Anheuser-Busch InBev said it will no longer dock the tails of the iconic Clydesdale horses used in its signature Budweiser commercials and events, following a lengthy protest from animal rights groups.
The drinks maker, which has seen sales decline following criticism of its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, debuted its horse-drawn beer wagon nearly a century ago to celebrate the repeal of the ban on beer Was. The Clydesdale horses immediately became popular with spectators and Anheuser-Busch has since used them in hundreds of productions across the country each year for parades, television commercials and Super Bowl events.
However, the practice known as “docking”, which may involve cutting the horse’s tail bone, has come under scrutiny. Anheuser-Busch said Wednesday it has stopped tailgating.
“The practice of equine tail docking was discontinued earlier this year,” a company spokesperson said. “The safety and well-being of our beloved Clydesdales is our top priority.”
Tailbone amputation for cosmetic reasons is illegal in 10 states and many countries. The American Veterinary Medical Association has also condemned it.
Short-tailed Budweiser Clydesdale horses in Houston, Texas in 2014. James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images file
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said that an investigation it conducted found that the tails of Budweiser horses were cut off for cosmetic reasons, and it condemned the practice, calling it “crude mutilation.” PETA said it learned that some Anheuser-Busch representatives said they clipped the tail hairs instead of trimming them.
Earlier this month, an international coalition of animal protection organizations, including PETA, sent a letter to Anheuser-Busch urging the beer maker to end the practice. In addition to the protests and other actions taken by the group, PETA also bought stock in the company to raise concerns at shareholder meetings.
In a statement to CNBC, PETA said it was celebrating the beer maker’s decision to stop chopping horses’ tails by “breaking some cool tails.”
In addition to saying it would stop the practice, the company also announced a new partnership American Humane, the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare practices.