Longtime PETA supporter and animal activist Alec Baldwin is calling on his hometown mayor, Bill de Blasio, to stop putting people at risk and shut down horse-drawn carriage operators as New York City, along with the rest of the world, faces the threat of COVID-19. In a letter to de Blasio, Baldwin writes:
March 18, 2020
The Honorable Bill de Blasio
Mayor of New York City
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
I am writing to applaud your efforts to protect New Yorkers from COVID-19 by closing schools, restaurants, and bars—and to ask that you shut down one shady trade that continues to put people at risk: horse-drawn carriage operators.
As we face an unprecedented crisis of contagion, it is shocking that carriage drivers still cram tourists into small carriages and give them shared, reused blankets, with the driver seated just inches ahead of them. This reckless disregard may well fuel the spread of the coronavirus to both New Yorkers and unwitting visitors from across the country.
Mr. Mayor, I ask that you immediately halt horse-drawn carriage rides as you have other tourist attractions, and I echo my friends at PETA and NYCLASS in hoping that this scurrilous trade will remain closed for good.
An activist from New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) captured video footage from Monday, March 16, of carriage drivers in full operation, giving shared blankets to passenger after passenger, despite the worldwide call to practice social distancing and other protective hygiene measures in order to halt the spread of coronavirus. Watch the disturbing video below:
Horse-Drawn Carriages Should Join SeaWorld and Circuses by Stopping During the Pandemic
New York City needs to do the right thing—for animals and the public’s health—by adding horse-drawn carriage rides to the growing list of marine parks, circuses, and other tourist attractions that are halting business during this global pandemic. Until further notice, abusement parks like SeaWorld are shutting their doors to the public (and likely losing millions of dollars), in response to the coronavirus. Circuses—including Royal Hanneford, UniverSoul, Garden Bros., Carson & Barnes, and Shrine circuses—have had to cancel or postpone performances, meaning that elephants, big cats, zebras, camels, and other animals are not being hauled across the country in trucks and trailers. Bullfights are also being called off, meaning that bulls aren’t being stabbed to death by matadors.
Carriage Rides Are No Fairy Tale for Horses
Horses are feeling individuals who, regardless of whether or not we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, deserve to live free from beatings and repetitive, forced labor in the extreme heat, thunderstorms, or blizzards. In addition to losing their lives, horses forced to pull carriages around city streets can develop respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes and can suffer from debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. Many horses forced to pull carriages have been observed living in squalid conditions with inadequate food and veterinary care and forced to drink filthy sewage water.
Horses are fascinating individuals who deserve to live free from beatings and repetitive, involuntary labor. They have shown that they can understand symbols and even use them intelligently to make requests: Horses in Finland, for example, learned to use symbols to ask for their winter coats to be taken on or off.
What You Can Do to Help Horses
People around the world are increasingly recognizing that it’s the carriage industry—not just the horses—taking them for a ride. You can help put an end to this cruel, outdated practice by refusing to patronize carriage rides and explaining to family and friends why they shouldn’t, either. If your city allows carriages on city streets, urge your legislators to propose laws that will ban it.