Sunday, August 26, 2012



 Did you know that the ban of the carriage horse trade is dependent on the success of the "electric cars, " which may never happen and if they do, their fate will be left up to tourists?   

injured driver
What is it going to take to shut down the inhumane and unsafe carriage trade in NYC?  This question is now being asked with new fervor in light of the recent accident involving a spooked horse. 

Human injuries do not seem to matter – be it a broken hip suffered by an elderly bike rider a few years back or more minor scratches and bruises; a driver in a coma for months close to death; injured horses like the recent Oreo or Doreen, Bud and Charlie to name a few – or the dead horses – Tony, Spotty, Jackie, Charlie, Juliette, Smoothie – and these are just the ones that immediately come to mind. 

WHO can end the carriage trade in New York City and why are they not doing anything about it considering that every online poll since 2006 has shown between 75 and 80 percent  of respondents want this business to be shut down?

  1. Mayor Michael Bloomberg can use his influence to get such bills passed.  But he supports this business.  Why?  The real truth is anyone’s guess because it simply does not make sense.   His daughter is a world-class equestrian, known to oppose this trade – surely she knows that New York City is a very bad environment for horses and I am sure she would never subject her horses to these conditions.  
  2. The Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, can do the same.  She, too, is a big supporter of the carriage trade.  Why?  It is clearer here because of her allegiance to the Queens Democratic Party, which put her in power.  It is all politics.  But then, Quinn has killed every meaningful animal issues bill that has been in the Council since she became Speaker – so she obviously does not care. 
  3. The City Council - The Council is not a democratic body.  For the most part, which means almost always, Council Members  vote the way the Speaker tells them.  If not, they risk losing their committee chairs and lucrative stipends that the Speaker doles out.  Unfortunately, there are virtually no City Council Members with a backbone to stand up to Quinn and say – “Enough is Enough!  Let’s get those horses off the street before someone is killed.” 
  4. The State Legislature – there is a real chance here with the bill sponsored by Senator Tony Avella and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.  The bill is essentially the same as the historic one Senator Avella introduced in the City Council in 2007 when he was a Council Member.  One big problem with this bill is that it needs a Home Rule approval memo from the City Council, which is unlikely to happen.  However, the bill will be reintroduced in January when the State Legislature reconvenes and it will address these issues.  Stay tuned. 
  5. A new humane mayor.  Ah there is the rub.  Who will it be?  
Oreo  - victim of accident
On September 23rd, Senator Tony Avella was interviewed by the Queens Chronicle about the  September 16th accident in which Oreo, a young carriage horse, spooked on Central Park South from a truck or loud construction noise as his driver was making an illegal u-turn.  He bolted into traffic, dragging his carriage with two tourists, sans driver, behind him, crashing into cars as he panicked.  He was eventually stopped and tranquilized by police.  This  never should have happened.  NYC traffic is an abomination and is no place for such a volatile,  unpredictable and powerful  animal.   

“Enough is enough,” Avella  said. “How many more accidents, injuries and deaths is it going to take before we end this inhumane industry?  

One of the carriage drivers caught on videotape countered with the response ”accidents happen.”  Christina Hansen, spokesperson for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York,  said, "Just because a horse once in a blue moon spooks, doesn’t mean something terrible is going to happen." Fox News 8-17-12.  Many people would beg to differ.  There is no necessity for the carriage horse business to exist and thus, no accidents need occur. 

Horses are nervous prey animals who can spook and bolt at the slightest provocation.  At 1,500 to 2,000 pounds, they become unwitting weapons and can seriously injure or kill themselves or bystanders.  In 2010, a bystander was killed in Saltzburg, Austria  when a spooked horse plowed into her.   She died from head  injuries. 

So why is the City Council not standing up to Christine Quinn and demanding a true ban – instead of trying to pass the destructive electric car bill?    With this bill, a ban of the horses will depend on the success of the electric cars, which are much too expensive and probably will not happen.  They are wasting their time and the time of trusting activists.  At approximately $175,000 per car, the supporters would need to raise $11,900,000 to replace 68 carriages over a three-year period.  This is not realistic.  They apparently have not even been able to raise $400,000 for the prototype.  One scenario, and the worst thing that can happen,  is that they would  only be able to raise a few million dollars for perhaps ten cars.  Investors lose interest and are maxed out because the cars are not catching on.  Why invest in a white elephant?  Then this cruel and unsafe business will never be banned.  The cars will coexist alongside the carriage horses, which is never what any of us wanted.  Accidents will continue to happen. 

And it is all because the ASPCA, PETA,  HSUS and NY Class  will not support and put their collective energy behind a real ban  - i.e. the Avella/Rosenthal bill -  and have convinced some people to support a bill that will be a disaster if passed. What animal organizations are doing with pretending to create a new tourist industry instead of supporting and putting their energy into a full ban is beyond my comprehension. 

And please let’s forget this drivel about keeping tourist dollars.  Most people come to NYC for something other than a ride on a carriage.  When someone pays $50 for a carriage ride, considering it is a cash only business, how much of that is turned over to the government for taxes?  Other than during the holiday season, the carriages often do not have customers.  If NY Class, the creator of this project, wants to sponsor an electric car business, let them do it  - but after the carriage trade is shut down and the horses are safe.  A ban of the horse-drawn carriage trade should not be dependent on the success of the electric cars.  

Jobs?  The carriage drivers will not drive the electric cars because they are opposed to this new industry.   So even if the cars happen, the hired drivers will come from another job pool.  It is not a  “win/win” as the supporters like to promote.  It will not save those particular jobs. 

And about those particular jobs?  The  drivers have been put on notice for many years that something like this would happen.  How much longer are legislators going to allow them to hold NYC hostage?  And how much longer are people who want a ban going to let the City Council get away with inaction?  There are only about 150 people in the business who are full time.  Why is the City Council making such a big deal about this?   Other people lose their jobs and no one is crying about them – including government workers, corporate workers, and those who work in stores that have shut down because of high rents or neighborhood gentrification.  Why is this trade so entitled?  That said – Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal has said she will work with the drivers to find them new employment.  And the good news is that jobs in the tourist sector have grown.  

Read what Councilmember Vincent Gentile says about the cars in an interview he gave to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on August 22 in an article entitled. Gentile works on horse carriage compromise.  

 - Gentile said that while he has respect for animal rights advocates, he is also aware of the importance of carriage horses to the city’s tourist industry, an industry that brings in millions of dollars a year.   

Because carriage driving is a cash only business, Council Member Gentile has no idea how much the carriage trade brings in and should not be making these kinds of statements without providing proof.  Other than during the holiday season in November and December, the carriages are often seen lined up with no passengers and bored horses.  

 - “It’s a tourist attraction, so we have to be careful. You want to protect the carriage horses and you want to protect the jobs of the people who operate the carriage horses,” he said.

Why is the City being held a prisoner to this business?  Unless this tie is broken, there will never be any progress.  Why is it so necessary to protect these jobs and not those of so many other people who have lost their jobs in this economy?  

And this from the article:

Under the pilot program, the carriage horses would co-exist with electric-powered cars, Gentile said. Tourists would be given a choice of whether they would want to ride around Central Park and midtown in a quiet car, or a horse-drawn carriage.

“And we would let the public decide which is better,” the councilman said.

This is the kicker and the reason why this bill is dangerous and should not be supported! Why should the public – tourists who may never come back to NYC – decide about the safety of New Yorkers and the future of the carriage horses?  This is a frightening and absurd statement! 

The carriage horse business has proven itself to be very unsafe and must be shut down.  What is the City Council waiting for – a death?  Will that even make them stand up and take real action? 

Since more and more people have become aware of our organization, which started the ban campaign in 2006, we have been hearing from people about carriage horse accidents.  In the last year there have been about 11 incidents in NYC that we let the press know about.  The drivers are not required to report accidents – such as spooked horses or being clipped by a car – and the ASPCA ‘s Humane Law Enforcement division is not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.  They have knowledge of many more accidents but refuse to make the information public.  

The only bill worthy of support to shut down this anachronistic business and save the horses is the one in Albany sponsored by Senator Tony Avella and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal. – S5013/A7748.  It will be reintroduced in January and will address concerns about Home Rule.  

In the meantime, please sign our petition on in support of this bill.  E-mails will automatically be sent to state legislators.   
And please disabuse yourself of the idea that Intro 86A, the bill necessary to pass to create the electric cars, will help the carriage horses.  There is a great possibility it will hurt the horses in the long run. 

Let’s shut down the carriage business first.   

Save the horses – and if “they” still want to go through with the electric cars – I say “knock yourself out.” 


The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages started the "ban campaign" in 2006.  We are all grass roots activists with no paid employees.  Our sole concern is to shut down the carriage trade and save the horses.  Visit us at; e-mail us for our newsletter at and join our Facebook page by clicking here.  


Donny Moss said...

53The other major player who could bring this industry to a screeching halt but refuses to is the ASPCA. If they held a press conference demanding that Quinn and Bloomberg institute a ban because the industry is inherently inhumane, unsafe and unable to be fixed, what choice would they have?

Theresa Shaver said...

This was very informative, thank you. I agree, ban it first and then let them try to market their electric cars.