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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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