Yes. Four Certified Animal Safety Representatives monitored the filming of Flicka, and American Humane Association deeply regrets the death of two horses that occurred on the set. With the full cooperation of the production company and 20th Century Fox, American Humane Association conducted investigations into these tragedies and found that both deaths were unpreventable accidents.
In neither instance did the filmmakers or the animal trainers fail to comply with American Humane Association's Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media.
On April 11, 2005, at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, Calif., a horse sustained a compound fracture in its right rear tibia after a misstep during a well-rehearsed “point A-to-B” running scene. The veterinarian on the set -- a specialist in equine medicine -- identified the injury as very rare and of such severity that euthanasia was the most humane option. News media at the time inaccurately reported that the injury had occurred after the horse stepped into a hole. American Humane Association’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives observed rehearsals and clearly found that no holes or dangerous debris were present in the horse’s path. Based on the professional judgment of the attending veterinarian, our investigation concluded that this death was accidental and could not have been predicted or prevented.
On April 25, 2005, at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in San Fernando Valley, Calif., a horse tripped on its regulation length 13-foot lead rope and fell to the ground, breaking its neck. This scene was performed with four horses, 12 professional cowboys, and four pickup riders in a controlled environment under the supervision of four American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives. While performing the scripted action of the scene, the horse got loose from the cowboy who was holding its lead rope. At liberty for less than 20 seconds, the horse suddenly changed direction and took the ultimately fatal step on the rope. LA Animal Services investigators, called in by the production company as required by law, concluded that the horse died of a broken neck and death was most likely instantaneous.
No. The lead rope was 13-feet long, a standard length.
No. The four horses involved in this sequence, as well as the four that had performed in a prior take without incident, were not “wild mustangs," as erroneously reported in some news reports. All of these animals were domestically bred bronc horses accustomed to humans and the use of leads, and they often perform in rodeos across the country. At no time was any animal abused. The horses involved in the day’s filming of this scene were returned to their home in Montana.
American Humane awards the “No Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit Disclaimer for monitored productions that meet all requirements and precautions stipulated by the Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media. Although these were both unforeseeable and unfortunate accidents, the “No Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit obviously cannot be given when an animal actor is fatally injured during production. The statement appearing in credits of Flicka reads: “American Humane Association monitored the animal action.” This statement acknowledges our involvement on the set and encourages the public to visit our website for the complete film review and explanation of the anomaly.
American Humane Association carefully considers potential animal safety issues in each revision to our Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media. In our more than 65 years of oversight for the film and television industry, countless animal injuries and deaths have been prevented by our presence on the set. Sadly, accidents do happen, but as long as animals continue to be used in film and television entertainment, American Humane Association will continue to monitor their treatment.