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Volkswagen defends its singing dog advert

THE CONTROVERSIAL television commercial which shows a dog cowering and shaking, even though it has now pulled the advertisement from being shown.

Our readers will almost certainly have seen the 30-second advertisement featureing a Jack Russell happily ‘singing’ in the front seat of a car before cutting to shots of the same dog shyly cowering by his owner's legs, while quietly mumbling the song under its breath.

The RSPCA is investigating the commercial after 600 viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the dog appeared to have been mistreated.

Others expressed their concern on Internet message boards, with one saying: ‘It made me uncomfortable... I don't know any way of making a dog shiver like that if it's living a happy life.’

Volkswagen UK claims no animal was harmed in the making of the advertisement, and says the-at the two dogs used were ‘highly trained’, but were not prepared to give any further infoomration.

However they did say that there was ‘a fantasy element to the advert. We would hope that just as when people see the dog singing, they know it's not real, when they see it shaking, they know it is not really scared.’

However, a spokesman for VW said that it would carry out a review before deciding to air the commercial again.

Despite the furore, the commercial has been a huge hit on the YouTube website and has scored over 500,000 hits.

The ASA investigated the complaints but said the commercial did not breach any of its rules but the RSPCA said it remained ‘very concerned’.

RSPCA spokeswoman Becky Hawkes said: ‘We have asked how it was filmed and have been told the dog was acting. But we are very disappointed that Volkswagen feel it necessary to portray a dog suffering to sell cars, whether it was genuine or staged.’

‘Apart from anything else, ‘ she added, ‘the dog should be wearing a harness while it is in the car, and should be travelling in the back of the vehicle.’

But trainer Steve Berens who used his two Jack Russells, six year-old Bear and his ‘stunt double’ Cody for the filming of the advertisement told Our Dogs, ‘Cody simply stood on a small motorised plate which vibrated and made it appear as though he was shivering.

By the time the film was shot, Cody was “perfectly happy” with the plate under his feet.

The animal rights animaniacs mean well, but they often go too far and don’t know the circumstances of filming.’

For the record, the commercial was filmed in California and members of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) were at the shoot to ensure that the dogs were not harmed.

Visual effects supervisor Stephanie Allender who oversaw the post-filming computer animation to give the appearance that Bear was singing confirmed that Cody trembled on command and that neither dog was harmed.