Parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev ends the practice after backlash from animal rights groups
The iconic Clydesdale horses that have been featured in Budweiser commercials and events for decades will no longer have their tails docked, according to the brewer.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) — the parent company of Budweiser — announced on Wednesday that it will end the practice of tail docking, which involves removing portions of the horses’ tails, typically for cosmetic reasons.
“The safety and well-being of our beloved Clydesdales is our top priority,” an AB InBev spokeswoman said in a statement, per the New York Times. “The practice of equine tail docking was discontinued earlier this year.”
The statement came after the company faced backlash from animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which argued that tail docking is "horrific" and "unnecessary."
In a letter dated September 7, a group of organizations that work to protect animals — including PETA — asked Jason Turner, AB InBev CEO of Europe, to “immediately prohibit the amputation of the Budweiser Clydesdales’ tailbones.”
“This unnecessary procedure—which involves severing the spine—is a permanent disfigurement that causes lifelong pain, affects the horses’ balance, and leaves them without natural protection from flies and other biting insects. Horses also depend on their tails to communicate with herdmates, and removing all or part of their tailbones interferes with this important function,” they added, concluding with, “Will you end this horrific practice now?”
Earlier this year, PETA launched an investigation and then shared a video on their website that they claim shows the official breeding facility in Missouri for the Budweiser Clydesdales. The video documents alleged staffers at the facility saying that the tails of the horses are indeed docked.
Tailbone amputation for cosmetic purposes is illegal in 10 states and numerous countries, per NBC News.
“The procedure is painful for weeks afterwards, and many draft people perform the horrid procedure without anesthesia, and by the application of strong rubber bands which result in lack of circulation, and a slow and painful death of the tail,” equine veterinarian Sid Gustafson is quoted as saying on PETA’s website.
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On Thursday, following the AB InBev announcement, Senior Vice President of PETA Kathy Guillermo shared a statement with PEOPLE.
"We campaigned hard to end the mutilation of the beautiful Clydesdales, but we’re grateful to Anheuser-Busch for listening at last," Guillermo said.
"This victory comes after dozens of PETA protests, nationwide ad campaigns, and pleas from more than 121,000 concerned consumers," she added, refering to the number of people who had sent PETA emails or made calls through their online action alert.
"PETA’s staff cracked open some cold ones to celebrate!" Guillermo's statement concluded.
Jason Warner of AB InBev did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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