Eight-year-old Ethan's day out in Disneyland was brought to a crunching halt last Thursday, after an overly enthusiastic Pluto gave him a heavy-handed hug that left the boy with 'severe muscle strain.'
I've never heard of anyone being hospitalized by a hug before - this canine must've squeezed the life out of him! But before everyone starts clamoring for this rabid dog to be put down, let's take a look at exactly what happened. Was this a rogue cast member slyly doling out injuries with sinister pressure point embraces, or is this just a big misunderstanding?
The accused cast member was hanging around Toontown when Ethan approached him...
Ever the good sport, Pluto obliges and goes to give the boy a hug:
He then appears to hyperextend the boy's back, lifting him clean off the ground. Ethan walks away after, with something clearly wrong...
He leaves Pluto hanging for a second hug and starts to cry, explaining to his mom, Laurie, that he's hurt.
Laurie starts filming Ethan again, asking him to explain what just happened. "When Pluto tried hugging me like that he grabbed me and hurt my back," he says.
Take a look at the incident in full below and see if you think the cast member went too far:
Seems to me that Pluto was a little overzealous, but there doesn't seem to be any malice in the mutt.
The pair were swiftly directed toward a nearby first aid station where a nurse examined Ethan and gave him the all clear. However, after he continued to complain about his sore back, Laurie demanded they go to a hospital for x-rays, when doctors confirmed he had suffered severe muscle strain.
Laurie says she believes Disney tried to cover up her son's injuries by refusing to let him use a wheelchair, suggesting he ride in a stroller instead.
She later told TMZ that a Disney representative visited the hospital and offered to pay for all the medical treatment, before inviting them for dinner at El Pollo Loco restaurant.
As for Pluto, he found himself squarely in the dog house, the employee disciplined for the inappropriate embrace.
Likelihood of a Law Suit?
It's not yet known whether the family plans to press charges, but Disney says:
"We are in contact with the family and are in the process of gathering the facts."
In my mind, there's no need for this unfortunate happenstance to go any further. It's clear from the video that the cast member never intended to hurt Ethan, and the employee has already been reprimanded for his misjudgment.
Perhaps I'm overly cynical, but there's something about the video, and Laurie's decision to go to the press, that smells a little fishy. Perhaps the mom is the one squeezing Disney, fishing for a settlement fee. If your son really was hurt, would you be videoing his improvised 'testimony' on your phone, or comforting him and helping him to recover instead?
What do you think about this hugtroversy?
Should Disney pay compensation, or is this just a law-suit ploy?