by Karen Mehall Phillips - Monday, February 11, 2019
Whether circulating fake, computer-generated animal-abuse videos to try and shut down circuses and zoos, traumatizing kids with barbecued prop dogs to encourage veganism or funding lawsuits to end legal, regulated hunting and establish personhood status for animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is one busy animal rights extremist group. It’s latest move? PETA is back to trying to end animal use in the entertainment industry by defaming the trainers who trained the dog currently starring as Bella in the heartwarming movie “A Dog’s Way Home” that hit theaters on Jan. 11. Fortunately, the dog trainers and their company, Paws for Effect, are fighting back.
Last week the entertainment news website TMZ reported that Paws for Effect filed a defamation lawsuit against PETA for falsely claiming it committed animal welfare violations while training the rescue dog it called Shelby for her movie role as Bella. The movie chronicles Bella’s heartwarming adventures during an epic 400-mile journey home through a Colorado wilderness after being separated from her owner. Paws for Effect stated it has a clean record under the Animal Welfare Act and was blindsided by PETA’s smear campaign that, of course, was timed to launch just in advance of the movie’s release.
As noted in documents obtained by TMZ, PETA began its attack by emailing Sony Pictures, the distributor of “A Dog's Way Home.” It alleged the trainers had racked up citations under the Animal Welfare Act, a claim it allegedly repeated to an “unknowable” number of film industry representatives. TMZ reported that PETA either knew its statement was false or merely opted not to conduct even the slightest bit of research. The potential fallout from such allegations could result in lost opportunities for Paws for Effect to work with Hollywood in the future. As a result, TMZ added, Paws for Effect wants PETA to “pay through the snout.”
The lawsuit notes that even after Paws for Effect told PETA its claim was false, it has yet to retract its lies concerning animal abuse. Instead, PETA told TMZ it stands by its claim. Ironically, last year TMZ reported that the retail chain PetSmart Inc. sued an undercover PETA activist for allegedly failing to provide veterinary care to animals.
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