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.