The NY Times’ standards are clearly not what they used to be. Of course, they did mess up in 2004 when they admitted that its flawed reporting during the build- up of the war in Iraq helped to foster the mistaken belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
So – they are anything but “perfect.”
A recent editorial called Some Carriages Should Not Be Horseless - 8/4/11, seemed more likely to have come from one of the tabloids than the “paper of record”… an editorial that suggested to me that someone in power may have called in a favor to have this written …too much of a coincidence that it was published soon after three recent carriage horse accidents. It was an editorial that was filled with assumptions, biases and incorrect, arrogant pronouncements.
It starts out by suggesting that the horses are not allowed on the street when it is 90 degrees or under 18 degrees.
Maybe, maybe not.
The ASPCA is the only agency mandated by law to determine the ambient temperature for the horses and they have a special thermometer to do so. If the ASPCA officers are not at the hack line to take the reading, any of the other sources – whether the large CNN thermometer in Columbus Circle, weather.com, weather underground or 1010 WINS could read 95 and the drivers do not have to go back to the stable. The officer must officially suspend the operation for the day.
However, there is no provision in the law for how the suspension is to be lifted – so drivers have been known to check the radio for a reading and come out when they feel like it and when the ASPCA officers are not there.
Messed up? You bet.
But the Times naively thinks in fantasy land terms where laws are not only clear and direct, but obeyed and adequate.
In a rebuttal article written by Doris Lin of About.com on August 8, All Carriages Should be Horseless, Lin describes a situation a few years back when it took the ASPCA two hours to get all the drivers to go back to their stables during a snow storm. Why? Lin retorts “They care more about making a buck than they do about the horses.” I agree.
The horses work a nine-hour day, seven days a week. No days off. And the so called five week “vacation” is not what it is cracked up to be. The provision is unenforceable.
The ASPCA is not going to travel to Pennsylvania to see if the horse is grazing in a field or pulling a plow. Besides, for 47 weeks a year, the horses have no access to pasture other than to see grass over their blinders as they pull carriages through Central Park.
The NYS Horse Health Assurance Program NYSHHAP, which is part of the NYS government, recommends that horses work no more than four hours a day. This is only one of the reasons why the carriage trade does not qualify for voluntary certification. NYSHHAP is a certification program to promote equine health, care and welfare through the use of certain “best management practices” or standards.
The editorial goes on to insult State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal by suggesting that they introduced a bill to ban the horse-drawn carriage business in response to the three recent accidents, essentially jumping on a bandwagon like ambulance chasers.
Absolutely not true.
Senator Avella first introduced this bill in the City Council in 2007 and the present state version in June 2011. Rosenthal has been a big supporter of animal issues for many years and was happy to sign on to this bill.
It appears that the Editorial Board used the carriage industry as its source of information. It seems that they are not subject to being fact checked and can write whatever they want.
The writer goes on to say that the horse involved in a recent accident near the Plaza was not injured – ignoring the many pictures of the horse with blood streaming down his chest - pictures that made their way to several media outlets including Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.
One of the most ridiculous statements was that people actually come to NYC to take a carriage ride suggesting that they might not visit if it was shut down. People may take the ride as an afterthought if they are in the neighborhood – but the real magic comes from Broadway shows, top rate restaurants, wonderful museums and concert halls, the fabulous shopping experience.
Carriage horses? I don’t think so.
As for the last comment about the horses being treated well and being closely monitored by the city -- really? The fact that the law requires stalls to be a minimum of 60 square feet, which is less than one half what they should be; the fact that the horse gets no pasture time for 47 weeks out of the year; the fact that drivers often negotiate heavy traffic, using their horses as battering rams and taking risks by using cell phones, standing up, reading magazines, turning around to take pictures while driving … how does this equate to horses being treated well?
There are many people who believe that a horse working between the shafts of his carriage for nine hours straight a day – without the ability to scratch an itch is not the way they were intended to live.
It is unethical and inhumane.
We started this campaign in 2006. Our website has a wealth of information. It is hard to fight this battle when the NY Times with all its power and prestige is allowed to write such an untruthful editorial and will not even publish a rebuttal.