When Friends of Animals learned that the American Girl store in New York City was lining up horse-drawn carriages in the brutal summer heat for a promotional event, they tried to talk the store out of supporting the dangerous, disgraceful exploitation of the carriage horse trade. American Girl Place avoided accountability, saying that they were complying with the law.
FOA ramped up the pressure with an action alert. Then, the weekend after the first of four scheduled carriage ride events, more than 1,000 people signed a petition on Change.org in opposition to the rides, and about a dozen activists visited the store to protest. Monday morning, American Girl Place announced that they would cancel the remaining rides.
From Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of FOA: "On behalf of Friends of Animals I thank each and every person who took the time to sign the petition and make phone calls to American Girl Place. Because of your efforts, American Girl Place has agreed to cancel the horse-drawn carriage rides and end their partnership with the exploitative and cruel industry." This victory not only helps the horses forced to work in the brutal heat, but it's also a step forward in the movement to stop the cruel carriage horse industry in New York City.
During a brutal heat wave, while cooling centers opened up across New York City with heat advisories in force, American Girl Place, the wildly popular chain of stores geared toward young girls, held a horse-drawn carriage ride event, with three more planned this summer. On July 21, at 10:30 am, as humid temperatures approached 90 degrees and a reported heat index of 109 degrees, carriages lined up in front of the 5th Avenue and 49th Street location of American Girl Store. Forty girls climbed into carriages for a ride after dining at the store's Café.
The $75 promotional event is also scheduled for, July 28th, August 4th, and August 18th, as American Girl Place’s website recommends: “Spend a delightful day with your girl in the heart of New York! Your experience begins at American Girl Place with a delicious meal in the Cafe. Then, step outside for a luxurious horse-drawn carriage ride to see the sights of Manhattan. The carriage ride continues through scenic Central Park, where your journey ends.”
Friends of Animals’ New York Director, Edita Birnkrant contacted Judy Herbst, Senior Manager of Marketing for American Girl Place, and met with her at the store during the carriage ride to attempt to stop the event. Judy avoided accountability, stating that American Girl Place “does not take a political” stance on the horse-drawn carriage issue, and that “they were complying with the law.” FoA explained to Judy that many activists, including New York State Senator Tony Avella, Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, and NYC Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito were working to change laws and prohibit the dangerous, disgraceful exploitation of the carriage horse trade on Manhattan's chaotic streets.
Please sound off to American Girl Place to cancel the three upcoming carriage rides. Sign this petition to email Judy Herbst, then call Judy Herbst at 212.401.6569. Leave a voice-mail message, if needed. You can also register your views at the main switchboard of American Girl Place's store at 212.371.2220.
The wholesome image American Girl Place markets does not blend well with the controversy of New York's degrading carriage horse trade. Please make that clear to Judy Herbst. Also mention that Friends of Animals and others will protest their Thursday, July 28th event at the front entrance of their 609 Fifth Avenue & 49th Street location at 9:15am-10:30am unless the event is cancelled.