The American Humane Association is accused of covering up animal deaths and injuries during the production of movies and television programs. The association is responsible for monitoring the safety of animals used in films and on TV shows. Their trademark usually appears at the end, stating that “No Animals Were Harmed.”
Recent reports suggest the AHA covered up numerous injuries and deaths that occurred during production. In many cases, the films still carried the trademark.
Founded in 1877, the association was created to prevent harm to children, farm animals, and pets. As stated at AmericanHumane.org, the association promotes education and training to “ensure the welfare, wellness, and well-being, of children and animals.”
The No Animals Were Harmed trademark was created to assure the humane treatment of animals during film and television program production. The trademark is usually reserved for movies and programs that adhere to specific guidelines.
An investigation conducted by The Hollywood Reporter suggests the American Humane Association consented to use of the trademark despite numerous injuries and deaths.
Included in the evidence is an email written by AHA monitor Gina Johnson. In the correspondence, Johnson described an incident with a Bengal tiger named King. The tiger was used in the filming of Life of Pi:
“This one take with him just went really bad and he got lost trying to swim to the side… Damn near drowned… I have downplayed the f**k out of it.”
Despite the mishap, the trademark assured viewers the animals used in production were unharmed.
The investigation also revealed that a total of 27 animals died during the production of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The animals, which were primarily goats and sheep, were reportedly left unattended during a “hiatus in filming.” When crews returned to the site, they found the animals dead from exhaustion and dehydration.
The AHA contends they had no jurisdiction, as the incident happened during a hiatus. However, the American Humane Association’s trademark was reworded to state that they “monitored all of the significant animal action” and that “no animals were harmed during such action.”
Historically, the association has a solid reputation. Unfortunately, these incidents raise questions about the accuracy of their trademark. Although animals are often portrayed as being harmed in films, viewers are reassured that the AHA is monitoring production.
Earlier this year, the AHA was named in a lawsuit along with HBO and Stewart Productions. Barbara Casey, former head of production, claims she was wrongfully terminated after she advocated for safer treatment of animals on the set.
In addition to the incidents on the sets of Live of Pi and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Casey said the American Humane Association covered up the death of a horse on the set of War Horse. Despite the death, the film contained the association’s trademark.
In the lawsuit, Casey alleges the AHA agreed to the cover up “in order to protect Steven Spielberg… and because of the volume of press and publicity” involved with promoting the film.
In response the association issued the following statement:
“We absolutely and categorically deny the sensationalist, inflammatory, misleading and untrue allegations… We look forward to vigorously defending ourselves through the proper legal channels.”
It is unclear what role the American Humane Association played in the incidents. However, it is disturbing that the trademark is being used when it is not applicable.
[Image via Flickr]