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The Tide Online » Featured, Op-Ed » Hollywood’s animal rights issues

Hollywood’s animal rights issues

By: Isabella Souliere


A Dog’s Life. Photo courtesy Diana Sanchez Uranga via Flickr Creative Commons

Animals have been an entertaining part of our culture in films, television shows, circuses, and much more. Behind the scenes however, their star lives might not be so glamorous. Hollywood has a long history of allegations of animal cruelty. One recent case that has come to the public eye took place on the set of the new movie, “A Dog’s Purpose.”

On Jan. 18, 2017, TMZ released a video from the set of the movie in which a German Shepard was forced into turbulent waters to film a dramatic rescue scene. The video shows the dog trying to run away from a man’s grasp and another video shows the dog almost drowning in the swirling pool of water.

Many people are calling to boycott the movie including animal activists People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The film was set to be released on Jan. 21 but was pushed back to Jan. 27.

The director Lasse Hallstrom gave an interview to Vanity Fair saying, “I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film. I did not witness these actions, which are unacceptable and would never happen with my knowledge. We were all committed to providing a loving, respectful and safe environment for all the animals in the film. I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”

The movie was expected to make $25 million in its opening week, but grossed $18.4 million. The film is still, however, on track to make $75 million. There are no direct laws protecting animals in film but the Animal Humans Association monitors 70 percent of animals in film and television. These representatives make sure animal actors are completely cared for.

In the 1986 movie, Milo and Otis about a pug and a kitten going on adventures, some of the charges of animal abuse were from scenes where a kitten was falling off a cliff into water and the pug was fighting a bear. There were also claims that 20 kittens were killed during the making of the film. The American Human Society gave approval for the film but none of their representatives were on set of the film. Although there were investigations, none of the allegations of abuse have been proven.

Many companies are beginning to acknowledge this sad history and are combating animal abuse allegations by cutting out animals in their shows. Sea World has stopped their killer whale breeding programs and the Ringling Brothers Circus has eliminated their elephant acts to help save endangered elephants. All these allegations of inhumane treatment towards animals raise the question, how far should businesses use animals for entertainment?

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