American Humane Association
|Focus(es)||Animal welfare, animal rights, child welfare|
|Mission||Ensure the welfare, wellness and well-being of children and animals|
|Website||American Humane Association|
The American Humane Association (AHA) is an organization founded in 1877 dedicated to the welfare of animals and children. It was previously called the International Humane Association, before changing its name in 1878. In 1940 it became the sole monitoring body for the humane treatment of animals on the sets of Hollywood films and other broadcast productions. AHA is best known for its trademarked certification "No Animals Were Harmed", which appears at the end of film or television credits. It has also run the Red Star Animal Emergency Services since 1916. In 2000 AHA formed the Farm Animal Services program, an animal welfare label system for food products. The Association is currently headquartered in Washington D.C. It is a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The American Humane Association began on October 9, 1877 as "The International Humane Association", with the amalgamation of 27 organizations from across the US after a meeting at the Kennard House in Cleveland, Ohio. The invitation to the other groups came from the Illinois Humane Society, sent on September 15, 1877, to discuss the specific problem of farm animal maltreatment during their transport between the eastern and western US. Groups attending the meeting included associations from the State of New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. A group from Minnesota also pledge its support to the forthcoming results of the conference, though they could not attend, and a group from the Province of Quebec in Canada requested the proceedings be sent to them following the proceedings.
The International Humane Association changed its name to the "American Humane Association" in November 1878. New member organizations were in attendance for their second annual general meeting, held in Baltimore, Maryland, also came from California, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Canadian regions were also included in the Association. The third meeting was held in Chicago in October of 1879, and each of the following years in different cities. At the third meeting delegates came from additional regions, including Quebec, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
By the fourth general meeting there were delegates from all prior regions, including new organizations from Nova Scotia, Missouri, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Association eventually came to serve a dual policy of protecting animal and child welfare. Examples of its causes include the uncovering inhumane conditions in cattle slaughterhouse, unclean water fed to horses, separating adult and child offenders in prison, retiring police and fire horses, and trying to abolish corporal punishment in schools. By 1883 its work had led to the Cruelty to Children Act, the first legislation of its kind in the United States.
Red Star Animal Emergency Services
According to the The Gettysburg Times, the "American Humane Association began offering animal relief in August, 1916, by accepting an invitation of the War Department to help animals used by the U.S. Army during WWI. The invitation resulted in the development of the American Red Star Animal Relief Program known today as Animal Emergency Services. Since its inception, the American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services has responded to national and international disasters, rescuing thousands of animals." Disasters where the group has rescued animals include the 2011 Joplin tornado, Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Sandy, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and the September 11 attacks. Today, Red Star Animal Emergency Services includes a fleet of emergency response vehicles customized to help animals in disasters, as well as specialized rescue equipment designed specifically for animal search and rescue.
Work in the film industry
Film and Television Unit
The American Humane Association began its work in film in 1939, after an incident that occurred on the set of the film Jesse James. The group began protesting the public release of the film, because of a scene where a horse was forced to run off the edge of a cliff. The horse fell over 70 feet to the ground below and broke its spine, having to be put down afterwards. In 1966 the AHA’s access to some sets was diminished for 14 years following the dismantling of the Hays Office, during which time their jurisdiction was lessened.
In 1980, following the release of Heaven's Gate, the opening of which was met with a national picketing and protest effort after complaints about how the filming of the movie had involved the inhumane treatment of animals – including the deaths of five horses – the Screen Actors Guild negotiated for the universal presence of AHA on the set as part of its union deal, forcing moviemakers to contact AHA in advance of any animal being present on set.
Today. the American Humane Association Film and Television Unit specifically oversees animals used during media productions, and it is sanctioned by the Screen Actors Guild to oversee a production's humane care of animals. It is the only organization with jurisdiction to do so within the United States. Because of this, the AHA may choose to issue the end credit disclaimer "No Animals Were Harmed". The AHA may also be able to report on the animal action during filming when public concerns arise or animal accidents happen on a particular set. The American Humane Association acts as the animals’ safety representative, but it protects both animal actors and cast/crew members interacting with the animals. According to the AHA, they ensure that budgets and time constraints do not compromise the safety or care of the animals.
The AHA has a standard of animal care as outlined in the Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media, which they established in 1988. It covers both large animals, as well as fish, insects, birds, reptiles, and any other living creature. On the set, AHA's Certified Animal Safety Representatives attempt to ensure the Guidelines are upheld. AHA's oversight includes film, television, commercials, music videos, and Internet productions. Despite animal deaths or injuries on the set, the determination of whether a film qualifies for the AHA's symbol of approval can only be made after filming is complete, all documentation submitted, and a screening of the locked picture provided.
In the late 1980s, the Association was accused by Bob Barker and the United Activists for Animal Rights of condoning animal cruelty on the set of Project X and in several other media projects. The basis of the accusation allowing a cattle prod and a gun on set, and rumored beating of the chimpanzee on set. The Association responded by launching a $10 million suit for libel, slander and invasion of privacy against Mr. Barker. The American Humane Association claimed that there had been a two-year "vendetta" against them behind the accusations. In a series of public ads along with the $10 million libel suit, the Association stated that the allegations were made based on insufficient and misleading information. The suit was eventually settled by Barker's insurance company, that paid AHA $300,000.
The Los Angeles Times also reported in 2001 that the AHA Film Unit "has been slow to criticize cases of animal mistreatment, yet quick to defend the big-budget studios it is supposed to police," and that an examination of the Association, "also raises questions about the association's effectiveness." The article cites numerous cases of animals injured during filming which the AHA may have overlooked.
In late 2013, the Hollywood Reporter ran a story which implicated the AHA in turning a blind eye to and under reporting incidents of animal abuse on television and movie sets, including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, War Horse, Eight Below, Failure to Launch, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Farm Animal Services
In 2000, the American Humane Association’s Farm Animals Services program created the first farm animal welfare label to be overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The auditing is done by the AHA, with the USDA also auditing the certifications to ensure compliance. The label informs purchasers that the AHA has found that the animals were not subjected to unnecessary pain, distress, or fear while being raised. Part of what the program demands is the implementation of minimum space requirements per animal on a farm or in farming facilities. The American Humane Association currently certifies approximately 85 percent of cage-free eggs sold in the U.S.
The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards
Each year a series of dogs are awarded the Hero Dog Awards, given to dogs that have contributed substantially to human society. There are several categories in which dogs can be nominated, including the Military Dog category. The grand prize for the American Hero Dog was $10,000, which is given to a charity that reflects the contributions of the animal. In 2011 and 2012 the awards were broadcast on the Hallmark Channel. The first winner of the national award was a dog named Roselle, who led his blind owner down from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks. There were more than 400,000 votes cast in the online poll that determined the winner. Unfortunately Roselle passed away several months before the winner was announced. The award was given on November 11, 2011.
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