HBO Accused of Animal Abuse Cover-Up for Luck Horses

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Although HBO’s racetrack drama Luck was taken off the air last year due to the death of several horses, a lawsuit has emerged with claims that some incidents of animal abuse went unreported. As the document—which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter — states, former American Humane Association employee Barbara Casey is suing HBO over alleged abuse of horses during the production of Luck. The document also states there was pressure for the AHA to help cover up the issue and to terminate Casey after requests to contact authorities.

“The Production Defendants engaged in ongoing, systematic and unlawful animal abuse and cruelty toward the horses on the set of Luck,” the document read, and later stated: “In order to save time and money, however, and to minimize any disruption to its production schedule, the Production Defendants, rather than fully cooperate with the AHA, continued to engage in and/or direct criminal animal abuse and cruelty. The Production Defendants pressured AHA to allow them to violate AHA’s animal safety standards, guidelines and/or recommendations.”

Casey worked as the director of production at the film and TV unit of the AHA on the Luck set. The lawsuit states that Casey witnessed “the drugging of horses,” the use of “underweight and sick horses” and “misidentification of horses so that animal safety representatives couldn’t track their medical history.” Some of these statements are similar to PETA’s allegations from last March when the show was canceled:

“Knowing that old, unfit, and drugged horses were forced to race for this series, PETA is glad that HBO has finally decided to cancel the show. We thank the whistleblowers who refused to let these horses’ deaths go unnoticed,” the organization’s March 2012 statement read. “Should Milch, Mann, and HBO decide to start the series up again, PETA will be calling on them, as we have done from the start, to use stock racing footage instead of endangering horses for entertainment purposes.”

In response, HBO issued the following statement to THR: “We took every precaution to ensure that our horses were treated humanely and with the utmost care, exceeding every safeguard of all protocols and guidelines required of the production. Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA.”

A request for comment from the AHA was not immediately returned.

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