About That Billboard...
There aren’t many ways into downtown Charleston from the airport and the quickest and most popular route is eastbound on Interstate 26. As you may have seen or read in the local media, a new anti-carriage industry billboard on this drive went up recently near Dorchester Road. Here’s what it looks like:
The hashtag, #JustSayNeigh, is part of a campaign led by a group of anti-carriage industry activists who call themselves the Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates (CCHA). The group was founded by and is registered to Charleston Animal Society Board Member Ellen Harley.
An article from the Post and Courier from October 18 states:
‘Ellen Harley, a member of the advocacy group, said the billboard went up Monday. It faces toward drivers heading eastbound into Charleston.
"Our mission is to educate the public and (officials) on humane living and working conditions for animals that work in urban environments," Harley said.
They hope the #justsayneigh message will spur conversations about the issues surrounding these animals, she said, adding that the group is not calling for an outright ban and is not necessarily trying to dissuade people from going on carriage tours.’
Not trying to dissuade people from going on carriage tours? We wonder if a reasonable person would look at that billboard and draw the same conclusion. Did you notice the headline for the Post and Courier article?
Not calling for a ban? What about their actions and social media posts?
We find it ironic that Charleston C.A.R.E.S’ goals actually align with the stated goals of the group that funded this billboard on I-26. One of our goals is also to, “educate the public and (officials) on humane living and working conditions for animals that work in urban environments.”
One difference between our groups is that the Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates is a political group with an agenda. Their agenda is to shut down the carriage industry in Charleston and they’re willing to say and do whatever it takes to make that happen. More often than not, they resort to spreading lies, half-truths, and misinformation in order to push their agenda. This political group has lots of money and is connected to the Charleston Animal Society and both groups are very eager to spend small fortunes on misleading advertisements. Make no mistake; these folks are not veterinarians or experts on our industry. They are activists on a political mission. That is their right but it is important for them to be open and honest about their goals.
We are not a political group. Charleston C.A.R.E.S. was formed to be the gold standard for animal welfare in the entire country. We have established new standards for our industry that go above and beyond the regulations already set for us by the city, which are already considered some of the strictest in the nation. We are transparent about our practices and how we care for our horses and mules.
We want you to know how we do what we do. We want to show you that our animals leave their urban environments and head to relaxing farms for their vacation days. We want you to see them on breaks cooling off between tours, eating their dinner, and bathing at the end of the night. We want you to learn more about the people who work in our industry and their love for the animals.
We understand that accidents happen. Occasionally one of our horses stumbles and falls, just as people do. As we saw earlier this year, sometimes an activist will even purposefully antagonize or intentionally spook a horse. Though accidents are extremely rare, when they do occur, we are open and transparent about what happened to the animal and the subsequent veterinarian’s bill of health and diagnosis.
Anti-carriage industry activists have been trying to shut down our industry for years. But thankfully the majority of our community understands the difference between political spin and facts.
The billboard on I-26 is just the latest effort by these activists to try to convince you that our industry is something it is not.
No one loves our horses more than we do. And just as importantly, no one understands our industry more than we do.
Charleston C.A.R.E.S. will continue being open and transparent about the carriage industry in Charleston so that you, the citizen, will always have a place to turn when looking for facts.