American Humane, through its Los Angeles-based Film & TV Unit, has a long-standing presence in Hollywood. Since 1940, it has overseen the use of animals in filmed entertainment. American Humane is the only organization authorized to monitor the safety of animals on the sets of movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos. Productions that make sure to have an American Humane Animal Safety Rep on set and follow American Humane’s "Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media" and keep animals safe on the set are awarded the famous "No Animals Were Harmed" end-credit disclaimer.
"The use of animals in filmed entertainment celebrates the roles of animals in our history, in our families and in our lives," said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane.
American Humane’s Film & TV Unit, when asked what films it would recognize if the organization had its own version of the Oscars, named the following, all of which earned the right to say "No Animals Were Harmed."
Best Movie Magic Featuring an Animal: The Dark Knight
The film features a very dramatic sequence in which dogs attack a man and then are attacked themselves. Rest assured, no dogs were harmed. The production used a combination of techniques, including playing with the dogs, filming the dogs from various angles and using prop dogs, to achieve a realistic effect.
Most Poignant Movie Illustrating the Human-Animal Bond: Marley & Me
If you saw it, you had to dig out some tissues. This movie shows that even an overly rambunctious dog is still a valued and important member of the family, and the loss of a companion animal is truly the loss of a friend.
Best Behind-the-Scenes Rescue Story: Beverly Hills Chihuahua
According to Chris Obonsawin, American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representative™ on the set of this film, one of the lead dogs who played Papi was a day away from being euthanized before a trainer discovered him in a California animal shelter. The dog now lives with the movie’s head trainer. Many trainers find their animals at animal shelters – trainer Frank Inn adopted a mutt from a California shelter in the 1960s. The mutt became Benji.
Best Group Effort to Protect Horses: Appaloosa
In Appaloosa, there is a scene in which men on horses cross a stream, then gallop up a ravine. The Animal Safety Representative, Ed Lish, explained that sending the horses through a stream, where sharp rocks or other dangers might be hidden under the water, would be against American Humane’s guidelines. The entire crew immediately jumped in to scour both the stream and the ravine to clear the way of debris and ensure safety and comfort for the horses.
Best Rescue by a Snake: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
When Mutt grabs a vine to save Indy, who is sinking in quicksand, they find themselves grasping a snake. The production used a real python for some gentle "establishing shots", then brought in a prop substitute for the "real" action.