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Billie Eilish and Kaley Cuoco Among Stars to Sign Letter to End Horse-Drawn Carriages in N.Y.C.

People 9/28/2022 Alexandra Schonfeld

Getty (2) Billie Eilish and Kaley Cuoco © Provided by People Getty (2) Billie Eilish and Kaley Cuoco

Over two dozen celebrities are taking a stand following the August viral video of a carriage horse collapsing in the middle of a New York City street.

On Wednesday, the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced that numerous celebrities had joined the animal advocacy organization in signing an open letter to the New York City Council to ban horse-drawn carriages within the city.

The letter notes, per a release, "The now-viral video of Ryder on a New York City street is heartbreaking, infuriating, and disturbing. Ryder, an elderly, emaciated horse, collapsed on 9th Avenue while pulling a carriage. The world bore witness as the carriage driver tried to force Ryder to his feet, while he could barely lift his head. The video is hard to watch for good reason — this is not the way animals should be treated."

Among those who have signed the letter are musical team Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, actors Kaley Cuoco, Christopher Walken, Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, and designer Christian Siriano

Noah Cyrus, Whitney Cummings, Edie Falco, Ricky Gervais, Joan Jett, Riley Keough, Kesha, Kate Mara, Christian Serratos, Sarah Silverman, Sadie Sink, Hilary Swank, Justin Theroux, Marisa Tomei, Maggie Baird, and more stars also added their signature to Animal Legal Defense Fund letter.

RELATED: Chicago City Council Votes to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

"Ryder is an individual, but his situation is not unique. Media stories, smartphones, and police reports have documented traumatized horses running through traffic and other carriage-related incidents too numerous to count, spanning decades," the letter continues. "Tragic outcomes for horses haunt New York City's history, as well as other cities across the country. Horses, carriage passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and others are put at risk by this cruel and reckless industry. We say: No more."

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, in July, less than a month before Ryder's fall was caught on camera, City Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) introduced legislation — Intro 573— to prohibit the issuance of new licenses and replace the existing carriages with electric options.

"The electric carriages alternative provides a safe and responsible option for rides within Central Park and certain areas of Manhattan," the press release explained about the legislation, which has been filed but not passed.

On August 10, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) responded to an incident of a carriage horse falling in the middle of a busy street near Ninth Avenue and 45th Street in Manhattan around 5 p.m., officers told PEOPLE in a statement at the time. 

"Upon arrival, patrol officers observed a carriage horse lying in the middle of the roadway in distress," the NYPD added.

NYPD mounted officers hosed down the horse to cool the animal off. The horse, named Ryder, was taken to a nearby stable where it received "proper veterinary care."

A video of the incident obtained by NBC News shows the driver attempting to pull up the animal and hitting it, yelling, "Get up! Come on! Get up! Get up!" as it lies on the ground. The horse instead puts down its head.

RELATED: Carriage Horse Collapses in New York City Street as Its Driver Yells 'Get Up!'

NYCLASS, an organization committed to ending carriage horse abuse, called on politicians to take action following the incident. 

"@NYCCouncil@NYCSpeakerAdams@NYCMayor - the world is watching. This horse may die, like many others. We must pass Intro 573 to end this abuse! @BobHoldenNYC," the organization wrote, sharing footage of officers hosing down Ryder.

PETA also tweeted, "This horse COLLAPSED while pulling a carriage in NYC, likely from heat exhaustion, and has been down for over an hour. Horses don't belong in big cities where they're put in constant danger because of cars, humans, weather, and more."

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) responded to criticism of the driver's actions, and wrote via Twitter, "The diagnosis of the equine veterinarian who examined Ryder is that he has EPM — a neurological disease caused by possum droppings. Please do not jump to conclusions before knowing the facts or talking to the carriage drivers' union."

It later added that "Ryder is on the mend" alongside a video of the horse eating out of a woman's hand.

On August 27, the Gothamist reported that Ryder had retired to a private horse farm outside of the city following the viral incident.

Read the original article on People

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