A video showing a man lowering a struggling dog into fast flowing water has surfaced and since gone viral online this week.
The video was shot on the set of A Dogs Purpose, a film about a dog who is reincarnated and searches for purpose through his multiple lives.
The uncomfortable scene shows the stressed German Shepherd, named Hercules, being forced to perform in artificial rapids.
— ↟ (@natureIover) January 19, 2017
The video has casued outrage online, with animal rights activist organisations such as PRTA calling for a boycott of the film.
In the midst of the controversy, Universal and Amblin who are producing the film, called off this weekend's planned premier.
"Because Amblin’s review into the edited video released yesterday is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog’s Purpose to cancel this weekend’s premiere and press junket," the Hollywood company told Time.
"Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals."
If your purpose is to be the best dog guardian you can be, do NOT buy a ticket to #ADogsPurpose No dog should suffer for a movie.
— PETA (@peta) January 19, 2017
PETA started a hashtag on Twitter called #BoycottADogsPurpose.
The hashtag has spawned hundreds of tweets from shocked animal lovers.
— caitlyn the greatlyn (@caitlyntyler21) January 19, 2017
"Watching that poor dog being forced in water, so scared he has to cling on the wall makes me cry and sick to my stomach," said one concerned viewer.
"I couldn't be more excited to see this movie until I saw the horrible truth behind it. Stop animal cruelty," said another.
I really wanted to see #ADogsPurpose and then you find out they mistreated the dogs on set. "Just throw him in!" Why don't I throw you in
— erica (@careless_seoul) January 18, 2017
Amblin and Universal have since stated that Hercules was not harmed in the filming of the movie.
"Since the emergence of the footage, Amblin has engaged with many associated with the production of the film, including safety personnel, trainers and stunt coordinators as part of their in-depth review."
"While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking.”