Renting a movie for the kids? Skip 'Snow Buddies'

I am not a fan of movies featuring talking animals. Let me clarify that — I don’t really mind the ones where the animals are shown ‘speaking’ via a kind of internal monologue, but the ones where the animal’s mouths are digitially manipulated to make it appear as if they’re talking freak me out. It also annoys the crap out me that the girl dog always has to wear a bow on her head, because, you know, a girl isn’t a girl unless she’s wearing something frilly and pink.

Based on this revulsion, and the fact that I don’t have kids under the age of 10, Disney’s new movie ‘Snow Buddies’ wasn’t ever tops on my ‘must rent’ list. This news release seals it for me, however — if I had kids, the last movie they’d be watching is “Snow Buddies”.

Here’s the press release from American Humane, the people who give the ‘No Animals Were Harmed During the Making of this Film’ certification —


The American Humane Association is conducting an investigation after five puppies died while on location for the filming of the movie Snow Buddies. As many as six others have fallen ill after exposure to parvovirus. Twenty-eight puppies are being treated after being exposed to the virus. Earlier in the production, 30 puppies were removed from the set when 15 of them showed signs of illness, eventually diagnosed as giardia and coccidia. Three of these puppies were euthanized due to intestinal complications. Parvovirus, also known as parvo, is a highly contagious viral infection in dogs. It causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite and it can be fatal.

American Humane is the authority behind the “No Animals Were Harmed” end credit on movies. An American Humane Certified Safety Representative visited the Snow Buddies set in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Feb. 19, 2007, the first day of shooting. Fifteen golden retriever puppies were on set, and American Humane learned that 15 others had been treated by a local veterinarian since Feb. 7. The Safety Representative requested that all the puppies receive additional veterinary checks before proceeding with filming. Twenty-five of the puppies were from an American breeder and five were from a Canadian breeder.

At the time they were seen by the American Humane Safety Representative, the puppies were approximately 8 weeks old. However, it is believed that they were only 6 weeks old when they were separated from their mothers and brought by the trainer, Anne Gordon, to the Snow Buddies movie set. American Humane has recommended that Snow Buddies only import puppies that are older than 14 weeks. All vaccinations have to be done by a veterinarian, along with thorough check-ups. American Humane was unaware that the puppies were underage when they were transported by the trainer from the breeders.

American Humane will investigate the breeder who allegedly exported 25 puppies to Canada under the age of 8 weeks. Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is illegal to transport puppies under the age of 8 weeks. American Humane has contacted the Canadian authorities and is working with the U.S.D.A. Investigations and Enforcement division.

To continue filming the movie, Snow Buddies hired 28 older replacement golden retrievers after the first 30 were removed for treatment. Unfortunately, this second group has been exposed to parvovirus.

American Humane learned recently that one litter of the older puppies used after the first became sick was vaccinated for parvovirus at the Canadian border by a veterinarian contacted by the puppies’ trainer, and the first sign of the parvo was from that same litter. We have also learned that, unbeknownst to the production, the filming location in the lower mainland of Vancouver has witnessed an outbreak of parvo dating back as far as six months before production began. In this case, the puppies from Washington State were removed from their mother (breeder) too early and vaccinated. The vaccine takes two weeks before it is effective. Sometimes when puppies are vaccinated early there is still a risk of infection. High levels of maternal antibodies present in a puppy’s bloodstream will block the effectiveness of a vaccine. Despite being vaccinated, puppies can still contract parvovirus because the window of susceptibility can be several days to a couple of weeks.

American Humane is conducting a full investigation on the trainer and breeders and following the progress of the puppies that have been retired from the production, many of whom have been placed in new adoptive homes. The company producing Snow Buddies has complied with each request from American Humane and has made changes so that working puppies will not be put in any position where they may fall ill. The film production company has been very cooperative and has suspended filming until further notice. All of the dogs in the production now have been checked and are being cared for by a veterinarian. We will continue to monitor the production and release our findings once the investigation is complete.

Here’s the link to American Humane’s final rating for the movie ‘Snow Buddies’ —


American Humane has rated this film “Monitored: Unacceptable” due to the numerous deaths of young animals and the unlawful and fraudulent behavior that we believe impacted their fate. Although the producers may have been victims of unscrupulous people in their hire, American Humane, as an animal protection organization and the animals’ safety representative, finds the outcomes for these animals unacceptable.