HOLLYWOOD, Ca. — After TMZ posted a video showing a German shepherd terrified to shoot a water scene for A Dog’s Purpose, animal lovers nationwide denounced the film. Producer Gavin Polone along with Birds & Animals Unlimited, which provided the animals for A Dog’s Purpose, said the video had been edited to obscure safety precautions that were in place and to remove footage of the dog happily jumping into the water. Though the outrage and PETA’s call for a boycott and protests outside theaters in major U.S. cities continued, they did not wreck the film’s performance at the box office: It still made $18.4 million in its opening weekend.
At the Arclight theater in Hollywood, approximately 50 protestors stood on Friday night to urge passersby not to see A Dog’s Purpose. Some of them worked or regularly volunteered for PETA, but all of them were mobilized by the video, which had gone viral the previous week. Lisa Lange, senior vice president of communications at PETA, said the video had provoked more action than her organization’s own investigation into Birds & Animals Unlimited. “You can’t forget, once you see something like that happen to a dog,” Lange said.
The leaked video inspired some who haven’t worked with PETA to seek out the protest. Sandra Syatt, for example, went to the Arclight because she was overcome by emotion after seeing the clip on TMZ. “I just imagined if that was happening to my dog,” she said. Syatt’s golden retriever, Oscar, was almost 12 when he died in 2015, and Syatt was wearing a bone-shaped locket with his name engraved on it and a bit of his fur inside.
Marisol Uribe signed up to receive emails from PETA after seeing the clip on Instagram. “I have two dogs, and I love them; they’re my babies,” said the first-time protester as she handed out flyers.
“I wanted to hold a sign, but they ran out,” she added.
Dawn Jaro came to the theater and held a sign for more than an hour next to her sister Justene Jaro after Justene simply described the video to her. “I can’t bear to watch these things,” Dawn said.