Written by Michelle Kretzer
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.
envisioning horses crammed inside two shallow levels of a double-decker trailer
intended for cattle, it's easy to see how these tall animals would be cramped,
uncomfortable, and terrified.
But forcing horses to squeeze into these confined spaces is more than
uncomfortable—it can cause falls, injuries, trampling, and even
U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill that would ban transporting horses in
double-deckers, but one congressmember
has proposed a last-minute amendment that would strike that provision from the
bill. Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado is asking Congress to approve his amendment
to the American Energy and
Infrastructure Jobs Act because he feels the
ban on double-decker trailers targets Western states and rodeos.
U.S. Department of Agriculture has already acknowledged that these trailers are
unsafe and inhumane for horses and has banned transporters from taking horses to slaughter
it is not illegal to transport horses in double-deckers for any other purpose—but it should be. Ask your representative to support
the humane treatment of horses and oppose Gardner's amendment that strips away
After hearing from thousands of animal
advocates, the owners of Atlantic City's Steel Pier
have canceled their plans to hold horse-diving shows, in which horses would be
marched up a narrow ramp and out onto a platform and then forced to jump,
plummeting many feet into a pool below.
We know from past horse-diving events that horses suffer bone fractures, internal organ damage, bruising, and leg,
spine, and other injuries.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-24057
PETA wrote to Atlantic City organizers
and sent out an action alert, and thousands of supporters urged everyone
involved to cancel the events. Other animal protectionists organized protests
and set up online petitions that garnered 50,000 signatures.
Horse-diving at the Steel Pier was
stopped in 1978, but it was briefly revived in 1993. Steel Pier's then-owner, Donald
Trump, canceled it because it was cruel to animals.
We're glad that Steel Pier Associates has
followed in Trump's compassionate footsteps and are sending them flowers and a
letter of thanks for canceling the horse-diving before it started. And we want
to thank the many, many kind people who spoke out in the horses' behalf. Together,
we made a big difference!
those stomach-churning scenes from PETA's undercover investigation at a horse slaughterhouse?
Horses, discarded by the racing industry, were slaughtered and hacked into pieces.
On the heels of that horrific case, we went to the one organization that deals
with every thoroughbred breeder in this country—The
Jockey Club, which handles all foal registrations—and asked why the run for the
roses had turned into a race for horses' lives. We gave Jockey Club officials a
detailed proposal for implementing and funding a real thoroughbred retirement
program, the Thoroughbred
360 Lifecycle Fund.
More than 32,000 PETA
members and supporters wrote in support of it.
Jockey Club paid attention. Today, less than a year after receiving our
recommendations, The Jockey Club, the Keeneland Association, and the Breeders'
Cup, Ltd., have announced the launch of an organization—the
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA)—composed of owners, trainers, breeders,
racetracks, jockeys, horse-rescue experts, and others in the racing industry. The
TAA will begin by laying the groundwork for the program. As we suggested, it
will inspect every stable and sanctuary that wants to provide a home for a
thoroughbred. The facilities that make the grade will be accredited. And
then the TAA will raise funds to get the horses into those homes.
much more work to be done, and it won't end all the cruelty in racing,
but making a lifetime commitment to the horses these groups depend on for their
income is a good start.
Written by Kathy
Written by Jennifer OConnor
At PETA's urging, a major thoroughbred auction company
has made a crucial change at this month's sales event that could reduce the
risk of injury to horses forced to participate in "under tack shows"—dangerous
sprints that thoroughbreds are forced to run just to impress potential buyers.
A PETA undercover investigation documented that 2-year-old horses—whose bones and muscles are still not fully developed—suffered catastrophic injuries and fatal breakdowns during these one-eighth or quarter-mile sprints.
Now, Ocala Breeders' Sales Company (OBS) has implemented PETA's most significant recommendation for its January under tack show: eliminating deadly timed sprints for juvenile horses, some of whom are just yearlings.
PETA has asked all four major thoroughbred auction companies—Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, Fasig-Tipton Company, Keeneland Association, and Barretts Equine Limited—to adopt a series of reforms to make these races safer for horses.
PETA will continue to push all the auction companies to protect horses by implementing all our crucial reforms. You can help by urging the auction companies to act now.
The landlord didn't know how long they
had been suffering there. He just knew that when he arrived at the central Utah
house from which he had evicted the tenants, he discovered six dogs, 12 cats,
and a group of horses who had been left behind. He called the sheriff's
department for help, but when the city humane society informed police that they
were not allowed to accept animals from outside city limits, officers didn't
know what to do.
For four days, the landlord waited for
help while making sure the animals at least had food and water. The horses were
able to graze and were OK. But the 12 feral cats
inside the home had been left with no suitable place to relieve themselves. Two
of the dogs were left sitting in crates amid their own waste and were too
aggressive for the landlord to let them out or even give them food and water.
The other four short-haired dogs were left outside in a barren pen without
protection from the weather. On the fourth day, fearing that the dogs would
freeze to death as the temperature dipped into single digits, the landlord called PETA.
Caseworkers arranged boarding for the
dogs at a veterinarian's office, and the police agreed to transport the dogs
and pay the bill. The landlord worked on trapping the feral cats and taking
them to a shelter that could accept them. After everything the dogs had been
through, they were either too aggressive to be placed for adoption or were
very, very sick, so they were given a humane, peaceful release.
The horses, however, were healthy and even-tempered and were placed in new homes.
The sheriff's department is searching for the runaway owners and hopes to file cruelty
The adage "If at
first you don't succeed, try, try again," is especially true when trying
to protect animals. You may encounter roadblocks, but with
perseverance, you can save animals from suffering
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
flew recently after Congress
restored funding for U.S. inspectors to oversee horse
slaughter, opening the door
for horses to be killed and butchered in the United States for the first time since 2006. But
there is hope for a better bill: The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of
(S. 1176/H.R. 2966),
which would outlaw horse slaughter in the U.S. as well as close the loophole
that previously allowed horses to be sent on grueling journeys to
slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada, something that added approximately 230
extra miserable miles to their already miserable lot. Horses urgently need anyone
and everyone you can enlist—your
neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family—to actively support this act. Please click here to register your
Each year, more than 130,000 frightened horses are trucked from
the U.S. and killed in slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. After enduring
hundreds of miles jostled about in cramped trucks—often in extreme temperatures
without food or water, on slippery floors, their heads bent over from the low
ceilings, being kicked and bitten by other horses—they are shot in the head, are
strung up by one leg, and have their throats cut.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of
2011 would prohibit shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving,
possessing, purchasing, selling, or donating horses and other equines for human
consumption. In other words, it would effectively end the use of U.S. horses
for food—both here and abroad!
lifeline for horses is currently sitting in Congress and requires that we act
fast. Please click here now to urge your
members of Congress to vote in favor of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention
Act of 2011. Ask everyone you know, and set up tables to enlist those you don't,
to do the same.
Domestication certainly hasn't benefited horses, as they've long been abused as beasts of burden and in other ways—as shown by our current battle to stop their export and slaughter for meat. But the new movie War Horse makes a strong case that the bond between humans and horses transcends exploitation. Based on the book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse follows the journey of a horse named Joey from birth to a World War I battlefield.
Unlike those involved in the making of We Bought a Zoo, the producers of War Horse took PETA's concerns about the use of animals on the set seriously and were responsive, open, and proactive. Director Steven Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy—both horse lovers—took care to ensure that the horses used in the production of the film were not harmed.
(Spoiler alert: If you don't want to know how it was done, stop reading here.)
Computer-generated imagery was used in the most dangerous-looking scenes, a special track was built to help with the horses' footing, and breakaway ropes prevented tripping. In addition, the dramatic barbed wire scene was created using an elaborate system involving a harness, rubber "barbed wire," an animatronic horse, and a healthy dose of Hollywood magic. As one producer told PETA, "Great credit goes to the art department for making it look dangerous when it wasn't; everything was built to accommodate the horses."
War Horse's strong and moving anti-cruelty message is also sure to resonate with moviegoers and help them empathize with horses' plight. Hopefully, many will think long and hard before they patronize the modern-day horse "battlegrounds" created by the racing, rodeo, and carriage industries. The movie may also prompt people to call their representatives to support the bill to ban American horses from being slaughtered in the U.S. and abroad.
Why a rickshaw was on Bourbon Street in New Orleans is anyone's guess, but for the horse pulling it, it was far from the Big Easy: He fell to the ground and was dead before humane authorities arrived at the scene. A witness reported that the horse appeared to be thin and not well cared for.
Mules have been used to provide carriage rides in the city's French Quarter for many years, and they often suffer when forced to haul oversized loads in Louisiana's notoriously muggy heat. It's time to get mules and horses off New Orleans' streets.
Please ask the City Council to ban carriage rides and any other conveyance pulled by animals in New Orleans. Click here to find contact information for the councilmembers.
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.