Protest calls for an end to carriage horses on Philly streets

The effort is designed to end a Philly tradition which animal activists say is unsafe and unhealthy for the horses.

A group of people stand in a semicircle holding signs.

Protesters gathered outside of City Hall on Sept. 26, 2022, to call for a ban on horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A group of animal rights activists gathered outside City Hall in Philadelphia urging City Council to end the use of horses to pull tourist carriages through the city.

The group rallied directly under a vacant City Council chambers, calling on politicians to remove horses from city streets.

Jacqueline Sadashige of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals admitted to being blunt in calling for the removal of the carriages.

“No sugarcoating, no hiding the facts. Horse-drawn carriages are outdated. They are dangerous, and they are cruel, and City Council needs to ban them,” Sadashige said.

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A woman wearing a PETA shirt speaks into a microphone.
Jackie Sadashige of PETA calls for an end to horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2022. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Jodie Wiederkehr is an equine activist whose work led to the end of horse and carriage rides in Chicago after observing animal abuse and reporting it to politicians.

“All the horses were overworked. They were rarely taken to the water bucket to be allowed to drink water. The operators routinely broke the law. They would go through red lights,” Wiederkehr said. “I would see carriage drivers looking down on their phone as they were going through very busy intersections on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.”

Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla had been working on a bill to ban the carriages, but the activists said he needs more encouragement at the grassroots level to move the issue forward.

“There is power here today and if we all make a call, send an email, tweet or tag on social media asking for a change, we will make a difference,” said Michelle Patterson, a grassroots advocacy and outreach manager for the American Wild Horse Campaign.

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“We know that the City Council tracks calls coming in. We know if every single person here who is upset about horse-drawn carriages being used in Philadelphia called the phones would become overloaded.

Poet Stuart Mitchell traveled from New York City to send a message through a first-horse-view in verse: ’My anguish, my longing for past years, seen unseen, my desire to run free, free from the restraints of mobility, free from my abusers in the harness of hopelessness and the unforgiving rays of sunlight that bear down on me.”

Most carriages in the city are run by 76 Carriage Company. No one answered repeated calls to the company from WHYY News.

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