Member spotlight: Meet Janet White - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 12, 2019 11:28 am

Member spotlight: Meet Janet White

She loves Philadelphia's idealism and fighting spirit and, through her advocacy organization, urges the city to become a leader in the "responsible tourism" movement.

Janet White.

(Courtesy photo)

Like many nonprofit professionals in Philly, Janet White has a side hustle.

But White’s side hustle has nothing to do with the gig economy — it has to do with her love of animals and her abhorrence of any cruel or inhumane treatment toward them. In fact, several years ago, she set up her own nonprofit animal advocacy organization: Carriage Horse Freedom, which works toward the ban of horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia.

Read the Q&A to find out more.


Generocity:  Tell us about yourself.

White: I am a native Philadelphian and studied humanities (concentration areas music and English) at the University of Pennsylvania.

I remember always wanting to help those most sensitive and vulnerable among us, such as children, animals, victims of bullying and abuse. My mother was a very strong woman who hated injustice and always stood up for the underdog. She urged me to speak up and take action for those who need a voice.

Her influence coupled with my love of animals helped shape me into the tenacious animal advocate that I am today.

Generocity: Where do you work? Is it a nonprofit?

White: For the past few years I’ve worked as an executive assistant for a local human services systems management nonprofit organization. Previously, I held administrative and editorial positions in academia and the publishing industry. I love researching, writing and editing, and do a lot of this with my “side hustle” — Carriage Horse Freedom — the animal advocacy organization that I founded.

Generocity: How did you get started on it? Where do you want to go with it?

White: My passion is helping animals in need. Several years ago, I got involved with a group of local activists who were seeking a ban on horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia. The cause became dear to my heart, and two years ago I started my advocacy organization.

We are working hard to ensure a legislative ban on horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia, while at the same time promoting a transition to electric horseless carriages (e-carriages), an innovative and eco-friendly form of tourist transportation that is increasingly being used in cities around the world.

From our Partners

E-carriages look like traditional 18th-century carriages, but are thoroughly modern — battery-operated, GPS-enabled, USB port-fitted. They satisfy demands for both a historical experience and a cruelty-free activity, and are a win-win for everyone — especially the horses!

We’ve been working with City and business leaders on this initiative, which is rapidly gaining momentum, and recently received the official endorsement of the Humane Society of the United States.

Generocity: What is your proudest accomplishment?

White: I’m pleased to have been actively involved in efforts which resulted in the successful closure of an abusive Philadelphia horse-drawn carriage company in 2017.

I photographed the decrepit warehouse stable where their horses were kept in inhumane conditions and documented animal mistreatment I’d witnessed. Photos were relayed to Councilman Mark Squilla, who joined in a City inspection of the stable, where numerous animal welfare and building code violations were cited. City lawyers soon after began an effort to close the stable while ensuring that the horses would not be sold at auction.

The company continued to operate without a license, working sick and injured animals, and my organization and other concerned citizens kept the pressure on to get the company shut down. At the end of the year, the city filed for an injunction to cease operations of the firm; the following day, an agreement was finalized in court.

Within a matter of weeks, the company ceased operations, and its horses were transferred to a horse rescue facility for rest, rehabilitation and adoption.

Generocity: Why is this cause important to you?

White: I strongly believe that horse-drawn carriages should be banned. Horses don’t belong on 21st-century city streets, including the streets of Philadelphia. Carriage horses work nose-to-tailpipe all day, breathing in motor vehicle exhaust fumes, forced to drag heavy loads through cobblestone streets, often in extreme heat and cold.

Horses are prey animals who “spook” easily when surrounded by loud stimuli. A city environment offers nothing but these: loud noises, traffic congestion, whizzing motor vehicles and bicycles, and throngs of pedestrians. The frequent result of a horse spooking while pulling a carriage in congested traffic is a tragic collision between the horse and the vehicles crossing at the next intersection the panicked horse gallops through, resulting in both equine and human fatalities.

There simply is no good reason to allow horse-drawn carriages to operate on city streets.

Generocity: What do you love best about the Philadelphia region?

White: I’m a native Philadelphian, have been exploring the city all my life, and never cease to be amazed by its rich history and cultural treasures. What I love most about Philadelphia is its foundation of idealism and innovation, and the fighting spirit which its citizens have always had.

Generocity: If you had the power to change one thing about the Philadelphia region, what would it be?

I would make Philadelphia a cruelty-free tourism destination, a city which allows no cruel animal entertainment activities, such as horse-drawn carriage rides.

Carriage Horse Freedom is working on this initiative right now, meeting with city, business and tourism officials, promoting the growing international trend of “responsible tourism.” Many travelers are now ruling out vacation destinations that allow any types of cruel animal entertainment, and travel companies are increasingly responding to this trend by refusing to promote tours which involve such activities.

Philadelphia has always been a city of revolutionary ideas and bold actions. We could and should become the national leader in responsible tourism, establish new traditions, and change the future, now.

Generocity: How long have you been a Generocity member? What do you think is the greatest benefit of membership?

White: I’ve been a Generocity member for about a year. I enjoy reading about people and organizations making a positive impact on Philadelphia. Generocity events offer the opportunity to meet some of these amazing people, which I think is the greatest benefit of membership. I’m looking forward to upcoming events!

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