LMU’s insurance allows for animals to appear in your project. However, in order for you to receive permission you will need to satisfy the following:

  • notify Production Administration as soon as possible. They will notify Risk Management.
  • complete and submit the Animal Questionnaire.
  • hire a professional animal trainer or handler to be on set.
  • allow at least two weeks for this process as our insurance underwriters will need to approve.

Risk Management will notify you whether you have been approved to have the animal(s) appear in your project.

The filmmaker is responsible for the welfare of non-human members of the production as well as the human members.


The use of exotic animals is not permitted in student films. These include, but not limited to lions, tigers, bears, snakes, alligators, leopards etc. While they may be “trained” to some extent, they remain dangerous and unpredictable.

The American Humane Association has been protecting animals used in films since 1940. They not only publish guidelines for the use of animals in films, they also monitor sets where animal activity takes place. AHA representatives make sure that facilities where animals are housed and cared for during production; that props and sets; costumes and special effects all make the animal’s well-being their top priority.


You can download the American Humane Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Entertainment


This is the person who teaches the animal the behavior that will be required on cue when the camera rolls. This can be a time-consuming process depending on the nature of the gag[1] itself and the type of animal being trained. Even a dog walking across a room requires training.


It is the responsibility of the Assistant Director to coordinate the use of animal actors  with the Trainers/Handlers; Director; Cinematographer and the rest of the production team.

The animal handling rules safety sheet should be attached to the call sheet.

The Animal Handler should meet with cast and crew and inform them of the safety procedures during the safety meeting.

Do not feed, pet or play with any animal without the permission and direct supervision of its trainer. Defer to the animal trainers at all times.


  • American Humane Guidelines apply to all animals used in the production, including animals used as background or off-camera to attract the attention of another animal being filmed.
  • No animal will be killed or injured for the sake of a film production. This includes any animal removed from its natural habitat and put into a stressful situation (i.e. removing a fish from a bowl or tank and placing it on the floor to achieve “flopping fish.”)
  • American Humane will not allow any animal to be treated inhumanely to elicit a performance.
  • Documentary-style footage/stock footage acceptable to American Humane mission cannot include scenes that represent actual harm to an animal, even if filmed as non-fiction “newsreel” footage. Such harm, although possibly historic, is considered exploitation of the animal’s suffering for the sake of entertainment. Any scene depicting harm must be simulated.


  • ANIMAL is any sentient creature, including birds, fish, reptiles, and insects.
  • ANIMAL HANDLER is any person responsible for training, working or moving any animal. The term “animal handler” includes, but is not limited to, animal coordinators, wranglers and any other cast or crew member or private party providing or taking responsibility for an animal.
  • HARMED is physical injury or damage; having had pain or loss or suffering inflicted.
  • HUMANE means marked by an emphasis on humanistic values and concerns; characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion.
  • INHUMANE means lacking pity or compassion for another living being.
  • MOTION PICTURE and FILMED MEDIA are terms that include, but are not limited to, film, television, music video and computer images. These terms are used interchangeably throughout these Guidelines.

[1] A “gag” is a trick or behavior needed for the shot. It is also used to describe a stunt.

Skip to content