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As Carriage Horses Fight NYC Heat, Animal Rights Activists Fight City Hall

July 5, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

As carriage horses pounded the pavement in NYC’s sweltering heat, over 50 animal rights activists staged a protest at the Department of Health (DOH) to demand that the city enforce what few laws exist to protect the beasts of burden.

NYCLASS and PETA targeted the DOH, which is responsible for protecting the horses on the streets and in the buildings where they are kept at night, because the city agency has refused to take action following several incidents in which carriage horses collided with motor vehicles; ran untethered through the streets midtown Manhattan; or were photographed living in squalid conditions.

Animal rights activists with NYCLASS and PETA demand that the NYC Department of Health enforce laws to protect carriage horses

While running for Mayor of NYC in 2013, Bill de Blasio publicly pledged on at least a dozen occasions to “end carriage rides” in midtown Manhattan. “Watch me do it!” he said. Advocates speculate that he has walked away from his promise because betraying the animal rights community, which was instrumental in getting him elected, is more politically expedient than angering the media and unions, which staunchly support the horse-drawn carriage trade.

Your Turn

Join the fight to ban inhumane and unsafe horse-drawn carriages from NYC.

To learn more about NYC’s epic horse-drawn carriage controversy, watch the documentary film BLINDERS: The Truth Behind The Tradition.


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Animal Rights Activists Rejoice as NYC Lawmakers Vote to Ban Wild Animals in Circuses (VIDEO)

June 28, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

An 11 year campaign came to a screeching halt on June 21st when NYC lawmakers voted to ban the use of exotic animals in circuses. The bill, which has been championed by Council Member Rosie Mendez since 2006, passed with 43 votes. Only 6 Council Members voted against it.

NYC’s Public Advocate, who presided over the Council meeting when the vote took place, broke protocol by allowing animal rights activists in the Council chambers to break into applause when the vote count was announced, “Let it rip,” said Letitia James, who herself was a supporter of the ban.

Animal rights activists in NYC applaud the advocates and elected officials who led the fight to ban wild animals in circuses (from L to R: Activist John Phillips, Council Member Corey Johnson, Council Member Rosie Mendez, ADI’s Christina Scaringe, HSUS’ Joyce Friedman)

According to HSUS’ Wildlife Protection Specialist Joyce Friedman, NYC joins “over 125  municipalities and four states that have banned or restricted the use of animals in circuses.” Christina Scaringe, General Counsel of Animal Defenders International (ADI), added that 37 countries around the world have implemented a ban on exotic animals in circuses, with some of those countries also banning the use of domesticated animals.

In traveling circuses, wild animals are held captive for life in small cages and are beaten into submission with weapons

After the Council meeting, several elected officials bill joined activists on the steps of City Hall for an impromptu rally to celebrate the historic vote. NYC Council Member Corey Johnson, a co-sponsor of the bill, remarked on the historic significance of its passage: “We’re going to look back on this day and all of the hard work that has gone into it and see it as a seminal moment – – when the largest municipality in the country said, ‘Enough!  This law is a step for a more just and humane New York City and society.”


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Horse-Drawn Carriage Chaos in NYC

June 5, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Just days after an untethered carriage horse ran wildly through the streets of midtown Manhattan and a whistleblower released a photo to the media of another horse living in squalor, animal rights activists held a press conference at one of the stables demanding an investigation from city officials and justice for the horses.

In reaction to the photo (below), which was taken surreptitiously by a city employee, NYCLASS Campaigns Director Jill Carnegie told reporters, “If horses are living in their own excrement, then the Department of Health, which is supposed to regulate this industry, is asleep at the wheel.”  Edita Birnkrant, NYCLASS’ Executive Director, added, “The stall in this photograph is so small that the horse doesn’t have enough space to spread out or turn around. What’s worse is that these horses, who are herd animals, can’t graze, roam freely or interact with other horses because NYC has no pasture.”

A city employee employee took this photo of a horse living in squalor at the West Side Livery, a carriage horse stable in Manhattan

Since 2007, animal rights activists in NYC have been campaigning to ban horse-drawn carriages from NYC, arguing that nervous prey animals who have a tendency to spook should not be forced to pull carriages in the congested streets of midtown Manhattan.

Animal rights activists argue that animals who spook and bolt should not be working in city streets.

This 2006 accident in which a spooked horse named Spotty died after bolting and crashing sparked the movement to ban horse-drawn carriages from Manhattan (photo: Catherine Nance)

In 2013, NYC Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio ran for office on a campaign promise to ban horse-drawn carriages if elected. To the dismay of the activists who helped him get elected, his “Watch me do it!” pledge has since been replaced with, “Take it up with the City Council.”

Your Turn

Please join NYCLASS in it effort to compel the Mayor and City Council to take horse-drawn carriages off the streets of NYC.


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Over 100 Activists Protest & Celebrate Ringling Bros. Final Performance (VIDEO)

May 23, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Activists from as far as California and Nevada traveled to New York to say “Good Riddance” to “The Cruelest Show of Earth” during Ringling’s last-ever performance.

Organized by PETA, LION and CompassionWorks International, the final protest, which took place at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, was not only a celebration but also an opportunity to encourage Ringling fans to abstain from patronizing other traveling circuses that beat wild animals into submission.

Animal rights activists celebrate the last-ever performance of Ringling Bros.

PETA began protesting Ringling when the organization was formed in the early 1980s. Since then, the animal rights group has staged protests at thousands of performances around the country, at times following the circus from city to city in a “Ringling Beats Elephants” van.

PETA followed Ringling around the country in a van in an effort to educate patrons

As undercover videos of circus trainers terrorizing animals emerged, many local animal rights groups around the country began to protest the circus and lobby their lawmakers in support of restrictions on the use of animals in performances.

In recent years, several municipalities in the U.S. banned the use of bull hooks, the weapons used by “trainers” to beat elephants into submission. Without bull hooks, Ringling could not use elephants in their shows. These bans, coupled with increasing public discomfort about the use of elephants, triggered Ringling to remove them from the show starting in 2016. This victory, celebrated by activists worldwide, was overshadowed by an even bigger victory – Ringling’s announcement in 2017 that it was shutting down the circus altogether. A representative from the Circus Fans Association of America told TheirTurn that the Ringling decided to end its 146 year run because of a substantial drop in revenues following the removal of elephants. Animal rights groups say that ticket sales declined because of the public’s increasing discomfort with the use of any animals in circuses.

Elephant “trainer” with Ringling carries bull hooks to scare animals into submission

The 100+ activists at Ringling’s final performance were greeted with hostility by some patrons, as expected. Parents were the angriest, as they don’t want their children’s circus experience to be tainted by the presence of activists wielding “Ringling Beats Animals” posters. While some patrons gave protesters the middle finger or shouted “Snowflake” or “Go Trump” while driving past the protesters, most just laughed nervously.


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In Spite of Lawsuit Aimed at Silencing Activists, Horse-Drawn Carriage Protests Continue

April 21, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

In response to a lawsuit filed by the horse-drawn carriage industry to silence the opposition in NYC, animal rights activists staged a protest wearing symbolic tape over their mouths to demonstrate that, even if silenced, they can convince tourists to abstain from taking “cruel and dangerous” horse-drawn carriage rides in midtown Manhattan.

The silent protest, which replaced chants with images, garnered so much attention from pedestrians that NYCLASS said it intends to its incorporate the tactic into future actions. That said, the organization will not be silenced, according to Jill Carnegie, NYCLASS’ director of campaigns: “We believe in the First Amendment – and that means we have the right to educate everyone about the cruelties of the reckless carriage horse industry. We won’t stop until they are removed from dangerous city streets.”

Animal rights activists in NYC stage a symbolic silent protest after being sued by the horse-drawn carriage industry

In December, 2016, Central Park Sightseeing, a horse-drawn carriage company, filed the lawsuit against NYCLASS and several individual activists in which it sought – and won – an injunction to limit first amendment expression in the area where tourists board the carriages. The defendants intend to appeal the injunction in order to protect their constitutional rights. ‘We cannot allow a ruling that says freedom of speech should be censored on public streets merely because carriage drivers don’t like the truth,” said Carnegie. “Speaking up and fighting for what you believe in is our duty as engaged Americans, especially at a time of upheaval and uncertainty.”

NYC’s horse-drawn carriage industry and animal rights activists in legal battle over protests

Your Turn

The NYC animal rights community did not expect to be protesting horse-drawn carriages in 2017 because, in 2013, NYC Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio ran for office on an unmistakeable promise to ban horse-drawn carriages if elected. His “Watch me do it!” pledge has since been replaced with, “Take it up with the City Council.”

Please join NYCLASS in it effort to compel the Mayor and City Council to take horse-drawn carriages off the streets of NYC.


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