On the heels of a study showing NYC carriage horses to have minimal stress levels, Liam Neeson has once again called for the proposed ban on the industry to be dropped.
The 62-year-old Ballymena-born actor has been a staunch supporter of the carriage drivers, many of whom are Irish immigrants just like himself.
“One year ago, I said about Central Park's carriage horses: ‘It has been my experience, always, that horses, much like humans, are at their happiest and healthiest when working,’” he said yesterday in a statement obtained by the Daily News.
“Like many New Yorkers I could see that joy and vigor in their eyes. Now we have scientific proof as well.”
In a study sponsored by a $5,000 grant from the carriage horse industry, Dr. Joe Bertone, who teaches at Western University of Health Sciences in California and is board-certified in internal medicine for large animals with a specialty in horses, monitored the stress levels of 13 NYC carriage horses from the Clinton Park Stables in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
He tested the horses’ levels of cortisol – the hormone produced in response to stress – at four different points throughout the day, including before they left for their shifts in Central Park and when they returned to the stables.
Dr. Bertone, an equine specialist, found their stress levels to be very minimal – akin to the cortisol levels of a human enjoying a day at the beach. “I couldn’t find more content animals,” he told the Daily News, “they were very relaxed.
Interestingly, the horses showed the highest cortisol levels when tested during their city-mandated five week furlough to a farm in Pennsylvania, though this was likely due to the change in environment.
The results of the study run counter to the claims of animal activists that traveling through New York City traffic is too stressful for the horses.
“Dr. Joe Bertone's findings prove that our carriage horses are, not only fit and healthy, but STRESS FREE!” Neeson stated.
“Now we should ensure stress-free lives for the Teamster stablehands and carriage drivers who work with these horses too,” he wrote.
“Let's stop the harassment, protests, and calls to take away their livelihoods. The horses deserve it, and so do their caretakers.”
NYCLASS, the animal rights group pushing the ban and whose supporters donated generously to de Blasio’s campaign, issued a statement yesterday from veterinarian Holly Cheever, saying that cortisol levels are not always a “reliable indicator” of stress.