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Campaign to Ban Horse-Drawn Vehicles in NYC

September 25, 2007 | Horses / Animal Rights / Horse Carriages

Council Member Tony Avella Boosts Campaign to Ban Horse-Drawn Vehicles in NYC

Horse Carriage demo
Council Member Tony Avella announces to the press immediate plans to draft and sponsor legislation that would ban horse-drawn carriages.

Early this month, the New York Times published Friends of Animals New York representative Edita Birnkrant's Call to Boycott and End the Carriage Horse Industry (City Section; 9 Sep. 2007), which states:

New York City's horse-drawn carriage industry shouldn't be seen as a permanent fixture just needing cleanup. It's time to end the business entirely." Birnkrant added, "Exploitation is not an appropriate tourist attraction.

Just days later, a mare named Smoothie broke free after being spooked by street noises, ran into a tree, and died.

With high-profile press conferences, interviews, and a candlelight vigil, Friends of Animals, The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, and other supporters have raised public awareness about Smoothie, to join together with other activists in New York City, and to call yet again for a ban on the exploitative industry.

NY1 News, in their piece titled "Animal Rights Groups Call For End Of Hansom Cabs," reported "animal rights activists rallied" to ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council to push legislation that would ban the industry.

"It's the 21st century," Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals told NY1. "It may be a tradition, but it's one that we need to let go of, because it's exploitative, it's unnecessary, and it sends a message of disrespect towards other animals."

Then, some inspiring news was unveiled.

NYC Council Member Tony Avella (Queens) announced to the press immediate plans to draft and sponsor legislation that would ban horse-drawn carriages. Avella's decision marks the first time a politician has decided to sponsor a bill seeking to ban the carriage industry in New York City.

Present at the press conference was Broadway actor and singer Nellie Mckay, who declared, "We will never have human rights until we stop the wholesale exploitation of animals and the environment."

Edita Birnkrant also addressed the crowd and press, noting that future tragedies are inevitable unless New Yorkers support this opportunity to finally end this business in New York City. Birnkrant urged New Yorkers to contact their district Council Member to express their strong support for legislation that would ban the industry.

To support Council Member Tony Avella's proposed ban, contact:

Tony Avella
District 19 Office
38-50 Bell Blvd., Suite C
Bayside, New York 11361
District Office Phone: 718.747.2137
District Office Fax: 718.747.3105

What next?

When the industry closes, we at Friends of Animals are committed to assuring every affected horse is placed in a permanent sanctuary. In the coming weeks we expect to work with Council Member Avella in assuring that our shared vision will become a reality, and a long overdue relief for the horses.


Firstly, I love animals and I think many opinions given above are more whining complaints without any real solution. Lets analyze: Decision Ban Horses in NY Result: 1. Horses must be sold, either to wealthy individuals (perhaps some people in FOA) who have the means to support them. 2. Sold to slaughter houses 3. Put down "humanely" 4. Another animal that we lose any real connection to. We end up with another town without animal life. I eat meat and like most people I am detached from the process of getting it on the table. 2 days ago I was given live crabs as a gift, I cooked live crabs, I didn't enjoy the process and their resistance to die, however, it did make me think more about the about of meat/animals I consume. Did any of you wonder why cows are called - beef, pigs called pork, sheep called mutton... It makes us feel better. At least Horse meat is still called Horse meat. Keep it real. Alternatives? 1. Redesign horse carriages to be lighter weight and less strain on the horses 2. Consider rulings to allow them to operate outside of the busiest 2/3 hours in the day Seems the horses will be banned. I think FOA should report on what happens to the horses and those in the carriage business. Is FOA going to help those get other jobs and the horse find homes?

These beautiful creatures should not have to endure these conditions. I could see it in the park but not where they have to be around all the noise and cars! I am not sure if there are any rules in place keeping people from making them pull all day. That might be some good legislation to look at for the future.

Hi Samantha, What we’re trying to do is present another option for these horses besides the slaughterhouse or forced labor. You are correct that many of the horses in the industry will be sent to their deaths when they can no longer perform, or when they get ill or injured. Once the horse-drawn carriage industry in banned, we will take on the task of finding appropriate refuges for the horses that are currently working so that they can simply live out their lives being horses, not a means for someone’s paycheck. This will stop the grim cycle of either being worked to death or being sent to their deaths for the new horses that would naturally replace the old ones. The human drivers of the carriages can surely be trained for different jobs, and our proposed legislation includes this request. Perhaps you have never seen horse abuse with your own eyes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not happening. The fact that the horses suffer from neglect and poor/dangerous working conditions was established by an audit performed by the NYC Comptroller’s office in June 2007. This is a matter of public record, as are the numerous horse deaths and accidents that have occurred on city streets. Edita Birnkrant NYC Campaign Coordinator Friends of Animals

If these horses are being mistreated in any way then stop the rides, I was in tenn. and did a horse drawn carrige ride, the people there actically owned the horses and took very good care of them. If the horses are not made for the cold do seasonal rides,I love Gods creations and I pray the situation will be care for in the proper maner.

Daniel, FoA is pressing both to end this commercial industry and ensure that the horses released from it would receive refuge for life at one of a number of U.S. sanctuaries. The cycle of use and slaughter is one that exists right now, in which horses are sent to their deaths once they cannot perform, and are replaced by a new horse. You are concerned about losing this “connection” with these horses, but we see it as clear exploitation, and something that doesn’t need to be modified, but stopped completely. Daniel, we do not want another town “without animal life” but we appreciate seeing animals who are free to live their lives without being objects of commerce. Many species of urban wildlife do thrive in the city, and we should all be aware and respectful of their ability to do so. You’re right about the detachment that allows people to continue to eat and use animals in various ways. We don’t need to kill crabs, cows, chickens or any animals in order to live and be healthy. We should oppose both the eating of animals and the use of them for commercial entertainment purposes in the streets of New York. We can have bustling vegetarian restaurants and a city that refuses to exploit horses – we need not pick one or the other. You and other readers might wish to see our booklet called the Vegan Starter Guide. It’s filled with wonderful recipes, nutritional information and advice on how and why to switch to a vegan lifestyle. Check out the store section of our website to order a copy, or to print it out on your computer. Edita NYC Campaign Coordinator Friends of Animals

No horse should have to live in NYC - They need to run and graze!

I agree that all animals should be treated with dignity and respect. However, what will happen to all these retired carriage horses? If you look at statistics, you'll find that there are just too many abandoned horses and no room for them to go. Also closing the slaughter houses in the U.S. (I don't know if the bill passed or not)will create even more unwanted horses. I'm not for the slaughter or the abuse. I just wonder if these horses will in fact be going to greener pastures or just another crowded mud hole. [Blog editors' note: The hard reality is this: As long as horses are used and traded by human beings, they will wind up slaughtered by human beings. If not for human consumption, then as animal food. If not within the borders, then shipped over the borders. People seem to have an ideal of horses running across pastures owned by benevolent caregivers and one day gently dying in their sleep and being given a funeral. That's an exaggeration, of course, but where exactly do people think old horses wind up? We seem to wish to believe we can continue to use their bodies yet free them from being consumed for commercial purposes in the end. The custom of horse ownership isn't like that. We must stop the cycle. This is why Friends of Animals activists and writers consistently ask that the free-roaming horses of the west and the eastern coast of North America be respected. Only they are free from the spiral of use, changing hands, and ultimately slaughter. We have a far better chance of seeing that the horses freed from the New York carriage business have lifetime refuge than we have of seeing that the same horses receive that if they stay in the commerce cycle.]

I didn't get the impression that Daniel's comment was about becoming vegan. We are omnivores, not foregut fermenters. I do agree that the way we house and produce meat is not in any way, shape, or form a humane or healthy means of producing these animals for consumption. But instead of eliminating meat consumption all together, we should be fighting for alternative ways of producing the same amount of food without sacrificing animal welfare or condemning a person's choice to eat meat. As for the horses in NY, it's tradition and nothing more. Yet tradition should incorporate new paradigms evident in present day society like animal welfare. These horses are overworked and should not be hauling tourists in 100+ degree weather on cement roads; they just weren't bred for that. They were, however, BRED FOR PULLING!! Just not in the conditions NYC and other areas provide. I say horray for Daniel for thinking about the consequences of pulling these horses off the streets.

Yes, Let's ban this and then lets ban vehicles as well since they take sooo many animal and human lives every day, not to mention the effect it has on the environment - Keep on fighting for what really matters! [Blog editors' note: Certainly it is best to support public rail transport and discourage roadbuilding.There are many facets to the transport issue. The one we're addressing here is specifically geared to ending the exploitation of horses -- a major step forward.]

I feel the people who choose being a driver of these carriages as their career is a cheap shot at the horses expense and a lazy approach to making their way through life. The horses are at their mercy. Slavery was abolished and so should this be. This is mentally and physically abusive to the horses. When you decide to be the owner of an animal you accept the responsibility to care for and love it not to misuse,abuse or neglect it. We need to be their voice. Joanne Doherty Parlin, NJ


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