HBO may have granted Luck a second season after airing a single episode of the Dustin Hoffman-led racetrack drama, but it looks like it won't all be smooth sailing for the show. PETA came after the series when news came out that two horses were put down after sustaining leg fractures. (This is why two episodes won't have the standard "No Animals Were Harmed" disclaimer given out by the American Humane Association.) The animal-rights organization first took issue with the show in January in their article, "Nothing But Bad Luck for Horses in 'Luck'":
Perhaps if producers had considered the proved safety protocols that we would have suggested, these horses would still be alive. The show's theme is showcasing the dark side of racing, and while it does acknowledge how many thoroughbreds suffer catastrophic breakdowns and how horses are routinely doped, two dead horses in a handful of episodes exemplify the dark side of using animals in television, movies, and ads.
At the time, HBO refused to respond, though the AHA released a statement about the incidents, saying that the show was filming under the watchful eye of the organization and that despite the deaths had complied with the AHA's recommendations. Of course, PETA wasn't put off by this — AHA standards or no, they're pissed off about the whole "killing two animals for the sake of a TV show" business — and now HBO has finally gotten into contact with the group. In an email to The Observer, the channel stood by its set conditions:
After the second accident, production was suspended while the production worked with AHA and racing industry experts to adopt additional protocols specifically for horse racing sequences. The protocols included but were not limited to the hiring of an additional veterinarian and radiography of the legs of all horses being used by the production. HBO fully adopted all of AHA’s rigorous safety guidelines before production resumed.
PETA is now asking that more information about the horses, including names and necropsy reports, be released. It seems unlikely HBO will cave to those demands, but with all the increased scrutiny the channel will probably be extra-careful about its non-human animals in the future. One hopes.