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A Dog’s Purpose receives damaging backlash in the face of animal rights controversy

Flickr labeled for reuse

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A Dog's Purpose the novel by W. Bruce Cameron

Brianna Kelly, Colonia High School

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The heartfelt film, A Dog’s Purpose, based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, was released on January 27th, 2017. Amidst some animal rights controversies, the film that had been projected to make roughly $25 million opening weekend. However, it made only $20 million and gained increasingly damaging backlash.

This film, starring Dennis Quaid (older Ethan) and Josh Gad (voice of Bailey), faced backlash over a scene with a German Shepherd. In the film, the police dog, named Ellie, jumps into harsh waters in attempt to save a young girl. Some footage was released during filming that made many viewers uneasy. The clip showed the dog as it is reluctant to get into the rough, man-made current on set. At one point in the clip, it looks as though the pup begins to struggle and go underwater. Crew members then rush to help her, and the clip is cut off. The main concern was that the pup had been in danger and had been afraid to go in the water in the first place.

However, after the American Humane Society, who is in charge of animal safety in the entertainment industry, looked over the tape, it was determined that there had been no abuse and that the clip was “misleading and edited”.

Despite the controversies the film faced, A Dog’s Purpose proved to be a heart-breaker that was so fast-paced that it left hardly any time for viewers to be sad for too long after the end of each dog’s life. The film starts out with an unnamed puppy being caught by dog catchers and is then put down. Then, the next thing the pup knows, it’s been reincarnated into another dog, who is later named Bailey. He is soon found by a young boy, named Ethan, after being locked in an overheated car with no water.

Ethan and his mother take the dog in and raise him. Bailey becomes an important part of their family and protects them in every way he can. The pup becomes deeply attached to the family, until Ethan, who was now a graduated from high school, goes off to college. Soon after Ethan leaves, Bailey becomes so sick that he has to be put down. The film follows Bailey throughout 3 other reincarnations after his life with Ethan is over.

After each upsetting end to another one of “Bailey’s” lives, (as he isn’t technically Bailey anymore even though he continues to call himself that) the viewers have hardly any time to be upset over what’s happened, as Bailey then begins a new life with a new owner. Some of them are good, some of them not so much, but always Bailey remembers his life with Ethan. Later, during the last reincarnation of Bailey’s that we see, he is left abandoned by his old owners. He recognizes the smells around him and soon finds his way back to Ethan’s old home. There, he finds a much older Ethan. Ethan soon comes to realize that this dog is his old beloved friend. Bailey soon after manages to reconnect Ethan with people of his past.

The film is one ultimately about love and life, and of course dogs. A Dog’s Purpose showed how important a dog truly is in life. The happy and excitable animals have helped humans in all walks of life, and the film captured how impactful they can be on people’s lives.

The film and the owners shown within it represent different types of dog owners across the world, the good, the bad, the ones with the good intentions but simply don’t have the appropriate means to have a dog. Bailey was a police dog, an abandoned dog, a beloved dog, and so much more to each of his owners. Each of Bailey’s lives made an impact on those around him. He remembered each of his owners, but one always stayed with him: Ethan. Bailey struggles, in the beginning, to understand what the point of his being alive is. Ultimately the movie’s main message about what a dog’s purpose really is, that they’re here for love.

Overall, A Dog’s Purpose proved to be heartfelt, tear-jerking, and loving. However, did the controversies the film faced regarding animal rights ruin this film’s reputation completely? Looking at it from a “blind-eye” and forgetting about the controversies for a moment, the film was overall entertaining. However, many animal lovers chose to not support this film and many refused to see it, even though the footage was determined to be corrupted.

Read the original story here.

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