Animal Rights Advocates Push City Council to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

By Mary Johnson on June 15, 2012 6:20pm 

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio joined animal rights advocates on the steps of City Hall on Friday, June 15, 2012, pressing the City Council to ban horse-drawn carriages.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio joined animal rights advocates on the steps of City Hall on Friday, June 15, 2012, pressing the City Council to ban horse-drawn carriages.
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NYCLASS

MANHATTAN — Days after a New York City carriage horse was involved in an accident with an SUV and a motorcycle, animal rights activists joined Public Advocate Bill de Blasio on Friday to hand the City Council more than 85,000 signatures from those who support banning the carriage-horse industry.

Currently, there is a bill pending before the council that would replace the city’s horse-drawn carriages with vintage-style electric cars. The press conference on Friday was meant to illustrate what advocates say is widespread support for such a bill.

“The incredible number of signatures in support of a viable replacement for this antiquated industry is indisputable evidence that New Yorkers are looking for action,” de Blasio said in a statement.

“It's time for the city to stop sidestepping this important animal welfare issue and embrace a reasonable solution that is worth testing,” he added. “We have absolutely nothing to lose by trying.”

The event on Friday came just a week after a carriage horse was involved in an accident near Columbus Circle involving an SUV and a motorcycle.

No humans were injured in the accident, but the horse sustained a cut to the head, the ASPCA said in a statement.

The horse was scheduled to undergo a full veterinary exam before heading back to work, the ASPCA added.

But animal rights advocates said the incident provided further proof that the carriage-horse industry is dangerous.

“The overwhelming number of New Yorkers who support a carriage horse alternative is not surprising given the inhumane and exploitative nature of this industry,” said Carly Knudson, executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) in a statement.

“Speaker [Christine] Quinn now has 85,000 reasons to get the vintage-replica car pilot program passed through the City Council,” Knudson added. “Only she has the power to get this done and bring some badly needed relief to these horses.”

The vintage car program would be fully funded by NYCLASS and would come at no cost to the city, according to information from NYCLASS. The organization also claims the program would create the same number of jobs or more than the horse-and-carriage industry currently provides.

A representative for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City, which represents carriage drivers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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