The film “District 9,” nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category, carries an unauthorized “No Animals Were Harmed”® end credit. The American Humane Association, the only animal-welfare organization authorized to monitor the use of animals in U.S. filmed productions -- and owner of that trademarked statement which assures the public of the safe use of animals -- urges members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to show their disapproval of the film’s unauthorized use of the end credit by casting their ballots for other nominated films instead.
“American Humane has monitored the use of animals in film for the past 70 years to ensure their safety, and both the animals and the public depend on us to do that,” said Karen Rosa, vice president of American Humane’s Film & TV Unit. “We did not monitor ‘District 9.’ And the unauthorized use of that end credit on ‘District 9’ not only leaves open the questions of ‘How were the animals treated?’ and ‘Were any of them harmed or killed?’, but it’s dishonest to the public and it’s a slap in the face to the conscientious productions that have American Humane on set, meet our standards for animal safety, and have legitimately earned the right to say ‘No Animals Were Harmed.’ We encourage Academy members to cast their votes for films other than ‘District 9,’ to send the message that Hollywood cares about the safety of animals and respects intellectual property. The industry fights piracy every day and should understand that this is piracy of American Humane’s registered language.”
American Humane was contacted by Sony Pictures after the company purchased the completed film and discovered the “No Animals Were Harmed” end-credit disclaimer on it. “We informed Sony that American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives™ had not monitored ‘District 9’ and that it should not carry that statement,” Rosa said. “However, we were told that the film was ‘locked’ and that Sony was thus unable to remove the credit. We have subsequently reached out to Peter Jackson, co-producer of ‘District 9,’ to explain American Humane’s process for monitoring films, as well as our position regarding the unauthorized use of our disclaimer. We hope Mr. Jackson will be receptive to discussing this issue and following the proper process for keeping animals safe on the set in future productions.”
American Humane takes the accountability for the disclaimer statement very seriously and, therefore, screens films and verifies reports from the on-set monitors before awarding the disclaimer. In a subsequent instance, for Jackson’s film “The Lovely Bones,” the production added American Humane’s “No Animals Were Harmed” disclaimer to the credits. Although American Humane supervised the use of the animals in that film, the production used a registered disclaimer from the film “King Kong” instead of the authorized disclaimer that would have been available. The distributor, Paramount, was unable to correct that error and the fraudulent use of the registered credit, not only on the theatrical release, but also on the upcoming DVD release. “We are hoping that Mr. Jackson is simply unaware of the errors, rather than dismissive of our work and mission,” said Rosa.
When American Humane’s end credit is earned by a film, it signifies that American Humane was on the set, monitoring the use of animals and ensuring that the organization’s “Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media” were followed. American Humane can then attest to the treatment of the animals on set and explain to the public exactly how the animal action was safely achieved. When a production disregards this process for ensuring the safety of animals and uses an unauthorized end credit, there is no accountability and no meaning behind the words “No Animals Were Harmed” on that film. And in the case of films shot outside the U.S., as “District 9” was, there is no telling how the animals were treated, since standards for the treatment of animals vary from country to country.
“We urge the viewing public to voice their concern about ‘District 9’ and let Sony know they don’t want this to happen again,” Rosa said.
American Humane encourages filmmakers to work with the organization and for distributors to verify the legitimacy of the “No Animals Were Harmed” credit before approving and finalizing any film prints for theatrical release or DVD distribution. Viewers, too, should always look for the “No Animals Were Harmed” end credit and logo. They can check American Humane’s website, www.americanhumane.org/film to see what rating was assigned to films, based on their use of animals, and to find out how the animal action was achieved on films that American Humane monitored.
About American Humane Association
Since 1877, the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty and abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society. As the nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals, 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.