5 Puppies Died During The Making Of This Disney Movie And No One Talked About It


"No Animals Were Harmed..." one of the vital components for animal lovers to be able to enjoy a film or video of any sort. But what happens when a film does not live up to the standards of the Humane Society who is in charge of ratings?

One Disney feature was given an "Unacceptable" rating  by the organization, and it barely made waves. Most people don't even know of the film's existence, and yet at least five canine lives were lost in the making of the movie, reports Complex.

A fifth sequel in the Air Bud series, called Snow Buddies, features five golden retriever puppies on a mission to become the best sled dogs they can be.


Source: Keystone Productions/Disney

The 2007, straight-to-DVD movie took 25 six-week-old puppies from a breeder in New York, U.S.A., and brought them to British Columbia, Canada, where they were filming.

When representatives from the American Human Association showed up on the first day of filming, only 15 puppies (including 5 more that the crew had purchased in Canada) were left on set.


Source: Keystone Productions/Disney

The rest had become extremely ill. The over 3000 mile voyage had taken its toll on the young pups, who should not have been separated from their mothers before eight weeks at the earliest.

They were diagnosed with giardia, coccidia, and parvovirus, the last of which had been running rampant in the lower-Vancouver area for over six months before filming had started.


Source: Keystone Productions/Disney

All of these diseases and parasites are highly contagious, and at six weeks their immune systems were not equipped to handle them. In combination with the frigid winter air, it was a disaster.

All 30 of the puppies who had been exposed were eventually removed from set, but by then it was too late for some of them. Three of the pups had to be euthanized for intestinal complications related to the illnesses. Two others died from the diseases not long after.

AHA said in a statement:

American Humane deeply regrets the unfortunate deaths of puppies during the filming of Snow Buddies. American Humane is extremely saddened by these tragedies and is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Investigations Department, which is still conducting an independent investigation into the situation. It is speculated that the unhealthy puppies arrived on the set underage and already ill. The contagious nature of their illness and the stress of their journey compounded the situation.

Disney subsequently hired 28 new dogs to fill in, who also became exposed to parvovirus before they finally halted production.


Source: Keystone Productions/Disney

Snow Buddies eventually went on to finish filming and was released in 2008, and according to estimates, made upwards of $50 million.

The controversy over this film does not end here however. At the time, PETA sent two letters to Disney requesting they stop the release of the movie, stating:

Underage puppies from an unlicensed puppy mill in New York were illegally transported to Vancouver in apparent violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act...We have since learned that almost all the puppies, perhaps as many as 40 or 50, are now sick, many with the deadly parvovirus. At least four have died already, and others likely will die in the next few days. In light of this disturbing information, we ask that Disney immediately drop distribution plans for this movie.

Both letters went unanswered.

The breeder in question, Alex Schock, claimed not to have known that the puppies were underage, despite a veterinary report. He told Record Online:

You are assuming that Disney and their production company are going to be taking care of these animals like kings and queens. Now I look like the evilest guy around.

Disney continued with the Air Bud franchise for five more films, during which no dogs lost their lives. The story of these five dogs barely made any news at the time, and it's unclear why not.


Source: Keystone Productions/Disney

Movies like this are why its important to check the Humane Association rating for films before contributing to their success. This movie received an "Unacceptable" rating and did not feature the "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" statement. To check others you can go to this site.

Unfortunately, this was a case in which the actions of a few had dire consequences for many canine lives. What should have been a family friendly movie for animal lovers turned out to be a nightmare.

H/t: Complex