Horse Drawn Carriages
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Horse Drawn Carriages

Letters to the Editor

 1/17/08 - Times Ledger - Animal-rights groups oppose carriages - Once again, the TimesLedger gets it wrong in its Dec. 13 editorial titled "Bah, Humbug, Tony." The article derides my legislation to ban the operation of horse-driven carriages in the city. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion. The editorial, however, goes well beyond stating an opinion and both ignores and misrepresents the facts. The editorial states, "If the colorful characters that drive theses carriages through the park don't care for their horses, they are the best actors in the world. We haven't been to the stables, but we assume that the ASPCA makes routine visits and that the horses are well cared-for there as well."

What the editorial did not state is that the ASPCA, which has been conducting voluntary enforcement of this industry, has come out in support of my legislation. Why? Because the ASPCA has seen first-hand the poor treatment of the horses and the harsh work conditions. Indeed, every animal rights group in the city and beyond is in support of the ban. Even the Bar Association of the City of New York, through its Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals, has come out in favor of my bill. Despite the rhetoric from carriage-horse owners, they do not care for their horses, and the city has been conducting little or no enforcement of the industry, as documented in a recent New York City Comptroller's investigative report.

I believe that we have grown as a society to recognize that the mistreatment of any animal is simply wrong. I guess the TimesLedger feels differently. The paper ignores the fact that in the last year and a half there have been seven accidents involving horse-driven carriages. As a result, three horses have died and five people have been injured. As far as it being a big tourist attraction - are you going to tell me that a prospective tourist is not going to come to New York City because they can't get a ride on a horse-driven carriage? That is absolute nonsense and belittles all that the city has to offer.

Since I introduced the legislation, I have received support from an overwhelming number of New Yorkers. In addition, I have received an equal number of supportive e-mail messages from people all across the country. In fact, quite a number of tourists have stated that they would never to take a ride on one of these carriages and are ashamed of New York City for continuing this practice. The inhumane treatment of the horses simply must end. It is time to put this industry out to pasture. It is a shame that the TimesLedger does not see that.

Tony Avella, City Councilman -D- Bayside

[Needing to have the last word, the paper published an editorial on Jan. 24, 2007.]  


Queens Councilman Speaks Out Against Horse

1/31/08 - The carriage horse issue has been in the news a lot lately with the Pink billboard in Times Square asking people to "buck cruelty" and "say no to horse drawn carriage rides." After years of controversy, Council Member Tony Avella has heard our plea and introduced a bill that would ban horse-drawn carriages. It is about time. It had become clear that additional rules and regulations would make no difference in the lives of these dispirited horses. Nothing can change the fact that it is an inherently inhumane industry - from the horses shackled between the shafts of their carriages for nine hours straight, seven days a week in all kinds of weather extremes; breathing in car exhaust; pounding the hard pavement and suffering leg injuries; no opportunity to graze in pasture; many stalls too small to allow the horse to lie down comfortably - it's an image straight out of Black Beauty.

Mixing with the congestion of midtown Manhattan, these slow moving 19th century conveyances impede the flow of traffic and are a danger to both horses and people alike. There have been many accidents in which horses were both killed and injured - and people seriously injured. One wonders if it will take a human death before the City Council wakes up and does the right thing for these long suffering animals. Please contact your council member at www.council.nyc.gov  and ask him or her to co-sponsor Intro 658. Let's make New York City humane and move it into the 21st century. Find out more about this issue at www.banhdc.org.  Sincerely, Elizabeth Forel - Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

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