Animals get treated poorly in film


Juan Carreon (made with Canva)

The American Humane ends the abuse and killing of animals on set, but sometimes things go unseen.

Animals have been used in films since the beginning of movie production. However, in the beginning they were merely viewed as props. In the early 1900s if a film had an abundance of the same animals, the majority of them would end up injured or dead. Although they were founded in 1877,  American Humane was formed to protect the rights of animals; their only problem was they didn’t hold that much authority. Since the beginning of the organization, in any movie that used animals, a member from the AHA would be there to ensure the safety of the animal. If the movie passed the evaluation that movie would get the  “No animals were harmed”  disclaimer before the movie. 

It took over 100 horses to die before people saw how animals were being treated in films. This speaks to how oblivious people were to how horribly they were being treated and or they knew, and authorities didn’t care.

Even though they try their best at ensuring the safety of the animals on set, some incidents go unseen either by accident or on purpose. This has caused a multitude of incidents of animals being harmed and/or killed to be totally hidden from the public eye.

 “Ben-Hur” is a film known for its animal abuse. In the film, 100 horses were killed and some died because of the harsh landing induced by forced tripping. The remaining horses were euthanized because they had limps, medical issues, or just wouldn’t cooperate with the director.

This is morally disgusting. The horses had absolutely no way to defend themselves and if they did, they would have been deemed difficult and most likely put down. This situation raised awareness about animal abuse in films. This is along with the fact that up until this point filmmakers received zero repercussions for treating animals like props and disposables.  

When asked if they believe the disclaimer at the beginning of movies, senior Jamie Sanchez said, ”I’ve honestly never questioned whether films were being truthful when having “No animals were harmed in the making of this film” message. I’ve always believed that message since I thought that there was always some organization behind the scenes, making sure the production stayed up to code when it came to the treatment of animals, but now I’m unsure about how true that statement is.” 

And it is through this blinding trust that we believe this organization that has done a lot of good to protect animals, that we find it hard to believe that on a very rare occasion animals can be harmed. 

Although it’s easy to disregard that back in the day some animals were abused and the people responsible went without punishment,  it may shock people to know that animals can still get abused in films and it goes without legal action. For example in the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” there was video footage that was released that showed for one of the scenes that involved water, the dog is very clearly reluctant to perform the stunt.Yet the dog handler did everything that he could to make sure that the dog would. The AHA Humane Hollywood Initiative has the guidelines chapter 5-26 saying,”Swimming shall be limited to experienced animals, and strict attention must be given to each animal’s logical limits of endurance.” 

From this it is surprising that the AHA representative that was on set didn’t do anything to stop this. 

The reason It is so important that this organization does their job because there can be creative control on the part of the director when it comes to the use of animals in movies, making situations hard to predict. Horrible things can happen to animals on set. A popular example would be “Cannibal Holocaust.” In this film all of the animal death scenes were real. This included the dismemberment of a turtle and the shooting of two monkeys. They also filmed the shooting of a pig and its dismemberment . Although this movie wasn’t filmed in the U.S., this is still unethical and there should be rules against it. It should be considered the worst thing that can happen if directors are allowed to use animals as props. If this can happen in other countries, what’s stopping American filmmakers from doing this.  

The idea of using animals in movies should be considered completely outdated. It isn’t right to use animals and expect them to perform the same as humans and get enraged at them when they don’t. Especially when the measures that are in place to protect them can’t protect them from everything. It gets even worse when you consider that most of the animals are helpless at the hands of humans.

In conclusion, the Animal Humane Organization has a very important role in the American film industry and the work that they do is very important for it to just be a non-profit organization that runs on charitable donations . I believe that if things continue to go downhill the only solution for the safety of animals is for filmmakers to end the usage of animals in film completely.