Stop Horse Drawn CarriagesLegally Brief: NYC Considers Ban on Carriage Horse Industry
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Resources and information to help end abusive horse-drawn carriage businesses.


Stephen Wells, Executive Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
December 2014

In his first year in office, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is making good on his campaign promise to ban NYC’s horse-drawn carriages––as animal advocates, including ALDF, and thousands of New Yorkers urged him to do. On Monday, NY City Councilmember Daniel Dromm introduced a bill to phase out the carriage horse industry to loud cheers in Council Chambers. Earlier in the day, supporters of the measure braved 25 degree weather to rally on the steps of City Hall, where ALDF’s Erika Mathews addressed the crowd and media.

Here are some highlights of the bill, known as Int 0573-2014:

  • Banning horse-drawn carriage rides as of June 1, 2016. Current licenses to operate horse-drawn carriages expire on May 31st, 2016, and would not be renewed under the bill.
  • Humane disposition of carriage horses. The mayor’s bill would prohibit carriage horses from being sent to slaughter and require documentation to ensure that does not happen. It also would require licensed horse owners to notify the Dept. of Health 10 days prior to any transfer, and provide names and phone numbers for any potential buyers or transferee of licensed horses.
  • Increased penalties for violations. The maximum fine for violating any law regulating the horse drawn carriage industry would be raised from $500 to $25,000 (50 times the current level).
  • Displaced worker training for carriage drivers, owners and stable workers. Individuals who held these positions as of June 1, 2014 would be offered training similar to other displaced workers to transition into a different industry or industries.
  • “Green cab” licenses at no cost to eligible carriage drivers and owners. The City of New York would pay the initial fee to obtain “HAIL” green-cab licenses for any carriage drivers and owners otherwise eligible for such a license.

Due to regulatory clearances that have to be assessed, the City Council is not expected to vote on the proposed ban until late spring or early summer of 2015. And the ban is not without controversy, thanks to a massive misinformation campaign spread by carriage industry advocates in the media. So on behalf of the animals and their advocates, here are some facts about the horse carriage industry:

The Carriage Industry is Inhumane

Is the industry bad for horses? Let’s look at some facts:

  • Carriage horses are overworked (even to the point of death).
  • Carriage horses are forced to work in severe weather.
  • Carriage horses experience danger and terror daily.
  • Carriage horses live in inhumane stables.
  • Carriage horses live abnormally short lives.

The Industry Puts Horses and People in Danger

As the result of a court order won by ALDF, the NYPD recently released two batches of horse-drawn carriage accident reports. Those NYPD records allege that New York carriage drivers have committed more than a dozen “hit-and-runs” during the past five years, by fleeing the scene of traffic accidents. The NYPD records also recount another 25 previously unreported horse accidents––including a child that was rushed to the hospital after falling out of a horse carriage and being run over by its wheel.

In addition to harms suffered by the horses themselves, the NYPD records document that children, cyclists, pedestrians, carriage drivers, carriage passengers, and even NYPD officers all have been physically injured by accidents involving New York’s horse carriages.

Horse Labor Deserves Protection Too

It is hypocritical that the Teamsters Union would defend an industry that profits off of the forced labor of other living beings. Exploitation of labor is exploitation, even if it is extracted from another species. It would be considered a severe human rights violation if workers were forced against their will to pull tourists around in pedicabs for no compensation, in extreme weather conditions, through a noisy, dangerous, and congested urban environment. Making horses do the same with Central Park carriages is no different. Regulation has repeatedly failed to address the myriad problems of the carriage industry, and nothing short of a ban will protect horses from forced labor in unnatural and inhumane conditions.

Inhumane Industries Impede American Progress

As we create more humane industries, we look back on industries that exploited animals with shame. Inhumane practices reflect badly upon us all. We have banned dogfighting and cockfighting nationwide, and most states now outlaw commercial dog-racing. We don’t need to exploit animals, and there are other ways to enjoy the beauty of New York’s Central Park. Humane industries will take us into a new century of compassionate choices. That’s why we must phase out this archaic industry now.

Sign the pledge to boycott this industry in any urban environment.

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