Two horses killed in first season of HBO's drama "Luck"

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Originally Posted: February 11, 2012

Two horses killed in first season of HBO's drama "Luck"

[Ed. Note: Watch Horse Racing: Behind the Glamour and see Campaign to Stop Horse Racing.]

FROM DawnWatch and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)


Send a note of protest to HBO and let the network know that one season of horse slaughter for entertainment is more than enough. If you are watching the show, please stop -- you are supporting the horse killing. Ask your friends to stop watching too. They surely have no idea that horses are dying on the set -- especially as they have read in the credits that the American Humane Association is on the set "monitoring" the animal action.

HBO feedback page


From Dawnwatch:

When I learned that HBO was planning a drama about the world of horse racing I was saddened as I knew that animal actors would be used and that animal actors lead sad lives. (Dogs in movies may be an exception.) I didn't realize that the show would actually stage horse races and that horses would die in those races just as they do on the real betting tracks.

News has now broken (thanks to PETA) that a horse was killed in the filming of the pilot episode (pilots are filmed before a full series gets a go-ahead) which should have been enough to stop plans for the series. But the series got the green light and another horse was killed during the filming of episode seven. Each horse fractured a leg during a race scene and was later euthanized.

Unfortunately the death of a horse during the pilot was not enough for the American Humane Association, a group funded by the industry it is supposed to police, to choose to disassociate itself from the series.

The good old AHA has been putting it's stamp of approval, "No animals were harmed..." on almost all of the episodes. The New York Observer tells us that for the two episodes in which horses were actually killed the line in the credits is a more neutral, "The American Humane Association monitored the animal action.

That's right, they monitored the deaths of the horses. That organization's stamp is a joke -- a deadly joke because people think it has meaning and thus animal loving people support entertainment that has the stamp. Most people have no idea that the group will monitor the deaths of animals on sets and then give a full stamp of approval to future similarly filmed episodes in which it so happens no animals are harmed.

Horse racing, with its thousands of animal deaths per year, is a barbaric and outdated form of entertainment, which HBO is making topical, perhaps even fashionable, with this well-executed series. There is a petition you can sign asking HBO to adopt PETA's standards on the set to try to prevent further horse deaths. But shouldn't two deaths during the filming of the first season put an end to any plans for a second? Please ask HBO to cancel those plans. HBO needs to hear that its generally conscious audience didn't know horses were dying on the set and will stop watching when that news gets out.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

From PETA:

For two horses on the new HBO series Luck—which is set in and around the horse-racing industry—it was only bad luck. While filming the show's pilot, a horse suffered a severe fracture after falling during a race sequence and was euthanized. Another horse was killed while filming a later episode. Two horses died for a couple of hours of television! PETA repeatedly reached out to series creator David Milch and others associated with the HBO production before shooting began, but our efforts were rebuffed.

Behind the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter.
Image: Paolo Camera | cc by 2.0

Perhaps if producers had considered the proved safety protocols that we would have suggested, these horses would still be alive. The show's theme is showcasing the dark side of racing, and while it does acknowledge how many thoroughbreds suffer catastrophic breakdowns and how horses are routinely doped, two dead horses in a handful of episodes exemplify the dark side of using animals in television, movies, and ads.
We refrained from telling the show's producers "we tried to tell you so" and are now in discussions with HBO about how to prevent even more deaths on the show.

DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at DawnWatch. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.

Thank you for everything you do for animals!