American Humane Association

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Not to be confused with Humane Society of the United States.
"No animals were harmed" redirects here. For the book by Peter Laufer, see No Animals Were Harmed (book).
American Humane Association
American Humane Association logo.svg
Founded 1877 (1877)
Founder John Shortall, James Brown
Type Non-profit
Focus Animal welfare, animal rights, child welfare
Area served
United States
Method training, disaster response,
$12,756,372 [1]
143 [1]
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.[2] It is a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.[3] AHA does not routinely make grants to local animal shelters, and made none to shelters in the United States during 2012.[1]

Early history[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5]

The International Humane Association changed its name to the "American Humane Association" in November 1878.[6] 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.[7] The third meeting was held in Chicago in October 1879,[8] 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.[9]

By the fourth general meeting there were delegates from all prior regions, including new organizations from Nova Scotia, Missouri, South Carolina, and Tennessee.[10] 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.[4]

One of AHA's founders was John G. Shortall, an immigrant from Dublin, Ireland who, with George Thorndike Angell, founded the Illinois Humane Society in 1869. This group combined work against cruelty to animals with work against cruelty to children. [11]

Between 1880 and 1910, AHA was involved in debates over animal experimentation, shifting between abolitionist and regulationist positions. In 1892, moderates at its annual convention voted down an abolitionist proposal and formally adopted a regulationist approach.[12]

The AHA's future was secured by William O. Stillman, a medical doctor from Albany, New York, who acquired its first building, outfitted its headquarters, and hired its first full-time employees. Stillman led the AHA for twenty years until his death. he first became involved with an organization working to prevent cruelty to children, the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society,which, in 1891 absorbed another local organization devoted to the prevention of cruelty to animals. Stillman became president of the consolidated organization in 1892. Stillman frequently investigated cases of cruelty himself and organized a number of branches in cities near his hometown of Albany.[13][14]

Stillman adopted the proposal of South Carolina printer Henry F. Lewith for a "Be Kind to Animals" week.[13]

Red Star Animal Emergency Services[edit]

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."[15] Disasters where the group has rescued animals include the 2011 Joplin tornado,[16] Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti earthquake,[17] Hurricane Sandy,[18] the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and the September 11 attacks.[19] 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.[15]

1954 Schism[edit]

In 1954, tensions within the ranks of American Humane Association members came to a head at the organization's annual meeting, as a member-nominated slate of board candidates stood for office in opposition to a board-nominated slate. The majority of those assembled at the Atlanta, Georgia convention elected the three candidates on the member-nominated slate, Miss. J. Perry, Mr. Raymond Naramore, and Mr. Roland Smith. In the meeting's aftermath, there were firings and resignations on the part of staff members, including Larry Andrews, Marcia Glaser, Helen Jones, and Fred Myers. This core group went on to found a new organization, the National Humane Society,later known as The Humane Society of the United States, as an alternative to AHA.[20]

Companion Animals[edit]

AHA was a defender of decompression for euthanasia of dogs and cats for many years, starting in 1950.[21]

Work in the film industry[edit]

Film and Television Unit[edit]

The American Humane Association began its work in film in 1939, after an incident that occurred on the set of the film Jesse James.[22] 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.[23] The horse fell over 70 feet to the ground below and broke its spine, having to be put down afterwards.[24] 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.

By contract with the Screen Actors Guild, AHA monitors animal use on film sets. However, the Screen Actors Guild has no jurisdiction concerning foreign and non-union productions.[21]

In 1980,[25] 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.[26]

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.[27] Because of this, the AHA may choose to issue the end credit disclaimer "No Animals Were Harmed", in which it is a piece of a filmstrip that has a dog, a horse and an elephant. [28] 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.[29] 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.[30]


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.[31] On the set, AHA's Certified Animal Safety Representatives attempt to ensure the Guidelines are upheld.[32] AHA's oversight includes film, television, commercials, music videos, and Internet productions.[33] 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.[30]


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.[34] The American Humane Association claimed that there had been a two-year "vendetta" against them behind the accusations.[35] 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.[34] The suit was eventually settled by Barker's insurance company, that paid AHA $300,000.[36]

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.[37]

A similar controversy erupted in connection with the treatment of animals on the set of the HBO series, "Luck," in which four horses died, three on set. In 2012, a former AHA employed filed suit against the organization in an ensuing dispute. Barbara Casey, who had worked for thirteen years as an AHA employee, alleged improprieties in the supervision of "Luck." An August 2013 refiling of her lawsuit added further allegations concerning animal deaths on the sets of the films Temple Grandin, War Horse, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.[21][38]

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.[39] For example, during the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, almost 30 animals died.[39] Nevertheless, the movie received a "no animals were harmed" disclaimer.[39] During the filming of the movie Life of Pi, the tiger "King" nearly drowned in a pool, yet this incident was not reported outside of the AHA organization.[39] A horse, "Glass," was impaled during the filming of a Hallmark movie and had to be euthanized.[39] Another horse suffered serious injuries during the filming of War Horse. [39] A dog was beaten during the filming of Eight Below and a chipmunk was crushed and killed during the filming of Failure to Launch.[39] These incidents were not reported to the public.[39] When the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was filmed, hundreds of marine organisms died from explosions conducted in the sea.[39] The film still received a "no animals were harmed" disclaimer.[39]

Eric Bruner, the board chair of the organization, resigned in January 2013 amidst revelations that AHA paid $233,863 to his business partner, Gregory Dew, for unspecified consulting services. Dew was the highest paid AHA "independent contractor" in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, according to filings the charity submitted to the IRS[21][40]

Recent programs[edit]

Farm Animal Services[edit]

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 program began as "Free Farmed" under Adele Douglass, who left AHA in 2003 to found Humane Farm Animal Care. AHA's program is now called "Humane Heartland." As of July 2012, it claimed to include 100 major producers, representing approximately 500 farms, and more than 135 million animals. The auditing is done by the AHA, with the USDA also auditing the certifications to ensure compliance.[21][41] The label informs purchasers that the AHA has found that the animals were not subjected to unnecessary pain, distress, or fear while being raised.[42] Part of what the program demands is the implementation of minimum space requirements per animal on a farm or in farming facilities.[43] The American Humane Association currently certifies approximately 85 percent of cage-free eggs sold in the U.S.[44]

In 2013, Foster Farms earned the American Humane certified designation from AHA for its handling of poultry.[45]

The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards[edit]

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.[46] In 2011 and 2012 the awards were broadcast on the Hallmark Channel.[47] 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.[48]

Governance and Finances[edit]

AHA's budget for animal protection work was $7.8 million in 2012. For child protection, it was $5.6 million.[21]

The organization closed its Denver, Colorado office in 2011 and moved its operations to Washington, D.C.[49]


In 2004, Marie Belew Wheatley became executive director of the AHA. She left to become the executive director of the Colorado Ballet, in 2010, and left the Colorado Ballet in 2013.[50] Current AHA president Robin Ganzert received $254,101 in compensation for 2012.[21]


  • James Brown.
  • John G. Shortall (1837-1908), president (1884-1885, 1892-1898).
  • John L. Shortall.
  • Elbridge T. Gerry, III president (1888).
  • Albert Leffingwell, M.D., president (1904).
  • William Olin Stillman, president (1904-1924).[14]
  • Frank L. Baldwin, vice president (1923).[51]
  • Robin Ganzert, president and CEO (2010–present).[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Form 990". American Humane Association. 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2014. </
  2. ^ "American Humane Association moving HQ from Colorado to D.C.". Denver Business Journal. February 14, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ "American Humane Association: Tax Status". Better Business Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Claire M. Renzetti and Jeffrey L. Edleson (2008). Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence, Volume 1. SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781412918008. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ Doings of the Annual Meeting, Volumes 1. American Humane Association. 1877. pp. 5–7. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ Doings of the Annual Meeting, Volumes 1, p. 19
  7. ^ Doings of the Annual Meeting, Volumes 2. American Humane Association. 1878. pp. 8–9. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  8. ^ Doings of the Annual Meeting, Volumes 3. American Humane Association. 1879. p. 1. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ Doings of the Annual Meeting, Volumes 3, p.3
  10. ^ Doings of the Annual Meeting, Volumes 4. American Humane Association. 1880. p. 2. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  11. ^ "John G. Shortall, Founder of the American Humane Association," National Humane Review 1, 4 (April 1913), 78, 94.
  12. ^ James Turner, Reckoning with the Beast (1981), 162-118.
  13. ^ a b Coleman, Sydney. Humane Society Leaders in America (Albany: American Humane Association, 1924).
  14. ^ a b "William Olin Stillman Papers: Manuscripts and Special Collections: New York State Library". Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  15. ^ a b "Rig headed to area to mark SPCA event". The Gettysburg Times. June 16, 2007. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  16. ^ "American Humane Association to help animal victims of Joplin disaster". State Journal-Register. May 25, 2011. 
  17. ^ Steve Dale (January 27, 2011). "Robin Ganzert Steers American Humane Association from a Celebrated Past Into A Promising Future". ChicagoNow. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ Laura T. Coffey (October 30, 2012). "Rush is on to rescue animals stranded in Sandy's wake". Today. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  19. ^ Erin Thompson (July 9, 2007). "Animal rescue group shows off big rig". The Evening Sun. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  20. ^ P. Parkes and J. Sichel, The Humane Society of the United States 1954-1979: Twenty Five Years of Growth and Achievement, Washington, 1979, 3
  21. ^ a b c d e f g Animal People, 2013 Animal People Watchdog Report, 5,
  22. ^ Johnna Rizzo (February 24, 2013). "Dorothy Lamour never got nominated for an Oscar, while a chimp never could". National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  23. ^ Associated Press (March 15, 2006). "Groups targeting Humane Association over treatment of apes in movies". USA Today. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  24. ^ "HOLLYWOOD UNDER FIRE IN DEATH OF 2ND HORSE". Daily News of Los Angeles. April 28, 2005. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ The Fifth Estate. "PROFILE: American Humane". CBC News. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  26. ^ Lisa Wolfson (August 1, 1987). "The Humane Society keeps film set abuse down". Deseret News. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  27. ^ Eve Light Honthaner (2013). The Complete Film Production Handbook. CRC Press. ISBN 9781136053054. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  28. ^ Empire Magazine (2012). Empire Movie Miscellany: Instant Film Buff Status Guaranteed. Random House. p. 160. ISBN 9781448132911. 
  29. ^ "American Humane Investigates Horse Injury on Set of Russell Crowe's '3:10 To Yuma'". Star Pulse. October 26, 2006. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b American Human Association. "Protecting Your Ass* From Harm". American Human Film & Television Units. p. 4. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  31. ^ Steven Pinker (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Penguin Books. ISBN 9781101544648. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  32. ^ Thomas Lennonand Robert B Garant (2011). Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 1439186774. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  33. ^ Elayne Boosler (March 27, 2012). "Yes, Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Motion Picture". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  34. ^ a b Lucinda Smith, Leah Feldon, and Eleanor Hoover (September 18, 1989). "Speaking Up for 'Abused' Animals, Bob Barker Is Hit with a Lawsuit". People Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  35. ^ Associated Press (August 31, 1989). "Game Show Host Sued For Libel". The Spokesman-Review. p. A7. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  36. ^ "ANIMAL BOARD OFFICIAL SEEKS CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST PROBE". Daily News of Los Angeles. March 30, 1994. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  37. ^ Ralph Frammolino and James Bates (February 9, 2001). "Questions Raised About Group That Watches Out for Animals in Movies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Chairman of Venerable and Controversial Animal Group Resigns – Philanthropy Today - Blogs - The Chronicle of Philanthropy". 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Animals Were Harmed: Hollywood's Nightmare of Death, Injury, and Secrecy Exposed | Hollywood Reporter Exclusive". Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  40. ^ January 09, 2013 (2013-01-09). "American Humane Assn. board Chairman Eric Bruner resigns - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  41. ^ Melinda Fulmer (September 20, 2000). "New Food Label to Certify Humane Treatment of Animals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  42. ^ "LABEL INDICATES HUMANE TREATMENT, 'FREE FARMED' FOODS MEAN PRODUCERS ARE KIND TO ANIMALS". San Jose Mercury News. September 20, 2000. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  43. ^ Catherine Price (September 16, 2008). "Sorting Through the Claims of the Boastful Egg". New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  44. ^ Monica Eng (September 23, 2009). "Egg confusion: A dozen-plus terms that will help you peck through the choices". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Foster Farms". Foster Farms. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  46. ^ Christina Ng (September 19, 2012). "Military Heroes and Their Hero Dogs". ABC World News. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Kristin Chenoweth to host 'Hero Dog Awards' show". Tulsa World. September 26, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  48. ^ Linda Wilson Fuoco (October 29, 2011). "Pet Tales -- Heroes in the spotlight: Guide dog honored for leading her human to safety on 9/11". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  49. ^ "American Humane Association moving HQ from Colorado to D.C.". Denver Business Journal. 
  50. ^ Kyle MacMillan. "With new director, ballet seeks financial stability". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  51. ^ "Denounce Wearing Of Bird Feathers". New York Times. October 23, 1923. Retrieved 2012-11-04. Dr. Frank L. Baldwin, Vice President of American Humane Society [sic], under the auspices of Which the conference was called, characterized New York as 'the mecca of humane workers and the birthplace of the humanitarian movement.' 
  52. ^ "American Humane Association, Aetna Foundation, Dave Thomas Foundation, and more". Philanthropy Journal. September 1, 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 


Coleman, Sydney. Humane Society Leaders in America (Albany: American Humane Association, 1924).

External links[edit]