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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.


Please save the Horses! It's just heartwretching to see these beautiful animals being treated without respect. How can anyone with a brain feel that horses belong on the streets of New York City! We should all have compassion and let these 'proud' animals experience the love and freedom they deserve.

As the owner of 25 NYC Carriage Horses in NYC,i feel these attempts made by some extreme activists,fall on deaf ears,as usual.Just go on any Weekend to Central Pk,and you will see hundreds of people on line to ride with our horses,obviously the general public loves our service.These activists had to go outside of Manhattan,to finally grab 1 council member who wants or needs media attention,to help their cause.The shame is,this person mever once visited a NYC stable,he is blindfully skating on what some misinformed activists are telling him! SHAME ON HIM ,cause these people have never been in our stables either,and have no clue what they are speaking about.The ASPCA ,Dept of Health and NY Police Dept,are regularly in our stables,and don't have problems with what they see.

Anita, as you well know, the city comptroller’s audit, issued in September, found serious problems with the horse-drawn vehicle industry’s oversight and its care of the horses--both on city streets and in the stables. Regulations have been on the books for decades, and they’ve been inadequately enforced, despite regular complaints. The oversight of the agencies you mention has been woefully lax. The New York Horse and Carriage Association has belatedly called for hitching posts, water spigots and improved drainage for the horses’ waste. One has to wonder, if the association members love their horses as much as they claim, why it took a city audit for them to make these proposals. But more regulations and better enforcement do not equal respect. It’s past time to stop thinking of horses as vehicles. Peter Kobel Friends of Animals

The major issue here is the fact that a 21st century traffic-congested city is no place for a live animal to pull a carriage from the 19th century. Period. The vehicles travel through midtown--to Times Square for example--with customers in some of the busiest areas of town. And they must compete with traffic going to the Lincoln Tunnel as they go back and forth to their stables, up to 2 miles away from Central Park. We know that horses die and are injured on the streets as a result of this industry. We know that humans are seriously injured as a result of this industry. Is this acceptable? Advocates for a ban are saying "no." What happens if there is a human death? Will the carriage horse industry still lobby the city council and mayor as incessantly as it does now to keep its business going? The claim that only "extremists" support a ban is wishful thinking on the part of the carriage horse industry. The support for a ban has only grown since the death of Spotty, and has reached a tipping point. In a recent AMNY Poll, 1,612 people voted YES to ban hdc's(95.6%) and 75 people (4.4%) voted NO. Hmm, they must all be extremists from outer boroughs... For what purpose are we risking the lives of people and animals? Entertainment.

If you are going to stop horse and carriages in NYC then you really have to stop horse racing and horse jumping. These are sports which if you know anything about a horse are far worse than walking pulling a carriage. Horses have more injuries through racing and jumping over 6ft. fences knocking there knees, breaking there legs, landing on two legs with someone on their back weighing 200lbs, and all for sport. Or for the money that they are making if they win a race. Let's get real, the number of horses that race that get injured is astronomical. No one says ban these or equestrian jumping! FoA comments: Friends of Animals works for and supports the elimination of all animal exploitation including horse racing, jumping and even "pleasure riding". Unfortunately, it is not possible to eliminate all such exploitation at the same time. Right now there is an opportunity to eliminate horse carriages in NYC. Please support this effort.

I do not live in New York City but I believe banning the horse drawn carriages is not the answer. The answer should be regulating standards that the owners must go by that is fair to the animal and the owner. I believe our government bans things because of the pressure placed upon them by groups that lobby their causes, but that in doing so is taking away rights that our constitution has guarranteed us to have. Sorry but I'm tired of lobbying groups dictating what is right or wrong in this country. The wrong is that the lawmakers are listening to them and not the people as a whole. [Blog editors' note: Regulation is also lawmaking. When our Constitution was put together, people could own other people and make them work in the fields. Not everything permitted in prior centuries is ethically acceptable today. Legal thought evolves.]

The practice is simply inhumane, and horses in NYC are treated horribly, and it is time to ban carriage horses in New York City. "Band-Aid" approaches and "self-regulation" by this greedy and corrupt industry will not make it safer or more humane. Not only is it disgusting and a blight on New York City, but it presents real public safety risks. End it now. New York City looks extremely foolish right now. THANK YOU, Councilman Avella!!!

I applaud the movement to ban horse drawn carriages in NYC. I live in Philadelphia and have long wanted to see the end of the carriages in Philadelphia as well. Is there any movement or discussion to raising a similar bill to ban horse drawn carriages in Philadelphia? [Blog editors' note: Thanks for the cheer and applause. There's no such move yet in Philadelphia but momentum in New York City will spirit similiar campaigns in other cities. It's unique to find a legislator bold enough to sponsor a bill with an outright prohibition, and in New York City, the ASPCA dragged its feet on supporting such a measure for decades.]

Just because something is considered tradition doesn't mean we should continue with it... Especially when a living, breathing, beautiful creature's quality of life is at stake... 'Working' out of their element, breathing in horrible exhaust fumes- all of which we have created- they all deserve sunny pastures (which I wish we could all have-) with plenty of grass and fresh air, water, and food-... I believe that if we were to start respecting each and every incredible element of nature, this world couldn't help but be a (more)wonderful place to inhabit~ WE ARE ALL ONE PEOPLE.?.?.---WE ARE ALL ONE- from a single blade of grass to the most magnificent animal you can think of...

I'm sorry, horses are important and should be treated well, but like any other part of society they need to contribute. If a driver/owner keeps a cart horse healthy and well, why shouldn't he expect to have it earn its keep? It is a living being and should be respected, but if someone is going to pay for its upkeep, shouldn't he get something back?


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