PETA to mayor: Ban horse-drawn carriages

An animal rights group is asking Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to ban horse-drawn carriages following Friday night's wreck on Peachtree Street.

PETA calls the carriages both cruel and dangerous in a letter e-mailed to Reed and city council members on Tuesday.

"Forcing horses to pull heavy loads through busy city streets is cruel, and it's an accident waiting to happen," PETA director Debbie Leahy said in a statement. "This incident should be a wake-up call to the people of Atlanta. The only way to ensure the safety of passengers, motorists and horses is to ban horse-drawn carriages, so we urge the mayor and the City Council to act to prevent future tragedies."

A speeding car hit the back of a carriage, destroying it and sending four people to the hospital. The horse was "traumatized," according to buggy driver Donald Borchardt. A 28-year-old man has been charged with following too closely, driving on a suspended license and violating the open container law, Atlanta police said.

In the letter, PETA cites other wrecks involving horse-drawn carriages, including one in Philadelphia and one in New Bern, N.C., earlier this month. In June 2006, a carriage driver was seriously injured on the Marietta Square, and his passengers suffered minor injuries.

Several cities have banned the carriages, according to PETA. Those include Biloxi, Miss.; Reno, Nev.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Beijing, London, Paris and Toronto. Several Florida towns also have banned the horse-drawn carriages, according to PETA.

Mayor Reed has not yet responded to an AJC request for comment.