Parents, abuse groups claim children's movie normalizes unwanted touching

Posted at 5:56 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 18:56:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The production company behind the film “Show Dogs” has removed two scenes from the movie that critics said sent a subliminal message about unwanted touching of kids.

In the movie, police dog Max teams up with the FBI to find a stolen baby panda.

A hot tip leads Max to a dog show.

In a scene, not in the trailer, his genitals are inspected by a judge.

Max wants to back out, but is told to go to his “zen” place.  After that, he moves on in the competition.

“Abuse survivors say that reminds me when I was a kid,” said mother Laura Holmes. “They have every right to be disgusted.”

Holmes said she and her husband screen movies before they let their three girls watch them.

She won’t be watching “Show Dogs” because of its potty humor and the controversy it started online.

Holmes and a group of friends talked about the movie online after countless mom blogs and sexual abuse groups raised a warning flag about the film.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation had a scathing review of the film.

In the review letter, it says child abusers use similar tactics, telling children to pretend they are somewhere else and that they will get a reward later.

Kansas City family and clinical therapist Laura Probasco-Johnson said children’s movies should be held to a higher standard.

“At this point, we have to be on high alert,” Probasco-Johnson said. “Unfortunately, not everyone has a good intention on everything they create. We have to be proactive on what we are viewing.”

She had not seen the movie, but explained how grooming practices can start over time or quickly.

“The grooming process starts with a connection,” she said. “We are all looking for love and connection.

“Grooming starts with some person who meets a need for someone else. That could be ice cream, that could be someone walking their dog on a consistent basis and you get to see that dog. It starts with having an innocent connection and then it being taken for personal, inappropriate needs."

Although the production company originally said the movie accurately depicted what happens at a dog show by a judge, they later apologized and removed the scenes from the movie. 

One theater group in Australia removed the film after 48 hours.

41 Action News asked Cinemark and AMC if they had gotten complaints or were considering similar actions. We have yet to receive a reply.