Are Animal Actors Protected – What You May Not Know

You’ve probably seen at least a handful of movies that feature an animal star in them and let’s face it, that animal is usually what makes the movie so special. So, have you ever found yourself wondering just how that animal became an animal actor, how animals are treated in Hollywood, and what kind of protection they get – if any?

Royalty Free Photo

Protecting animals in movies is something that has been more widely discussed as of late, especially with footage that was released from the Hollywood movie “Dog’s Purpose” earlier this year. The infamous footage seemed to show the canine star in the movie being mistreated. There has been some controversy surrounding the footage as to how authentic it was, but at the end of the day, it opened a conversation on the treatment of animal actors.

Here, we’ll take a look at protecting animal actors and making sure it’s a positive environment for all.

When Did People Start to Care About Animal Welfare?

While you may assume that protection of animals in the movie industry has always been there, the fact is that it wasn’t until 1939 that rules were put into place. It was at that time that the movie Jesse James was being filmed and a scene called for a horse and its rider to jump into a rushing river from a cliff. The horse did it, but unfortunately, it lost its life in doing so. The horse was actually forced onto a tilted platform so it had no option but to jump.

At that point, the public stepped in and demanded that animal actors receive better treatment by the Motion Picture Association of America. Legal rights were given to the American Humane Association to set proper guidelines. These rights remained in place until 1966 and then the industry took a step backward.

A Sad Time for Animal Actors

During the years 1966-1980, animal actors actually took a step back and all the progress that had been made was wiped away. Suddenly, there were no longer regulations and rules in place that would keep them safe and protected. Film companies even barred the American Humane Association from showing up on set, which meant they had no idea what the animals were going through.

During these years, animals were forced into unsafe scenarios, were being overworked, and injuries started happening all over again. If took a major injury to a horse, yet again, in order for things to change. In 1980, the American Humane Association’s power was completely restored at the insistence of the Screen Actors Guild. This contract still stands today and protects animal actors in television and film.

A Much Brighter Future

Thanks to the rules and regulations now in place, animal actors can look forward to a safe environment when showing up to the set. Today, the category acceptable/unacceptable exists in order to rate the treatment of the animal actors. There is also the fact that the American Humane Association continues to work to ensure that animals are protected in all senses.