Wednesday, July 9, 2014



Carriage horses suffer in heat; driver exploits system and ignores the law; high turnover - where do all the horses go?

Dear Mayor deBlasio:

In 2006, our organization, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, started the campaign to ban the horse carriage trade--more than 8 years ago.  Since that time, we have persistently and consistently lobbied, campaigned and educated people about this issue.  We were thrilled when you were elected. 

When you were campaigning to be elected mayor, you made a promise to ban horse-drawn carriages.  You even said you would do it on your first day in office, which we knew was not practical.  So we waited.   We were very happy yesterday  to hear that you once again confirmed your commitment to ban the horse-drawn carriage trade. 

But the question remains as to when that will happen. 

This is not just a cruelty issue.  It is also a public safety issue.  Horses weighing 2,000 pounds, who are nervous and spook easily, should not be on congested streets.  When a horse spooks and bolts, the end result may well be serious injury and death to both the horse and bystanders.  People have died in horse-carriage accidents around the world, and it is only a matter of time before it happens here. 

This has gone on too long.   The horses are suffering in the heat and humidity and the public has not seen any sign of movement toward a ban.  You were the first mayoral candidate ever to take animal cruelty seriously, or so it seemed--and many of us volunteered in your campaign office, showing up at every debate to cheer you on and proclaim our support for a humane mayor.   

So what happened?   Why has this been put on the back burner?  Bills, public hearings and more debates will take this into next year at least.  This is not what any of us expected or supported. 

Last week I wrote twice to your office asking if you would AT LEAST move the carriage horses to the shady side of the street at the hack line, while we wait for the ban to 
​happen.  As Mayor, you have the power to make this small but important change; we do not.  It would mean a great deal to the horses.

Once more, your staff was silent and I got no response at all, not even an acknowledgement.   This is nothing new but it is always disappointing.   Please remember that we were your "boots on the ground."    We showed up at every mayoral debate and forum and worked the streets.   And this was because you said you would ban the carriage horse trade and do something about the animal control agency, which continues to kill healthy cats and dogs in big numbers. 

But the important thing here is that the horses continue to stand in the hot sun without a respite.  And horse accidents and institutional cruelty continue, and the cats and dogs keep dying.   

As the letter explained, the tree-shaded area closest to the park on East Drive and Central Park South is already congested with vendors selling food and crafts.  All of these vendors are under sun umbrellas.  The carriage horses have no sun protection while most of the drivers wear hats.  It is not fair to the horses.  They suffer greatly from the heat, and switching places with the vendors would be a positive gesture while we wait for the ban to take place.  It is not a perfect solution, but it will help somewhat.  As with humans, horses are at risk from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Horse experts are unequivocal in advocating for the prevention of heat-related illnesses in horses.  Here is one veterinarian's advice for doing so.  

In 2007, the Comptroller’s office released an audit of  two of the agencies that oversee the  carriage-horse trade--the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs.   
horses at hack line - no shade

no shade on the hack line
Page 14 of the audit made this point:   
 During the summer months, the asphalt where the horses line up becomes very hot.  Other materials, such as concrete, would be easier on the horses’ hooves.  In addition, on hot days, there is little shade for the horses, which could cause them to overheat.

But nothing was ever done.  


Several days this past week--and this week,   the temperature went above 90 degrees, and the NYPD did send the drivers back to the stables. However, all other humane issues are ignored. It would appear that the  NYPD's taking over of humane law enforcement is not working. 

The police do not like anyone telling them what to do and they work in a vacuum.  Every officer I have spoken with was not familiar with the humane regulations that govern the carriage horse industry and most did not care.   Something needs to be done about this.   We need law enforcement and we need transparency. 

On Thursday,  July 3, 2014, a carriage driver and spokesperson for the carriage industry worked her horse after the heat suspension took place.  Regardless of whether this driver knew or did not know that there was a suspension, she agreed to take a one-hour drive with customers, knowing that it was very hot and humid and her horse should not be working.  She could have refused the ride or offered her passengers the 20 minute loop around the park.  She did not. 

On the evening of July 3rd, there was a torrential downpour, which included lightning and thunder.  There were flash flood warnings all day that come through cell phones.  Yet,  the drivers were out working even though it is against the law to work horses in adverse weather conditions, which include heavy rain.  The NYPD ignores this regulation, which is part of the City Charter, and Administrative Code.  

horse in torrential downpour, bogged down by heavy equipment
These are the kinds of situations that we see repeated over and over in this business by unscrupulous carriage drivers who put profit ahead of horse well-being. Any time an animal is worked for money, the animal loses.  It is a conflict of interest:  Money and greed vs. consideration for the animal’s well-being. 

By  stalling and not owning this issue you have allowed the Daily News to control the dialogue and negatively influence public opinion, which resulted in unfavorable polling--literally turning the percentages  around against us.  Before the Daily News began this onslaught, every poll taken consistently showed 75 to 80% of respondents in favor of a ban.  This is a consequence of a deliberate campaign of misinformation, all driven by an editorial board that is feeling the sting of political defeat.  This newspaper is not your friend and is not the horses' friend.  It is using this issue as a metaphor for your progressive agenda.  Please understand this.  If  the Daily News wins on this issue, they will look for others on which to defeat you.  

Please ban this inhumane and unsafe business now.


Elizabeth Forel / President / Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages


Anonymous said...

there isn't a horse person alive who wouldn't know that picture of the horse in the downpour is a picture of abject misery…completely pointless and only cruel to make a horse stand through that. but my real concern is the heat. why is it so hard to do the right thing?

libover30 said...

Don't be the person who would say anything to get into office and then do what you want. We already have enough of those people. We asked you to Do the right thing. Please stand up against this abuse, do what you promised.

Unknown said...

Mayor DeBlasio, it's time to honor your promise. You promised the public, and you promised me, personally, at the Gracie Mansion inauguration that I attended, that you would BAN THE CARRIAGE HORSE TRADE. Let's do it--and before the ban, let's make what's happening more humane (factor in humidity to the return-to-stables-temperature and use shadier locations)and more regulated (more enforcement, penalties for violations, and better NYPD education). Thank you, Eva-Lynn Podietz

Diane Del Grosso said...

Mr. Mayor....I voted for you because you were the only candidate that spoke with passion about this abuse.
I fear now that I cast a useless vote as I've not heard one word from your lips in months about this issue.
Have you changed your views about this issue and if so, why?
It's one thing to let your constituents down, it's another thing, a cruel thing, to let those animals down. The abuse continues. Why?

bartonfinkinNY said...

Mr. Mayor, please help get these horses off the streets. The Police horses are treated in better manner and I commend you to at least treat the carriage horses the same. Banning this industry is the only real answer!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful letter and very sad re the downpour and the heat and no protection for the horses. De Blasio is not doing enough11 What about a petition drive? i would sign it. He needs some heat under his butt to move.

S. Moody said...

Mayor DeBlasio please don't disappoint us. We believed in you and your stance on removing the carriage horses from the streets of NYC. Please don't prove our trust in you to be false. Be the honorable man you led us to believe you are.

louise sorel said...

I listened to Mr. De Blasio promise to stop the
horse carriages at the Peter Max studio and talk
about how abusive and unnecessary they were
He has done nothing - I thought he was the firat
politician with a heart and who was unafraid - I
was wrong - at least that is my impression so far
and I can't even walk to CPS and fifth ave without
feeling ill -
Who is this mayor - Why is he not doing what he
promised? How can he see this cruelty and do
nothing? Louise Sorel

Anonymous said...

Mr. DeBlasio,

Horse Carriages: Not Good For Tourism.
I have spoken to many tourists who are appalled when they see the horse carriages in New York city.
I even had one tourist condemn me for living in a city where horse carriages are still allowed. She said she would never come back because of this. Many other tourists I have met said that horse carriages was the only negative aspect of New York. They found it unbearable to see the horses suffer. Horse carriages make the city look bad.
Most tourists think that New York is a modern city when they arrive. Yet, many are appalled when they see the barbaric method of horse carriages still being used here in New York city.
Let us represent a modern society, one that no longer allows the ancient use of animal suffering for human entertainment.

Christine Rose said...

Dear Mr. Mayor,
We and the horses have waited long enough! Do what you said you were going to do pertaining to the horse carriage industry and stop making NYC and yourself look bad. People are loosing faith in you really fast and I don’t blame them one bit!!! You know the right thing to do NOW DO IT!!!!