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Horse Drawn Carriages

Activists Protest Horse-Drawn Carriages In NYC Gather Outside Central Park For New Year's Demonstration

By Mark Rodriguez
January 1, 2008

 NEW YORK (CBS) ― A small group of activists staged a New Year's Day demonstration outside Central Park to protest horse-drawn carriages in New York City.

The participants held a banner which read "Pity The Poor Horses," handed out fliers which listed the activists' claims of how the horses are treated, and called on pedestrians to support their cause.

The fliers began with a call to "Free The Carriage Horses," and continued with claims that the animals were "overworked with spirits broken, shackled, dragging heavy loads day after day…confined in warehouses with no friends, no pastures for grazing and rolling, no friends…killed in traffic and on park roads, or slaughtered when too old or worn out."

They ended with a plea to "end their suffering now, boycott horse-drawn carriages."

Catherine Gore is a member of the Coalition To Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages. She was out by Central Park handing out fliers and speaking to pedestrians about their cause.

"The New York City carriage horse industry is inherently inhumane and it's impossible to operate humanely," she said. "We're asking people to boycott horse-drawn carriages, because of its inherent cruelty and because it doesn't belong in the City in the 21st century."

"It's dangerous to people and the horses," she added.

Animal activist Jill Weitz also said the industry was "inherently inhumane," citing dangers in the areas where they ride.

"Look at this environment. It is, absolutely, filled with traffic, filled with dangers. Horses do not do well in danger like this. They spook. And that's why there have been seven accidents in the last two years, five human injuries, and three deaths of horses," she said.

"If you see them around this time, holiday time, they're absolutely exhausted. They hardly get water. We checked two weekends ago, in neither the Fifth Avenue water trough nor the Sixth Avenue water trough. These horses are overworked and it is time to finally eliminate this seventeenth century practice in New York City," Weitz added.

The demonstrators received a mixed reaction from pedestrians Tuesday, as some jeered, while others accepted fliers and stopped to speak with them.

Their calls for a citywide ban on horse-drawn carriages likewise has received a mixed reaction from city officials.

"There have been more accidents, there have been more horses who have died or been put to sleep and the situation is only getting worse," Queens Councilman Tony Avella said at a City Hall demonstration on Dec. 9.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, supports the industry, saying it's part of what defines the city.

Those involved with the industry also oppose calls for a ban. Ian McKeever, the owner of the Shamrock Stables, believes the councilman, a mayoral candidate, is just looking for publicity.

"He doesn't know the care I take of my horses," said McKeever. "He doesn't know I go home every night and tell stories of my horses to my three kids."

The activists cited the weather and holiday as reasons for their minuscule turn out.

HIDDEN CAMERA VIDEO: Carriage Horse Industry At Crossroads

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