A Dog’s Purpose: Accusations of Animal Cruelty Abound

Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallström is known for his sentimental fare – Chocolat, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, My Life as a Dog – and he’s back with another tearjerker in A Dog’s Purpose, the story of one dog’s everlasting soul from canine lifetime to canine lifetime.

Based on the bestselling 2010 novel by W. Bruce Cameron, the epic existential film centers on one devoted dog who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he loves.

The Film

A Dog's Purpose is not your typical “talking animal” movie, though the ever-reincarnating canine, Bailey, does share his thoughts via voiceover (Josh Gad provides the narration). We first meet our hero as a gorgeous golden retriever whose best friend is a boy named Ethan (Bryce Gheisar). Ethan and Bailey go everywhere together, thick as thieves. But before long, the boy becomes a teenager and his interest starts to lean toward school, girls, and cars… however, he doesn’t leave Bailey behind. The two remain companions until Ethan grows up, and Bailey passes away.

Bailey’s spirit returns in the form of a tough German shepherd police dog whose life is full of excitement and danger. When that life is spent, others come along (from a Corgi to a St. Bernard), until… (I hate to be spoiler-fraught, but the trailer tells the entire plot from beginning to end)… Bailey and Ethan (now played by Dennis Quaid) are reunited.

I guess it really doesn’t matter how it ends – A Dog’s Purpose is about a journey that normally would have been watch-worthy. That is, if you could see through the sea of tears.

However, as a movie that's really made for animal lovers, the accusations of animal cruelty are more than disconcerting.

The Accusations

TMZ posted an unsettling new video taken November 2015, during the production’s filming. The footage shows one very frightened German Shepherd forced to swim through rough waters against its will. The dog tries to resist participating in the shot, unwilling to even enter the churning waters.

The pup finally does take the plunge (though it’s unclear based on the video whether the dog willingly entered or was thrown in). What is clear, though, is that the animal struggles in the turbulent waters until it ends up entirely submerged.

While the film studio investigates the incident, you can watch the disturbing TMZ footage and decide whether it’s a movie for you.

Will you watch A Dog’s Purpose or boycott the treatment of animals in Hollywood?

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Visit Common Sense Media for more info on this movie’s appropriateness for your child.

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