Horse Drawn Carriages
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To Ban Or Phase Out - That Is the Question
From Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
Intro 658A, the bill originally introduced by Council Member Tony Avella to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry, will expire at the end of the year. However, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito will reintroduce it under a different number. This is the only bill that should be supported because it bans the industry outright and puts the horses first -- including making legal provisions for them by revising Section §17-329 concerning humane disposition. We are aware of another bill in the planning stage that would provide for a phase-out of the carriage horses over a three year period because of a trial introduction of hybrid cars. This is wrong, seriously flawed, and we oppose it in concept for the reasons enumerated below. We believe that most people do not fully comprehend what a "phase-out" means and how harmful it will be to the horses.
The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages is an animal rights-protection-abolitionist organization. The welfare and well being of the horses come first - not the welfare of the drivers. Harsh? Not really when you consider what our mandate is. The well being of the horses should be the ideal of every organization whose mandate is to put animal protection ideals first - especially when they ask for donations based on that mandate. It is a conflict of interest for animal protection organizations to advocate for the drivers' jobs at the expense of the horses and they lose their moral authority by confusing those priorities. Our Coalition wants a total ban of the horse-drawn carriage industry first, and it is possible, but only if we all put the horses first and stand together. We recognize it is a lot to ask but history has already shown that this issue has never been taken this far in NYC. It is up to the City of NY and other organizations, if they choose, to provide assistance to the drivers -- much as they are doing in New Delhi, India where they recently banned the carriage trade - both for animal cruelty and for traffic issues. If it can happen in New Delhi, India and Tel Aviv, Israel - it can happen in NYC.
Why We Oppose A Phase Out
- A ban on horse-drawn carriages must not be dependent on the success of a fledgling industry. Both must stand on their own.
- A three year phase out means that horses will be mixed in with odd looking vehicles with loud horns. This is bad for the horses and a recipe for disaster. It could cause them to spook resulting in a deadly accident. At 1,500 to 2,000 pounds, a horse is an unwitting weapon, never entirely predictable.
- Allowing the carriage industry to keep a foothold for three years is a huge mistake. It will give them time to lobby for continuation of their business and to show that they are preferred by tourists. The outcome could result in fewer horse-drawn carriages mixed in with the vintage cars. That would be a disaster. A total ban - before the introduction of a new business - is the only solution.
Why exacerbate existing bad traffic conditions? Midtown Manhattan, including Central Park South, is already overcrowded with vehicles - including pedicabs - which are currently the alternative to horse-drawn carriages. This unmanageable congestion is one of the reasons we have asked the City Council to ban the carriage industry in its entirety. It is disingenuous and illogical to ask the Council to add more vehicles to the mix. A recent Gothamist Poll resulted in 52% of the respondents agreeing that "cars, trucks and buses are the biggest hell raisers on city streets."
We are not opposed to the vintage car initiative but it is an untested and untried business in NYC and there is no guarantee that it will be successful or even have the funding to grow over the three year period. During this so-called phase out an accident could shut the vintage car business down as being unsafe. Why sell out the horses for this unknown? Why put them at risk? If the City does support such an endeavor, it must stand on its own and begin after the horses are gone.
The survival rate for new businesses is not good, particularly in this case, when so much funding is needed and the competition is allowed to continue drawing away potential customers.
We call upon the organizations that developed this proposal to go back to the drawing board and separate the two concepts - carriage horse ban -- and -- vintage cars. Figure out a way to provide assistance to the drivers in the way of jobs or money if that is your calling, while all of us work to see that Intro 658A - a true animal protection bill - gets passed. But do not allow the ban of the carriage horses to be dependent on a new business that may or may not be successful. It is too risky to sacrifice the horses this way and would be doing them a grave injustice.
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