City Council Asked to Honor Activist’s Life, Pass Horse-Drawn Trolley Ban

PETA Asks City Council to Recognize Hazel Mortensen's Heart for Horses and Her Life's Work Protecting Them by Keeping Horses off the Streets

For Immediate Release:
September 30, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Solvang, Calif. – Longtime Solvang resident and PETA supporter Hazel Mortensen—who fought for years the city’s cruel horse-drawn carriage and trolley rides—has passed away at the age of 85, prompting PETA to send a letter this morning to the city council asking it to honor her memory by banning the horse-drawn carriages that broke her heart.

“Solvang is not remotely magical for the abused horses who are forced to pull heavy loads for hours in the hot sun,” says PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews. “Hazel Mortensen loved this city and worked tirelessly to make it a kinder place for horses, so PETA hopes the council will honor her memory by consigning horse-drawn carriages to the history books.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to the Solvang City Council follows.

September 30, 2020

The Honorable Ryan Toussaint, Mayor of Solvang

Robert Clarke, Mayor Pro Tem of Solvang

Solvang City Council

Dear Mayor Toussaint, Mayor Pro Tem Clarke, and Council Members Djernaes, Waite, and Johnson,

I’m writing on behalf of PETA regarding the passing of longtime Solvang resident, PETA member, and well-known animal advocate Hazel Mortensen on Saturday. As the city council acknowledges her for her dedicated work in making Solvang a better place, we hope you’ll honor her by banning horse-drawn trolleys and carriages in the city—something she fought for up until her passing.

When the city council voted to renew Solvang Trolley & Carriage Company’s business license in July, Hazel called the carriage industry cruel, adding, “Horses are not meant to work on blacktop and inhale car fumes for hours, especially during hot summer days. Horse trolley as entertainment is not a Danish tradition.” Her petition to ban the trade garnered nearly 700 signatures, and she spoke out against horse-drawn carriages in letters to the editor and to the council. Following August 24’s city council meeting—during which numerous attendees, ranging from local residents to tourists and experts, called for a ban—Hazel wrote to me that Solvang must “accept practicing ethical tourism which is respecting animal rights.”

Your council has heard from residents who don’t want their city to be associated with this cruelty as well as from tourists across the country who will spend their money elsewhere. When I visited the Danish-style town last March, my heart sank when I saw horses forced to pull tourist-filled trollies for hours on end with no shade from the sun. Like many other tourists, the wonderful memories that I have of the city are tainted by the image of those suffering animals.

Hazel was a force to be reckoned with, spending her final months standing up for the rights of all animals. Will you please honor her decades of involvement in the city by banning horse-drawn trolleys and carriages?

Very truly yours,

Melanie Johnson

Assistant Manager

Animals in Entertainment

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind