Statement from American Humane Association regarding claims made by Bob Barker and PETA on September 13, 2012

Los Angeles, CA, September 13, 2012 – American Humane Association strongly refuted claims made at the PETA-backed press conference held earlier today by game show host Bob Barker.

As the nation’s oldest humane organization for the welfare of animals and children, we share the concern expressed by Mr. Barker, Mr. Simon and the men and women of PETA for the safety and welfare of animals working on film and television sets.

Like them, we believe that the welfare of animals – whether they are on set, on farms, assisting blind or disabled persons or involved in emergency rescue operations – is a paramount concern that requires diligent attention, hard work and the most significant resources we can marshal.

With respect to PETA’s allegations, however, Mr. Barker, Mr. Simon and the folks at PETA are sadly misinformed.

Here are the facts:

  • Many of the allegations raised by PETA involve unfortunate incidents that occurred while animals were not on the set. It is important to understand that the Film & Television Unit of the AHA has jurisdiction ONLY on set and nowhere else: not in pre-production, not in post-production, not over animals being transported, etc. We would like to expand our jurisdiction to cover these other areas, but that would require significantly more resources, which we are working to secure.
  • PETA’s insinuation that AHA is to blame for an incident in which a horse died on the set of “Boardwalk Empire” is unfounded and untrue. Here are the facts: on June 25, the TV series “Boardwalk Empire” was filming a scene at an equestrian center rented by the production company. The crew was preparing for an early morning scene with six ponies that had been brought in as animal actors when the American Humane Association Certified Safety Representative® saw an older horse who was living at the facility fall down in an adjacent meadow.  The safety representative ran to the horse’s aid, but there was nothing she could do, as the horse had suffered an aortic aneurysm. The horse, who was 21 years old, had not been given any task to perform; he was part of the background, and according to his owner, had displayed his usual early morning behavior.
  • Regarding the “Outstanding” rating we gave for WRATH OF THE TITANS on which a horse  died, the fact is that the horse’s death occurred during pre-production — while the animal was being transported — not during production, nor was it caused by any production-related activity. (The horse died from colic, a common equine ailment. The vet in attendance did all he could to save the horse, but colic is deadly.) The animal action during the film was performed without incident, so the film was awarded a certification and the accompanying “Monitored Outstanding” rating.
  • In all of the other incidents cited by PETA, AHA either: 1.) conducted investigations and found no wrongdoing, were provided with an explanation that was acceptable within our certification guidelines or we rated the production “unacceptable,” or 2.) did not conduct investigations because there were no incidents, i.e., the events as alleged by PETA either did not happen at all or did not happen as PETA describes.
  • The AHA’s 99.98% safety success rate proves without a doubt that AHA set representatives are making a real difference in the lives of animal and human actors alike.
  • From 2010 through the middle of 2012, AHA “No Animals Were Harmed®” representatives logged more than 9,411 days of supervised animal action and we have successfully protected more than 235,275 animal actors, totaling more than 97,355 protected animals per year.
  • The purpose of the “No Animals Were Harmed” program and our rigorous “Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media” is to maintain a high level of animal welfare and provide for the safety of all animals and human beings working on a production. Our job is to anticipate and prevent problems and risks starting as early as the script phase, in order to make sets safe before filming begins. We keep a vigilant eye on the treatment of animals, ensuring they are healthy, rested, not overworked and well-handled, according to our detailed guidelines.
  • AHA strives for a culture of continuous improvement: following the incidents on “Luck,” in which an unprecedented number of actual race horses were used in filming – instead of animal actors – AHA instituted 51 new safety measures to specifically address the use of professional race horses on sets.

Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children and pets and other animals. The American Humane Association is an animal welfare organization that works with people, production companies and organizations to help real animals in real situations in the real world.

We welcome a direct and honest dialogue with all animal advocates about the different and distinct roles we play in securing the welfare of animals, and how we might best coordinate our efforts, if and where possible. We believe this would be a far better and more constructive use of our resources and time. Discord between our two organizations drains precious resources, distracts from our goals and ultimately only serves to harm the very ones we are both devoted to protecting: the animals we all love.

About American Humane Association

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877 American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

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