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Lawsuit Reveals Never-Before-Seen Pictures of Dead Animals From ‘Luck’ and ‘The Hobbit’: HBO and American Humane Association in Hot Seat

Written by Michelle Kretzer | August 15, 2013

HBO and the American Humane Association (AHA) wanted to keep animal injuries and deaths on the set of the show Luck and other productions quiet, but one former AHA staffer is blowing their cover—and saying that animal injuries and deaths on sets happen too frequently. And allegedly, she has the grisly photos to prove it. Barbara Casey is a former AHA employee who worked on the set of HBO’s now-canceled horseracing drama, Luck. According to the wrongful termination lawsuit that she has filed, Casey was terminated after she balked at her employer’s instructions to ignore animal safety standards in order to save time and money. Casey is suing the AHA, HBO, and the show’s production company, Stewart Productions, alleging that they all willfully allowed horses to be abused and attempted to cover it up. HBO tried to get itself released from the lawsuit, but it was about as lucky as the horses on set. Casey’s lawsuit states that the companies’ negligence led to the deaths of four horses—one more than previously reported.

Mark’s Shadow, killed on the set of Luck, according to the lawsuit

Casey’s complaint describes several other disturbing instances in which the AHA’s lack of concern for animal welfare led to horrific injuries and even deaths. Twenty-seven animals were killed during the making of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but the AHA still slapped a familiar message at the end of the film: “American Humane monitored all of the significant animal action. No animals were harmed during such action.” The photos appear to prove otherwise:

Injured horse on the set of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, according to the lawsuit

Because of the conflict of interest that results from the fact that the AHA is supported by the film and television industry, the trademark “no animals harmed” assurances seem to be little more than empty promises. The only truly cruelty-free films are those in which no animals are used, period.

Commenting is closed.
  • Jane says:

    We, the public should boycott films like The Hobbit. Money talks, and the paying public have the ultimate power. We can send out a clear message that we will not tolerate the callous exploitation of vulnerable animals.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Animals should not suffer pain nor death for the sake of a stupid BUCK. How is the American Humane Association going to regain the faith of all who have believed in its mission, and to all who have donated to its causes? Shame on AHA. Someone needs to be held accountable and punished for this. We need careful procedures, and transparency and truth in reporting going forward. Hooray for the whistleblower for without you we would not have the truth.

  • Debbie says:

    Money buys everything..even lives. It is not fair that animals do not have a voice in their makes power..and power controls all the decisions that are made in this world..there is no justice .. even for the POOR people trying to survive on a daily basis. The sad thing is the POOR people have more compassion and love for every one of Gods creatures..and try to do whatever they can to help..even tho they don’t have enough for themselves..most of mankind is a deplorable species..with no guilt or remorse..but there are the few of us that pray the world could be a better place and every living creature has equal rights..just because you can talk DOESNT mean everything you say or do is RIGHT..!! and sometimes it is those who can’t speak that SAY THE MOST!! Every living creature on this earth is Gods one way or another..and He is the only one who can decide who isn’t worth anything but a DIME!!!

  • lavendersil says:

    Animals rule-not man. Animal abuse went out with the Romans. To bad man does not remember this. No animal on Earth should be used for food, work, money, sport, enjoyment, and their by-products. Let us begin to be civil starting with animals. No animal bows to mans servitude without pain.

  • John says:

    The responsible people who abusing animals must be put on trial! Boycott their movies!

  • jeannette says:

    Action has to be taken against all concerned in the abuse of these animals. My question is this…How many more animals have been abused by the film industry that have been COVERED UP?

  • Elaine Baeza says:

    I have never really believed that disclaimer about animal injuries at the end of a film. Thought maybe I was being too cynical but unfortunately I was correct.

  • Anna AA says:

    I am disgusted and I believe that the sooner everyone sees these the better . If companies , actors and anyone else who looks to profit or become famous is linked to this then I’m sure they will have to apologise , give a huge donation, stop this ever happening again, swear on their child’s, parents life to never ever allow this to happen again . No cover up , action to save our animals!!

  • Gina Powe says:

    This as absolutely APPULING you need to STOP using these animals in movies and TV shows. And then to say no animals were harmed, you are all liars.

  • patricia gregory says:

    lets all pray that EVERYONE involved gets the ROYAL SHAFT and pays millions!!! thanks so much to Barbara for stepping up to the plate and exposing everyone!!!

  • Sharon says:

    Absolutely barbaric how is this ever aloud to happen . What has happened to humanity

  • Venita Ozols-Graham says:

    I work in the movie industry and you are right: NO ANIMALS SHOULD BE USED! PERIOD! I’ve witnessed abuse many times…sometimes it’s inadvertent, other times intentional to get the shot. The animals have no say in this and are not protected adequately. It should simply be prohibited.

  • Patricia MacKinnon says:

    When any animal dies on the set of a movie the film company should be fined and never allowed to produce a movie with animals again. Where are the protectors for these animals. Hiding or looking the other way. THATS NOT ENTERTAINMENT. Prosecute,prosecute,prosecute.

  • SHERI says:

    absolutely disgusting, all should be ashamed – let this not happen again ever!!!!!!to ANY LIVING CREATURE – GOL BLESS THEM ALL…)

  • Alba says:

    Disgusted of this people! I never see the Hobbit and I never like it all this shit film. I don t support cruelty on animals,especially on the fin where they use animals for they stupid business.

  • cindy says:

    What can we do to help??? Im sending email to AHA!!

  • Jacob Dijkstra, M.D. says:

    The role of AHA in the movie industry has always been controversial. This is the nail in their coffin. The well-known statement at the end of the movie that no animals were hurt has become meaningless. Peta has good connections with may actors and should do everything possible to use these connections to pressure the movie industry to get another trustworthy organization to monitor animals in the production of movies and to guarantee that these animals come from sources that treat animals humanely. Animals should never be used for blatant entertainment. The careful introduction of animals in movies could only be justified if their presence has a positive effect on the audience in terms of creating empathy and understanding for the sentient beings that they are. On the other hand, it has now been well proved that computer generated images of animals are virtually impossible to distinguish from the real non-humans and should always be the first choice when the presence of animals is essential for the story.

  • Michael Reynolds says:

    The continued abuse of all creatures in this world for amusement or profit by the human species never ceases to sadden me.

  • Julie says:

    Heartbreaking to see this suffering. These pictures need to be more widely circulated. Too much animal suffering is swept under the carpet.

  • Johnny Smythe says:

    As a wrangler that spoke up from the hobbit,I can guarantee you animal abuse is alive and well in the movie industry. The main culprit that caused the suffering and deaths on the hobbit is Steven Old and he is now animal co ordinate on Hercules. God save the animals on that production.

  • steven773 says:

    No animals hurt, says the familiar assurance at the end. What a crock. They should be sued for making false statements as well as for the lack of care.

  • MareCadTITANIC says:

    This has GOT TO STOP !!! Seems like the film industry are murderes of Non-Humans!!!


    shame on the industry, heartless bastards. they belong in jail.

  • Flicka says:

    It’s evident that these people don’t like animals. If they can harm horses like this, they are capable of harming a human! I’m outraged by this!!

  • gerald marsden says:

    Sickening to put these noble animals through this carnage just so a fat little idiot can sit on there backside munching popcorn in the name of entertainment .you sit on a horse its abuse.all animals used to entertain us humans its abuse.we have choice they do not

  • joan g says:

    Both should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law

  • Sandra says:

    With CGI being so brillaint these days, there is totally NO NEED to be using any live animals in films today !! WISE UP producers, we are sick to our stomachs of animal abuse ! And very soon our feet will do the talking !!!

  • Doris Campbell says:

    I hope the film companies are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (What law? Is there really a law. And, who is watching? No animal should be harmed in the making of any film. I no longer will believe (No animal was harmed in the making of this film.)

  • Colleen says:

    How is the AHA monitored??? This is outrageous and unacceptable!


    This is absolutely horrible….AHA is NOT doing their job whatsoever – I am outraged at what these poor animals have had to endure – all to satisfy GREED………….Take animals out of being EXPLOITED!!!!

  • Marlene Jaar says:

    Its a shame that big companies like HBO and animal welfare companies only care about money, not the stress and pain that the animals go thru. Shame on the AHA for lying and caring only about $, Peta should file a lawsuit against them for lying in the collection of money.

  • gabrielle says:

    So with all the people on a film production set, NOT ONE ever thought to report this to someone higher up at the Humane soc. or perhaps go to another animal welfare group such as PETA. What about the actors who get paid obscene amounts of money to make these movies, did no one have the balls to speak up for the horses!!! Everyone who turned a blind eye to these horrific injuries and did not report it and who let it continue are all guilty of negligence and animal cruelty. If you see anything where an animal is being hurt or abused in any way shape or form its your duty as a human being to try and stop it, this makes no sense to me at all how these injuries and deaths could have occurred with no one, not one single decent person on the set of filming this movie, trying to put a stop to it. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU, I hope the people responsible get punished to the full degree of the law and then some. ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE.

  • anne lewis says:

    this is absolutely disgusting and must be stopped

  • Lady Marilyn says:

    this makes my heart sooooooo sad ……..these people have become less than human in their lack of compassion and heart……and disgrace the rest of our race

  • Hanna says:

    It is so heartbreaking and upsetting seeing the horses being severely injured. Horses are beautiful, innocent creatures that we should always respect them and care for them properly. Anyone that cannot care for them properly should be very ashamed of themselves. I also read a while ago that many animals were killed during the filming of ‘Zookeeper’ so we need to stop these senseless killings of innocent animals in movies. We need to start boycotting movies that uses and injures animals.

  • Vivian C Cosio says:

    This is tough to see . Don’t we have animal protection laws from abuse ! Do not understand how this and all the other Animal abuse continues . We need stronger laws from someone who cares! Politicians are certainly not protecting animal rights. Further laws need to be enacted NOW.

  • Yvonne says:

    I live in South Africa & to see this is sickening. All in the name of money. Let’s treat the very same people the same way they treated these poor defenseless animals. They were given to us to take care of, not to abuse for our own greed!

  • Cathy says:

    Those SOB! There is no mercy for people that hurt and abuse innocent animals!! I want to see them locked up and to throw away the keys! You can rest assure, that I will NEVER watch that hobbit or luck film!!! Shame on you!!!

  • gabriella rinaldi says:

    just dont want to see those films any more. If they saw empty cinemas for some weeks they surely would do something about it… I myself will just read the books.

  • Platinumhanger says:

    SHAME ON EVERY SINGLE PERSON ASSOCIATED WITH THESE ACTS, FROM THE MOVIE PRODUCERS, DIRECTORS, CREW, AND MOST OF THE OWNER OF THESE ANIMALS. They all knew what was happening and anyone who denies it is lying. Peter Jackson, you knew too, I have no doubt. SICKENING!

  • Dale LaCognata says:

    I agree with Brenda Hull above. We should protest, boycott and sue and use the money won for abused animals.

  • Carole Moore says:

    I cannot look at the pictures, it would hurt too much. However, I now know what it’s all about, and I wish – oh how I wish! – those people are going to suffer the worst possible way for them: ask them to pay. A lot of money. Because money is the most important thing to those monsters.

  • squirrel says:

    Why I never went to see The Hobbit so if more people had boycotted it maybe they would have sat up and taken notice ?

  • Betty says:

    I will never watch this movie! What is the matter with people?

  • Adam Hughes says:

    Independent observers needed on movie sets monitoring everything involving animals. I’m surprised the owners of these poor horses haven’t spoken out – probably paid off by HBO.

  • annie3cats says:

    I wondered after watching “Cowboys and Aliens” just how many horses had died. Anybody know?

  • Alix Freeman says:

    This is downright disgusting. ..they should be made to pay a large sum of money to animal charities and never be allowed to use animals again.

  • David Hunter says:

    Whenever I’ve see the “no animals were harmed during the making of this movie”, it always gave me a sense of relief – that can no longer be the case. The AHA have abused the trust given to them and now their endorsement means nothing. Additionally there is legislation being pushed through that would make whistle-blowing a criminal act – such legislation must not be allowed to pass into law. As for the culprits that allowed this to happen in the first place, they should be financially penalized to such an extent that it would act as a deterrent to any others who would consider cutting back on safety to the detriment of poor animals.

  • Bubba says:

    This is absolutely DISGUSTING! How can the Aha condone this!?! These movie companies should be hit hard in the pocketbook!

  • Ann Weyrick says:

    If you can’t produce a movie without animal abuse then the answer is easy: DON’T MAKE THE MOVIE. There is so much animal abuse in this world you would think AHA could do better! I hope those responsible are severely prosecuted!!