What does the latest summer kid’s blockbuster featuring talking pups and a dog show have to do with sexual abuse?
Terina Maldonado, an Arizona mommy blogger at Macaroni Kid, said she noticed a glaring plotline in "Show Dogs," featuring actors Will Arnett and Natasha Lyonne, that appeared to portray child grooming and sexual assault.
A rough and tough police dog, Max, voiced by Ludacris, must compete in a prestigious dog show for an assignment. One crucial part in the competition is that each show dog must reluctantly have its genitals touched by the judges, and a former champion show dog teaches Max that the key to getting through the uncomfortable moment is to go to a "Zen place."
"That’s when my mommy red flags started going off," Maldonado, of Mesa, told InsideEdition.com.
She explained that as a survivor of child sex assault herself, she immediately recognized that particular scene as grooming.
"I really just had to wonder with all the controversy that Hollywood is undergoing […] how somebody would not have caught that," Maldonado said. "I have no doubt that if a child had experienced something similar […] that would be very triggering to them."
Instead of bringing it up right away, she waited until other adults in her group agreed how inappropriate the scene was until she decided to have a conversation with her children.
"My daughter stated how she loved that part — 'It was so funny,'" Maldonado said. "I said, ‘Are people supposed to touch your private parts?’ and they both thought for a second. You could kind of see them putting those things together […] so that kind of got the wheels turning on a productive conversation for us."
She recalled her experiences in a blog post that has now gone viral, but insisted she is not calling for all parents to boycott the movie, but instead to consider whether the movie is appropriate for their children, and to use it as a learning tool for an important conversation, as she has for her family.
“You have to take the opportunities that are there to educate your children," she said. “We can’t control what Hollywood produces, we can’t control what’s on the big screen, but what we can do is to educate our children so they can be resistant to the horrible things that are out there in the world.”
While "Show Dogs" has not personally reached out to Maldonado since her blog post has gone viral, she said the American Kennel Club reached out to say they, too, were uncomfortable with how the competition was portrayed.
In a statement to InsideEdition.com, “Show Dogs” says,"the dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world," and they "apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment.”