Animals WERE Harmed: How American Humane Has Failed Animals

Published by Elena Waldman.

Warning: When you see a stamp of approval from American Humane—the organization commonly known for the “No Animals Were Harmed” credit—viewer discretion is advised. That goes for everything the notorious organization certifies, from film and TV productions that exploit animals to deceptively labeled “American Humane Certified” meat.

While American Humane may have started off with good intentions, it’s now seemingly nothing more than a rubber-stamping committee that has repeatedly failed to protect animals in the industries it’s supposed to monitor, making its accreditation essentially meaningless.

PETA recently submitted a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission alleging that American Humane falsely and misleadingly claims that it has “set the gold standard in animal welfare,” duping customers into believing that its standards for farms, wildlife parks, television and film productions, and “pet” stores are significantly better than standard industry practices.

Here are six shocking facts that expose American Humane for the sham that it is:

1. Whistleblowers and undercover investigators have exposed egregious cruelty on American Humane Certified farms.

For example, in February 2022, a whistleblower who worked at American Humane Certified Culver Duck Farms provided PETA with video footage and photographs of workers throwing live ducklings into a grinder, mother ducks being “gang raped” as a result of intense crowding, and ducks who were suffocated and buried alive.

2. Animals have been seriously injured or even killed on “No Animals Were Harmed” accredited productions.

Three horses died on the set of HBO’s Luck; in Failure to Launch, a chipmunk was crushed to death by the animal’s own handler; 27 sheep, goats, and other animals died from dehydration, exhaustion, or drowning during the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; and a tiger nearly drowned while filming Life of Pi. These are just a few examples of animals who have suffered on productions monitored by American Humane officials.

3. American Humane certifies sham “conservation” exhibitors that exploit animals for profit.

The agency has even given its Humane Conservation Certification to notorious abusement parks like the Miami Seaquarium, which has confined Lolita to the smallest orca tank in the world for more than 50 years and is responsible for egregious animal suffering, premature deaths, and failure to provide animals with even the bare minimum necessary for their survival.

© Orca Network
Lolita floats in the smallest, oldest orca tank in North America at the Miami Seaquarium.

4. Petco became the first American Humane Certified “Pet Provider”—despite the long history of animal suffering at its stores and suppliers.

PETA undercover investigators, whistleblowers, and officials have found dead fish on store shelvesfeces piling up in cagessick animals suffering inside severely crowded containers, and reptiles deprived of proper heat at Petco stores, as well as dead animals being cannibalized in small tubs and animals gassed, frozen alive, or left for dead at Petco’s suppliers.

5. American Humane has opposed laws and initiatives that would help animals.

The agency opposed California’s bullhook ban and other animal-friendly legislation in the state.

Bullhooks are weapons used by handlers to hit and punish elephants in order to force them to obey.

American Humane even refused to join the “No Reel Apes” campaign—an initiative supported by Dr. Jane Goodall to protect apes from being forced to perform in film and television—despite overwhelming evidence that using these animals is detrimental to their survival.

6. The problems start at the very top.

Despite American Humane’s sordid track record, its CEO is paid a hefty $700,000 annual salary—making vastly more than the nonprofit’s average employee. And the company’s chief veterinary officer is the former vice president of veterinary medicine for Petco, who apparently failed to ensure that animals at that chain’s stores received proper veterinary care.

American Humane’s chief operating officer used to be the vice president of a PR firm that attacks animal rights, environmental protection, and other humane groups.

Here’s How You Can Help Animals

Despite what American Humane’s bogus labels imply, there’s no “humane” way to exploit, abuse, or kill other animals. If you really want to be “humane certified,” go vegan, adopt and never shop, don’t support pseudo “sanctuaries,” speak up for animals used in film and television, and join PETA’s Action Team so that you can help us win more victories for animals.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind