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New York City Horse Allies Take Historic Stand

December 08, 2008 | Horse Carriages

New York "“ On December 6th, New York City Councilmember Tony Avella joined animal-rights activists for a cold Saturday press conference to call for a ban on horse-drawn carriages.

Photos (by Edita Birnkrant for FoA and Elizabeth Forel for CBHDC): Dr. Deborah Tanzer, Adele Murphy, Christine MacMurray, and other horse advocates hold banner.

Friends of Animals and the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages told NY1, Fox News, Channels 2 and 11, NTDTV (a Japanese-English news station), the Daily News and others it's unjust to enslave horses to the tourist business, and New York City should outgrow the tradition.

Allied advocates co-ordinated simultaneous vigils in more than a dozen other major world cities.

"We recognize cruelty to animals is no longer appropriate and the abuse that you see going on, while it might seem like some sort of holiday tradition, is far from it," said Councilmember Avella, who has a pending bill to ban the industry. Avella joined advocates at Central Park's Grand Army Plaza.

Industry PR people set up a stunt, inviting children to take pictures with a horse-feeding "Santa" surrounded by lobbyists handing out sweets. They started this directly behind the horse advocacy vigil and press conference.

Photos (by Edita Birnkrant for FoA and Elizabeth Forel for CBHDC): Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals and Councilmember Tony Avella. Jennifer Abrams holds banner in far-left.

"As soon as the press put their cameras down," Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals observed, "Santa and the sweet distributors promptly scurried off."

The advocates then crossed the street to the entrance to the park, where all the carriages emerge after rides.

It was a heavy day for tourism. The horses were drenched in sweat from constant pulling.

"But some people left to enjoy themselves in another fashion," Birnkrant said, "after seeing our signs, reading our flyer and speaking with us."

"A couple from Switzerland expressed apologies to us for nearly taking advantage of the horses' situation."

Photos (by Edita Birnkrant for FoA and Elizabeth Forel for CBHDC): Edita Birnkrant holds poster on street in front of carriage activity at entrance of Central Park.


Public hearing for Avella's Bill, Intro 658
The Consumer Affairs Committee public hearing has been rescheduled for Friday 30 January 2009 at 10:00 AM in Council Chambers. This is on the 2nd floor of City Hall. As of this date, both Intro 658/2007 (Avella) and Intro 653-A/2007 (Gennaro) will be on the agenda. Intro 658 seeks to ban the industry. 653-A is an industry bill and must be opposed.

Elizabeth Forel asks New Yorkers to come and use their allotted two minutes and testify!

For all details (or for press enquiries), please contact Elizabeth Forel, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages or Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals NYC Campaign Coordinator


I was in NYC last year, and was appalled to see all the horse drawn carriages...especially in this day and age. Thanks for your great work!

Great work, FoA. I'm especially proud that you boldly use the word "enslave" here, I think animal rights/welfarist organizations are largely afraid to use this word, though it is entirely appropriate.

Unfortunately we have the same problem in Montreal! Our horses are not always treated well (or are not treated as well as slaves can be treated). I saw some middle-aged children being carted around by a holiday-esque horse and carriage last week and I was on my bike and said, "Exploitation des animaux!" ...They looked at me strangely and sort of shocked. I hope it made them think.

Can't you list some points as to why gennaro bill should be opposed? [Blog editors' note: Gennaro's bill, Int. No. 653-A regulates the horse-drawn carriage trade and establishes a rate hike to $54.00 for 30 minute rides and $20 for each 15 minute segment afterward. The regulatory measure is favored by industry as it makes it appear that health certificates and inspections are tantamount to decent treatment for horses stuck in a commercial operation. Wrong. ]

The only reason we have made any "progress" at all to date in protecting carriage horses is because about 20 years ago a horse named Whitey dropped dead in the street. What was unusual about this was not that the horse died in the street but that a celebrity reporter named Cleveland Amory went ballistic when he found out why (the working conditions) and made SO much noise some of the abuses were ruled out. Now, as a result, horses can work "only" 14 hours a day and not when the temperature reaches 90 degrees (only 90??). I cannot imagine why anyone in his right mind would want to support NYC's carriage trade unless the guy is trying to make points with an equally clueless mayor. (I really don't want to speculate on what else may be going on, although other things cross my mind.)... Please show up and speak on Friday.

To-day I was on a bus going through part of central park west when I spotted a horse leaning its head against a fire hydrant looking tired and depressed, horses stand up all day in their own urine and feaces lifting their legs up every so often in pain, and to make things even worse the owner is sitting in the carriage relaxing, that is cruelty at its best those that speak out and say that everything is ok with those animals should get similar treatment for a day and see how they like it, it is easy for them to talk from their armchairs and say everything is ok, they are not out in all weathers and then go to their miserable barns for the night.

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