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Dennis Quaid wanted to be a veterinarian

The actor insists no animals were harmed during the making of his new movie A Dog's Purpose, despite reports to the contrary.

Dennis Quaid wanted to become a veterinarian before he was bitten by the acting bug.

The Parent Trap actor stars in new film A Dog's Purpose, which follows the story of a reincarnated hound, and he admits he was thrilled to be asked to play a role in the movie because of his love for animals.

"(A veterinarian) was the first thing I wanted to be, actually, and then I wanted to become an actor, so I started working with other animals," he joked during an appearance on U.S. breakfast show Today on Wednesday (25Jan17).

His new movie has become a target for animal rights activists after video footage of a trainer forcing a terrified German Shepherd into a pool of rushing water for a scene surfaced last week (ends20Jan17), prompting officials at animal rights group PETA to call for a boycott of A Dog's Purpose.

Quaid insists no animals were harmed during the making of the movie and the video was edited to make the incident look worse than it was.

"We had a shot where one of our dogs, Hercules, had to jump in the water and save somebody who had fallen in and somebody was on the set that day... and took video and then edited that video to make it look as if the dog was really in distress and had been forced to go into the water," the actor tells Access Hollywood Live.

"I saw the footage that was shot that day... and I know that dog and they had to restrain the dog, actually, from jumping in the water, because he had been trained to do it and he loved to do it so much. He got out of the water, he shook himself off, he was fine... a happy dog.

"Whoever did it held on to this video for 15 months before they sold it to TMZ. If you're an animal lover bring it out the next day... I wouldn't be out here supporting this movie if any of it were true."

And he's urging moviegoers to focus on the film's storyline, not the drama surrounding the "video scam".

"It's such a fantastic story, I just had to do it...," he told Today. "It's such a beautiful, beautiful story. It's like (classic dog movie) Old Yeller without the tragic ending. There are some tear-jerker moments but it turns around and makes you laugh so much... It's such a beautiful story of how souls connect over time."

Movie bosses launched an investigation into animal treatment on set before cancelling the movie's premiere over the weekend (21Jan17), and now PETA activists are planning to protest outside cinemas across America upon the film's release on Friday (27Jan17).

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