"What will happen to the horses if there is a ban? Won't they go to slaughter?"
This very real concern has been addressed many times in our newsletter Horse Sense, our web site http://www.banhdc.org/, in an article I wrote for One Green Planet, in the original Avella New York City Council bill that we helped draft and the current Avella/Rosenthal bill in the New York State legislature that would ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC.
|photo by Mary Culpepper|
Yet, we still get these questions.
HORSES ARE NOT A BILLBOARD: The question appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to scare tactics put out by the carriage trade mixed with a genuine concern for the horses. People seem to make the assumption that the horse population they see in Central Park or on the streets of NYC is stagnant - like a billboard - never changing; that if there is a ban all the horses will go to slaughter. But the reality is that there is a huge turnover of horses in the business now – something that has been determined from analyzing Department of Health horse lists since 2005.
In one year, the average turnover is between 60 and 70 horses. This means that this number of horses were listed in the Department of Health horse registry for a particular year and not listed the following year. Where did all of these horses go?
THE REAL HIDDEN PROBLEM: Horses sold outside of NYC (most are) currently have no protection under the law. Records are not required to be sent to the Department of Health so it is not known where the horses end up. It is very possible many are brought to auction since that is the easiest and fastest way to recoup the cost of the horse and purchase a new one. Kill buyers frequent auctions such as New Holland in Pennsylvania, which is only a few hours from NYC.
The question people should be asking is - What is happening to the horses NOW?. -- Not what will happen to the horses if there is a ban. The fate of all of those horses currently lies in the hands of the owners.
A ban seems unlikely under the present administration of Bloomberg/Quinn. In an attempt to address this problem and make the owners accountable for their horses, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages requested that a new bill be introduced into the City Council in September 2011 that would address the humane disposition of carriage horses. Sponsored by Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, a press conference was scheduled for September 20th at noon to talk about this bill - Intro 670. The night before I received a call from Viverito’s office telling me that it was canceled by Speaker Christine Quinn.
Viverito excused it by saying that she needed to concentrate on the electric car bill, which continues to go nowhere fast. I suspect that Quinn shut down the press conference because she did not want me using the “S” word – "SLAUGHTER" and Viverito went along with her decision. What better way to kill a bill than to have its prime sponsor refuse to support it. This was shameful! Horse slaughter is a very real problem in the United States. In 2011, 133, 241 US horses were slaughtered.
The carriage owners ply their trade on the streets of NYC, one of the great tourist cities of the world. In exchange for this opportunity, they must obey the laws governing this business. But the laws are inadequate and need to be extended to protect their horses – the ones they use up at the rate of 60-70 a year. They say the horses are privately owned and the government does not have the right to dictate how to “dispose” of them. Sorry guys - but you are too late with this argument. The law already addresses this issue - although inadequately - by requiring that the horses be disposed of in a “humane manner.” We are simply expanding on this requirement. Besides, taking a horse to auction frequented by kill buyers is not humane. Our bill - and the language in the current State bill – elaborates on this by requiring that the horses be adopted to a good home or sanctuary.
The horses continue to fall off the rolls and none of the politicians care. If they did, they would address this issue. They continue to prop up the Council Speaker catering to her every whim.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can call your Council Member and ask them to actively support Intro 670. Their contact information can be found here. If you live outside NYC, contact Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Calls are much more effective than e-mails.
NYC IS GETTING A NEW MAYOR: The mayoral election is in November 2013. The primary will be in either June or September of 2013. Stay tuned. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get our newsletter to stay informed on this very important issue.
For years NYC has been cheated by the gods getting mayors whose attributes do not include compassion. Is it Karma? Who knows! The number of people voting has dropped significantly in the November elections and the primaries. Only 29% of registered voters cast their ballot in the 2009 mayoral election compared with about 45% across the United States and over 50% in the balance of New York State. This is an interesting report about voting in NYC.
What is going on? Why are people not interested? Is it because the current leaders do not address their concerns and they feel that their vote does not matter?
Whatever the answer to that is, we need to be on top of this issue, pay attention and not jump on the most convenient bandwagon. Your vote does matter as long as it is cast for a good candidate who has a backbone, intelligence and compassion.
The mayoral race is still open and no one has risen to the top yet. Your choice of mayor in 2013 can have everything to do with whether NYC becomes a humane and compassionate city with respect for people and animals and whether the inhumane horse-drawn carriage trade becomes a thing of the past.
Please share with everyone you know.