After losing a couple equine friends, Flicka has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
The American Humane Association announced Tuesday that it had completed its probe into the deaths of two horses in two weeks last month on the set of the My Friend Flicka remake.
"With the full cooperation of 20th Century Fox and the production company, American Humane has determined that the deaths...were both unpreventable accidents and not the result of any failure on the part of American Humane's Certified Animal Safety Representatives or the production company," the group said in a statement, adding that it "deeply regrets" the incidents.
The AHA monitors animal use on sets; it is responsible for putting the "No animals were harmed" certification on a film's end credits.
"Understanding the events involving the accidental deaths of horses during the filming of Flicka does not lessen our sadness," Sara Spaulding, vice president of marketing for American Humane, says in the statement. "These accidents make it clear, however, of the importance of our work to protect animal actors."
The first incident occurred on Apr. 11 at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, California. According to the AHA's report, a horse broke its leg "after a misstep" and suffered a "very rare" injury requiring the animal to be euthanized. The AHA disputed some media reports that the horse stepped in a hole or tripped over debris.
The second death came two weeks later at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. A mustang tripped over its lead rope, fell and broke its neck. Los Angeles City Animal Services said the horse's death was likely instantaneous. The AHA's report also notes that the horse was not a "wild mustang" as reported by some news outlets. The confusion most likely arose from the description of the movie scene as a "wild mustang race."
The organization says that "at no time was any animal abused."
Production on Flicka was shut down for a day by the AHA following the second incident.
In a statement last week, the film's producers said, "We are terribly saddened by the events that occurred. The production has taken every possible precaution and safety measure in shooting scenes where horses are involved."
But that did little to placate animal-rights activists, who began targeting the production once news of the horse deaths emerged.
"I am mortified. Poor horses. They've got to stop this," Kathy Riordan, a member of the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission told the Los Angeles Daily News. "I personally think there is a major conflict of interest when the entity responsible for monitoring an industry is supported by it. Any way you look at it, [the AHA] gets paid by Hollywood and there's something wrong with that."
The AHA has insisted its investigation was independent and not influenced by its dealings with the Industry.
Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urged the AHA to put an "Unacceptable" credit on Flicka.
With the group finding that the deaths were accidental, it appears unlikely that Flicka will receive the "Unacceptable" stamp of disapproval. However, per the AHA, the "No animals were harmed" credit "cannot in good conscience be given when an animal is fatally injured during production." A final determination will be made once filming is complete and the group can review the overall treatment of animals.
Flicka is a remake of the 1943 Roddy McDowall film. The new version, starring , starring Tim McGraw, Maria Bello and Alison Lohman, is scheduled to hit theaters in February.