Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s HBO suspended filming scenes with horses in its “Luck” television series after a third animal died working on the show.
A horse was euthanized yesterday at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California, after it reared, fell backward and hit its head, the Washington-based American Humane Association said in a statement. The horse had just received an exam and was scheduled to be filmed later in the day.
The show, starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte and centered around thoroughbred racing, has drawn criticism for its treatment of horses used in filming. The first two horses died in 2010 and 2011, leading to one prior halt in shooting and added safety measures. The current suspension will last until an inquiry into the latest death is completed, HBO said.
“HBO and everyone involved with the production are deeply saddened,” the network said in an e-mailed statement, pledging “full cooperation” with the investigation by the humane association, which monitors animal safety on film and TV sets, and the California Horse Racing Board.
HBO is shooting early episodes of the show’s second season. The network said it will continue filming scenes that don’t involve horses.
The deaths could have been avoided, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a Norfolk, Virginia-based advocacy group, said in an e-mailed statement. The organization said it has asked law enforcement agencies to investigate.
“Three horses have now died, and all the evidence we have gathered points to sloppy oversight, the use of unfit or injured horses, and disregard for the treatment of racehorses,” Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s vice president of laboratory investigations, said in the e-mailed statement.
HBO said an American Humane Association safety representative was on the set today when the accident occurred, and that all safety precautions were in place.
“Recent assertions of lax attitudes or negligence could not be further from the truth,” HBO said in its statement.
A necropsy will be conducted, Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, said in HBO’s statement.
“Unfortunately, we see several of these injuries in the stable area every year,” Arthur said. “They are more common than people realize.”
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