“A Dog’s Purpose” was engulfed in controversy when behind-the-scenes footage taken from the set of the 2017 film showed an apparently terrified German Shepherd being forced into a swimming pool full of water, with eight outboard motors reportedly churned to recreate a turbulent river.
The video sparked outrage, which led to a call to boycott the movie by PETA and the cancellation of the film’s premiere.
Additional footage, however, indicated that the dog — Hercules — was comfortable in the water, and the footage painted a misleading picture of what took place. W. Bruce Cameron, the author of the book upon which the movie was based and screenwriter for the film, was joined by star Dennis Quaid in insisting that the dog was actually anxious and eager to jump into the water.
Meanwhile, a subsequent investigation concluded that “no animals were harmed in those scenes and numerous preventative safety measures were in place,” and that the video had been deliberately edited to “mischaracterize” what had taken place.
Quaid addressed the controversy once again, discussing what he’d witnessed on the set during his new animal-themed podcast “The Pet Show”.
According to Quaid, the dog was never in danger and the video that kicked off the controversy “was a scam.”
As Quaid explained, “What happened was the dog jumps into the water… there were divers, scuba divers, three of them, underneath the water. One of the trainers reached down to give the dog a rest, and he pulled him up, and it looks like he’s pulling him up and choking him by the collar.”
What isn’t seen in the video, Quaid continued, “is that there’s a table right below the dog, so the dog can rest his feet on the table. He’s not just being held up.”
Discussing the part of the video in which the dog claws at the side of the pool, Quaid insisted that what’s not seen tells the actual story.
“[The dog] goes under, and that’s where the guy cuts,” Quaid added. “Well, there were two divers waiting for him right there, it wasn’t even a second-and-a-half. They lifted him up, handed him to the trainer right by the pool, and the dog didn’t even wait to get a collar on, he ran right to the other side of the pool to do it again. He loved it.”