‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Filmmakers Defend Treatment of Canine Actor

The leaked video was discomforting enough to prompt calls for a boycott: A German shepherd, filming a scene for the coming movie “A Dog’s Purpose,” fought with a trainer to stay out of a pool he clearly didn’t want to go in, then later briefly sank as humans raced to lift him out of the water.

The human behavior in the video, obtained last week by TMZ, was roundly condemned. It was a crippling story for a movie about the love between humans and their pets; dog lovers said they’d skip the movie, and a premiere last week was canceled.

Now, just before the movie is to be released on Friday, several of the people involved in the film are offering more details about what happened in the leaked video. Some of them remain divided between condemning the actions seen in the video and insisting that the treatment of the dog wasn’t quite as bad as it might have looked. They say that the dog was never forced into the water, as the video seems to show, and that the two scenes were recorded at different times.

Dennis Quaid, one of the stars of the film, said on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Monday that “the video does not tell the entire story,” and that the animals “were treated with the greatest respect and care and compassion.” He added that he was not present when the scene was shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in October 2015.

“The dog was fine,” he said on NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday. “This was a piece of video that was shot during the making of this. Some unknown person at the time. He also spliced, edited and manipulated that to make it look as if the dog was being abused. The dog had been in that water happily, and even afterwards too.”

The German shepherd, a 2-year-old named Hercules, is now “happy and healthy,” Amblin Entertainment, the film’s producer, and Universal Pictures, its distributor, said in a joint statement last week. Hercules was supplied and trained by Birds and Animals Unlimited, a company that frequently works with the film industry.

The American Humane Association, which monitors animals on movie sets and had a representative present during filming, said on Tuesday that the video was “misleading and edited.” Production was stopped after Hercules showed signs of stress, and he was not forced to swim, it said.

Several of the association’s findings…