A Saskatoon dog rescue is caught in the crosshairs of controversy surrounding the film “A Dog’s Purpose.”
New Hope Dog Rescue had put together a preview screening of the Hollywood movie in partnership with students from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine as a fundraiser.
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.
In the video first published by TMZ, a German Shepherd appears to be forced against its will into churning water by a trainer. The dog attempts to run away, but is pulled by the collar.
In another piece of footage, the dog disappears under water and trainers rush to help as someone yells “cut!”
“We at first were quite appalled at what was in the video,” said Alix Tumback, social media manager with the rescue. “But we have to wait for the facts to come out.”
Several people have posted on the rescue’s Facebook page, calling for them to boycott the film and cancel their event.
However, Tumback said they had contractual obligations, and wouldn’t be able to get their deposit back.
“We don’t have money just hanging around,” she said. “We had to think about the facts that were up front, and is this something feasible?”
She said it was a tough discussion for organizers, but they’ve decided to go on with the event.
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 said 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 said. “Animal love is a challenging one to work with; it’s something people are pretty passionate about.”
While ticket sales have slowed and some people have cancelled, many are finding other ways to support the rescue.
Tumback said they’ve received donations after some cancellations, while others have bought tickets with no intention of attending the screening.
Still, she’s worried New Hope may take a loss on the fundraiser in light of the video.