SASKATOON –A Saskatoon dog rescue group has been caught in the crosshairs of a controversy surrounding the film “A Dog’s Purpose.”
New Hope Dog Rescue had put together a preview screening of the Hollywood movie as a fundraiser in partnership with students from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.
They paid a $1,500 deposit to Cineplex on Jan. 17, one day before video footage of a dog on the film’s set sparked outrage.
Several people have posted on the group’s Facebook page, calling for them to boycott the movie and cancel their event.
But spokeswoman Alix Tumback says they wouldn’t be able to get their deposit back so they’ve made the hard decision to go ahead with the screening.
Toronto-based Animal Justice has filed animal cruelty complaints over the footage, which they say shows the filmmakers forcing a distressed German shepherd dog into turbulent water.
The American Humane society has also launched an investigation and says it has suspended its safety representative who worked on the film, while the movie’s director, Lasse Hallstrom, says he’s been promised any wrongdoing will be punished.
The film’s producer, Amblin Entertainment, and distributor, Universal Pictures, say they are confident that “great care and concern was shown” for the dog, which they say had rehearsed the stunt for several days.
“We at first were quite appalled at what was in the video,” says Tumback. “But we have to wait for the facts to come out.
“We don’t have money just hanging around. We had to think about the facts that were up front, and is this something feasible?”
Several of the rescue’s supporters have cancelled their tickets for the viewing, saying they can’t watch the film after seeing the controversial video.
Tumback says she understands why someone would choose not to go.
“We don’t want to see people coming to this movie even though they might be uncomfortable,” she says. “Animal love is a challenging one to work with; it’s something people are pretty passionate about.”
She says some people who cancelled their tickets still made donations, but she’s worried the rescue group will take a loss on the fundraiser.