Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Suggests Current Multi-Level Stables are Unacceptable

But Still Can't Even Recommend Accepted Standard for Stall Size

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, February 3rd on proposals to allegedly improve the horse-carriage industry. Horse advocates are expected to provide comments. But try as they might, the DoHMH cannot even meet industry standards for horses with their new proposals.

While touting a five week vacation for horses per year, the DoH fails to acknowledge that experts advise that horses need daily turnout or pasture time – time to run, buck, roll, play with other horses and sleep in the pasture. This helps with colic, nutrition, tying up disease and a horse's overall well being. The DoH knows it is impossible to do this in NYC and to treat the horses like living creatures and not money making machines.

The DoH is also trying to pull the veil of transparency down and do away with the engraved number identification on the horses hoof so it will be impossible for the public to report with accuracy a lame or sick horse. This 4-digit number has also previously helped to locate and rescue horses in slaughter auctions.

Because the DoH obviously wants the industry to remain viable and because these proposals were made with input from the carriage industry, the new recommended size of stalls is 70 sq. feet -- less then ½ the recommended size for a 1,000 pound horse. Currently the regulations only require 48 sq. ft. Experts recommend a stall size of 12 x 12 feet – 144 sq. feet for a 1,000 pound horses and 14 x 14 foot minimum for the large draft breeds.

Cramming a horse into such a small stall because that is the only space available is like squeezing a size 9 foot into a size 6 shoe. Very uncomfortable!

The DoH is also not able to address the available potable water issue for horses. The two water troughs in Central Park are turned off for half the year depriving the horses of free flowing (albeit questionable) water in the Park. But public water troughs are a known source of microbes - a place where drunks can urinate and people have been seen washing up -- where a horse can pick up a disease and pass it on to another horse. It is a veterinarian's nightmare.

But the pièce de résistance is the DoH’s position on new stables. Starting January 31, 2011, “no new stables shall be equipped with stalls that are located above first or street level of the stable.“ This will not affect any of the existing stables, which are grandfathered in, but it officially acknowledges a new correct standard – and essentially admits that it is both inhumane and dangerous to house horses on upper levels as they are all housed how – as horse advocates have always claimed. It is difficult on older horses to make the ramp every day and it becomes a fire hazard if there were a fire on the ground level. The ramp would act as a chimney and there is only one means of egress in the front of the building on the ground floor. The horses would die.

These proposals are a sad attempt to make improvements to a faltering out-of-control industry. They only prove that it is impossible to run this trade humanely in New York City. The Department of Health and the City need to come to this realization and to stop wasting City resources.

No comments: