Update: January 19, 2021
On August 25, A to Z Film Animals’ Kip Lewis—an apparent animal supplier for USA Network’s Briarpatch whose home was searched by state authorities in December 2018, revealing horrendous conditions for animals kept there—pleaded no contest to multiple counts of importing animals illegally after he and his wife, Chelsey Lewis, smuggled wild animals into New Mexico and then lied to government agents about those animals’ whereabouts. A judge sentenced him to nearly a year of probation. Chelsey pleaded no contest to one count of illegally importing animals, and her sentence was deferred pending completion of probation. Now, Kip and Chelsey—who were apparently hired to train a dog for The Marksman starring Liam Neeson—could be stripped of their federal license if the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) heeds PETA’s plea. We sent a letter urging the agency to terminate the Lewises’ federal Animal Welfare Act exhibitor license.
Like the USDA, filmmakers have an opportunity to do the right thing: take a stand against animal exploitation in Hollywood by refusing to force animals to perform and instead switch to realistic computer-generated animals—something many production companies have been doing successfully for years.
If you’ve witnessed an animal being used for a film or television production, please report it at PETA.org/Report or contact PETA’s whistleblower hotline at 323-210-2233.
Originally published on February 4, 2020:
Exclusive law-enforcement footage taken during a raid of the New Mexico home of a supplier for USA Network’s Briarpatch reveals a house of horrors for the animals held captive there, including a capuchin monkey, a kangaroo, and a 2-month-old mountain lion who reportedly died.
This is why animals don’t belong in film or television productions:
This disturbing footage was recorded inside the home of Kip and Chelsey Lewis, who do business as “A to Z Film Animals” and have apparently supplied animals for AMC’s Better Call Saul, Netflix’s Godless, and Disney+’s Stargirl as well as Briarpatch and other productions. According to documents obtained by PETA from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the Lewises were charged with multiple counts of illegal importation for unlawfully acquiring and holding several wild animals in July 2019. The video footage—which PETA has reviewed and sent to USA Network—shows more than a dozen dogs kept in kennels stacked on top of one another in a garage, animals crammed into closets, and an alligator (who was apparently imported for Briarpatch and then died) held in a small, filthy outdoor pit. The Lewises also apparently attempted to conceal animals from authorities by claiming to have sent them out of the state, while actually hiding them at other properties around New Mexico.
Wildlife smuggling, squalid cages, and deaths are no surprise in an industry that treats sensitive animals like props.
This case demonstrates exactly why we’re calling on production studios to embrace the future of film and TV by using computer-generated imagery and animatronics instead of real animals.
PETA is urging network officials to stop using animals in future TV productions, but we need your eyes and ears.
If you’re aware of any animals being used for film or television productions, please click below to report it right away:
Animals should never be forced to perform at SeaWorld, in a circus, or for a film or TV show. Suffering and squalid conditions like those endured by the animals seen in the video above are likely experienced by countless animals trapped in showbiz. Click below to take action for animals exploited for entertainment: