzert’s piece was clearly timed to help the movie.

Ganzert’s piece focused more on the leaking of the video — 15 months after it was shot and in the week before the movie’s release — than on what it showed. She focused primarily on PETA, which called for a boycott of the film based on the video.

In its statement on the results of the investigation, AHA again spends at least as much time bashing PETA as it does on the handler’s questionable efforts to get the dog into the pool, as shown in the video, or whether the monitors they assigned to the film stopped those efforts soon enough.

“It is disappointing that the public was misled by a manufactured controversy promoted by a radical organization like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals with a mission to remove animals from films and other parts of our lives,” Dr. Kwane Stewart, the veterinarian who heads American Humane’s ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ program is quoted as saying in the statement.

“We are the first to address and fight cruelty and abuse, and no such things happened on the set of ‘A Dog Purpose,'” he added.

PETA didn’t leak the video, but it did call for a boycott of the movie after it aired on TMZ, which has not said how much they paid for it, or who provided it.

In a report on the investigation’s findings, TMZ said that the AHA statement “virtually ignores criticism from the movie’s Exec Producer that they were asleep at the wheel.”

Producer Gavin Polone, while bad-mouthing PETA as well, said shortly after the video’s release that its first scene clearly showed an over-stressed dog, and that the AHA monitor on set should have stopped the stunt immediately.

Actor Josh Gad, who supplies the voice of the dogs featured in the movie, also said the video was disturbing and the scene should have been stopped as soon as the dog showed resistance to getting in the water.

(Our earlier reports on “A Dog’s Purpose” can be found here.)

“Dog’s Purpose” has solid opening weekend

protest

“A Dog’s Purpose” opened over the weekend to protests, mixed reviews and box office receipts that, while impressive, were slightly less than those it expected before controversy arose over the treatment of one of its canine stars.

The film pulled in $18.4 million over the weekend — less than the estimated $24 million expected before a video was leaked showing a German shepherd resisting efforts to have him perform a stunt.

After the video appeared on TMZ, PETA called for a boycott of the movie.

Initially, many of those involved in making the movie — including its director and actor Josh Gad — said the video was disturbing.

Gad, who supplies the voice of the continually reincarnating dog in the movie, posted on Twitter that the footage left him “shaken and sad … As the proud owner of a rescued dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”

The days leading up to the movie’s release saw a scheduled press preview canceled, Gad go silent, and a well choreographed defense of the movie that included appearances by its star, Dennis Quaid, who insisted no animals were harmed and that the video was misleading.

Even the American Humane Association, which monitors the treatment of animals in TV and movie productions — after suspending the monitor assigned to the film and before its investigation was finished — came out in support of the movie in a PETA-bashing letter published by its CEO.

The studio provided additional footage of the dog willingly performing the stunt during rehearsals to support their stance that he was not being mistreated. The movie’s makers also questioned why the video was leaked a year and a half after it was made — and the week before the movie’s opening — suggesting something nefarious was going on.

Dog lovers, generally a united bunch, found themselves on both sides of the issue — some saying the video showed the dog was pushed too far and supporting the boycott; others saying the leaked video lacked context, that the stunt was eventually called off for that day after the dog resisted, and that nothing cruel took place.

For many fans of the best selling book, there was a feeling that the movie’s sweet, dog-loving message didn’t deserve to be tarnished by a video they viewed as dubious.

Forty-five seconds of the video shows the German shepherd being urged to get into the pool, and dipped into it against his will. Another shorter piece of the video — believed to have been recorded on a different day — shows him struggling in the water and going under.

The water in the pool was being churned by outboard motors to create the effect of river rapids.

While the dog had willingly jumped into the pool during rehearsals, the location of where he was entering the pool was changed on the day of filming.

On opening night, there were small protests, including one outside the Arclight theater in Hollywood. Dozens of protesters held up signs that read, “A dog’s purpose is to be loved. Period” and they chanted “There’s no excuse for animal abuse! Dog’s aren’t props!”

PETA and others argued that the effects the movie makers were after could have been achieved with computer graphics, but the movie’s makers said that would have been too expensive.

Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media’s film was released by Universal Pictures, and its weekend receipts were nearly enough to cover the estimated cost of making it, about $22 million.

“A Dog’s Purpose” came in second to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split,” which tells the story of a man with dissociative identity disorder who takes three teens hostage.

Industry consultants say the leaked video and boycott had some impact on the film’s opening, but apparently a minimal one.

“A Dog’s Purpose is based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, which has spent longer on USA Today’s best-selling book list than any dog book since “Marley & Me.”

(Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)

It’s all good, American Humane CEO says

Suddenly, it seems, that video of a dog being coerced into a pool during the filming of “A Dog’s Purpose” is not so “disturbing” at all.

When the video was first leaked, by TMZ, even the makers of the movie — all avoiding any responsibility for what might have happened — all said at least some aspects of it appeared disturbing.

But in the week leading up to the film’s release, the reassurances that nothing bad happened have poured out — from the author of the popular book of the same name, from the star of the movie, Dennis Quaid, from its producer, even from Ellen Degeneres.

And now even the CEO of the non-profit organization that is supposedly “investigating” the incident(s) seems to be saying — before the investigation is even concluded — that nothing inappropriate happened.

Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of the American Humane Association — the agency that monitors the safety of animals in movie productions — said in a piece written for Variety that the leaked video was “misleading” and “edited” and reflects no wrongdoing on anyone’s part.

“The beautiful story opens at the box office this weekend mired in controversy stemming from the release of an edited video manipulated in an effort to mischaracterize the behind-the-scenes treatment of the film’s four-legged stars,” she wrote.

The film’s official release date is today.

The viral video has provoked a call for a boycott of the movie by PETA, and some conflicting feelings even among dog lovers — both those who insist the German shepherd, named Hercules, is being mistreated, and those who say the edited video is not to be trusted.

The video shows the dog being nudged and coerced to get into a churning pool of water. He had performed the stunt gladly in rehearsals, but the location of where he was entering the pool had been changed on the day of filming.

He clearly resists getting in, and struggles to get out during the first 45 seconds of the video. Another piece of video was edited onto that, showing the dog, on a different day, swimming in the pool before going underwater, at which point someone yells “cut it” and the dog is helped out of the pool.

To restate our take on all this: That second snippet of video is too short, out of context and blurry to draw any conclusions from. The first 45 seconds, in our view, shows a dog being pushed more than a dog performing a stunt in a movie should be pushed. The stunt was called off that day, but not soon enough.

Is that a crime? No. Should it result in the movie being boycotted? We vote no, but that’s up to you. Should there be repercussions — say a warning, or a fine? Probably, but the agency that would impose that appears to have already made up its mind.

Should the makers of the movie, somewhere along the line, admit to an iota of responsibility for what was a small mistake on the set of the movie they were making? Should they make some amends, maybe offering a percentage of opening week receipts to dog-related charities (likely not PETA)?

Well, that would be classy — a whole lot classier than circling the wagons, denying responsibility, and launching a public relations effort to rescue, not a dog, but their movie.

Yesterday, Dennis Quaid defended the movie on The Today Show, and then did the same on Ellen.

Meanwhile, in her piece for Variety, Ganzert acknowledged that the dog “appeared to show signs of resistance” to getting in the water. The rest of the piece is a defense of the movie, a diatribe against PETA and more questioning of why the video was leaked a year and a half after it was taken.

But what about those 45 seconds?

“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) swiftly called for a boycott of the film, and has since continued to exploit — and further sensationalize — the controversy as an opportunity to argue that the animal actors who enchant and educate audiences don’t belong on the Silver Screen,” Ganzert continued.

But what about those 45 seconds?

“A full spectrum of rigorous safety measures was in place to protect the dog throughout this particular scene,” she added. “In addition to one of American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives, five individuals –including scuba divers and animal handlers — were present on the set at the time to ensure the safety of the dog.”

But what about those 45 seconds?

Here is what I would like to hear from the AHA — were the methods used trying to get Hercules in the water during those 45 seconds acceptable to them? Was the level of stress the dog was allowed to reach acceptable? Should a dog be allowed to get stressed at all during the filming of a movie stunt?

AHA suspended the monitor it had assigned to the film pending the results of the “third-party” investigation it says has been launched.

But with the publication of his Variety article, it’s pretty clear what Ganzert and the AHA want that “ongoing” investigation to find.

Dog’s can’t talk. Dogs don’t have a union. If the American Humane Association has appointed itself as their guardian in Hollywood — and is soliciting our donations to carry out that mission — we’d like to think it is objective, vigilant and doesn’t give a hot damn about the profit margins of movie makers.

In that respect, Ganzert’s article, on the eve of the movie’s release, is not too reassuring.

As for the movie’s makers, we’d like to think that your production treated dogs in a manner as sweet as your movie’s message and that, if you didn’t, even in small way that has been blown out of proportion, you are at least a little bit sorry it.

A coldhearted cold cut prank on Facebook

hamdogIn retrospect, it’s hard to see how a photo of a dog with ham on his face left so many people with egg on their’s.

And yet, thousands of good-hearted souls were apparently fooled by a Facebook post of a dog with a slice of ham draped over his eyes and snout.

Two days before Christmas, the photo was posted on Facebook by a man — equal parts grinch and troll, we suspect — who offered this description:

“This poor dog was badly burned and disfigured trying to save his family from a house fire. One like = one prayer. One share = ten prayers.

Many of the animal lovers of Facebook — and their numbers are legion — went on to like it, share it and leave comments voicing their best wishes for the pooch.

Perhaps it’s because the ham slice does look a little like bloodied gauze. Perhaps it was the prayer request that accompanied the photos. Perhaps Christmas spirit had a little to do with the outpouring of well wishes that followed the posting.

With many dog lovers, compassion kicks in immediately — reflexively, even — and long before their cynicism does.

(We’d only hope that none of the well-wishers went so far as to send any donations to the jerk who wrote the post.)

Stephen Roseman, a few days after posting the photo and desciption on Facebook, explained in a comment that it was all a joke:

“People, people this isn’t even my dog, I found this picture on fascistbook, stole it, and decided to use it in a prank to fool these religitards.

“So I did, and low and behold idiots left and right fall for it, and those that didn’t, seem to think they have a superior intelligence or something, for pointing out the obvious.

“Keep in mind, I never told a single soul to like this, that is their choice, I don’t give a f*ck either way.”

Apparently Roseman was trying to pull a fast one — not just on those sensitive and soft-hearted types who fell for the story, but on those more cynical ones who voiced the opinion that the story was clearly fake.

Roseman apparently has no use for either of those.

Fortunately, for him, soliciting prayers (and shares) under false pretenses is not a crime (a sin, maybe, but not a crime). So it’s likely his only punishment — assuming those death threats against him are idle chatter — will be losing some Facebook friends.

“I’ve literally lost count on how many death threats I’ve accumulated because of Ham Dog,” he said in a subsequent Facebook comment. “I’m not concerned, but rather amused, regardless, I’m armed everywhere I go anyways. I find it motivating…”

The prank has since been exposed and straightened out by Snopes.com and several news media outlets.

But not before thousands had responded, many of them voicing sympathy and passing on their prayers. Using his own, shares-to-prayers formula, the dog got 1.3 million of them.

We have only one of our own to pass along: That lo and behold (that’s lo, Stephen, with no “w”) Stephen Roseman might one day grow up.

(Photo: Facebook)

Britain’s got talent, and some shysters, too

We won’t call it the scandal of the century, or even of the year, but the dog who won “Britain’s Got Talent” didn’t actually perform the tightrope-walking portion of the skit that so delighted viewers and judges.

“Matisse was replaced for the show-stopping tight-rope trick by another dog, which was not mentioned on the show,” the Daily Mail reported yesterday.

o'dwyerdogsThe revelation that Matisse didn’t do all his own stunts (because he has a fear of heights), and that a lookalike stunt dog named Chase was snuck into the act, was first made by the dog’s owner, Jules O’Dwyer, on Britain’s ITV show, “Lorraine.”

Walking the tightrope was the high point of the act, which was built around a story involving some sausages stolen by Matisse from a three-legged dog named Skippy.

O’Dwyer plays the role of a police officer in the act.

Only Matisse, Skippy and O’Dwyer dog took bows on stage after the act, accepting accolades from the judges, some of who were left near tears by the performance.

Matisse was named the winner of the £250,000 prize.

Some viewers expressed outrage on social media about the switch.

“So it turns out the dog on the tightrope was a double for Matisse on #BGT?! Basically conning the public!!! Shameful!” Fiona Fairbairn wrote on Twitter.

An online poll by The Telegraph showed opinion was split on whether the judges and public had been deceived, with 51 percent considering it a scandal and 49 percent saying they saw no problem.