New Hope Dog Rescue in Saskatoon won’t be hosting a fundraiser screening of “A Dog’s Purpose” after all.
The group faced criticism for deciding to go forward with the film preview after video emerged that appeared to show a dog being forced into churning water for a scene in the movie.
The controversy sparked calls to boycott the film from animal activist groups, including PETA.
New Hope and their partner Global Vets, a student organization at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, were initially concerned about losing money on the fundraiser, having put down a $1,500 deposit they thought was non-refundable.
The rescue was able to reverse that decision Friday after Cineplex confirmed they would waive the cancellation fee for the event.
“They understand exactly what we’re going through, they were very empathetic,” said Alix Tumback, social media manager for New Hope. “We are now able to stick to our morals and ethics … and not do a fundraiser with the premier of (‘A Dog’s Purpose’).”
She said they’re now offering full refunds to people who bought tickets, but some are asking the rescue to keep the money as a donation. Those dollars will be split between New Hope and Global Vets.
Waiting for facts
While the rescue has cancelled the event, Tumback said she wished some who criticized New Hope had waited for the whole story on the film’s controversy.
“Before you start attacking rescues or questioning their morals or ethics … make sure you wait it out, wait for the facts,” Tumback said.
More details emerged Friday on the situation, indicating the German Shepherd had not been forced to perform the water scene after he showed discomfort. Instead, the shoot was cancelled, and picked up the next day when he willingly jumped into the water.
The initial video obtained by TMZ cut the two days together, making it appear as though the dog had been thrown in.
Tumback said she believes the story isn’t over yet, and hopes the incident can spark a larger conversation in the film industry.
“It brings up a general question,” she said. “Should we be allowing dogs in movies to begin with?”
Tumback said in the meantime, New Hope and Global Vets may schedule another film screening to raise funds for the organizations.