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Campaigns - Stop Horse Drawn Carriages
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Why a Ban is Necessary
by Elizabeth Forel, Coalition to Ban Horse-drawn Carriages
Note: The points listed below reference New York City as specific examples which commonly pertain to most areas where commercial horse drawn carriage industries still exist.
TRAFFIC / PUBLIC SAFETY– According to a 2001 study by Texas A&M University, New York City is one of the top 75 traffic congested cities in the United States – and it is getting worse. Certainly, anyone who lives, works or just passes through midtown Manhattan would have to agree. Carriage horses are out of place in midtown’s congested streets and belong to another century when there were far fewer vehicles and pedestrians. When hansom cabs are mixed with cars, taxis, busses, pedestrians, bikes and emergency vehicles – fire trucks, ambulances and police cars – they are a recipe for disaster. Hansom cabs traveling to and from the Central Park area on 9th and 10th Avenue interfere with emergency vehicles going to and from St. Vincent’s Midtown Hospital and Roosevelt Hospital – and the many vehicles going to the Lincoln Tunnel or the West Side Highway. Over the years, there have been many accidents where both horses and people have been seriously injured and some in which the horse died.
HUMANE CONDITIONS – The average working life of a carriage horse on NYC streets is under four years compared to a police horse whose working life is about 14 years. This information was derived from extensive research going back to the 1980s by the Carriage Horse Action Committee, which seized operations in 1994. On the streets of NY, these horses are constantly nose-to-tailpipe and show corresponding respiratory impairment. Because they are not given adequate farrier care, lameness is often a problem, especially walking on pavement. Horses must work in hot humid temperatures and in the brutal cold – nine hours a day, seven days a week and go back to stuffy stable where they have no opportunity for turnout. Many of the stables are firetraps with inadequate sprinkler systems and fire protective devices. Many of the horse are filthy, ungroomed and underfed. Because of their previous uses on the racetrack or on Amish farms, many of the horses come into this industry with preexisting injuries or arthritis and are forced to pull carriages containing heavy tourists – upwards of 7-800 pounds. When these horses are no longer fit to work the demanding streets of NYC, they are “retired” – many go to auction where their fate is unknown. “Killer Buyers” often buy these horses by the pound for the slaughterhouse. Horsemeat is a delicacy in some European countries.
IMPOSSIBLE TO ADEQUATELY ENFORCE – the ASPCA has 21 agents but they are obligated to work on cruelty issues all over the city and sometimes the state of NY since they have jurisdictional powers over the state. Through private donations, the ASPCA funds the Humane Law Enforcement program. It is not funded by the City of NY. There are 68 carriages, over 200 horses and 360 drivers. There would never be enough agents to ensure that the drivers are obeying the law; that they are not traveling out of the area; that their horses do not have ill fitting tact that causes sores; that they are not working when it is too hot, too cold or under adverse weather conditions; that they do not over-load their carriages; that they drive responsibly. The laws governing carriage horses are lengthy and complicated. Although the primary enforcement responsibility falls to the ASPCA, the NYC Police Department, the Department of Health and the Department of Consumer Affairs are also responsible. It is impossible to adequately enforce them. Section 17-331 of the NYC Administrative Code - The Rental Horse Licensing and Protection Law - calls for an Advisory Board that would make recommendations to the DoH commissioner about regulations necessary to promote the health, safety and well-being of the horses. It currently does not exist.
IMMORAL INDUSTRY – Many people feel that the NYC carriage horse is from another century, is exploited for profit and forced to live and work a very grueling existence in modern day NYC – all for profit and for a relatively few number of tourists. At the end of their “career”, most are sold to auction and eventually end up in the slaughterhouse. [See: Horse Slaughter/Animal Cruelty] This form of “entertainment” is exploitative and is comparable to animal circuses and roadside zoos. In the United States, over the years other immoral institutions have ended regardless of the economic impact to the industries involved. These include the use of child labor and sweat shops.
ENVIRONMENT – Besides the humane issue that compel many people to object to the carriage horse trade, there is also the pervasive smell of horse feces and urine that permeates Central Park South. Even when the horses are not on the hack line at CPS, the unpleasant smell is always there. In addition, the Sanitation Department has to clean the feces from the street. People who live on Central Park South have complained about this smell for years. Those who object cannot open their windows in nice weather. In one community close to the stable on 45th St., public school children complained of health problems.
PROBLEM WITH ASPCA POSITION – While we agree with most of the ASPCA statement on NYC Carriage Horses – such as “carriage horses simply cannot co-exist with cars on the streets of New York City – PERIOD; or “ ….legitimate businesses are also expected to operate in a way that protects the safety of citizens, and in this case, the horse as well” - we do not agree with restricting them to Central Park. Because Central Park is a landmark, it is highly unlikely that horse stables and turn out area will be built to accommodate the more than 200 horses so these horses will travel to and from the stables on 9th and 10th Avenue. The five stables are located on the West Side from 37th St. to 52nd St. In addition, we believe that it is virtually impossible to regulate and enforce yet more laws pertaining to these horses and that they will continue to be treated badly.
TOURISM - – NYC is one of the most desirable cities to visit in the world. Tourists come here for the restaurants; the luxury hotels; the theater; night life; the shopping; the statue of liberty; the empire state building; the excitement of Times Square. If there were no carriage horses – it is preposterous to believe that tourists would no longer visit New York City. The amount of taxes paid by the drivers and stable owners cannot be large considering the size of the industry – but it is offset by street cleanup; enforcement issues; and quality of life issues. Besides it is not correct to assume that every out-of-towner wants to take a carriage horse ride. Many do not and avoid the area of Central Park South because the site of the horses is so painful.
NYC and Company is the official tourism web site of NYC. Yet there is no mention of the carriage horse trade as being a big tourist attraction on its web site. Instead it mentions, sports events, shopping, restaurants, museums and galleries, historical attractions; Broadway; nightlife and entertainment; sightseeing tours. http://www.nycvisit.com/home/index.cfm
ECONOMICS/JOBS – In recent years, many industries have outsourced jobs to China, India, and other countries. From high tech jobs; legal; accounting, call centers; manufacturing – almost every industry has been effected. People have been forced to retrain for a new profession. While we recognize that it is not pleasant to lose ones livelihood, at the same time, it is unethical for the city of NY to be held hostage by the small, but politically connected carriage horse industry – just to keep the status quo. Job retraining can be made available to Individuals affected by a shut down of this industry. Additionally, in NYC, it is not unusual for small businesses to be put out of business by eminent domain; a refusal of building owners to renew leases or by charging exorbitant rents. Businesses often have to fend for themselves.
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