American Humane Association, protecting actor animals

The stars are not the only one who are being taken care of on film sets, animals also have their association that ensures their well-being.

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The American Humane Association (AHA) ensures that animals, whatever their species, are treated well on movie, TV shows or commercials sets.

Having a permanent access to water, not providing physical exercise for too long without resting, or ensuring that nothing will threaten the health or life of the animal, these are all criteria to be met when working with our furry or feathered friends. The key is to obtain the famous certification ‘No animals were harmed’ that production will then include in its end credits.

To be more specific, representatives of the AHA attend the filming (the fields of action of the association is the entire United States territory) and in case of non compliance with its strict specifications, certification is denied and prosecutions can even be taken for mistreatment of animals. Each year, more than 100 000 animals are monitored, on a total of about 1,000 productions.

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Founded in 1877 and based in Washington DC, the field of action of the AHA is not limited to film. Initially, the association was created to protect farm animals during their transport through the United States.

It also works in child protection and assistance to animals that were injured during natural disasters (for instance during hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti).

With the growth of the Hollywood industry and the increasing use of animals on sets, it was normal that the AHA also turned to cinema and protected our friends on camera. It was in 1939 that really began its ‘films’ activity. At that time, movies were using a huge amount of horses for Westerns, among others. But unfortunately, many of them died in accidents.

Today, the American Humane Association is the only one to work for the defense of animals during filming on American territory.

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AHA insists on the fact that protecting animals also means protecting the humans who will interact with these animals on set. Over the years, it even acquired the right to oversee upstream budgets and time allocated to the work of animals to ensure that their safety and well-being are not threatened by poor management.

The AHA annually rewards best animal actors with a Pawscar! This very serious award, the equivalent of the Oscar, goes to the best animal performances of the year. In 2015, cats having played Buttercup in The Hunger Games, or the horses of the Hateful Eight, to name a few, have won the prize!

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What about France?

They also give the Palme Dog! The Cannes film festival also rewards the best canine performance, whether the animal is real or animated. The most famous of them? Uggie, the dog from The Artist (2011).

– Linda Chaabna

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