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In Epic Battle to Ban NYC’s Horse-Drawn Carriages, Activists Leave No Stone Unturned

January 15, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

In the highly charged effort to ban horse-drawn carriages from the streets of NYC, activists can rarely anticipate the unseemly events that lurk around the corner  – from false accusations by elected officials and hostile media outlets to physical and verbal attacks by carriage operators. What they can – and are – doing, however, is moving mountains to help pass the Mayor’s historic bill to ban the city’s inhumane, unsafe and archaic horse-drawn carriage trade.

Following are some of the most compelling tactics being employed by NYCLASS, the animal rights group leading the lobbying effort, and the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, which started the movement in 2006.

1. TV Commercial: With the help of a pro-animal TV production company, NYCLASS created a commercial that has aired and will air again on local television in the months leading up to a vote.

2. Postcard Campaign: The NY Observer reports that NYCLASS “is turning up the heat on lawmakers by mailing graphic postcards to all 51 Council Members every day until the carriage-banning legislation is passed.” Each of the 7,000 postcards is signed by a NYC voter and will be sent to his or her Council Member.

One of many postcards being sent by NYCLASS to NYC lawmakers

One of many postcards being sent by NYCLASS to NYC lawmakers

3. Subway ads: In February, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages is rolling out this provocative ad campaign in NYC subway stations. Since 2007, the Coalition, which is the go-to group for information about the issue, has been staging regular protests against the industry and producing a weekly newsletter sent to advocates around the world.

Subway ad campaign

Subway ad campaign

4. An army of activists: Hundreds of NYC voters feel passionately enough about the plight of the horses to dedicate their free time to educating voters in the streets and lobbying lawmakers at City Hall. This week, activists with NYCLASS conducting outreach in front of the offices of two “undecided” NYC Council Members were unexpectedly invited inside to make their case for a ban.

Councilmember unexpectedly invites picketers in for meeting

Councilmember unexpectedly invites picketers in for meeting

Luckily, the activists were not carrying the dead horse replica that they sometimes use to attract attention in neighborhoods where local Council Members opposes the ban.

City Hall in Manhattan (Photo: NYCLASS)

City Hall in Manhattan (Photo: NYCLASS)

NYCLASS and The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages are leading the fight locally, but they are not working alone. Representatives from national advocacy groups, including PETA, HSUS, FOA, the ASPCA and Last Chance for Animals, are also lobbying Council Members and/or running educational campaigns.

Since 2008, PETA has also lent major star power to the effort, rolling out billboards and videos with pro-animal celebrities like Pink, Lea Michele, Kathy Najimy and Kristen Johnston.

PETA billboard in Times Square

PETA billboard in Times Square

Actress Kristen Johnston

Actress Kristen Johnston

To date, the majority of Council Members have not publicly stated whether they plan to vote in favor of or against the horse-drawn carriage ban. Like most politicians, they will make their decision based on political expedience — not on the merits of the issue. In the unlikely event that the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages is voted down, it won’t be for a lack of effort by the advocacy community. But perish the thought!

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:

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. Lucia says:

    I really hope this happens. NYC should be known as a city that is progressive, not stuck in the 1800’s holding onto a cruel tradition.

    1. Natasha Brenner says:

      You obviously don’t know what you are talking about. Along with all your misinformation is the statement that the horses will be killed in various manners. If you knew what you were talking about, you would know the horses are all spoken for and none will be killed. GET INFORMED!

  2. jesse Gregory says:

    You people need to get your facts straight and stop spreading ignorant propaganda! Save the horses from PETA!!!

    1. Donny Moss says:

      Are you referring to any specific facts?

  3. Great article, great campaign! When I joined animal rights in the early 1980s, the first petition I ever circulated as a new activist was a call to ban the NYC carriage horse trade. 30 years ago! Everyone should watch Donny Moss’s film BLINDERS. It is so powerful and sad – and energizing for activism. I believe we will live to see this business abolished in NYC and hopefully also in cities like New Orleans and Charleston South Carolina. Karen Davis, United Poultry Concerns

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