(LOS ANGELES) — The death of a third horse on the set of the HBO drama Luck has the network suspending filming with horses for the second time while the accident is investigated.
The American Humane Association, which oversees Hollywood productions involving animals, “immediately demanded that all production involving horses shut down,” according to a statement released Tuesday. The group is insisting on a “complete, thorough, and comprehensive investigation” into the accident surrounding the horse’s death.
The horse, being used on the Dustin Hoffman series, had just been inspected by Dr. Gary Beck of the California Horse Racing Board and was being returned to the stable at Santa Anita Racetrack, in Arcadia, Calif., where much of the filming takes place.
“The horse was on her way back to the stall when she reared, flipped over backwards, and struck her head on the ground,” Beck said in a statement.
Beck and a second veterinarian, Dr. Heidi Agnic, determined humane euthanasia was the appropriate action to deal with the horse’s injuries.
HBO released a statement saying all safety precautions were in place when the accident occurred, and they have suspended any filming with horses until the investigation is completed.
Actor John Ortiz, who plays horse trainer and gambler Turo Escalante on the show, tweeted in response to the accident, saying, “Everyone on set loves and cares for the horses. Their well-being is the top priority in the process.”
But this isn’t the first time the series, currently filming its second season, has suspended production over the death of an animal. During the filming of its first season, in 2010 and 2011, two horses were injured and euthanized. Filming had resumed in February after new protocols were put in place.
According to autopsy results, the first horse was a 5-year-old male who suffered from a “catastrophic humeral fracture” of his right front leg and was on multiple pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications. The second, an 8-year-old male, had an open fracture of his right radius and a history of arthritis.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized HBO after the deaths of the horses. The group alleges the show is using older race horses during filming and asking them to do more than a young thoroughbred.
Luck centers around horse racing and a crime kingpin, played by Dustin Hoffman, trying to gain control of the race track and launch casino gambling.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sarah Bringhurst, OK.com
Scott Stuntz, Teton Valley News