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PETA Slams Quentin Tarantino for ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

It's opening weekend for Tarantino's latest blockbuster, and the controversy-courting auteur is already in hot water.

Tarantino at Palm Dog photo call

Quentin Tarantino at Cannes 2019

Petros Giannakouris/AP/Shutterstock

It’s opening weekend for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and the controversy-courting auteur is already in hot water.

PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department has issued an official statement regarding what it perceives as mistreatment of the pit bull terrier featured in the film:

“Pit bulls are the most abused and abandoned animals in dogdom, and in one thoughtless swoop, Quentin Tarantino has done much to exacerbate the situation by getting dogs from a notorious breeder for ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.’ Pit bulls are chained, caged, neglected, starved, beaten, and even set on fire and fought to death. And like the dogs featured in this movie, their ears are often mutilated for a ‘tough’ look. Irresponsible portrayals like this are part of the reason why pit bulls flood our nation’s shelters. While the humane community is doing all that it can to help these animals — primarily, by shutting down the pit bull breeding industry — Tarantino has set them back. Shame on him.”

Tarantino’s reps have yet to respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.

Making her screen debut in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the dog in question, named Sayuri, hails from Delaware. In the film, she plays Brandy, the pet pooch of Brad Pitt’s stunt-double Cliff Booth. At the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Sayuri received the Palme Dog Award, which has previously gone to the likes of Uggie from “The Artist,” the fox from “Antichrist,” Dug in “Up,” Wendy from “Wendy and Lucy” and Moses from “Dogville,” among other screen canines.

In the film, Brandy proves to be Cliff’s sidekick in more ways than one. Tarantino intended Brandy as a callback to the movie dogs of yore, when canines with seemingly preternatural abilities came to the rescue in moments of peril (a la Lassie).

Accepting the Palme Dog on Sayuri’s behalf, Tarantino said, “When I was editing the movie I realized, she’s a great actress. I actually started seeing things in her face when I was cutting it together that I didn’t see on the day, so whatever little difficulties we had on set just really melted away when I saw what a great performance she gave.”

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