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Mayor de Blasio: Keep Your Promise to Ban NYC’s Horse-Drawn Carriages

July 2, 2015 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

During his campaign for Mayor of NYC and for several months after his victory in 2013, Bill de Blasio so frequently and adamantly declared his intention to ban horse-drawn carriages that some people are under the impression that they are already gone. Eighteen months after he took office, however, the horses remain on NYC’s streets, hauling tourists in the summer heat by day and languishing in cramped midtown buildings by night. What happened?

See “Watch me do it!” compilation video:

In December, 2014, a year after taking office, Mayor de Blasio introduced legislation to phase out the carriages by 2016. Since then, he has spoken about the issue rarely and only in response to questions. Neither carriage accidents nor lies in the press about his motives have triggered him to talk about the issue or his plan.

The Mayor made no comment when a carriage horse escaped from his stable and ran down a Manhattan street.

The Mayor made no comment when a horse escaped and ran down a Manhattan street in 10/2014

The Mayor, a seasoned politician, knows that city lawmakers will vote against his legislation unless he lobbies them to support it. He also knows that no amount of lobbying or advocacy by animal protection groups can get the bill passed if he doesn’t exert his leadership on the issue.

The Mayor’s silence in the face of mounting opposition to his legislation is a mystery not only to advocates but also to New Yorkers who remember that banning carriages was a signature component of his campaign platform. “Watch me do it,” he would say to the cameras.

Can the Mayor preserve his credibility when he runs for re-election if he walks away from this explicit promise? Can he turn his back on NYC’s animal advocacy community, which campaigned for him; toppled the candidacy of his chief (anti-animal) rival; and helped catapult him into Gracie Mansion?

In 2011, Council Member Mayor de Blasio (now Mayor),  joined fellow Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito (now Speaker) and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (now Comptroller) to express his support for a ban on horse-drawn carriages

In 2011, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (now Mayor), joined fellow Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito (now Speaker) and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (now Comptroller) to express his support for a ban on horse-drawn carriages

Since the Mayor took office, advocates with local and national animal protection organizations have spent countless hours lobbying City Council members and hundreds of thousands of dollars educating the public. They have also identified sanctuaries for the horses. But they need the Mayor to do his part. If the Mayor doesn’t demonstrate a commitment to his own legislation, then why would Council Members, who would open themselves up to attacks by the media and labor unions, support it?

Advocates can lobby, educate and protest, but they cannot get the Mayor's bill passed without his leadership

Advocates can lobby, educate and protest, but they cannot get the Mayor’s bill unless he gets behind it

So why has Mayor de Blasio been silent? Only he and members of his administration know what his intentions are. What we do know is that the hundreds of advocates who have dedicated their lives to taking the horses out of harm’s way will hold him accountable until he follows in the footsteps of his counterparts in Mumbai and San Juan, cities that banned horse-drawn carriages in 2015.

Your Turn

Share video to urge Mayor de Blasio to keep his promise to ban horse carriages.

Tweet: Urge NYC Mayor @BilldeBlasio to keep his promise to #BanHorseCarriages! http://youtu.be/0QlPNkuob04 #FreeTheHorses

Contact Mayor de Blasio’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Emma Wolfe, to ask her to fulfill the Mayor’s unmistakable promise to ban horse-drawn carriages: Ewolfe@cityhall.nyc.gov

See article Eight Reasons Why Horse-Drawn Carriages Cannot Be Operated Humanely or Safely in NYC.


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Video: NYC Horse-Drawn Carriage Drivers Work Illegally in Parade During Snow Storm

March 4, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

NYC law prohibits horse-drawn carriage drivers from working their horses in snow, ice, heavy rain or other slippery conditions. But that didn’t stop them from working a horse at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade during a snowstorm.

Horse-drawn carriage works during snowstorm in a St. Patrick's Day parade

Horse-drawn carriage drivers break the law by working during a snowstorm

TheirTurn told several police officers who lined the parade route that the carriages drivers were breaking the law, but none of them took action.

horse-drawn carriage parade police

NYPD officers watch from the sidelines as horse-drawn carriage drivers break the law

The presence of two marching bands also didn’t keep the carriage operators away, even though the city’s horse-drawn carriage operator’s manual includes marching bands on the list of stimuli that spook horses.

Marching bands and horses don't mix well because drums can spook them

Marching bands and horses don’t mix well because drums can spook them

List of stimuli that spook horses in NYC Dept. of Health's horse-drawn carriage training manual

List of stimuli that spook horses in NYC Dept. of Health’s horse-drawn carriage training manual

In fact, it was a drum that spooked a NYC carriage horse named Smoothie, who bolted down 59th street, crashed into a tree and died in front of dozens of onlookers.

Smoothie crashed into a tree and died after being spooked by a drum in Midtown Manhattan

Smoothie crashed into a tree and died after being spooked by a drum in Midtown Manhattan

The carriage operators were very much aware of the risk, which explains why they held the reins.

horse-drawn carriage illegal

Carriage drivers hold the reins to prevent horse from bolting if drums spook him

As carriage operators illegally worked a horse in a parade in Queens, several others were breaking the law on the snowy streets of Manhattan.

Horse-drawn carriage drivers work during snowstorm in defiance of the law (photo: Bronx resident)

Carriage drivers work during snowstorm in defiance of the law (photo: Bronx resident)

Animal rights activists with NYCLASS, PETA and Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) also participated in the parade, bringing animal costumes instead of a living animal.

Danny Dromm

Council Member Danny Dromm (center) is lead sponsor on bill to ban horse-drawn carriages

The carriage drivers thanked the village of Sunnyside, Queens, by leaving behind a pile of horse manure on main street. Not to worry, NYC tax dollars will pay for the clean up.

New Yorkers are fined if they don't pick up after their dogs, but horse-drawn carriage drivers get a free pass

New Yorkers are fined if they don’t pick up after their dogs, but carriage drivers get a free pass

Your Turn

1. If you live in NYC, please ask your City Council Member to support the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages (Intro 573). If you live elsewhere, please sign their petition.

2. To learn more about the issue and keep apprised of news, subscribe to the weekly newsletter of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.

3. Watch the award-winning documentary film BLINDERS to see why people have been fighting for years to take the horses out of NYC:


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NYC Lawmaker Who Opposes Carriage Ban Seeks “Regulations to Prevent Horses from Spooking”

February 5, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

As a vote on the historic bill to ban NYC’s horse-drawn carriages approaches, some lawmakers will say just about anything to justify their politically-motivated support of the carriage trade. Here’s what one City Council Member said on January 28th in an email exchange with an advocate following an in-person meeting.

Advocate (in jest): “Do you believe that regulations can be introduced that would prevent a horse from spooking?
Council Member: “We hope that we can find a sufficient regulatory manner that leads to an environment where horses don’t spook, or if for some reason they do, they won’t be a danger to themselves or others.

Smoothie crashed into a tree and died after spooking in midtown Manhattan.

A NYC carriage horse crashed into a tree and died after spooking in midtown Manhattan.

The vast majority of lawmakers have not yet declared how they intend to vote on the horse-drawn carriage legislation. That is not because they don’t have a point of view about the issue; they are simply waiting to determine which vote would be more politically beneficial (or less politically harmful) to them. One of the questions many are asking themselves is who they are more afraid to alienate: industry supporters (organized labor & media) or industry opponents (the Mayor and advocates). It is a short-sighted approach because, if self-interest is guiding their decision, then they should ask themselves how history will judge them. Future generations will assuredly look at the images of horse-drawn carriages in midtown traffic and ask, “What were they thinking?” Do these lawmakers really want to be on the wrong side of history?

Horse-drawn carriages in midtown traffic?

Horse-drawn carriages in midtown traffic?

The ASPCA is well aware of the fact that politics, and not the merits of the issue, will drive the decision making process, but that has not stopped them from explaining why they unequivocally oppose the use horse-drawn carriages in Manhattan. Following is an excerpt from a CNN opinion piece written by Matt Bershadker, the CEO of the ASPCA:

“There is no better example of an obsolete and unacceptable tradition than NYC’s horse-drawn carriage rides. In the 21st century, using horses to pull heavy loads of tourists through congested city streets is unnatural, unnecessary and an undeniable strain on the horses. And that strain is not restricted to the streets. The stables to which these horses return — former tenement buildings — do not afford horses a paddock for turnout, the ability to graze or the freedom to roll and run. That’s why, as an organization that’s fought for humane treatment of horses since our founding in 1866, we think it’s time to end horse-drawn carriage rides. No counterargument stands up to the sheer absurdity of this antiquated practice, though many who profit from it keep trying.”

How can a Council Member refute that? Not well, if this email exchange with aforementioned Council Member is any indication:

Advocate: “Do you believe that the ASPCA is incorrect in its conclusion that horse-drawn carriages can no longer be operated humanely in NYC?”
Council Member: “We are definitely taking the ASPCA’s statements into consideration as we go forward.”

Beast of burden, NYC

Beast of burden, NYC

Your Turn

1. If you live in NYC, please join NY-CLASS in its efforts to rally support among lawmakers for the Mayor’s bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. Otherwise, please sign their petition.

2. To learn more about the issue and keep apprised of news, subscribe to the weekly newsletter of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.

3. Watch the award-winning documentary film BLINDERS to see why people have been fighting for years to take the horses out of NYC:


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8 Reasons Why Horse-Drawn Carriages Cannot Be Operated Humanely or Safely in NYC

January 5, 2015 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

Following are eight reasons why horse-drawn carriages cannot be operated humanely or safely in NYC. No amount of regulation or enforcement can fix these issues:

1. Horses spook: Horses are prey animals who can be spooked by sirens, potholes, barking dogs and many other stimuli. When spooked horses bolt down congested city streets, they become weapons. Many horse-drawn carriages crashes in NYC have been caused by spooked horses.

Spotty died after spooking and crashing into a car, sending 3 people to the hospital.

Spotty died after spooking and crashing into a car, sending 3 people to the hospital.

2. Urban environment: Horses are living animals, but, by forcing them to work in the streets with aggressive taxi drivers, tour buses and emergency vehicles, the carriage operators are treating them like motor vehicles. They simply do not belong in the busy streets of NYC.

Who does not belong in this picture?

Who does not belong in this picture?

3. No pastures: Horses are grazing animals, but NYC has no pasture where they can graze, run, roll and interact physically, as herd animals do. They are either confined between the shafts of their carriages, encumbered by equipment, or kept in stalls.

horse-blinders

In addition to blinders, which curb their vision, the horses eat with a cold metal bit in their mouths.

4. Housing: The horses are housed on the second and third floors of four stables on the far West Side of Manhattan. If a fire broke out in one of these buildings, where highly flammable hay is stored, the panicked horses would be unable to escape down the narrow ramps, even if someone opened their stalls one-by-one to let them out. In 2011, NYC’s Department of Health recommended that the City prohibit new stables from having stalls above the ground floor, but that change, if implemented, would have done nothing to help horses trapped in the current stables.

West side livery front

After working in the streets, the horses aren’t turned out into a pasture. They come to this and other stables in Hell’s Kitchen.

5. Car exhaust: Ingesting car exhaust can cause lung disease in horses who live a nose-to-tailpipe existence – even in Central Park, where cars are permitted at certain times of day.

Nose-to-tailpipe for nine hours a day

Nose-to-tailipe for up to nine hours each day

6. Hard surfaces: Hard surfaces can cause concussive injury to horses’ legs and feet, which were designed to walk on soft surfaces.

horse surface

Horses legs were designed to walk on soft surfaces, like grass or dirt.

7. Lack of shade: Most of the horses are stationed in Grand Army Plaza, which has no shade. During the hot summer months, they bake in the sun for hours at a time. Over the years, many carriage horses have collapsed and died from heat exhaustion.

WHITEY

Carriage driver pours a bucket of water on a horse who collapsed from heat exhaustion.

8. Food & water: The horses’ feed is often contaminated with pigeon droppings, which is a violation of city code.  In addition, the horses are watered out of two communal basins, which is described by one expert as “a veterinary nightmare” because the horses can transmit diseases to each other and because humans use them as trash cans.

horse pigeon

Feeding horses with grains contaminated with pigeon feed violates city code, but who is going to enforce that?

The horses have no choice but to wear blinders, but elected officials, carriage operators and patrons intentionally turn a blind eye to the obvious cruelty out of political expedience and greed. History will assuredly judge those who fought to keep horse-drawn carriages in the congested streets of New York City.

How can anyone think this is humane or safe?

How can anyone think this is humane or safe?

Your Turn

1. If you live in NYC, please join NY-CLASS in its efforts to rally support among lawmakers for the Mayor’s bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. If you live elsewhere, please sign their petition.

2. To learn more about the issue and keep apprised of news, subscribe to the weekly newsletter of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.

3. Watch the award-winning documentary film BLINDERS to see why people have been fighting for years to take the horses out of NYC:


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Fur Vendor Employees Arrested After Allegedly Dropping Bleach on Activists – And a Baby

December 21, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Animal rights activists who regularly protest a fur vendor in NYC are accustomed to being showered with profanities and false accustations, but nothing could have prepared them for being showered with with activists say was a shower of bleach.

bleach

Bleach pouring down

On Saturday, December 20th, fur vendor employees climbed to the roof of a building and dumped the bleach on the activists below. According to Rob Banks, one of the protest organizers, the bleach also hit a baby (see photo below), and his parents are filing a lawsuit.

Parents of baby on the left are suing fur vendor

Parents of baby on the left are suing fur vendor

Police officers, who were at the scene at the time of the incident, shut down the fur concession and arrested Luis Justino, Lawrence Andrews and David Haber, the owner. All three were charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

David Haber has become increasingly aggressive with the activists in recent months. In November, witnesses report that he intentionally collided with an activist, fell to the ground and told the police that the activist assaulted him. The activist was arrested at the scene and has spent $2,500 on legal fees.

Fur vendor falsely claims activist assaulted him

Fur vendor falsely claims activist assaulted him

The attacks on the activists are also verbal.

fur vendor

Society owes a debt of gratitude to those who put themselves in harm’s way to fight for social justice for those who have no voice.


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