Animal Use

The safety of working animals and the persons working on such productions shall be of primary concern. Animals are unpredictable and only qualified professional trainers and/or wranglers should be allowed to work with animals on productions. Defer to the animal trainers at all times and do not feed, pet, or play with any animal without the permission and direct supervision of its trainer. 

For more information on this topic, please refer to these PDFs from the American Humane Association:

Communication of safety information

  1. Notice shall be given prior to shooting, on the call sheet and safety bulletin, that animals are working.
  2. It is the responsibility of the trainer to convey to the cast and crew specific safety concerns relative to the animals being used. The trainer shall address the cast and crew (including the parent and/or guardian of any children on the set) regarding safety precautions while animals are on the set (e.g., maintain a safe distance from wild and exotic animals, no feeding, no running, escape routes, etc.)
  3. A “closed set” notice should be posted on all stages where animals are working and every effort should be made to maintain a closed set where animals are working on location.

Equipment safeguards

  1. An easily accessible area shall be available for loading and unloading animals.
  2. Equipment operated in conjunction with working animals should be in a safe operating condition as determined by the trainer and/or wrangler in conjunction with the property master.
  3. Scenery and props should be secured. Objects (e.g., ladders, pedestals, etc.) that easily tip over can startle the animals.
  4. All hitch rails shall be fastened in the ground in such a manner that the tugging of a frightened horse cannot pull them loose (e.g., sleeve installation). On a stage, hitch rails will be bolted or fastened in a rigid manner.
  5. Basic animal safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire hoses and nets should be readily available. An easily accessible area shall be available for loading and unloading animals.
  6. The smell of alcohol has a disquieting effect on animals. All precautions shall be taken in that regard when animals are working.

Medical safeguards

  1. The trainer or person supplying the animal shall be responsible for obtaining all necessary inoculations, permits, licenses, and medical safeguards.
  2. Depending on the types of animals being used, and the filming location, consideration should be given to providing onsite emergency medical transportation, with qualified medical personnel, up to and including advanced life support, as necessary.
  3. Extreme caution should be taken when using exotic venomous reptiles. The proper antidote (anti-venom) should be selected depending upon the type of reptile. Location of the antidote shall be predetermined and printed on the call sheet.
  4. The American Humane Association (AHA) guidelines on the treatment of animals used in film making state that a tranquilization and/or sedation on set for the sole purpose of film making is prohibited. As a safety backup, consideration should be given to the availability of tranquilizing equipment. Potentially dangerous or complicated animal action should warrant the presence of a qualified veterinarian.
  5. The smell of alcohol has a disquieting effect on animals. All precautions shall be taken in that regard when animals are working.

Large animals

  1. Under no circumstances should horse falls be accomplished by tripping or pitfalls.
  2. Horses being used on a production shall be properly shod for the working surface (e.g., borium, rubber shoes, etc.).
  3. There should be two handlers for each large undomesticated animal such as a large cat or carnivore (mountain lion or larger).

FSU Animal Care and Use Committee

  1. The Producer is required by Florida State University policies to file a request for review of animal use on the production by the university’s Animal Care and Use Committee.
  2. This request must must be submitted well in advance of the start of the production, as it will usually take a number of weeks for a request to be approved. If a production does not receive approval from the Animal Care and Use Committee in time for production, the use of an animal is not permitted.
  3. The Producer is required to include a thorough description of the proposed animal use on the production, answering the questions below:
  1. Will this production use dead animals or animal parts?
  2. If yes, will all animal use be limited to just the use of dead animals or animal parts?
  3. List species and number of animal(s) per species.
  4. Describe why animal(s) must be used.
  5. Describe how the animals will be used. Be concise (but complete) with the description. Attach a copy of the script or storyboard, indicating scenes with animals.
  6. Who will supply the animal(s)?
  7. If the owner or wrangler has a USDA Exhibitor’s license, please list number:
  8. Who will be the person responsible for the animal(s) on the production set?
  9. The person working with the animals in the production may not be the animal owner, care provider or wrangler. Please provide the names of all animal rider(s), wrangler(s) and/or trainer(s). List qualifications and/or experience for each person.
  10. Briefly, describe the housing, care and feeding of the animal while on site when not being used for activity described above. Include caging type and size; type and quantity of food; frequency of feeding and watering; exercise and training. List name of veterinarian or veterinary clinic that will provide care during filming if needed. In addition to normal care, consider the possible environmental conditions expected when answering this question (e.g. heat in summer, insect or snake exposure potential, etc.).
  11. The majority of animals used for FSU productions are not professional animal actors and therefore not accustomed to the filming process. Thus, filming may prove stressful to the animal. If an animal becomes stressed or seems to be in discomfort, what steps will you take to alleviate its stress?
  12. As noted above, the majority of animals used for FSU productions are not professional animal actors. It is the responsibility of the production team to provide a safety plan in accordance with the AHA Guidelines 1-35. List the steps that will be taken to (1) prevent escape from the set or location and (2) to recapture the animal(s) if it escapes.
  13. What will be done with the animal(s) after filming is completed?
  14. The Producer, Director, or person in charge of project has informed the owner(s) of the proposed use of the animals as described in this protocol, and has obtained their consent.
  15. Classroom projects, FSU Film School projects or university sponsored programs with vertebrate animal contact will undergo a review for the extent and type of contact associated with their project or program by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) during the ACUC protocol review process. Based on the information submitted, EH&S will determine whether individuals participating in these programs and projects will be required to enroll in the FSU Medical Monitoring Program for Vertebrate Animal Exposure (MMPVAE). If there are any questions about MMPVAE, please contact the Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S) at 644-8916 or 644-5374. If using dead animals or animal parts, the production team must take appropriate safety precautions before, during and after handling. Dead animals or animal parts must be disposed in accordance with state and federal regulations. (AHA Guidelines 1-19 and 1-20)
  16. Please provide the filming location (i.e., address if available, and map from the FSU main campus to the filming location). Indicate if it is an indoor or outdoor location.
  17. Please provide a signed and dated statement (see attached) that all participants have reviewed the AHA film and TV guidelines and agree to abide by them, including the fact that all actors and other production set personnel will be trained to handle and behave appropriately in the presence of animals.

Safety bulletins