Vienna – The organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Monday called for banning Vienna’s traditional horse carriages, following a recent accident in which a drunken coachman lost control of his horses.
The carriages are a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can book the coaches, many of which are over 100 years old, for guided tours through Vienna’s historical centre.
“The seemingly romantic coach rides conceal a brutal industry that commits cruelty to animals,” PETA’s German branch said in a statement.
Road traffic, extreme temperatures and walking on asphalt all day put too much pressure on horses, the US-based organisation said.
PETA issued its call for the ban after two horses were injured and several cars were damaged in an accident on New Year’s Day, when the animals escaped their drunken coachman.
Ursula Chytracek, who owns one of Vienna’s largest carriage businesses, reacted angrily to the allegations of animal mistreatment.
“I’ve had enough of these people,” she said. “The horses are my capital. If they were sick, I would have to shut down.”
Besides targeting the 50 to 60 carriages that are in service in Vienna every day, PETA spokeswoman Tanja Breining said her group was fighting for a similar ban in Berlin. Horse-drawn carriages are already forbidden in London, Paris, Toronto and Beijing, according to PETA.
With more than 2 million supporters, PETA claims to be the world’s largest animal rights groups. (dpa)