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Activist Group in New York Targets Mayor Bill de Blasio over Failure to Help Carriage Horses

March 15, 2018 by Leave a Comment


The News

NYCLASS, the animal rights group leading the fight to help the carriage horses in NYC, staged a protest at City Hall to demand that Mayor de Blasio provide some relief to the horses if he is not going to fulfill his campaign promise to take horse-drawn carriages off of the streets of midtown.

According to Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS, “Mayor de Blasio can act now on his own to help the carriage horses, yet he hasn’t lifted a finger.  We desperately need stepped up enforcement on the streets; an update of the antiquated, inadequate laws on the books to improve the welfare and safety of the horses; and a change in the way the carriage horses operate. Too many crashes occur because horse-drawn carriages operate in heavily trafficked areas, such as Central Park South and Times Square. Just last month, three tourists from Texas were sent to the hospital after the horse pulling their carriage spooked, threw the driver from the carriage, and bolted down Central Park South before crashing into parked cars. Carriage horses also still have no protection from being sent to slaughter. This is all taking place under the Mayor’s watch. It’s a disgrace.”

Advocates argue that horses should not be pulling carriages anywhere in the congested streets of NYC, much less Times Square

When running for Mayor, Bill de Blasio made an explicit campaign pledge to ban horse-drawn carriages from Manhattan on the grounds that they are inhumane and unsafe. He also publicly declared that, in his administration, animal rights would move into the mainstream. As a result of his promises, the animal advocacy community in NYC rallied behind him, helping him get elected.

The animal rights group NYCLASS stages a rally at City Hall to demand that the Mayor help NYC’s beleaguered carriage horses.

“We feel betrayed,” said Jill Carnegie, campaigns director at NYCLASS. “We moved mountains to help Mayor de Blasio get elected, but the animals who he promised to help are in worse shape now than before he took office.”

Horse-drawn carriage operators are prohibited from working in inclement weather, but the city does not enforce the laws.

Your Turn

Join NYCLASS on Facebook and sign up for action alerts on NYCLASS.org to stay apprised of and participate in the group’s effort to help NYC’s carriage horses

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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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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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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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Activists Jump on Stage During Gala Honoring NYC Horse-Drawn Carriage Drivers

October 1, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Angered that the preservation group Landmark West was honoring NYC’s horse-drawn carriage trade, animal rights activists disrupted the organization’s gala at Tavern on The Green, a restaurant in Central Park.

In 2006, activists launched a campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages, arguing that they are inherently inhumane and that their operation is especially cruel and dangerous in the congested streets of midtown Manhattan.  In 2013, Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio made a campaign pledge to ban horse-drawn carriages, but he failed to deliver on his promise when he took office.

The preservation group Landmark West honored horse-drawn carriage drivers at its gala. Animal rights activists disrupted the event.

The preservation group Landmark West honored horse-drawn carriage drivers at its gala. Animal rights activists disrupted the event.

In addition to protesting the horse-drawn carriage trade itself, activists are targeting Mayor de Blasio, demanding that he expend the political capital necessary to deliver on his promise. On September 15th, just a few days after a carriage horse collapsed in midtown, over 200 activists staged a protest at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor’s home, and confronted him as he exited a downtown gala several hours later.

Animal rights activists in NYC demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio fulfill his promise to ban horse-drawn carriages.

Animal rights activists in NYC demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio fulfill his promise to ban horse-drawn carriages.

NYC’s horse-drawn carriage operators own approximately 2oo horses. When the horses are not pulling carriages in midtown, they are kept in small stalls in former warehouses or garages in Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood on the far West Side of Manhattan.

The horses who pull carriages in NYC are housed in multi-story buildings after working in midtown. NYC has no pasture where the horses can graze and interact with other horses.

The horses who pull carriages in NYC are housed in multi-story buildings after working in midtown. NYC has no pasture where the horses can graze and interact with other horses.

Your Turn

Please contact Landmark West to let the organization know how you feel about its decision to honor NYC’s inhumane horse-drawn carriage trade by posting a comment on its Facebook page and/or retweeting this tweet.


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