In a recent Op-Ed published in USA Today, writer Ben Williamson exposes the cruelty behind using animals for holiday stunts. During the holidays, sheep, reindeer, and other animals are frequently used as part of “live” nativity scenes, which often take place in shopping malls or parking lots. Horses are often used to pull carriages in what Williamson calls a “misguided effort to add an old-fashioned flavor to the season,” and, as a result, are exhausted, overworked, anxious, and suffer leg pain. Williamson also points out how humans are put in danger when animals are exploited for the holidays—since loud noises, flash photography, stress, and confusing surroundings can startle animals, causing them to exhibit unpredictable behaviors. “At this time of year, goodwill takes center stage,” Williamson says, “and there are many ways to celebrate that don’t compromise animals’ well-being by forcing them to participate in confusing and stressful Christmas exhibits.” Williamson urges readers to opt for cruelty-free activities this holiday season—such as visiting accredited sanctuaries, watching nature films, or observing animals in their natural habitats.
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