Animal lovers hoped “A Dog’s Purpose” would be a heartwarming film about companionship and love — until leaked footage that seemed to depict animal cruelty spread on the Internet and via social media, altering the opinions of many potential moviegoers. However, the footage, which was filmed in 2015 and depicted a panic-stricken German shepherd being “forced” into churning water for one of the movie’s scenes, was manipulated to harm the movie’s reputation. Regardless of this controversy, “A Dog’s Purpose” still has a serious problem: The animal “actors” came from a company with a reputation for neglecting its animals. Mistreating animals for our entertainment is entirely inexcusable.
The animals in “A Dog’s Purpose” came from a supplier known as Birds & Animals Unlimited. (This company also supplied animals for “Game of Thrones” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”) Undercover footage released by PETA shows dogs kept in barren enclosures and large, open wounds on a pig, among other forms of animal cruelty. In the entertainment industry and specifically at Birds & Animals Unlimited, “living beings are treated like inventory,” according to PETA’s video.
According to Bob Ferber, a retired L.A. city attorney’s office prosecutor quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, “They [Birds & Animals Unlimited] are keeping animals the way a local, poor, underfunded shelter would do it. These facilities are pathetic-looking for a private facility making money off of these animals.”
Thus, in the movie industry, the disclaimer “No animals were harmed in the making of this film” may not tell the entire story. The perfect shot in a movie isn’t worth it if we are perpetuating the suffering and mistreatment of animals for the sake of two hours of entertainment.
As adorable as movies with real animal actors may seem, we cannot suggest to the entertainment industry that the mistreatment of animals is in any form acceptable. With the refinement of computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology, it may be time that we stop exploiting live animals altogether and putting an end to companies that mistreat the animals in their possession. We can choose not to support movies with animals from Birds & Animals Unlimited and open our eyes (rather than turn a blind eye) to the cruelty that may underlie our favorite films. While individually choosing to boycott movies may seem ineffective, when taken collectively, a boycott makes one thing clear: Under no circumstances is it permissible to subject an animal to inhumane treatment for our own entertainment.