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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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What the Media WON’T Say About NYC’s Explosive Horse Carriage War

December 9, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

It’s official. After a nine year campaign by grass roots advocacy groups, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has introduced a bill to ban horse-drawn carriages from the streets of NYC.

All of the advocacy groups rallied at City Hall in support of the bill

All of the advocacy groups rallied at City Hall in support of the bill

Unfortunately, NYC’s pro-carriage newspapers have not only lied about the Mayor’s motives, claiming that he’s merely re-paying a campaign donor who wants to buy the stables, but they have also largely failed to provide fair balance. If the media shared this information, then elected officials and members of the public would at least have the chance to make an informed decision about whether or not to support the Mayor’s bill.

Horses are flight animals who sometimes flee when spooked by sirens, potholes, bright colors or other stimuli. The blinders, which partially restrict their vision, aren’t foolproof. Over the years, spooked carriage horses, who become weapons when running frantically down a busy street, have caused many tragic accidents. It was the 2006 death of Spotty, a carriage horse who galloped down Ninth Avenue and crashed into a car, that triggered the current movement to ban horse-drawn carriages.

Spotty died after spooking and crashing into a moving car.

Spotty died after spooking and crashing into a moving car.

Horses are grazing animals, but New York City has no pasture. The horses are either confined to their stalls or between the shafts of their carriages, burdened by equipment. Denying the horses the chance to graze and move around unencumbered each day is inhumane. As herd animals, horses should also have the opportunity to interact physically. Without a pasture for daily turnout, the horses are unable to fulfill their most basic instincts.

Carriage in snow on CPS

NYC’s dangerous streets are no substitute for a pasture

Horses live in multi-story firetraps. Most of the carriage horses are kept in stalls on the 2nd and 3rd floors of four stables on the far West Side of Manhattan. If a fire broke out in one of these buildings, in which highly flammable hay is stored, the panicked horses would be unable to escape down the narrow ramps, assuming 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.

One of four stables in midtown Manhattan

One of four stables in midtown Manhattan

Working in the streets with aggressive taxi drivers, ambulances and other motor vehicles is dangerous and unhealthy. Over time, ingesting car exhaust during their “nose-to-tailpipe” workday can cause respiratory disease, and the hard pavement can cause lameness. In December 2013, a horse-drawn carriage driver was charged with animal cruelty for working a lame horse.

Manhattan

Manhattan

Horse-drawn carriages jeopardize the safety and quality of life of people. Slow-moving contraptions add to traffic congestion; increase the response times of emergency vehicles; and cause accidents. Pedestrians, bicyclists and passengers in motor vehicles have been injured in horse-drawn carriage crashes, as have customers who ride in these open buggies with no seat belts or helmets. Finally, horse manure contaminates the streets and leaves a stench in and around Central Park, where people walk, jog and bike.

carriage human injured

Our country was built on the backs of horses. It’s time we reciprocate by taking them out of harm’s way and giving them a humane retirement.

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 by sending an email to coalition@banhdc.org.

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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In Defense of Horse Carriage Trade, NYC Papers Fabricate Lies

December 3, 2014 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

The three major NYC newspapers (NY Times, Post, Daily News) are not only compromising their journalist integrity by consistently publishing biased news stories in support of the horse-drawn carriage trade, but they are also misrepresenting advocacy groups and fabricating outright lies to discredit the Mayor; marginalize the activists; and protect the trade.

Yellow journalism on the front page

Yellow journalism, the front page of the Daily News

The advocacy groups consistently describe the operation of horse-drawn carriages in NYC as “inhumane,” but the papers report that we describe it as “torture,” a strategy used to marginalize us as extremist and shift attention away from our valid arguments about the humane issues. In fact, in their lengthy articles about the issue, the papers omit any substantive explanation about the humane issues and state that the horses are treated well.

The advocates believe, for example, that depriving herd animals of a pasture for physical interaction and grazing is inhumane, but newspaper readers, most of whom wouldn’t think about the pasture issue on their own, only see “torture” and dismiss the humane issues altogether.

Manhattan

When horses aren’t pulling carriages in midtown Manhattan, they are kept in stalls.  NYC has no pasture where the horses can move freely.

The papers have also falsely reported that Steve Nislick, the founder of the animal advocacy group NYCLASS, is working to ban horse-drawn carriages so that he can buy the midtown stables. By using phrases like “land grab” and “back room deal,” they have convinced the public that Mr. Nislick is a developer masquerading as an animal advocate.

But would readers believe that fabrication if the papers actually spelled out what the are alleging — that Mr. Nislick went so far as to create a charity and hire a staff of animal advocates for the express purpose of shuttering the industry so that could buy their buildings, even though the owners would have no legal obligation to sell those buildings to Mr. Nislick and despite the fact that Mr. Nislick retired from real estate several years ago.

carriage stable

Carriage horses are kept on upper floors of this midtown building

By creating a campaign to “Save Our Horses” and by publishing front page stories denouncing the Mayor’s plan, one newspaper, the NY Daily News, has relinquished any claim to being an unbiased news organization.

One of many front page stories promoting horse-drawn carriages

One of many front page stories promoting horse-drawn carriages

The public is unaware of the motive behind the Daily News’ campaign, but many people speculate that it’s an easy way to discredit Mayor de Blasio, who the paper consistently attacked before the 2014 election in order to bolster his opponent in the race and the candidate they endorsed, Christine Quinn.

Horse-drawn carriages will eventually be taken off of the streets of midtown Manhattan, and NYC’s newspapers will be on the wrong side of history. Perhaps the owners and editorial board members are unconcerned about their unabashed promotion of horse-drawn carriages because, by the time history judges them for their regressive thinking and opposition to social justice advances, they will have long since left their posts.

Photo: jobsanger.blogspot.com

In the future, our defense of the exploitation of animals will be added to graphics like this (Photo: jobsanger.blogspot.com)

One thing is certain. If midtown Manhattan did not have horse-drawn carriages today and someone proposed to introduce them, the papers would unanimously oppose the idea on the grounds that the congested streets of NYC are no place for large flight animals to be pulling rickety 19th century carriages.

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 by sending an email to coalition@banhdc.org.

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

4. Respond to the Wall Street Journal poll


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NYC Mayor To Introduce Bill to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

December 1, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

After an eight year campaign on the streets, at City Hall and on the big screen, activists in NYC are one giant step closer to achieving their goal of ending horse-drawn carriage rides in the congested streets of midtown Manhattan.

On the week of December 8th, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to introduce a bill that would prohibit the city from renewing horse-drawn carriage licenses starting in mid-2016 and prevent the horses from being slaughtered. The bill also offers several job saving provisions, including free green taxi medallions (value: $6,000) for horse-drawn carriage drivers. The bill won’t be put up for a vote for several months to allow for a public hearing and lobbying by both sides.

092613horse3RM

In 2006, a veteran animal rights activist in NYC, Elizabeth Forel, founded the Coaliton to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages. The group’s relentless efforts led to a change in the public discourse, with New Yorkers and elected officials talking for the first time about about banning, instead of reforming, the trade.

Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages Protest (photo: Donny Moss)

Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages Protest (photo: Donny Moss)

In 2008, another animal rights group, NY-CLASS, which has been lobbying NYC lawmakers for the past several years in support of a horse-drawn carriage ban, proposed an alternative to the carriages – electric vintage cars – to address objections by lawmakers that a ban would eliminate jobs. The Mayor’s bill would allow carriage drivers to pursue this alternative, if they are interested.

Chrissie Hynde arrives at her sold out concert in NYC

Music legend Chrissie Hynde introduces NYC Media to electric vintage car proposed by NY-CLASS

Over the years, the animal rights group PETA has raised awareness of the plight of NYC’s carriage horses through provocative campaigns, celebrity spokespeople and protests.

PETA billboard in Times Square

PETA billboard in Times Square

In 2008 and 2009, the documentary film BLINDERS about NYC’s horse-drawn carriage controversy aired on the Documentary Channel and was screened at film festivals around the country, exposing an unsuspecting public to the truth behind the tradition of NYC’s horse-drawn carriage trade.

After being educated about the issue, Mayor de Blasio made a campaign promise to ban “inhumane” and “unsafe” horse-drawn carriages from NYC streets during the 2014 Mayoral race.

The front-runner in the Mayoral race, Christine Quinn, blocked efforts to help the horses and instead passed a rate hike for the drivers when she ran the NYC Council. Because of her egregious record on animal protection issues, local activists launched a four year campaign starting in 2009 to cripple her Mayoral bid. She came in a distant third, demonstrating the potential impact of grass-roots animal rights advocacy.

"Anybody But Quinn" for Mayor of NYC

“Anybody But Quinn” for Mayor of NYC

Horse drawn carriage rides have been curbed or outright eliminated in many urban areas around the world, including London, Paris, Beijing and Toronto. Just one week ago, Salt Lake City lawmakers voted unanimously to be ban horse-drawn carriages.

Your Turn

If you live in NYC, please join NY-CLASS in its efforts to rally support at City Hall for the Mayor’s bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. If you live elsewhere, please sign their petition to ban horse-drawn carriages from the streets of midtown Manhattan.

To learn more about the issue and keep apprised of news related to the movement to ban the industry, please subscribe to the weekly newsletter of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages by sending an email to coalition@banhdc.org.

Watch the award-winning documentary film BLINDERS: The Truth Behind the Tradition.

File created with CoreGraphics


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Activists Use Dead Horse Replica To Expose Dangers of NYC Carriage Rides

October 25, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Less than one week after a NYC carriage horse escaped from his stable and fled down the street, NYCLASS, an organization working to end carriage rides in NYC, displayed a life-size replica of a dead horse at City Hall to call lawmakers’ attention to the dangers of mixing horses with cars in the congested streets of midtown Manhattan.

City Hall in Manhattan (Photo: NYCLASS)

City Hall in Manhattan (Photo: NYCLASS)

TV journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell attended the protest and posted footage and an interview with Donny Moss, who made the documentary film BLINDERS about NYC’s horse-drawn carriage controversy:

According to large animal veterinarians, horse-drawn carriages cannot be operated humanely or safely in the congested streets of NYC. For example, horses are flight animals, and no amount of regulation can stop them from spooking and bolting down a busy street.

Dead carriage horse

Spotty crashed into a car and die after spooking in NYC (Photo: Catherine Nane)

In addition, the NYC horses have no pasture where they can graze, run, roll and interact physically with other horses, as herd animals do. They are either confined between the shafts of a carriage or kept in small stalls in midtown Manhattan.

Photo: Donny Moss

Photo: Donny Moss

Your Turn

If you live in NYC, please contact your Council Member

Please sign the two petitions to ban horse-drawn carriages: Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn CarriagesNYCLASS

To keep apprised of developments, subscribe to the weekly newsletter of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages by sending an email to coalition@banhdc.org.

Watch the award-winning documentary film BLINDERS: The Truth Behind the Tradition that exposes the truth behind the tradition of NYC’s infamous horse-drawn carriage trade:

 


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