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A Dog’s Purpose draws accusations of animal cruelty as disturbing on-set footage surfaces

on January 18, 2017, 2:55pm

The movie A Dog’s Purpose is about a dog attempting to find the meaning of his life through continual reincarnation and multiple owners. As revealed in unsettling new video captured during the production’s filming, however, a dog’s purpose on set was to get the damn shot, regardless of its comfort or willingness.

TMZ posted footage taken November 2015 at a filming location outside Winnipeg, Manitoba. The scene involved a German Shepherd swimming through rough waters, an effect achieved by placing eight outboard motors into a pool, according to TMZ’s sources. As you can see in the video (warning: it’s hard to watch), the dog is extremely resistant to going into the churning water. After a trainer attempts twice to force the animal in — once holding him by the collar as he’s dipped into the pool — the dog does eventually end up swimming, though the video cuts out the part showing him actually entering the pool.

At the end of the clip, the pup is seen pushed down to the end of the pool by the turbulent water as he struggles to swim across. A trainer in the pool attempts to call him towards her, but the scrambling dog ends up submerged. You can hear panic set in as people yell, “Cut it,” and two handlers rush to help the animal. Watch the disturbing footage below.

TMZ reports that director Lasse Hallström was present during the particular scene, and that at least one crew member felt “extremely disturbed” by how the German Shepard was being treated. Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures sent TMZ a statement saying they’ve seen the footage 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,” the companies said.

A Dog’s Purpose opens January 27th … if you’re into that sort of thing.