In a letter sent to the AHA board of directors last month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the organization did not provide adequate oversight to ensure the safety of animals and cited incidents on such productions as the film "The Lone Ranger" and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."
The AHA said the allegations were unfounded. Similar complaints, however, have been leveled by some of the charity's own staff. Three AHA employees who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals told The Times that reports of animal mistreatment are often ignored or downplayed by senior management. They also said film unit staff spent too much time organizing the annual "Hero Dog Awards" show, which will be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel this Saturday from L.A.. They contend the work is outside the scope of their grant.
Ganzert said the show has been a successful way to "celebrate the enduring value of the human-animal bond." She also defended the AHA's track record in protecting animals, saying it had a nearly 100% safety rate among 100,000 animal actors it oversees each year.