As I suspected when the story broke, video of a frightened dog being … let’s say, strongly encouraged, to get into a pool during the filming of a “A Dog’s Purpose” has led to an explosive response from dog lovers on the Internet.
What I didn’t suspect was so many saying we should withhold judgment.
Here’s an example from my own Facebook page — a comment in response to either my ohmidog! post, or a previous comment from a reader who had decided not to see the movie. It urges viewers of the video not to “rush to crucifixion”:
“I also know that there are HOURS of footage to the contrary which this was conveniently edited from, and calculatedly released just prior to the film’s premiere. A PETA plant, I believe. I also personally know several people behind this film. I know how shocked, appalled, stunned, mortified they were. I know they immediately sought answers, spent all of yesterday viewing all TRUE, raw film from this exact scene shoot as well as several prior rehearsals … Closed minds, open mouths, soapboxes, rushing to judgment, social media & MEDIA are DANGEROUS TO GOOD PEOPLE.”
Peruse social media and you’ll find, for every 10 people expressing outrage, at least one saying the video was edited (as it clearly was), that there’s a conspiracy afoot (as is likely) and that we shouldn’t have an opinion about what we see on the video until we see it “in context.”
Guess what? I don’t, in this case, need context. Show me hours of footage of Hercules, the German shepherd, being pampered by his handlers and it won’t make a whit of difference.
Even the author of the best-selling book the movie is based on, while admitting mistakes were made, is spinning things as positively as possible.
“…When I was on set, the ethic of everyone was the safety and comfort of the dogs,” W. Bruce Cameron wrote on his Facebook page. “I have since viewed footage taken of the day in question, when I wasn’t there, and it paints an entirely different picture.”
“The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water — I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool,” he added.
Again, it’s the argument that the dog was mostly treated right. That’s good to know, but not the least bit relevant.
The 45 seconds showing the handler nudge, push and lower the dog in the water against his will make it clear he was frightened, resistant and stressed — and that should have been enough to call off the stunt, at the outset.
That eventually they maybe did, for that day, or for that dog, doesn’t change the 45 seconds.
The producer, the director, and one of the stars have all said they found the video disturbing. The American Humane Association agrees, and they’ve placed the representative they assigned to monitor the movie on leave.
And yet the apologists — motivated maybe by their love of the book, or by their hate for PETA, or by their ties to industries that exploit dogs — keep saying it is too early to say anything bad occurred.
That said, what the video shows is only borderline abuse, if it’s abuse at all. Hercules was not physically harmed. In the history of animals in the entertainment industry, far worse things have happened, which is why this IS a story and why vigilance and monitoring are necessary in movie productions involving live animals.
Pursuing criminal charges, or a boycott of the movie (as PETA is calling for), may be over-reactions. I won’t say what the video shows meets the legal definition for animal cruelty.
But stating this is not proper treatment for an animal in a movie? I have no qualms with doing that. And I have no problem pointing out perfectly realistic results could have been achieved with computer graphics.
After Hercules went in and out of the churning water — outboard motors were used to create the effect of river rapids — the video cuts to another scene showing a German shepherd in the water, and going under it, for long enough that someone on the set shouted “cut it” and handlers rushed to his aid.
Some reports suggest that part of the video was taken on a different day, and could have even involved a different dog.
That second part of the video, I’d agree, though it does seem to convey a little bit of alarm on the set, is so short and blurry that it does require some context.
But pointing out flaws in the video, or the questionable motivations of those who provided it to TMZ (probably for a fee), does nothing to excuse the behavior on set — or the movie maker’s bottom line responsibility for it.
Cut through the haze of Internet hubbhub, sparring, intrigue, and guesswork and what we can see in the first part of the video — in or out of context — is enough to remind us that animals in the entertainment industry need to be protected, and that they should never be forced to pursue stunts against their will.
That, I suggest, should be step one in sorting through this episode — seeing the underlying concern, not obfuscating it — whether you were a party to it, or just watching from the outside.
Step two? The movie’s makers need to accept responsibility, and none seem to have gotten anywhere close to doing that.
Instead, they almost all seem to be saying “I was disturbed by video. I didn’t see it when it happened. I wasn’t there. Mistakes were made. I would have stopped it. Why was the video just now leaked?”
Movie fans, dog lovers, and most of all Hercules, deserve something better than that.
(Photo: Amblin Entertainment)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 23rd, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, amblin entertainment, american humane association, animals, animals in movies, book, churning, context, controversy, cruelty, director, dogs, encouraged, entertainment, fear, forced, fright, german shepherd, handlers, hercules, industry, judgment, lasse hallstrom, leaked, movie, opinions, peta, pets, pool, responsibility, stress, tmz, trainers, treatment, video, w. bruce cameron
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
We don’t abide fake news here on ohmidog!, so we shall not be reporting, at least not with any authority, on reports that the man with the smirk you love to hate — ex-pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli — had dog poop hurled in his face at a speaking event Friday.
We can’t report that as fact, which is a shame, because few more deserve poop in their face than the man who drew national attention in 2015 when his company jacked up the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
TMZ reported unequivocally that the substance hurled was dog poop, while the New York Post said it “reportedly” happened — said report being a Twitter post showing Shkreli having something thrown in his face.
The attack came at a speaking engagement scheduled at UC Davis — with a line up apparently conceived by (as the old Weekly World News used to call him) the Devil himself.
The discussion was to have featured Shkreli and Breitbart columnist/troll/hate speaker extraordinaire Milo Yiannopoulos. Who better to inspire impressionable young minds?
If you don’t believe intellectual thought in this country has been taken over by professional wrestling promoters, consider this: The UC Davis event was one many college campus visits that are part of a “Dangerous Faggot” tour by Yiannopolous.
Actually it wasn’t the devil himself who arranged the event, but the Davis College Republicans Club. The event was canceled after protesters barricaded the venue’s entrance, which resulted in one person getting arrested, according to a university statement.
Yiannopoulos calls himself “the internet’s most fabulous supervillain.” He has also been called the poster boy for new alt right, and his vicious Twitter feeds are filled with racist slurs and bigoted commentary.
Among his more recent victims was actress Leslie Jones.
Shkreli was invited to appear with Yiannopoulos on the UC Davis stop of his tour.
Its upcoming stops include UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Colorado, and University of Washington.
As for the exact substance Shkreli was showered with, he told Mashable in an email that his security team determined what was thrown were leaves.
“The lack of smell, stain or other obvious findings eliminates the possibility,” Shkreli said.
“There was no poop thrown,” he added, bashing initial reports as “fake news.”
Apparently, while he has no problem with fake and outlandish pricing for pharmaceuticals, fake news is bad in his eyes.
Shkreli resigned as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals after his arrest on charges of security fraud.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 16th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alt right, appearance, breitbart, ceo, dangerous fag tour, dog poop, event, hurled, intellectual thought, internet, martin shkreli, Milo Yiannopoulos, panel, pharmaceuticals, poop, price gouging, professional wrestling, smirk, smirker, speech, substance, talk, thrown, troll, turing, uc davis, unknown, video, villain
If I had a cat — and I don’t — I would never let it play video games.
Why would anyone want to take an animal that is always so joyously in the moment — in the natural moment — and immerse it in an artificial, non-tactile, monotonously repetitious, pixelated, and quite possibly addicting world where time passes in a blur?
To take the house pet perhaps best known for being able to make a game out of anything — string, toilet paper roll, dust bunny — and put a $200 iPad in front of it so it can paw at virtual fish? That just strikes me as wrong.
It might be fun for you to watch the first time, and it might even be amusing for the feline for a while.
But then it becomes more obsession than play, and your feline, once a wildly imaginative beast with an admirable knack for making anything fun, is stalking the room, zombie-like, Jonesing for his iPad.
Then, when you try to take their iPads away, they become evil tantrum-throwing monsters who no longer see joy, mystery and adventure in something as mundane as a cardboard box or paper bag.
Sure, it is all starting out innocently enough. Remember, though, we humans started with Pong before progressing to virtual murder and mayhem. If history is any indication cat computer play will progress into darker realms — to the point where cats are tuning the real world out and, albeit virtually, engaging in pretend sex and violence, car theft even, on their computers.
Am I exaggerating to ridiculous proportions? Clearly. But seriously, taking the long view, is this best for cats?
Or will we, with all good intentions, slowly drive them insane?
How long, for example, can you watch this before feeling a certain panic in your soul?
Video games for cats have been catching on for several years now — to the point that even some animal shelters have turned to them.
The Regina Humane Society in Canada turned to iPads last year to keep their resident cats occupied and engaged.
“This is just another way, another tool in our toolbox that allows us to keep our animals healthy and happy while they’re awaiting their special someone who’s going to take them home forever,” said Lisa Koch, executive director.
“Owned cats around the world have apps that they play with on their owners [iPads], and it’s something that we’ve adopted here at the Humane Society for cats who don’t have families to make the environment that they’re living in more stimulating for them mentally.”
Koch said these programs are meant to keep cats active and stimulate them mentally.
Stimulate? Maybe. But does laying down and pawing a mouse on a $200 screen keep a cat more active than batting an actual $1.29 play mouse around the room and chasing it?
Lost, too, if we let cats live their nine lives in the virtual world, is interaction with humans. High-tech pet toys that bill themselves as “interactive” have a way of removing a human’s resolve to spend one-on-one time with their pet, to the point where they no longer feel much need to do so. It’s like setting child in front of TV set for three hours.
The Regina Humane Society does good and noble work, and maybe in a shelter situation, where it’s challenging to keep all the animals occupied, something like this is acceptable.
On the other hand, cats are already the ultimate game inventors. We should be pinpointing what is in them — a play gene? — that makes them so able to look at a spool of thread, a pencil, a puzzle piece, and see an amusement park.
Instead, we appear headed to making them as addicted to the computer screen as we are?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, apps, canada, cat, cat apps, cat games, cat toys, cats, dangers, fish, games, high tech, interactive, ipad, laser games, lasers, mice, petns, play, regina humane society, screen, stimulation, technology, toys, video
This may work as comedy, but I don’t think it’s going curtail this Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s snoring.
The video was posted on YouTube this week by Tal Solomon, who describes himself as a comedian.
Judging from the comments the post has received, not everybody’s laughing.
“Typical male behavior,” one comment reads, “his dog is probably a female and since the male in this video doesn’t have a wife to harass he abuses his female dog with sleep deprivation. It’s so sad what the male population is up to nowadays, the patriarchy, which we can see in it’s clearest form in this video, is disgusting!”
Whoa. I don’t know how the comment-maker reads all that into the video.
I doubt this method will work on dogs, or people.
But my bigger question is, if a recording of the dog’s snoring wakes him (or her) up, why doesn’t his (or her) snoring wake him (or her) up?
And that pumping up of the volume? We wouldn’t call it abusive, but it’s pretty unfair.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 4th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, cavalier king charles, dog, dogs, humor, pets, recording, snoring, snoring dogs, tal solomon, training, video
The true meaning of loyalty, like the true meaning of Christmas, often goes overlooked.
Leave it to a Ukranian dog named Panda to show us the epitome of the former here in the season of the latter.
After his friend Lucy was apparently injured when hit by a train, Panda reportedly spent two days at her side — on the tracks — as more oncoming trains passed over the two of them.
Malafeyev said as they approached the dogs, an oncoming train came into view, and he recorded it as it passed over the dogs.
“I saw a train approaching – and felt sick,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“The male dog heard the sound of the approaching train, came close to the female dog and laid down next to her. Both of them pushed their heads towards the ground, and let the train pass.”
Local media in Uzhgorod published news reports about the dogs, and tabloids in the UK picked up the story, pulling out their adjectives lists to describe the “spine-tingling” but also “heartwarming” video and recounting the “harrowing” ordeal of the “terrified” dogs who faced “certain” death in the “bitter” cold.
If ever there was a dog story that didn’t need to be injected with hyperbole, this was it. But stories in the Daily Mail, The Sun and others are all oozing with it, and both overdo it a bit in describing what’s going on in the dog’s heads with human emotions.
“Loyalty” is the only one I would find acceptable, because even though there are human versions of it, I’m pretty sure dogs invented it.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, denis malafeyev, dog, dogs, dogs on tracks, emotion, emotions, facebook, human, loyalty, lucy, panda, pets, run over, tracks, train, tseglovka, ukraine, uzhgorod, video
Will and Harris Morgan thought they were going to Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) Friday morning to drop off donations they had gathered for homeless dogs.
But their parents had a Christmas surprise in store for them.
Watch and see.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 26th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoption, animals, baltimore, baltimore animal rescue & care, barcs, brothers, christmas, dogs, donation, harris morgan, new dog, pets, shelters, video, will morgan