Written by Michelle Kretzer
HBO canceled its troubled horse-racing
series Luck amid PETA's protests over horse deaths on the set, and the bad luck
continues for the show's creators. Now HBO and the show's producer, Stewart
Productions, have been hit
with a lawsuit charging that they willfully allowed horses to be abused and attempted to cover
Paolo Camera | cc by 2.0
plaintiff in the suit is Barbara Casey, who worked for the American Humane
Association (AHA) and was assigned to monitor animal welfare on the set of Luck. In her claim Casey asserts that HBO and Stewart Productions pressured the AHA to allow them to ignore
animal safety standards in order to save time and money. Casey alleges that she
balked at the idea but that her superiors sided with the show and ignored her
desire to report abuse to law enforcement. Casey's claim also alleges that
underweight and sick horses were routinely forced to work, that horses were
often drugged, and that producers went so far as to misidentify horses so that
animal safety representatives wouldn't be able to track down their accurate
medical histories. Casey is also suing the AHA for wrongful termination on the grounds that her desire to report the criminal activity led to her dismissal.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Casey's lawsuit
argues that "AHA bowed to political and
financial pressure and refused to report the Production Defendants' conduct to
the authorities. … AHA instructed Plaintiff not to report such conduct. AHA
engaged in efforts to conceal and cover up the production defendants' criminal activities."
law-enforcement investigation that PETA pushed for is still ongoing as well and
could result in cruelty-to-animals charges.
Written by Jeff Mackey
On the heels of a Los Angeles Times report about whistleblowers' allegations that oversight failures may have led to animal injuries and deaths during film and TV productions, PETA was joined by Hollywood animal advocates Bob Barker and Sam Simon for a news conference calling for immediate action to protect animals.
PETA was flooded with complaints from whistleblowers after we released leaked information earlier this year about the deaths of horses on the set of HBO's Luck. The complaints that we've received include an incident in which a horse and rider were allegedly swept downstream in a scene from the upcoming film The Lone Ranger and the deaths of three horses on the set of The Hobbit. Many of the alleged incidents reportedly involved pressure from industry figures to put animals at risk in a wide range of movie and TV productions, including some that are still being filmed.
During the news conference at PETA's Bob Barker Building in Los Angeles, legendary The Price Is Right host Barker and The Simpsons co-creator Simon backed PETA's appeal for the American Humane Association (AHA)—the organization assigned to monitor the use of animals on TV and film sets—to launch an immediate investigation into the allegations. To ensure that the AHA's ratings have any meaning, PETA presented a series of recommendations for an overhaul of the monitoring system, including the following:
Producers, directors, and writers must also do their part. They must make sure that animal trainers with U.S. Department of Agriculture violations are not employed, that scenes aren't written that would endanger horses and wild animals, and that computer-generated imagery, animatronics, and other technology are used to replace animals. Animals should never have to die for our entertainment.
You can help horses, great apes, and other animals used in the entertainment industry by contacting the AHA right now. Use the form below to urge the AHA to swiftly implement a plan to protect all animal "actors."
PETA has sent an urgent letter to the board of directors of
the American Humane Association (AHA) detailing reported allegations of
incidents—some of them fatal—and lack of proper oversight involving animals on
more than a dozen recent or current film and television productions purportedly
monitored for animal safety by the AHA, as related to PETA by whistleblowers.
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.
The AHA is the organization—known for its "No Animals Were
Harmed" statement seen in film credits—tasked by Hollywood with monitoring the use of animals on TV and
film sets. But it is not clear that this statement means what
it seems to say. The deaths of
horses on the set of HBO's Luck made it
clear that AHA involvement didn't mean that animals were safe. After PETA took
that matter public, the series was canceled—and PETA was contacted with reports
about several other productions where animals allegedly died or were injured or
put at risk. If the reports are substantiated, some of the problems could have
been averted. Some of the assertions allege that AHA's management ignored problems
or even helped set up the filming of sequences that were potentially dangerous
The productions about which concerns were conveyed to PETA
include Moonrise Kingdom,
Boardwalk Empire, The Hobbit, Failure to Launch, Abraham
Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Lone
Ranger, and others. PETA was informed
that the AHA ratings of some films do not reflect what occurred on set, that "Acceptable"
ratings have been given when not all animal action was monitored, and that
ratings were changed when the AHA feared information about problems on the set
would be leaked. Some of the reported incidents allegedly resulted in injuries to
animals and even their deaths.
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
technologies can produce realistic
substitutes. If you see a movie that uses animals in an improper way or portrays animals disrespectfullly,
walk out, and tell the theater manager that you'd like a refund and why. For television
shows or commercials, express
your objections to network representatives or the advertised company.
Written by Jennifer OConnor
two horses on the new HBO series Luck—which is set
in and around the horse-racing industry—it was
only bad luck. While filming the show's
pilot, a horse suffered a severe fracture after falling during a race sequence
and was euthanized. Another horse was killed while filming a later episode. Two
horses died for a couple of hours of television! PETA repeatedly reached out to
series creator David Milch and others associated with the HBO production before shooting began, but our efforts
the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries,
drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Image:Paolo Camera | cc by 2.0
if producers had considered the proved safety protocols that we would have
suggested, these horses would still be alive. The show's theme is showcasing
the dark side of racing, and while it does acknowledge how many
thoroughbreds suffer catastrophic breakdowns and how horses are routinely doped, two dead horses in a handful of episodes exemplify the dark side
of using animals in television, movies, and ads.
refrained from telling the show's producers "we tried to tell you so"
and are now in discussions with HBO about how to prevent even more deaths on
it life imitating art. Fans who caught the latest episode of HBO's Enlightened on Monday got a little
more enlightened when PETA's message popped up on the show. Executive producer, star, and PETA friend Mike White stuck it to cruelty
when he stuck PETA stickers on the desk of character Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern).
Here's what the stickers, which were clearly visible throughout the scene,
need of some illumination of your own? Read more about the leather industry and dissection
on PETA's website, and see the stickers' appearance in the new episode of Enlightened on HBO Go.
Written by PETA
Starting this Sunday night, HBO's Entourage gets a whole lot sexier: Adult film star and PETA supporter Sasha Grey starts her recurring role, playing herself and cozying up to Adrian Grenier's character, Vince.
With this ad, Sasha Grey has turned on countless audiences to the importance of spaying and neutering. Now's your chance to turn her on. Will you?
Written by Karin Bennett
This post originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.
This month, HBO is premiering an original biopic starring Claire Danes about an extraordinary person, Dr. Temple Grandin. As a young woman, Grandin struggled with the isolating challenges of autism at a time when this disorder was almost a total mystery. Today she is one of the best-known advocates for autism education.
But I applaud Dr. Grandin for another reason, one that has angered some people who work in animal protection: I admire her work in the field of humane animal slaughter. PETA would prefer, of course, that no animals be killed for food, but we won't ignore the horrors of factory farms and slaughterhouses just because we wish that they didn't exist.
Throughout her career as an animal-science professor at Colorado State University and a consultant to the American Meat Institute, Grandin has worked to improve animal-handling systems at slaughterhouses—markedly decreasing, although never able to stop completely, the amount of fear and pain that animals experience.
In 2006, she described to National Public Radio her experience watching cattle get vaccinated at feedlots during the 1970s. Some of the animals would just walk into the holding chutes, she said, while others refused. So Grandin did what no one else had bothered to do before: She went into the chutes herself. As she wrote in an essay for my book One Can Make a Difference, "(I)t seemed obvious to me to get down into the chute and see what the cattle were seeing." She realized that visual details such as shadows, a reflection off a truck's bumper, or people standing up ahead were causing the animals to be fearful.
These insights led her to design cattle-restraining systems that are now used by half the meat plants in North America. "(P)eople just wanted to get out there and yell and scream and push and shove," Grandin told NPR, rather than "remove the things that the cattle were afraid of."
This may seem like a small victory—the cows are still going to be killed, after all—but until the day that we get animals off the dinner plate altogether, is it too much to ask that we do everything we can to reduce the fear and suffering that they experience in the slaughterhouse?
PETA's campaigns against the cruel practices of fast-food chains and against the use of intensive confinement systems that do not even allow animals enough room to stand up, turn around, or extend their limbs have improved the living and dying conditions for millions of animals. As the industries change and evolve, these improvements will apply to billions of animals every year.
The vast majority of people, if they care about animals—and consumer surveys show that they do—support such incremental changes, even if the increments are far from wholly satisfactory to the animals who would rather not be caged at all or hung upside down and killed. In November 2008, for example, California voters made history by approving a ballot measure to ban the use of veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages on factory farms. Last year, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a landmark bill that will phase out these same cruel devices in her state as well.
I completely understand the appeal of battle cries such as "Not bigger cages—empty cages!" and I encourage every kind soul who shares this sentiment to make a difference by going vegan. But, as Dr. Grandin has shown us, giving a little comfort and relief to animals who will be in those cages their whole lives is worth fighting for, even as some of us are demanding that those cages be emptied.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
When animals receive the attention they deserve from TV networks, it's a grand occasion. HBO has once again stepped up to the plate—remember when the network aired I Am an Animal, which followed PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk in her daily work to save animals? Well, tonight, the network will be airing Death on a Factory Farm, so set your reminder now. It will also be available through On Demand.
This hard-hitting documentary follows a hog-farm investigation and gives viewers a rare glimpse at the process of trying to bring cruelty-to-animals charges against the meat industry.
As often happens, a tip was received from one of the farm's employees who claimed that workers were killing pigs by hanging them with chains. The bizarre part is that the investigator recorded the owner's son stating that the "euthanasia" guidelines followed by the farm are approved by and posted on PETA's Web site! Needless to say, it took about five minutes for our lawyers to put out a letter demanding an apology. If this investigation rings a bell, here's why: We featured it on the PETA Files in fall of 2007 when Iowa veterinarian Dr. Paul Armbrecht defended these hangings as acceptable and stated that kicking, dragging, and dropping sows off a 4-foot ledge—routine practice at this farm—are appropriate methods of transporting animals. And wife-beating is great discipline.
Tune in tonight and then come back tomorrow and leave us a comment letting us know what you thought.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Today is PETA President Ingrid Newkirk’s birthday. She will be turning … *muffled screams as blogger is pulled away from the computer by the hair*
Ahem. She will be turning a year older. Please join me in wishing her a very, very happy birthday. I’ll pick one commenter over the next two weeks to give away a free copy of the I Am an Animal DVD to. ‘Cuz birthdays make me feel generous like that. Happy birthday, Ingrid!
P.S. What? Come on, people. Like you guys have never kissed up to your boss? Give me a break.
P.P.S. Click here to read the terms and conditions of this contest. You’ll never guess who made me say that.
It's official in Switzerland at least, where, under a new federal law, failure to provide any "social" animals contact with others of their own kind will be legally defined as abuse. Better yet, the law requires training for prospective dog guardians and sets some common-sense guidelines regarding living conditions for many other animals, including animals on farms.
Of course, there's still room for improvement. No word yet on how the Swiss are going to square this law with the country's appalling cat-skinning trade, which has largely been ignored by authorities. The new regulations also require anglers to learn how to kill fish humanely. While it's encouraging that they're recognizing that fish are social animals, as a former fishing-contest winner, I know that the chances of finding a "humane" way to violently rip these animals from their environment to suffocate to death isn't bloody likely (though it is likely bloody).
Still, this new law is definitely a step in the right direction. It should be recognized and applauded, even while we keep up our efforts to bring about further reforms. Swiss chard for everyone!
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.