Activists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for a boycott of the family film after backstage footage of a trainer forcing a terrified German Shepherd into rushing water during the filming of an action sequence hit the Internet last month (Jan17).

Director Lasse Hallstrom and Quaid's co-star Josh Gad initially expressed their concern over the leaked footage, while Quaid and the film's producer Gavin Polone dismissed PETA's outrage as sensationalism, insisting the video clip was not an accurate depiction of how trainers handled dogs on set.

Now officials at The American Humane Association have shared their findings following their own investigation, determining the footage posted on gossip site TMZ.com had been edited.

In a statement, investigators shared: "An independent, third-party investigation conducted by a respected animal cruelty expert into the treatment of animals in the filming of A Dog's Purpose concluded that an edited video given to the gossip site TMZ mischaracterized the events on the set.

"The decisions by the individual or individuals who captured and deliberately edited the footage, and then waited longer than 15 months to release the manipulated video only days before the movie's premiere, raise serious questions about their motives and ethics."

Bosses claim the footage was pieced together from two separate scenes, filmed at different times, and notes that while the set handler could have dealt with the situation differently, the shoot was halted as soon as the German Shepherd showed signs of distress.

Dr. Kwane Stewart, the veterinarian in charge of American Humane's No Animals Were Harmed programme, adds of the investigation's findings: "It is disappointing that the public was misled by a manufactured controversy promoted by a radical organization like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals with a mission to remove animals from films and other parts of our lives. We are the first to address and fight cruelty and abuse, and no such things happened on the set of A Dog Purpose."