Have you ever seen the “No Animals Were Harmed” statement at the end of a movie? You may think that this means that animals used in the film were happily playing along with the production—but recent whistleblower reports received by PETA claim that that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The organization behind that label—the American Humane Association (AHA)—is hired by Hollywood and asked to monitor the use of animals on TV and film sets, but it’s become less and less clear what the “No Animals Were Harmed” statement actually means for the animals caged, confined, and manipulated to perform on movie, TV, and commercial sets.
The fact that three horses died on the set of HBO’s Luck—which the AHA was monitoring—made it clear that its involvement didn’t mean that animals were safe.
After PETA found out about the deaths on the set of Luck and went public with the information, the series was canceled—and whistleblowers contacted PETA with reports about more than a dozen other productions where animals allegedly died or were injured or put at risk. Some of the assertions allege that AHA management ignored problems or even helped set up the filming of sequences that were in violation of the organization’s own guidelines.
PETA has sent an urgent letter to the AHA’s board of directors detailing these alleged incidents and lack of proper oversight. PETA is asking the AHA to investigate the allegations and, if they prove to be valid, to fix any problems that allowed them to occur.
What You Can Do
Whether or not the whistleblowers’ claims are verified or if the AHA institutes reforms, AHA ratings are based only on the short period of time when animals are on the set—they don’t reveal anything about how the animals were trained or the conditions in which they live.
There is no reason to use animals as “actors” when animation, blue screen, computer-generated imagery, and other advanced technology can produce realistic substitutes. If you see a movie that uses animals in an improper way or portrays animals disrespectfully, walk out and tell the theater manager that you’d like a refund. For television shows or commercials, voice your concerns on the show’s or product’s Facebook wall!