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New HBO Series 'Luck' Investigated for Horse Mistreatment

New HBO Series 'Luck' Investigated for Horse Mistreatment
David Milch's new HBO series "Luck," a dramatic depiction of the dark and seedy side of thoroughbred horse racing and betting, has been investigated for the treatment of its four-legged stars after two horses broke their legs and were euthanized during the show's production, "The New York Observer" reported on Monday.

One horse was put down after suffering a severe fracture during a race sequence in the pilot episode. Another horse was killed months later, while filming a short race scene in the forthcoming seventh episode of the season. The pilot does include a sequence in which a horse breaks its leg during a race and dies, but HBO assured "The Observer" that a combination of trained horses and CGI was used to achieve the effect; no horses were harmed in that scene.

Nevertheless, production was suspended after the second accident, while HBO cooperated with the American Humane Association to impose additional safety measures. These included hiring an additional veterinarian, radiology of the legs of any horses being considered for the show, and keeping daily training and health records.

"PETA repeatedly reached out to series creator David Milch and others associated with the HBO production before shooting began, but our efforts were rebuffed," Jennifer O'Connor wrote on PETA's official blog on January 27. "Perhaps if producers had considered the proved safety protocols that we would have suggested, these horses would still be alive."

The American Humane Association detailed the results of its investigation in a detailed official statement. Read excerpts from the press release below:

"An American Humane Certified Animal Safety Representative was monitoring the animal action on the set when the incidents occurred and observed the veterinarian on the set perform the soundness checks and approve the horses, prior to racing them. A full investigation and necropsy was conducted for each accident immediately afterwards.

"The extraordinary amount of horse work incorporated in this plotline called for several American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives to ensure that all guidelines were met, including the additional precautions, and all the animal action was monitored."

The AHA also noted that its seal of approval certifying that "no animals were harmed" during filming is not included in the two episodes in question. Instead, viewers saw the following statement: "The American Humane Association monitored the animal action." The AHA added, "No such incidents occurred in other episodes, which did allow them to achieve certification."

For a more detailed explanation of how horses and other animals are treated on the set of "Luck," read the American Humane Association's complete report online.

"Luck" airs Sunday nights on HBO. It was recently renewed for a second season.

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