Written by Michelle Kretzer
PETA just filed formal complaints about horse abuse and neglect on the
set of the HBO show Luck, we've placed this
graphic ad in the Los Angeles Times:
Image:(c) iStockphoto.com/Eric Isselee
all other animals, horses don't want to be "actors," and they are often subjected to stressful and
dangerous situations during the production of films, ads, and TV
shows. The American Humane Association (AHA), the organization responsible for overseeing how animals
are cared for on the set, is funded by the Screen Actors Guild—part of the same
industry that it monitors. The AHA rarely, if ever, files formal complaints
when animals are abused.
We hope our ad encourages producers and directors to protect
horses by calling, "Cut!" on using them in films and television.
Just a month after HBO canceled Luck
amid protests over the deaths
of three horses,
a whistleblower has released to PETA startling documents alleging abuse far
beyond what anybody had guessed—and much worse than HBO or producers David
Milch and Michael Mann ever admitted. See the full story in The Washington Post.
Among the information
that the whistleblower released was this heartbreaking photograph, which allegedly
shows the body of Marc's Shadow, the 8-year-old arthritic thoroughbred whose
leg fractured when he was being filmed in a racing sequence:
The documents, which are e-mails, notes,
and complaints from the American Humane Association (AHA) representatives on
the set, paint a picture of drugging, deception, and neglect. The following are
among the allegations:
The situation was so dangerous for the
horses on the Luck set, the documents
allege, that AHA-hired humane officers urged AHA executives to recommend the
dismissal of trainer Matt Chew. However, there's no evidence that the AHA acted
on its officers' advice.
PETA has presented this new evidence of
abuse to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and renewed our request for
an independent investigation. We will keep you updated.
Written by PETA
Horses and people who care about them can rest a little
easier tonight. HBO has announced that it is canceling Luck and ceasing all production on the series!
Even before filming on Luck
started, PETA contacted David Milch, Michael Mann, and others associated
with the production to suggest ways to protect horses, including the use of
stock racing footage instead of using live animals. After the first two horses
died—and the producers began stonewalling—PETA revealed the deaths publicly and
obtained information from whistleblowers as well as necropsy reports from the racing
board, which led to the disclosure that older, arthritic horses had been used
in dangerous (and deadly) racing sequences and that the horses appeared not to
have been provided with adequate protection. Beyond keeping the horses' plight
in the public eye, PETA has also pressed law enforcement to investigate the
deaths of the horses used on the set and to bring charges as appropriate.
A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the whistleblowers who
refused to let these horses' deaths go unnoticed. If Milch, Mann, and HBO ever decide
to start the series up again, PETA will again be calling on them to use stock
footage, rather than putting horses' lives at risk.
Just one day after PETA sent a complaint to Los Angeles law
enforcement urging the agency to investigate the deaths of two horses during
the filming of the first season of HBO's Luck, we have learned that another horse has died on the set. Insiders at Santa Anita
Race Track, where the racing scenes are filmed, called us early Tuesday and
tipped us off. Now HBO has confirmed it.
But don't expect HBO or executive producers David Milch and
Michael Mann to come clean about who the horse was and what condition he was
in. They refused to tell us anything about the first two horses, so with the
help of caring whistleblowers, we unearthed the disturbing evidence ourselves: One
horse was drugged, and the other was arthritic and hadn't raced in years. Neither
one should have been anywhere near a racetrack.
Photo: tasweertaker | cc
Both were retired racehorses who wouldn't understand that
when they went through the starting gate on a racetrack, it was just for a TV
show and not a real race. Outlaw Yodeler was a 5-year-old thoroughbred who hadn't
raced in months and was apparently so sore that he was given a potent cocktail
of muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory
and painkilling drugs, including Butorphanol, a painkiller so strong that it's often used as an analgesic
for horses undergoing some kinds of surgery. The other horse, whose name we
believe is Marc's Shadow, was 8 years old and arthritic and had not raced in
nearly four years.
Both horses were "raced" twice in one day—something even fit thoroughbreds
would never be subjected to. Healthy racehorses need at least a week to recover
from the stress of competition. Indeed, they aren't even exercised twice in one day. Both horses on the set of Luck broke down after the second run.
Their leg fractures were so violent that their bones shattered under the
pressure. We think—and
we hope law enforcement agrees—that the way in which the horses were treated by the
production company, the trainer, and the veterinarian warrants a swift and thorough investigation
before yet another horse dies.
Human affection for horses
unfortunately makes them popular subjects for the film industry. Horses may grab our attention, but these animals are not willing participants
in the entertainment industry.
Director Cameron Crowe is getting an
earful from world-famous primatologist Dr.
Iqbal Malik, who sent a letter on PETA's
behalf to the director of
the upcoming film We Bought a Zoo, asking him to stop using animals in films.
© edelmar/ iStockPhoto.com
Despite being made aware of the suffering endured
behind the scenes by performing primates, Crowe has made jokes about Crystal, a
capuchin monkey used in the film. But there's nothing funny about ripping primates away from their protective mothers shortly
after birth so that they can be trained to perform tricks. These highly social animals suffer from debilitating
loneliness and depression when isolated from other monkeys as they typically
are in the entertainment industry. In the letter, Dr. Malik asks Crowe to remember that "as 'performing'
monkeys grow older, become sick, or are no longer useful to their trainers,
most are discarded or sold into the pet trade."
As the astonishingly realistic computer-generated primates in Rise of the Planet of the Apes
prove, directors have no excuse for playing a role in subjecting animals to a
life of confinement and loneliness.
Go buy a ticket to Rise of the Planet of the Apes—I
promise that you'll be glued to your seat.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
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.