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WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE HORSES IF THERE IS A BAN?
From Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages
We have often heard the question from well meaning, but ill informed people: “What will happen to the horses if there is a ban? Won’t they go to slaughter?”
I like to ask them “Where do you think they go now when they are no longer wanted?” They generally have not thought too much about it and do not have a good answer. I would like to disabuse those of any notion that the horses go to a sanctuary or are otherwise retired to good homes. While some undoubtedly do get good homes, many of them go on to auction – the first step to a slaughterhouse.
First some background: The horse drawn carriage industry is in business to make money. It is not a sanctuary or a petting zoo. Horses need to be able to pull a cart and be street-wise. When they get too old, tired or weary of the street, they can no longer do the job and are replaced. If they get injured, they will most likely be replaced because of the high cost of veterinarian bills.
This is an industry that has over 200 horses (in NYC alone) with a big turnover. Past research by the Carriage Horse Action Committee (now defunct) and confirmed by the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages revealed that the average working life of a carriage horse on the streets of NYC is about four years.
Some of the horses probably do go on to good homes – but how many good homes are there just waiting for a big carriage horse? Horses are very expensive to maintain properly. The law states that a horse must be disposed of in a “humane manner.” This means that the horse cannot be killed, but can be sent to auction. If sold out of state, records do not need to be turned over to the Department of Health.
One of the biggest auctions of horses and livestock is New Holland in Pennsylvania. Anyone can attend the auctions – people looking for a workhorse, a pet horse and kill buyers.
A “Kill buyer” is the name given to representatives of slaughterhouses looking for horseflesh. There are three slaughterhouses in the United States – all foreign owned. Two located in Texas are currently shut down by court order. Cavel International in Illinois was recently opened again by the courts. (July 2007). Horses are also being shipped to the slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. A new facility is being built in Mexico to handle the increased volume of horses due to the closedowns.
Over 100,000 horses were slaughtered in the United States in a single year for the foreign dinner plate. Surely some of them were carriage horses. A report coauthored by Temple Grandin and others - “Survey of Trucking Practices and Injury to Slaughter Horses” discusses this industry. She states that most of the carriage horses originated from Pennsylvania – home of New Holland auctions and conveniently close to NYC.
Activists in NYC have proposed legislation requesting a two-year phase out of this industry. This would provide ample time for people to find other employment and would provide time to find homes for the horses. We hope it will be a concerted, cooperative effort by many people. Although we are not insensitive to the economics involved, our primary goal is to put an end to this inhumane industry as quickly as possible and to insure that the horses are placed in good homes.
See also: George Bliss on Pedicabs: A Sensible Alternative to Horse Drawn Carriages - Video
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