A dog was whipped “into a frenzy” and thrown into an icy river in a locked cage for a scene in a film, a whistleblower has claimed.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has released a video purporting to show a German Shepherd in a cage being spun around by a crane before being thrown into a lake.
The unnamed whistleblower claims the footage was taken on 28 November last year on the set of Crazy Alien, a Ning Hao film which is currently listed as being in post-production.
Glee actor Matthew Morrison, who stars in the movie, said he has called the producers to “express his outrage” at the incident.
Meanwhile, the whistleblower has called the incident the “one of the worst animal cruelty acts (I) have ever seen”.
The anonymous witness said the dog had been “tormented into a frenzy” to get him to bark loudly, before being locked in a small metal cage, then hoisted up by a crane.
The whistleblower’s account read: “The second the dog cage rose into the air, the dog stopped barking instantly as the cables were used to spin the cage out of control in circles before solidly landing 40ft away. The director took many takes and this was just awful to witness as the torment went on.”
The whistleblower added: “The next shot was at the river’s edge where the dog was put back into his cage and tormented into a frenzy once again. This time … the cage … was hoisted 20 ft. and was flung while spinning out of control towards the river. … [T]he cage was completely submerged with the dog in it landing in a 10 mph current.
“After 5-8 seconds, the director yelled out ‘cut’ . … A final decision was made by the director to shoot a second identical take. I could not believe my eyes.”
PETA said this continued for two hours without the animal having a break.
A PETA statement read: “Adding insult to injury, Crazy Alien is already using special effects (hence the word “Alien” in the title), so there’s no excuse for not using computer-generated imagery for the dog scene, as well.
“Why was this animal subjected to fear and suffering? Because when it comes to entertainment, animals are viewed as nothing more than props, and there are no laws protecting them on film sets in China.”
The organisation has called for the scene to be cut, and for Morrison to donate his salary to charity.
Morrison tweeted: “I’ve just been made aware and seen a video from the set of a film I worked on in China. My heart is broken to see any animal treated this way. Had I been on set or known about this, I would have made all efforts to stop this. I’ve called the producers to express my outrage.”
A spokesman for Dirty Monkey Studios said: “We feel sorry that we didn’t do our best to avoid this. We treat all the cast and crew including animals with utmost respect for their contribution of amazing performance to the project.”
According to E, the Crazy Alien Production Company explained that the cage was meant to move over the water but not be submerged, and it fell because of a “miscalculation”.
The statement added: “Then, before fully diagnosing the mechanical problem, a second take was requested.
“This was a mistake. The dog’s welfare should have been paramount, and any potential risks should have been diagnosed and eliminated before the dog was again called upon to undertake the scene. We sincerely apologise…despite mistakes in filming, the dog was well cared for on set.”