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Lawmaker Wants to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

By Amy Zimmer | June 2, 2011 5:06pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — Horse-drawn carriages could be banned in Manhattan if a state senator from Queens gets his way.

Animal rights advocate Sen. Tony Avella introduced a bill barring the carriages and he will be joined by Tony award wining actress Swoosie Kurtz on Saturday afternoon to trot out support for the proposed ban.

"The animals are treated very poorly," Avella said."There is no question more and more people say to me there should be no horses in Midtown traffic anymore."

The event is being held on Horses Without Carriages International Day, which will bring demonstrations to the streets of cities around the globe. Activists brand the quaint carriages as an "inhumane, exploitative and archaic industry."

Avella has attempted to ban the industry before. He introduced similar legislation while he was on City Council in 2007. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn effectively killed the bill.

He's hopeful that Albany will be more open since they are more familiar with horses.

"I think upstate with horse farms, people are more aware of the proper treatment of these animals," he said.

Avella doesn't believe tourists will be deterred from visiting New York  if horse-drawn carriages were banned.

In Manhattan, where there have been a few high-profile accidents involving the horses, the industry has long been controversial.

In 2009, a Central Park carriage crash resulted in the hospitalization of a cabbie and carriage driver. In 2007, an unattended 12-year-old mare named Smoothie died after one of her legs got caught in a carriage as she crashed into a tree, according to the group Friends of Animals.

Advocates in Manhattan have more recently been pushing for a plan introduced by East Harlem City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito that would ban carriage horses and replace them with electric 1920s-era replica cars.

Frank Rodden, a horse driver for 24 years, said he and his horses aren’t replaceable.

"I've been in this business for 24 years,” he told DNAinfo, disputing allegations that horses weren’t taken care of. "The animal rights people have been saying these things even longer."

"Where's the proof? They've been throwing manure on the walls for years hoping it will stick."