Ireland’s national animal rights organization, Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN), has penned a plea to “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon urging him to re-examine his position that supports the continuation of horse- drawn carriages in New York City.
Fallon recently backed Liam Neeson’s campaign to stop Mayor de Blasio’s horse-drawn carriage ban. During an interview with Neeson on “The Tonight Show,” Fallon praised his efforts to stop the ban: “Good for you for doing that. You don’t have to. You’re a very busy guy,” he told the actor. “Horse and carriage is kind of a tradition. You go around Central Park,” continued Fallon.
In a letter to Fallon, ARAN’s campaigns assistant, Claire Downes writes, “[i]n light of the foregoing I urge you to reconsider your position and refuse to endorse an industry based on exploitation and inherent cruelty. You mentioned in the interview that the carriages are traditional to New York, and whilst this may be so, I am thankful that traditions change according to growing awareness and in line with shifts in social mores. There are many traditions which rightly have been consigned to the pages of the history books.”
There is no creature on earth that has served humankind as long, or as nobly, and in so many capacities as a horse. It is perfectly natural to presume that because of the long history that humans have shared with horses, that they would be pampered and treated like a best friend. Unfortunately, this is not the reality, or the fate of many of these magnificent creatures. For every horse that is treated with respect and kindness from his or her owner, thousands more are brutalized and exploited.
Horses who are forced to pull carriages work nine hour days, and are then returned to the stables to sleep. The horses are never allowed to graze, or run free in the meadows, instead they are always confined to harnesses, or sheltered in cramped closed quarters. These gentle animals suffer from respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they develop debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. On excruciatingly hot days these horses endure even more hardship by having to pull the carriages throughout congested city streets, collapsing and in some instances even dying, from sheer heat exhaustion.
“There is a humane solution to keep the horse-carriage drivers going, that’s the electric car. It’s a humane alternative. Thankfully, a local NYC based group NYCLASS has created an electric “Horseless Carriage”. These gorgeous turn-of the century tour cars will provide jobs for the current drivers, and a wonderful experience for tourists,” writes Downes.
Many people believe that these horses must be well taken care of and loved by their owners, but in reality horse-drawn carriages are a business. Just like any business, when something, or someone becomes a liability, they are either harshly disciplined, or swiftly eliminated from the organization. .
Hopefully, Fallon will do more research about the plight of these animals, and use his celebrity status to encourage others to protest against this form of animal exploitation, rather than encouraging this cruel behavior to continue. Downes ends her letter with a plea to Fallon: “I ask you to please use your celebrity to become a champion for compassion. In the words of your great fellow New Yorker, Theodare Roosevelt, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” The horses need all the help they can get – they need you.”
Photo Credit: courtesy of PETA