During the late summer heat wave, while New Yorkers took refuge by indoor air conditioners, animal lovers everywhere watched in horror as an elderly carriage horse named Ryder collapsed on a New York City street from dehydration and exhaustion. Now, 25 celebrities including animal advocates Billie Eilish and Joaquin Phoenix, have signed an open letter calling on New York’s City Council to ban horse-drawn carriages altogether.
Written in partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the 25 signers are urging New York to disband the outdated practice of having horses haul tourists in carriages around the southern end of Central Park, an area that’s just as easy to walk around. The letter claims that the horse-carriage practice unnecessarily places both the horses and nearby pedestrians in danger. While the horrific incident with Ryder brought attention to the issue, the letter asserts that this was not an isolated incident.
“Ryder’s suffering is impossible to deny. His condition of emaciation, dehydration, and sheer exhaustion were not the result of a day, a week, or a month of ill-treatment but rather a prolonged period of neglect, forced to pull carts on crowded city streets,” Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director, said. “We have reached a tipping point and it is time for the New York City Council to carry out the will of the voters and institute a ban.”
Celebrities joining together to end horse-drawn carriages include Maggie Baird, Geezer Butler, Kaley Cuoco, Noah Cyrus, Whitney Cummings, Billie Eilish, Edie Falco, Finneas, Ricky Gervais, Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna, Riley Keough, Kesha, Kate Mara, Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Serratos, Sarah Silverman, Sadie Sink, Christian Siriano, Hilary Swank, Justin Theroux, Marisa Tomei, the band Until The Ribbon Breaks, and Christopher Walken.
“We are adding our names to the millions of New Yorkers, and people around the country, who support a ban of the cruel horse-drawn carriage industry,” the letter states. “Tragic outcomes for horses haunt New York City’s history, as well as other cities across the country … we say, ‘No more.’ Please make Ryder the last horse to suffer in New York City — and set a standard for other cities to follow.”
The letter urges several other cities to work against the “reckless” industry. Cities including Salt Lake City, Chicago, Camden, Treasure Island, Pompano Beach, Palm Beach, Key West, and Biloxi have banned horse-drawn carriages.
“No More” Horse-Drawn Carriages
This is just the most recent effort to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City: Queens Democratic Council Robert Holden first introduced legislation devoted to banning horse-drawn carriages in July. The bill, Intro 573, would replace horse-drawn carriages with electric vehicles by June 1, 2024.
“I appreciate all of the concerned advocates, celebrities and non-celebrities alike, who are speaking up in favor of my bill to transition to clean, humane, horseless carriages and give carriage drivers better-paying jobs,” Holden said in a statement. “These abused horses can’t speak for themselves, so we are their voice.”
Most New Yorkers agree that horse-drawn carriages should be abolished, especially following the Ryder incident. A recent poll found that 71 percent of New York voters are in favor of the ban to ban horse-drawn carriages completely.
“New York City has always been at the forefront of innovation and culture, but we are lagging behind when it comes to these poor horses. It’s time for us to be a model for other cities to follow. Intro 573 will be passed, with the help of animal lovers around the world,” Holden continued.
Record Heat Waves Scorch the Globe
This summer, over 30 million Americans faced high-heat warnings as sweltering temperatures cooked California, Texas, and most of the western United States. Since the 1960s, heat wave rates have tripled, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, longer heat waves with significantly higher temperatures will define future summers unless immediate action is taken.
Similar extreme heat wave events will likely increase by 30 percent in the coming years, according to new research. The study authors attributed this increased frequency to greenhouse gas emissions, repeating the United Nations’ recent call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Animal agriculture contributes 57 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Heat waves attributed to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions also scorched Europe and Asia. The European heatwave broke several records, including the hottest day in British History.
“This is not just summer,” Green French lawmaker Melanie Vogel wrote on Twitter at the time. “It is just hell and will pretty soon become just the end of human life if we continue with our climate inaction.”