Sunday, January 5, 2014



NYC:  Media sacrifices carriage horses' welfare for human’s selfish enjoyment and made up sob stories about carriage drivers,  and  non-questioning acceptance of non-existent "electric cars."  

What is wrong with the media?  

A lot … especially with this recent outrageous display of yellow journalism editorializing about the carriage horse trade.    By media, I mean television, radio, newspapers and Internet.  Yet it is often the only way we can get a story out.  We continue to hope for fair play and the truth, which we rarely get.    

38th St. stable 
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM:  There is no such thing anymore as investigative journalism.  Reporters mostly set up a story and manipulate the interviews for the desired result. Fact checking?  A thing of the past.  The current story idea du jour  is  in response to Mayor deBlasio saying that he will ban horse-drawn carriages – and apparently not backing down.   He has listened to the public for years, admitted his own thinking on the issue had evolved and now says  “We are going to get rid of the horse carriages, period”  and  "We are going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City," deBlasio said, according to NBC New York.  “They are not humane. … It’s over.”  

The  carriage trade was not going to take that lying down.  Not on your life.  And the media wanted to give them a platform – ignoring the reasons why many of us want to see this inhumane and abusive trade go into the dust bins of history; as if all the cries and rational arguments that we have made for years had no value.  What kind of collusion was there between the carriage drivers and the media?  Did money or favors change hands?  We may never know.

BIASED MANIPULATED REPORTING:  In the last few weeks, the media has put out very biased untruthful reports about the NYC carriage trade – lamenting the drivers losing their jobs; exaggerating the number of horses and  drivers and fabricating the amount of money the drivers bring into the city – when the truth is that it is a cash only business and no one knows how much it is – but you can bet their tax returns are for much less than they actually take in. 

Why bother with the truth when it is so easy to make things up particularly when no one is challenging you.   

Saying the horses would go to slaughter; talking about the excellent conditions in which the
white washed horse-drawn carriage license plate
horses are kept – allowing the drivers to tell lies without questioning their pronouncements  – mostly because the reporters are not armed with facts and they do not care.    They simply do not know enough about the issue.  This is a link to Lies and Desperation - the NYC Carriage Trade.  

Of course, reporters and so-called journalists were no where to be found when I released the study of NYC carriage horses falling off the Department of Health registry this past spring.  Where do all the NYC Carriage Horses Go?  revealed a turnover of 529 horses over 7 ½ years  - averaging 71 horses a year.   There is nothing in the law that protects these horses from going to auction and then on to slaughter.   People are worried about what will happen to the horses when there is a ban -- but if the media had done its job in the spring, they would have seen that it has been a big worry all along.  

The City bends over backwards to allow the carriage drivers to work here – giving them an opportunity to ply their trade with many tourists; very low insurance rates compared to pedicabs; entitlements such as subsidized stables; virtually non existent law enforcement.
   The drivers like to point to the extensive laws on the books and how they are monitored by several City agencies.   Don’t believe it.   It is on paper only.  And now with the ASPCA giving up humane law enforcement as of January 1st, it is a lawless free for all.    Please do not buy this “well regulated” rhetoric  hype.
52nd St. stable
STABLES:  The carriage trade likes to say that anyone can visit their spectacular stables.  But the NY Times recently reported that a driver was charged with animal cruelty on December 20th – his horse was found to have thrush and he had been working him lame for several days.    To have a NY Times reporter breaking the story was a shock to all of us since the Times is another newspaper that supports the carriage trade.  But unfortunately, this seems to be an anomaly.   

The horse, Blondie, is reported to have made his home at  Clinton Stables on W. 52nd St.  One common cause of thrush is filthy stall conditions  - urine soaked straw bedding.  Why has the media mostly  ignored this story?  If not caught in time, this horse could have been permanently  crippled.   Is anyone now doing inspections of these stables?  The horse owner and manager of the stable are equally responsible for the condition of this horse and the conditions of their stable if a filthy stall contributed to and caused the Thrush condition.  But who is paying attention?  This may well be the tip of the ice burg.  

I have said this so many times.  These stables are dreadful.  The stalls, although meeting code, are less than half the size of what experts recommend.  They are on upper floors, accessed  by a steep ramp and if there were ever a fire, with one means of egress, the horses would probably die.  In addition, there is no turnout to pasture.  Horses need daily turnout, which they do not get.  The media liked to promote the 5- week furloughs the horses are now required to get by law  – as a “vacation”  – giving you the image of horses frolicking and grazing in a lush pasture, well fed and happy.  But vacations are a human concept – horses need daily turnout to pasture.  For 47 weeks out of the year, horses work every day for 9 hours and come back to spend it in a 60 square foot stall.   That is clearly inhumane.  

The law does not require inspections of these facilities.  In 2011, a former ASPCA equine vet

38th St. stable
was quoted in the NY Post – " Dr. Corey, the director of equine veterinary services of the ASPCA's humane law-enforcement department, said, "We have observed some horses returning to New York City after furloughs on a farm in worse condition than when they left."  

This was never investigated.  Subsequently, we have heard that depending on the farm, many of the horses are not fed well and look quite thin when they return. 

NY DAILY NEWS:  what can you say about a tabloid that recently printed an op-ed by a priest, rabbi and Muslim student in favor of the carriage trade?  How obviously manipulative. 

This is the same newspaper that flooded the media with false reports of the carriage horses going to slaughter if there was a ban.    Although Vickery Eckoff disputed this with real facts in her Forbes' article , NYC's Mayor Bloomberg Does not Know Manure about Carriage Horses, the Daily News deceitful  message got out and grew legs of its own.  
This tabloid also tried desperately to derail deBlasio's mayoral campaign since they supported Christine Quinn.

September 26, 2013 - carriage horse falls with carriage on top of him
The carriage drivers expected to manipulate the public with these fear tactics not realizing that it would come back to them.  If the horses do go to auction / slaughter – it will be the individual owners who bring them – owners who did not care enough for their horses to find a real home.

IRISH CENTRAL pulled the same nonsense with this quote:  "Many are incredulous at the thought of their means  of supporting themselves and their families could be done away with so cavalierly."  

And, of course, they interviewed only tourists who like the carriages.  But many tourists oppose them and would never take a ride.  We have often spoken with tourists who hate the idea of walking on Central Park South because they do not want to see the horses.  

JOBS:  the Carriage drivers want to continue with their horses and are not willing to compromise - at least not yet.  Will they get involved in an expensive law suit that they are guaranteed to lose?  Is that position realistic?  Many people have lost their jobs in NYC ranging from corporations to government workers to those who were displaced because of neighborhood redevelopment and gentrification.  Where was the upset for them?  

NON-EXISTENT ANTIQUE REPLICA ELECTRIC CARS -   The media has been giving lots of attention to the "electric cars"  as something to replace the carriages.  The only problem here
carriage driver parks horse over steaming man-hole cover
is that they do not exist.  But those doing the interviewing are not troubled by this fact and have not challenged it.  This  further begs the question "what is going on in journalism schools around the country?"  The cars have been promised for five years.  Because I believe this is one of the biggest scams to be perpetrated on the animal rights community in years, I will list the problems:

 - they do not exist and have been promised for five years; only a model exists
 - would be very costly - about $175,000 per car
 - the proposed bill requires them to be phased in over a three year period at a cost of about $4,000,000 per year or $12,000,000 over all.  This means it would take at least three years to shut down the carriage trade.
 -  There would be 68 of these cars on the street in midtown!
 - cars are not allowed on Central Park roads.  It is hard to imagine the appeal of paying a hefty fee to ride in these electric cars and get stuck in the traffic of  Central Park South, 5th and 6th Avenue.  It would be cheaper to ride in a yellow taxi.  
 - it is a very risky investment, which is why, I believe, the money has not been raised to build these cars.  People with money to invest in projects have that money because they are smart investors.
 - If someone really wanted to start such a business, they might put a few on the street and see if the public had any interest - but 23 the first year against 45 carriages; and 23 additional the second year against 22 carriages, ending it the third year with the balance of 22 cars  - is an absurdity and a guarantee of investment money lost
 - With this proposed phase out - what happens if after the first year, the 23 cars are not popular.  No one wants to invest another $4,000,000 for an additional 23 cars. This means the horse carriages will continue.  There will be no ban.  
 - So for those three years, the cars would be in competition with the carriages, which might win because people would feel sorry for the drivers and believe the unsympathetic greedy real estate industry was behind the electric car vanity business.  

THE ONLY GOOD JOB ALTERNATIVE is to retrofit the existing horse carriages so they are horseless.  These already exist outside of NYC.  If the owners agreed to do this, their independent medallion business model could remain intact - converting the 68 carriages to true horseless carriages.  The cost is about $15-$20,000 per carriage.  Someone local could do the work - but this is how it would look.  

Nose to tailpipe - how is this "romantic?" 
The owners would have to agree to this, of course, but it is a much, much better situation for them than the non-existent electric cars -- and the animosity between the "real estate" developer and the owners would not exist.  A reasonable solution would be for the City to pay for the retrofitting in exchange for the horses, which the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, mentioned in Eckoff's article would place.

This is a very real and viable solution to jobs but unfortunately the Mayor's office has not responded to this suggestion.

We are very concerned with what Mayor deBlasio is saying because we hear it as a contradiction.    He talks about shutting down the trade almost  immediately "quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape"  - but then he mentions these so-called alternative electric cars, which do not exist.  

Those of us who supported and voted for Mayor deBlasio -  and that includes running ads in Metro and volunteering for his campaign - did so because he said he would ban the carriage trade.   We do not care about electric cars and believe if a ban of the inhumane and unsafe horse-carriage business is dependent on the success of an electric car business, a ban will not happen.

We want this business to be shut down in six months.  We think that is both doable and fair.  



Oz said...

Finally some one that knows what the hell they are talking about!!! Keep it up we need you.

rockeywes said...

Hello, I'm from Baltimore where we have had similar problems with "arabers" (food hucksters). the notion of horses in the city is romantic but, as you have well pointed out, there is everything else. In Annapolis there is a carriage bus. and those horses live several miles away at a nice farm and "commute" to work. In NYC it sounds like not much is different from the Black Beauty days.
Your post should be forwarded to the American driving Society. Those traffic savvy horses will probably find homes with the speed of lightning. In the meantime, I'm a jounalist-photographer with no NYC connection. Pls get an email to me.

Elizabeth Forel said...

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