As one of the main voices in the award-winning documentary Blinders recently shown in your city, and having started the campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City in 2006, I take issue with a recent letter.
I stand with C.J. Sellers’ comments about the real possibility of an accident caused by a spooked horse in downtown Asheville [“Traffic Poses Danger to Downtown Horses,” Sept. 23, Xpress]. Unfortunately the letter by Susan Data-Samtak [“Article Needed on Actual Lives of Downtown Horses,” Oct. 7, Xpress] makes many pronouncements of something she obviously knows little about.
If being an “animal rights extremist” means having compassion for exploited carriage horses because they are unable to express their true nature; of having concern for them working nine hours a day, seven days a week with no breaks and little water between the shafts of their carriage, laden down with heavy equipment; and if it means acknowledging that putting horses in traffic is very foolish and a perfect storm brewing that may well result in a deadly accident that will make your city liable, then I proudly wear that label. That is being realistic based on facts.
But actually, it is those who want this exploitation of horses who are the true extremists — they like to call themselves “welfarists.”
A “welfarist” is someone who exploits animals for their own gain, pretending to know and care about their well-being — often to further the goal of making money off that animal’s back. It’s a contrived stance, based on lies. It’s selfish and has nothing to do with compassion or knowledge of an animal’s needs. It’s about hubris and money.
Asheville: Do you really want to bring the very real possibility of a horrible accident to your city — something for which you will be morally and financially responsible?
— Elizabeth Forel
President, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
New York City