Saturday, December 12, 2009
Having been home for a while now, I’ve been catching up with what's going down with the carriage horses. I joined the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and Friends of Animals on December 5th, which is the international day of action for carriage horses around the world. You can even see me in some of the video that was shot. I am in the back, of course.
The Coalition had access to an undercover investigation done by Animals Angels and it is on their web site. West Side Livery stable on W. 38th Street was the main subject of the rally. The pictures shown here were taken at that stable and are from the report.
Since I have been back, I’ve learned that the ASPCA managed to convince the City Council to delete the section from a dangerous bill, Intro 653A, that would have removed the ability of the ASPCA’s agents to do inspections of the stables. Bully for them, but what about the horses?
News gets around through the Internet and while I was in London, I saw a petition about this very topic. The ASPCA was very sure that they would lose their power. They appealed to the world.
This is a section from one of those letters: "ASPCA agents monitor the care and condition of the horses, checking stalls for proper bedding, size and cleanliness. They also check on feed to ensure that a proper amount is on hand and that it is free of vermin, as well as evaluate lighting, ventilation and unsafe conditions at the stables."
I’m here to tell you that THIS IS A LIE and not to believe the ASPCA! The City Council should not have been so quick to let them continue to inspect the stables since they do not do a good job.
However, the whole thing is messed up because while the ASPCA is incompetent, everyone was afraid that the carriage industry would self regulate. This (if you can believe it) would be worse.
Hey... Don't believe what I say. The proof of the ASPCA's incompetence is West Side Livery. It's one of five carriage horse stables in New York City. The conditions in this stable happened on the ASPCA’s watch. It's a hell hole. However, this is also proof of what would happen and be more wide spread if the industry self regulated. It's a classic example of people who really care (us) being caught between a rock and a hard place.
The pictures from the Angels' report show filthy stables and dirty horses with urine and feces stains. It also shows tie stalls that confine a horse like a veal crate with the horses tethered to their feeding trough. In referring to the bad air circulation at the stable, the Angels' report stated that "only a few fans are installed on each floor and one can only imagine the temperatures there during the hot summer months."
The report also mentioned that they found plastic "water" buckets in the stalls that were empty. It went on to state "The stalls had very poor bedding, a thin layer of sawdust only covering parts of the stall so that the horses were forced to stand on the bare floor." The most important part of the report was about fire protection. "Fire protection is another concern with this stable. The horses have to be untied from the feed troughs and evacuated from the upper floors, which would be extremely difficult. In addition, no sprinkler system and no other fire protection devices were observed except some “fire buckets” filled with sand." Fire protection experts say that the steep ramp found in all multistoried stables would act as a chimney if there were a fire, likely killing everything on the upper floors. Having grown up on a farm, I know how timid and fearful horses can be. They would never escape. They would die.
Thank you incompetent ASPCA. Thank you corrupt City Council.
So, why is the ASPCA still allowed to "inspect" these stables? I understand they made a deal (with the devil) to support this terrible bill in exchange for being allowed to keep their inspection powers.
Only in New York, kids. Only in New York. I might just go back to the UK. I've had it with the incompetence, the fraud, the corruption, and the sell outs.
note: photos courtesy of Animals' Angels via Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages web site.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tony Avella introduced the landmark legislation that would ban New York City's inhumane horse-drawn carriage industry. He also has sponsored all manner of humane legislation, including the pets-in-housing bill (can you imagine not being able to have a pet?) Truly, he is the best friend that New York City animals have ever had.
Avella works tirelessly for our neighborhoods, something that surely can't be said of Bloomberg or Thompson. Their allegiances are to the real estate industry, not to the people of New York City. Avella is a fighter for small businesses that have been exploited mercilessly. He is a passionate advocate for fixing our broken education system, by empowering teachers and parents and by putting an end to "teaching to the test."
Do your neighbors know what Tony Avella has done for our city? Do the small businesses in your neighborhood? Now is the time to let them know that he has been championing their cause! Spread the word. People will likely be glad to hear from you that there is a meaningful choice. Make history on September 15. Vote in the Democratic primary for the progressive candidate, Tony Avella.
TAKE ACTION! Window and lawn signs are available from the Avella campaign! Request yours today. Contact Hema Patel, Field Director, Tony Avella for Mayor.
Friday, June 12, 2009
One of Spooking: Horses at Risk's entries is duplicated and credited here:
An interesting on line article called Spooking Car Accidents discusses car accidents and insurance claims related to horses spooking. The article states that according to statistics in the United States, 85% of all car crashes involving horses occur as a result of spooking. Spooking refers to an incident where a horse is alarmed by some sudden change in the external environment such as a car horn, a pedestrian dashing across the road, or a loud noise from a construction site.
The article continues -- “When spooked the horse will panic and behave unpredictably, often leading it to lash out or bolt. There have been numerous cases in recent years of horses spooking which have led to car accidents. A number of these cases have resulted in fatal accidents, while many more have caused serious personal injuries.
The same US study reports that in cases where a horse has spooked in an urban or town environment, 70% of the time it has led to a person suffering serious personal injury, while 22% of the time it has resulted in a fatal car accident. Both London and Paris have recently banned the use of horse-drawn vehicles because of the risk of car crashes.
Another major factor behind these bans has been a regulatory fear of compensation claims. As car accidents involving horses result in such a high proportion of serious personal injuries and deaths, the use of horses in cities opens up both the councils and the companies using the horses to potentially costly personal injury compensation claims."
Sunday, May 17, 2009
On Monday night, May 11th, The Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals of the NYC Bar Association hosted a program entitled "Yay or Neigh - Should The Carriage Horse Industry Be Banned in NYC? As I stated in my previous blog, the panel consisted of:
DR. HOLLY CHEEVER, DVM; ELIZABETH FOREL, President of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages ; DONNY MOSS, Documentary filmmaker, Blinders; MARTHA ROBINSON, Associate General Counsel, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; STACY WOLF, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel, Humane Law Enforcement, ASPCA.
Although members of the carriage industry were invited to speak, the invitation was either ignored or declined. Council Members Liu, Weprin and Koppell, who support the industry bill, were also invited but declined. They apparently did not have the guts or knowledge to defend a bill to which they put their name.
I am "borrowing" a lot of material from the e-newsletter Horse Sense put out by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages -- but it is so important that I wanted to share it with you.
First of all ... You can read Holly Cheever, DVM's and Elizabeth Forel's presentation by going to the http://www.banhdc.org/ web site. But for this purpose, just click on their name. Dr. Cheever is so knowledgeable, you will not want to miss it. And Elizabeth Forel addresses misconceptions in a very thorough and interesting way -- such as why it is not feasible to put the horses in Central Park -- or if the industry is banned, all the horses will go to slaughter.
Second ... the videos. Oh My!!! Members of the carriage industry stationed themselves outside the NYC Bar Association building and took pictures of people going into the building. It was such a pathetic attempt at intimidation. See the video Surveillance on Youtube. These guys are really thugs.
And a new addition to the Youtube library are excellent videos by HorsefeathersNYC who taped Council Member Tony Avella who stopped by to say a few words. The Council Member talked about the issue and how his colleague, Council Member Gennaro made a fool of himself at the January 30th hearing by grilling a representative of the Bar Association.
Click on the name of the video and you will be transported through space to Youtube.
Councilman: Every Horse Healthy?
Avella apologizing for James Gennaro's tirade.
Gennaro took his name off the carriage industry bill.
Avella: NYC will truly be animal-friendly.
I was sitting toward the back and noticed that there were several members of the carriage industry in the audience who just sat there fussing. None of them had the courage to stand up and be counted. None asked a question.
It was an excellent program and just reinforced why the carriage horse industry should be banned in New York City.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
from the web site of the NYC bar:
Yay or Neigh: Should the carriage horse industry be banned in NYC?
Monday, May 11, 2009 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
42 West 44th Street, NYC
Animal advocates have called for an end to the carriage horse industry, arguing that the congested New York City streets are no place for horses. Supporters claim that horse carriages are a legitimate industry that is vital to tourism. A panel of experts will discuss the proposed ban on horse-drawn carriages and other issues relating to carriage horses.
LORI BARRETT, Deputy County Attorney, Office of the Nassau County Attorney; CHRISTINE MOTT, Christine Mott, Esq.
DR. HOLLY CHEEVER, DVM; ELIZABETH FOREL, President of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages ; DONNY MOSS, Documentary filmmaker, Blinders; MARTHA ROBINSON, Associate General Counsel, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; STACY WOLF, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel, Humane Law Enforcement, ASPCA
The Bar Association's Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals is not an animal rights organization and always tries to present both sides of an issue. So noticeably missing are representatives of the carriage industry and Council opponents of the bill such as David Weprin, John Liu, James Gennaro and David Weprin -- or anyone from the Department of Consumer Affairs. Not sure why Council Member Tony Avella is not listed since he introduced the ground breaking bill to ban the horse drawn carriage industry.
I believe the list of panels is a work in progress, however.
I do hope the opposing council members have the courage to defend their position at this event.
Friday, April 10, 2009
… and yes it is .. when it comes to animal issues.
Some of the blog entries after this article referred to old religions like Buddhism and Jainism, which certainly revered animals. But they are not mainstream and Mr. Kristoff is recognizing this “profound difference from past centuries.”
In a testimony I gave at the January 30th hearing of the City Council Committee on Consumer Affairs regarding two pieces of legislation concerning the NYC carriage horse issue, I referred to an article published in the Harvard Crimson last year entitled Compassionate Campaigners how animal voters were shaping the 2008 presidential election. Written by Lewis Bollard, this opinion piece talked about the new electorate who care about animals, and how they see a politician’s attitude to animals as a broader reflection of his compassion and character. Bollard calls them news-savvy, socially integrated, and politically active. They are the people who sent over 300,000 e-mails to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell successfully urging him to drop convicted dog fighter Michael Vick from the league. They’re politically active, and willing to use their votes to protect the defenseless. So it comes as no surprise that there was such wide spread interest in the puppy for the Obama family – and and not just any puppy - but it must be one from a shelter.
Yes the times are changing and the paradigm is shifting.
Why is it that these kinds of progressive and ethical ideas grab hold in the grass roots first and take so long to move through the government, corporations and those with the power and money.
Monday, April 6, 2009
As reported in the most recent newsletter of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages:
"Manhattan" is an 18 year old Belgian gelding who has been identified as a NYC carriage horse by the number engraved on his left front hoof. According to the web site of Gentle Giant Draft Horse Rescue in Maryland, he was rescued from a slaughter auction on January 19th. He had a condition known as Laryngeal Paralysis, where half of his vocal cords ceased opening enough to allow him to breath comfortably. He has since had surgery and is healing.
The web site indicates that the Rescue did some research and found that Manhattan last worked as a carriage horse in NYC in the fall. We doubt the accuracy of this information (since it was the carriage industry that probably furnished it) because it would have been 3-4 months later that he was purchased at the slaughter auction. What was he doing in all of that time? We believe that he was worked to exhaustion during the Christmas holiday period and then dumped. That time period makes more sense.
Of course this information flies in the face of the industry claims that none of their horses go to slaughter. Sure...
But that would be physically and financially impossible.
Each year about 70 horses or 1/3 of the total number of horses in the NYC trade, leaves the horse registry managed by the Department of Health, which oversees the industry. Let's do the math. If the drivers would "adopt" all of these horses ... in five years, they would have 350 horses; 10 years - 700 horses ... and on and on.
Where would they all go? How could they afford to pay for their upkeep?
It simply does not make sense. And it is time to stop all the lies.
WHAT PROBABLY HAPPENS IS THIS:
- some of the horses who are "retired" - the favorites - are kept by the owners or they find a home for them ... but this is not the majority since keeping horses is both expensive and time consuming.
- the majority of horses who are no longer wanted are taken to auction or to a broker -- or maybe to the Amish - not exactly known for their compassion to animals. The driver/owner needs to recoup the value of the horse he is getting rid of so he can purchase a new one to work in NYC. This is a business after all, not a not-for-profit horse rescue. Selling the horse is the obvious solution.
- However, some of the horses going to auction are purchased by killer buyers who frequent auctions like New Holland and Unadilla and ship them off to slaughter.
- The driver/owners can say what ever they want about where their horse go. Without proof, it simply does not fly. This is the law in black and white. It is from the NYC Administrative Code - Title 17.
§ 17-329 Disposition of licensed horse. The department shall be notified of the transfer of ownership or other disposition of a licensed horse within ten days thereafter. Such notice shall include the date of disposition and if sold in New York city, the name and address of the buyer or other transferee and such other information as the commissioner may prescribe. A horse shall not be sold or disposed of except in a humane manner.
Notice that the law is written in such a way that it favors the industry. It does not provide a definition for "humane." And it only requires that records of horses sold within New York City be submitted to the Department of Health. But if the horse is sold outside NYC, sales records are not required to be submitted.
Now, doesn't this seem strange to you? Why would records be required for a sale in NYC when it is mostly drivers who buy each others horses -- and not required when sold out of state?
Here's the answer.
The "no sale records" required policy is necessary to protect the industry selling their horses at the auctions. They know that if this became public knowledge, it would not go over well with people. How many horses actually go to auction is not know because of this glitch.
But sometimes, as in the case of “Manhattan” we find out about it.
We are very glad Manhattan appears to be getting well.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
For those of you who missed out on the January 30th hearing of the NYC Council on Consumer Affairs, we would like to share with the testimony offered by Holly Cheever, DVM. Dr. Cheever is a well known equine specialist and has much experience with the industry and legislation in many cities. Similar testimonies can be found on the web site of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages with whom we closely work.
from Dr. Cheever: I am writing to request your support for Council member Tony Avella’s Bill #658-A , which would ban carriage horse operations in New York City. My nationwide expertise in the area of carriage horse use has shown that New York’s tourist trade provides the most dangerous environment with myriad inherent factors that make this tourist attraction in 21st century Manhattan an inappropriate anachronism.. There are inherent dangers for horse drawn carriages in this city with its high population density and overwhelming traffic volume, contained within airless canyons of tall buildings that make the horses’ lives inhumane.
· Constant pounding on hard paves streets exacerbates lameness, especially for horses coming from previous work settings (Amish farms and Standardbred racing tracks) with pre-existing lameness.
· The street surfaces can reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, and the ground level ambient air can be 41 degrees higher than the temperature cited by the U.S. Weather Bureau according to a Cornell University study. No wonder New York has lost horses to heat prostration deaths, especially since clean water sources for drinking are inadequate and not maintained.
· This industry’s busiest season coincides with cold and precipitous weather, and horses can get exposed to extremes of temperature and bad weather at both ends of the scale.
· The horses’ lives are spent nose-to-tailpipe, which causes respiratory damage and is a noxious environment in which to spend their long shifts.
· Since horses instinctively flee at top speed in frightening circumstances due to their evolution as prey animals escaping from predators, their reaction to startling situations creates a scenario where a 1200 to 1800 pound horse hurtles in senseless panic into a busy intersection. The outcome is obvious and inescapable, and has been a constant source of their injuries, some of which are fatal. Passengers, too, have been severely wounded and even killed. For any carriage horse operators in New York claiming that their horses are “unspookable”, I will reply that there is no such animal.
· Finally, New York City’s stables are old and inadequate; some house horses on 2nd and 3rd floors and are made of shoddy construction with insufficient light and air. Worst of all, there is no “turn out”. i.e. the essential daily turning horses loose in a paddock or corral to permit them to scratch, stretch, lie down and roll. Their exceedingly restricted lives prevent them from expressing any of these natural and essential behaviors, and getting the alleged “three months vacation on a farm” in no way makes up for this lack of physical freedom of movement.
Please bring an end to this industry and replace it with some of the proposed alternatives that could employ the horse carriage work force, entertain tourists without producing animal abuse in the process.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Damn - I just knew this would happen. Now we have two drivers who believe they should be the Tourist Ambassador to New York City. Both are featured in youtube videos.
Which one would NYC and Company, the Administration's tourist agency, like best? Which one would Council Member Oliver Koppell like best? After all, he loves this industry and would probably want to weigh in on the selection.
Which one do you like best? It is a very tough choice.
Warning: this is for adult ears only.
The first contender, we shall call him Tie-die, demonstrates his ability to engage passersby. See him in his own feature film. Notice how he leaves his horse unattended while he hysterically runs down the street.
The second contender shall be known as OJ. He practices his use of the English language and also demonstrates his ability to speak with tourists. He has a very large vocabulary. He also stars in his own feature film. I hate to think what he does to his horse when he is upset, which is probably often.
The administration is rightfully proud of this tourist attraction.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
But now, in order to save this self dubbed "iconic" trade, the NYC Tourist Board has appointed a new Tourist Ambassador to NYC ... and it is someone of whom the city can be proud. NYC's new Ambassador was chosen for this position out of a long list of very worthy candidates. He outshone the rest because of his outgoing and dynamic personality and his proven willingness to make threatening, intimidating and bullying telephone calls to companies that dare to put out an advertising campaign that might negatively affect his industry. Mr. Tourist Ambassador feels no compunction about calling people fascists if they protest the use of horse-drawn carriages. However, let's be very clear about what constitutes "fascism." It apparently is not when you bully restaurants from having fundraisers (as happened to my friends at the Coalition to Ban HDCs). And it is not when you try to close down a mild mannered photography show about carriage horses. There callers threatened to call the Cardinal and to have protests unless that show was shut down. And it certainly is not when you threaten journalists to kill a story. But, hey ... all's fair in love and war... right?
A man of many talents, Mr. Tourist Ambassador recently produced and directed this short video, which can be seen on Youtube called "Animal Rights Protest at Central Park On Valentines Day. Escorted by armed aspca officers." It is Academy Award material.
Notice how Mr. TA charmingly interacts with people on the street; his acclaimed skill in multitasking ... he is, after all, standing up while filming the protesters, which is not an easy feat ... not paying attention to the street. Notice how he is on a first name basis with some of the activists -- see just how really charming he is. The City did the right thing in selecting him to be the Tourist Ambassador.
However, since our multitasker was not paying attention to the road, he ran his carriage into a traffic cone, which identified a pot hole. But not to worry. He received no ticket, no citation. After all he has diplomatic privileges. And the ASPCA officer claimed to be looking the other way. Funny - seems like the Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Health, Parks, NYPD and most Council Members look the other way also.
Notice also his quaint and clever use of nick names for activists in general - his favorite is "Petards." This child like behavior is what makes him so charming and the perfect tourist ambassador. It is like writing your name backward - Junior high school stuff.
The drivers use the name "PETA" as generic for animal activists. But the play on the word "retards" is actually cruel and insulting to those who really have physical and mental developmental problems. But Mr. Tourist Ambassador is still in Junior High school mode so does not comprehend this kind of advanced thinking.
This very classy presentation on why tourists should take a carriage ride should be submitted to Frommer's. Oh, yes I forgot - Frommer's lists carriage rides under "NYC Experiences to Avoid." From Frommer's: "Pity those poor beasts of burden. They get dragged out in the heat (although not extreme heat) and cold (although not extreme cold) with a buggy attached to them just to give passengers the feel of an old-world, romantic buggy ride through Central Park. But the horses look so forlorn, as if it's the last thing they want to do."
JD Jackson of Texas wrote about the video "Since I saw the same ASPCA guy several times but with different people around him, I'm assuming the driver only filmed when he went by the spot where ya'll were protesting. That means not once or twice, but MANY times the driver subjected his different riders to his rant. Good. That ought to cut down on repeat customers. So much for a "charming" carriage ride."
Who is this masked man??
This driver had a starring role in a video showing him attacking Peta employees. See it on You Tube.
Can you name him?
Friday, February 13, 2009
The truth is the industry has conveniently given themselves a hefty raise. I mean why wait for the City Council to act ... right? No one cares anyway and the industry continues to get away with highway robbery. They are out of control. The law enforcers and overseers are either not able or willing to do the job. These industry folk might as well be wearing masks and carrying sawed offs.
The Department of Consumer Affairs, charged with protecting consumers, looks the other way as do most of the Council Members. And it is not like they do not know. Council Member David Weprin, who actually wants to be our next comptroller, knows and by his inaction and support of Intro 653-A, gives his tacit approval to fraud.
What a city! And you sure you want to come here? Hold on to your wallet when you do because no one in authority will help.
OK - SO HERE ARE THE FACTS: It is one thing that many drivers overcharge on the street. That is bad enough. See this Youtube video that documents the overcharging. Some drivers actually charge sales tax when it is not even required. Anything to cheat the tourist and get more money. And BTW - it is a cash only business on the street so they do not have to report all they earn.
But the real kicker is how much they charge on their company web sites. Try Gotham Carriages - You will see that they are currently charging $98 for 40 minutes and $78 for 30 minutes. Outrageous. And look at this web site - New York Tours. $104.95 for 40 minutes. And another ride is listed for $173.95 for 40 minutes. Totally Outrageous. It should only be about $44 (that is $34 for 1/2 hour with $10 each additional 15 minutes.) There are no exceptions and no loopholes. So what gives!
Now it is possible by the time you look into these sites, they will be down. Not to fear ... we made copies and we have made our complaints. It remains to be seen how well connected this industry is and how deep the corruption is ... whether any action will be taken at all.
New Yorkers and Tourists beware! We hope you do not take a ride on Valentine's Day or any other day. However, if you are being charged more than the $34 for 1/2 hour and $10 for each additional 15 minutes - BY LAW!!!!! - then you are being overcharged. And you should not accept this fraud.
Contact Mayor Michael Bloomberg by clicking on his web site. See the box "Contact the Mayor." Or you may dial 311 to make a complaint by phone.
And visit the web site of The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages for more information. If you are a tourist, look at this link in particular for information on what to see.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Yes - don't forget to come to the hearing - January 30, 2009 - be there at 9:30 -- City Hall - 2nd floor Council Chambers.
But then, maybe Gennaro will be a no show so the drivers will not chase him around City Hall Park as they did to Dryfoos back in the day. CM Dryfoos was the sponsor of an anti industry bill. CM Avella - we advise you to wear your sneakers, just in case. CM Gennaro - you are on your own.
And on to Liam Neeson, who is saying anything to defend the carriage industry. On the Daily Show the other night, in talking about the stables, he said they were so neat and clean that "I would move in tomorrow." OK Liam, we dare you.
Liam's new digs to the left - wonder what floor he is on. Love the windows.
Because this is a non elevator building (the latest rage), Liam will have to walk a steep ramp to get to
his living quarters. I hope his legs are strong
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The Consumer Affairs Committee public hearing on the carriage horse bills has been rescheduled for Friday, January 30, 2009 at 10:00 AM in Council Chambers. This is on the 2nd floor of City Hall. As of this date, both Intro 658/2007 (Avella) and Intro 653-A/2007 (Gennaro) will be on the agenda. Intro 658 seeks to ban the industry. Intro 653-A is an industry bill and must be opposed.
Please come to the hearing ... it is open to everyone ... and please consider providing testimony in support of Avella's bill as to why the industry should be banned. Testimony cannot be longer than two minutes.