December 19, 1997

Mayor Michael White
Cleveland City Hall
601 Lakeside Avenue NE
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Dear Mayor White:

Recently I moved from the City of Cleveland to Lakewood, but I work and do almost all of my shopping in Cleveland and most often downtown. While out Christmas shopping downtown, I saw something that broke my heart. I wanted to write to someone in the City of Cleveland government about it. I am not certain who would handle such a letter, so I thought I'd go straight to the top and you as the head of the city government.

Certainly I realize that you probably have some staffers who open and review your mail and show you what is important and concerns you. I am hoping that the staff member who reads this will pass it either along to you or direct it to the person in the local government who needs to see it.

What I saw that so upset me was a large green and red "sleigh" on wheels. It was driven by "Santa Claus" and an elf helper. They were charging $20 per family/$5 per person for rides around the square/downtown. The sleigh looked to have about five or six passenger seats and at the time I saw it was only occupied by two additional riders, besides the operators. The thing that so distressed me is that it was being pulled by two horses and only two horses. I do not agree with horse-drawn carriages in our city but have in the past not taken action on my conviction. However, watching these horses struggle with this holiday sleigh was the point at which I said to myself, "enough is enough" and decided to write this letter.

You may or may not be aware that cement/asphalt/concrete is very bad for a horse's feet; it is--despite their iron shoes, it still hurts their feet not to mention the risk of stones or litter from the streets getting wedged between their shoes and feet.

In this particular case, I was even more shocked and appalled because the math of two horses pulling such a large, heavy vehicle must be inaccurate. The horses, when moving, seemed to struggle a bit, especially getting started after the traffic light changed. This was with only two additional passengers; what if the load of passengers (and thus the weight of the sleigh) were much greater?

In addition, observing these horses as they stood at the light, they seemed cold (as I was myself) and jittery. They repeatedly shifted from foot to foot as if trying to unburden themselves some from what looked to be fairly heavy harnesses. Also, in what we would consider a highly stressed or agitated state, they whipped their heads up and down and back and forth forcefully.

From my location on the opposite street corner at Public Square, I could not tell if the shaking was an attempt to alleviate a physical discomfort (such as the reigns were laying across their ears, for example) or if it was merely exhibiting a psychologically/emotional response to the cold, the noise, the traffic and the job that had been imposed upon them, though honestly, I suspect more the latter than the former of these options. And, with all respect, in case you aren't aware, traffic is the main reason horses used in cities wear side blinders.

I doubt there is much you can do to remedy this situation for this holiday season (though I pray you can), I hope that my letter will at least discourage a repeat of this "fund raising" endeavor for next year's holiday season. And, so long as I am stating my thoughts on the subject, I would like to state my disdain and abhorrence to the Cinderella-style horse-drawn carriages which are permitted to operate in downtown Cleveland. While a quaint custom in this day, it is an unnecessary cruelty with a short-term exploitative entertainment value to well-to-do patrons.

While my family no longer resides within the Cleveland City limits, both my husband and I work downtown and shop here--our income city tax goes to Cleveland as does a good deal of our sales tax dollars. While we both enjoy shopping at The Avenue at Tower City and the Galleria for a variety of reasons, with our recent move, we are just as close to Westgate Mall and other plazas and could just as easily have commerce speak for us there. We still refer to ourselves as Clevelanders, and with the time and money we spend in Cleveland, I feel we have a right to be heard in Cleveland and I am asking you listen with an open mind and realize that there are plenty of better ways to promote tradition and the holiday season and to raise funds than to burden these animals.

I sincerely thank you (or at least your staff members) for the time and attention you have given to my letter. I have and will continue to share any information about this issue with like-minded friends in and around Cleveland.

Leigh-Anne Dennison

March 5, 1998

Animal Protection Society
1729 Willey Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113

Re: Horse-drawn Carriages/Sleighs in Downtown Cleveland

Dear APS Member:

In December I wrote to Mayor White regarding my concerns about the horse-drawn sleigh and carriages I frequently see downtown while working and shopping in the City [letter enclosed].

As you will see from his response [also enclosed], Mayor White indicated that I should refer my concerns regarding animal safety and welfare to you, which I am doing here. While the Mayor has stated that this does not fall within his jurisdiction, it is my hope that in at least bringing this issue/situation to his attention, he will remember it at some later date and speak out on behalf of the animals (though I cannot say that my hopes are high in this regard).

I would appreciate any help or advice you can give me regarding this issue, and thank you most sincerely for your time and the work you do to help protect and speak out for those who cannot speak out for themselves.

Leigh-Anne Dennison

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