Tag Archives: “American Humane Association”

The American Humane Association Will Not Give “No Animals Were Harmed®” Warranty To Alberta Film After Bison Killing


Solutrean Prop_tonemappedWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

In recent years, the American Humane Association has come under fire over a number of films that received the “No Animals Were Harmed®” sign-off despite the deaths of numerous animals during film productions overseen or approved by the group.   An article by Ryan Rumboldt for the Calgary Herald on December 31, 2016, finally gives closure to the incident where bison in Alberta were killed for the use of movie props in the film “The Solutrean.” Set to release in the summer of 2017, the movie is an ice age period film which came under investigation from the American Humane Association after questions were raised about the killing of the animals used to depict a buffalo hunt.  While it was concluded by the AHA and the SPCA that the bison were not inhumanely destroyed,  the killing of an animal for the direct purpose of a movie scene is strictly forbidden by the AHA.  After their investigation, American Humane has decided not to give their No Animals Were Harmed®approval as is generally customary in the industry when animals are used.

“This is an egregious violation of our guidelines as under no circumstances does American Humane tolerate the killing of animals for the purpose of film production,” said spokesman Mark Stubis. “Our policies specifically prohibit any animal to be injured or killed for use in a movie.”

The Alberta movie animal supply industry has been subjected to criticism since  “an incident on the set of the 1999 film The Thirteenth Warrior where a horse had to be destroyed, and again after horses used on the TV series Heartland were sold to Bouvry Exports, North America’s largest slaughterhouse.”

Please read more here from the Calgary Herald.

Read more on my original blog post on the killing of the bison here.


Yes, Some Animals Were Harmed…

Solutrean Prop_tonemapped

One of several bison killed for props for the movie, The Solutrean.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Most of us believe animals in movies are protected from abuse, injury, and death.  The Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) requires that any motion picture which engages SAG actors also must engage the American Humane Association, the group that allows producers to use the “No Animals Were Harmed”® end-credit certification to productions that meet its standard of care for animal actors.  The AHA protection is supposed to cover large animals, as well as fish, birds, and reptiles. On the set, AHA’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the guidelines are upheld.  AHA’s oversight includes film, television, commercials, music videos, and Internet productions.

No Animals Were Harmed® Certification Program

American Humane Association monitors animals in filmed media and holds the exclusive right to award its “No Animals Were Harmed”® end-credit certification to productions that meet its rigorous standard of care for animal actors. American Humane Association works with production personnel and trainers in the pre-production planning stage, monitors the animals on set during production, and enforces American Humane Association’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media. It also investigates allegations of mistreatment and cruelty and sanctions productions that do not meet its standards of humane animal treatment. American Humane Association currently monitors 70 percent of known animal action in film and television productions. This amounts to approximately 2,000 productions annually, where Certified Animal Safety Representatives™ combine animal welfare and behavioral expertise to care for animal actors and protect their interests.

The AHA provides the following ratings for films under their oversight.

Outstanding – AHA determined the film met or exceeded  their  Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media and is awarded the end credit disclaimer “No Animals Were Harmed®.”

Acceptable – Significant compliance with their protocols and filmmakers who cooperated with the process.

Special Circumstances – Production followed the guidelines and cooperated, however an accident, injury, or death occurred which involved an animal.

Unacceptable – Filmmakers failed to adhere to AHA protocols and disregarded safety protocols leading to injury or death of an animal.

Not Monitored: Production Compliant – The production was not monitored however a script and relevant animal scheduling information and pre-release screening of the film were provided to the AHA.

Not Monitored – Filmmakers did not request monitoring, therefore the AHA was unaware whether guidelines were followed.

The AHA Film Unit is not without controversy, as it has been claimed that they are slow to criticize cases of animal mistreatment, yet quick to defend the big-budget studios it is supposed to police, and that an examination of the association also raises questions about the association’s effectiveness. Audiences who are reassured by the organization’s famous disclaimer should not necessarily assume it is true. In actuality, the presence of the AHA provides us with a false sense of comfort and a very different reality. In fact, the AHA has awarded its “No Animals Were Harmed®” credit to films and TV shows on which animals were injured or even killed during production. It justifies this on the grounds that the animals weren’t intentionally harmed or the incidents occurred while cameras weren’t rolling. For instance, the AHA does not monitor living conditions of animals off set, during hiatus, or during pre-production, which means there may never be any justice for any animal frivolously killed off-set for, of all things, a movie prop. And if animals were killed elsewhere to become props in a film, does that mean the film can still receive the accreditation that “No Animals Were Harmed®?”  Regardless, how can it possibly be ethical to kill animals in an attempt to capture reality for a film?

The Solutrean,” an ice age survival story set in the upper Paleolithic period, is currently in production in Alberta, and Vancouver as well as Iceland.  Recently, at least 3 bison AltamiraBisonwere allegedly killed with high-powered rifles, their hides were partially stripped, and they were shipped to the set so that the actors could appear to be skinning them.  One might think that the re-creation of actors killing an animal for a pre-historic scene would be a project that is easily replicated by  Hollywood special effects craftspersons.  But since Alberta is a province that revels in a ready supply of animals for the movie industry, I suspect this will simply be another example whereby entertainment trumps ethics.

Will the AHA do with this film what they did for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, where almost 30 animals died, including sheep and goats that died from dehydration and exhaustion or from drowning during a hiatus in filming at an unmonitored New Zealand farm where they were being housed and trained, and bestow a carefully worded credit noting that it “monitored all of the significant animal action. No animals were harmed during such action?”

So who are the stalwart defenders of animals in movies – who, unlike their human counterparts, didn’t themselves sign up for such work? As nebulous as they are, the AHA guidelines are not in force in Canada, even though a production may be filmed in Canada with actors from the SAG.  Canadian producers who use animals in their films have a variety of different legal obligations with which they must contend, ranging from contractual to regulatory to criminal. In Canada, we need to look to the Criminal Code and the Health of Animals Act for a legal framework.  After that, the issue of animal treatment tends to be addressed by provincial and municipal-level laws and voluntary guidelines.

What happened to these bison was not a tragic, unpreventable accident.  As long as there is an organization purporting to protect animals that’s intimidated by powerful filmmakers, the animals are always going to lose.  IMO, the ratings system is bogus – either animals were harmed or they were not.


American Humane Association
Film & Television Office
11530 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

A Comprehensive Resource for At-Risk Horses – Compiled by Equine Advocate Linda Horn


The_Thinker_Auguste_RodinThis comprehensive body of work produced by equine advocate Linda Horn arose as a result of commentary by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who stated that Congress should come up with a better solution for unwanted horses.  Instead of slaughtering non-food animals for human consumption, he said that there needs to be a “a third way” to deal with horse problems instead of killing.  When Congress lifted the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption, five pending applications were filed.  The USDA preferred that the ban be renewed instead.

Of course, Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, appealed to Vilsack calling on the USDA to deny permit applications for horse slaughter facilities, citing concerns with the cost and safety of the practice. His letter highlighted the negative economic impact that horse slaughter could have on the meat industry,  after the EU discovered that horsemeat had made its way into the beef supply.  In the month following media reports of horsemeat laced products, sales of burgers and other meat products collapsed by as much as 40 percent.

“Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances that are banned by the FDA from administration to animals destined for human consumption. At a time when USDA’s budget is diminished by budget cuts and sequestration…every dollar spent at horse slaughter plants would divert necessary resources away from beef, chicken, and pork inspections – meat actually consumed by Americans. While I work to restore this ban, I strongly urge you to exercise all available options to prevent the resumption of this industry.”

Now that Congress’ latest 2014 budget bill has blocked the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S. by cutting funding for inspections of the process,  Linda’s documentation of alternatives to slaughter,  emphasis on humane euthanasia,  and alternatives for post-mortem disposal options in the United States is more important than ever.

The vast majority of pro-slaughter promoters will never  accept that this is the decline and fall of horse slaughter. Slaughterhouse Sue is still flagellating her troops into believing that they have lots of options moving forward.  But Linda has shown that anti-slaughter resources do exist,  and groups and organizations in other states could be mobilized out of necessity.  Inventiveness and ingenuity are stimulated by difficulty,  as we are reminded by the well-known proverb “necessity is the mother of invention,”  often ascribed to Greek philosopher Plato.

Compiled by Linda Horn – PDF version available here

Resources for At Risk Horses by Linda Horn

USDA Secretary Vilsack’s “Third Way” can address the current horse situation better than slaughter. The vast majority of horses who end up at the borders come from somewhere else. To be successful, the situation must be addressed at the source. Several states already have solutions in place. When all states set up their own programs there will be positive, long-lasting progress nationwide.

I hope Members of Congress, state and local legislators will endorse and promote this document. We intend to fund it privately, with no contributions from government budgets.

Here are a few examples of existing programs. There are many, many more.


New Mexico Equine Protection Fund.

If every state set up something like this – with each handling its own excess population – it would go a long way toward solving the dilemma.


Information about other state programs is available online.


American Humane Association – Red Star Program – Disaster Relief

Help for the Leachman Horses. They helped with several other rescues involving horses


American Humane Association Second Chance Fund



Grants and Other Support


ASPCA “Hay It Forward”


UHC Partners with ACTHA to Help Unwanted Horses


Stamp Out Starvation of Horses – Georgia


Equine Safety Net – Kentucky Horse Council


Oregon Hay Bank


Sound Equine Options – NW Oregon & SW Washington State


BITS – Back In The Saddle Project – California – Butte, Glen & Yuba Counties



The USDA could provide subsidies to grow horse hay and establish a National Hay Registry that publishes hay available in each state.


The ASPCA Provided $1.8 Million in Grants to Equine Groups in 2012



The Penn National Racetrack Model


UHC Member Addresses Rescue and Adoption: Rags to Riches Rescue Competition


‘Thoroughbreds for All” Event to be Held April 26



State legislatures have the ability to create tax checkoffs to help rescues at no cost to taxpayers. It won’t solve the problem, but every little bit helps.

Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance Tax Checkoff Information


In 2013, the New Mexico legislature passed a check off bill as well.

“THANK YOU to the New Mexico House for passing SB274 on a 62-0 vote! Sen George Munoz’s bill will create a tax check off to help fund licensed horse shelters to help more abused, abandoned, and neglected equines in New Mexico without raising taxes! Having passed the Senate, the bill awaits a signature from Governor Martinez to become law. SO MANY people came forward to support this bill.”

This is the Fact Sheet. The Text of the Bill is available online.



National Equine Resource Network (NERN)

NERN’s goal is to help set up clinics nation-wide based on their model.


The Unwanted Horse Coalition


New Mexico Equine Protection Fund – Voucher


Horse Plus Humane Society – California – Monthly Clinics Low-cost clinics


BITS – Back In The Saddle Project SNIP – California



PZP – Information from The Science and Conservation Center, ZooMontana



Sound Equine Options – NW Oregon & SW Washington State



A Home for Every Horse


A Home for Every Horse – Participating Rescues


HSUS Safe Stalls Horse Rescue Network




There are so many Facebook groups that successfully network to re-home horses in need and help owners in difficulty it would be almost impossible to list them all here.


Reasonable transport is one of the biggest challenges to those rescuing horses.

The following Facebook groups and others are helping meet that challenge:

Fleet of Angels


Horse Rescue Transport Network


Rescue Rangers


uShip Highways to Help. Rescue horse information is at the bottom.



Articles About the Value of Programs to Individuals and the Community

Grants Fund Research on Equine-Assisted Therapy and Veterans


Equine-assisted psychotherapy: a mental health promotion/intervention modality for children who have experienced intra-family violence


Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: Healing Therapy or Just Hype?


Horse therapy helps youth deal with life issues


A few of many Equine-assisted Therapy Programs:

Many of the horses are donated by those who can no longer care for them.

Equine-assisted therapy for military veterans and families – General information and links to programs


Mini Horses as Therapists for Children


Equine Psychotherapy Associations




Care for the Troops


Equine Assisted Therapy – St. Louis


Equine Partners Unlimited – Ohio


Back in the Saddle Project


Horse Plus Humane Society – California


Medicine Horse Program – Colorado



HSUS Responsible Horse Breeders Council – 800 breeders had signed on as of January 2013.



HSUS Humane Horse Remains Disposal – by State



New Mexico Equine Protection Fund – Voucher System


Horse Plus Humane Society – California


BITS – Back In The Saddle Project – California



HSUS Humane Horse Remains Disposal – by State



New Mexico Equine Protection Fund – Voucher System



National Renderers Association Members



Biodigestion holds promise for equine disposal. This option should satisfy those who argue the primary way equines can be beneficial to humans after death is as food. The technology is already being used for disposal of diseased livestock, chemically euthanized dogs and cats, and animals killed on roadways. Biodigesters can handle many types of biologic materials, including manure. In addition to a number of other useful by-products, units can be set up to generate electricity from the produced methane. The USDA has issued a number of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants for both research and building plants. Much more information is available online.

USDA Secretary Vilsack’s Column: Energy Efficiency and the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill


USDA Funded Digester Reduces Pollution, Powers 1,500 Michigan Homes


Five good reasons to implement a biogas plant on your farm



Should I Consider Composting A Horse Carcass?


How To Compost A Dead Horse


Composting A Dead Horse: The Process


As you can see, there are many alternative to horse slaughter in the U.S. Sadly, it’s doubtful many will be explored or implemented if irresponsible horse owners continue to have the option of discarding their animals at will. Only Congress has the power to protect our food exports and save our horses, and the best way is to bring the SAFE Act to the floor for a vote. Thanks for your time and consideration.

thank you