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Spring 2012 - Act•ionLine

by Edita Birnkrant | Spring 2012

The Campaign to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages Goes to the State Level: New York Senate Assembly Bill Seeks to End Exploitation

More than 200 horses pull carriages and tourists in New York City every day, but the danger and drudgery of this practice could be stopped by bills introduced by a New York state senator and assemblymember, who have brought the horses’ struggle to an exciting new level: the state legislature.

New York State Senator Tony Avella and New York Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal introduced the first-ever legislation (S.5013/A.7748) in the Spring of 2011, calling for a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City. These companion bills pending in the 2012 legislative session would amend New York City’s administrative code to prohibit horse-drawn cabs. It would also prevent current carriage horses from being sold off to killer buyers, which current law allows.

Friends of Animals and our determined supporters have worked for years for legislation to ban horse-drawn vehicles in New York City, Philadelphia and Victoria, Canada; and, in coordination with Senator Avella and Assemblymember Rosenthal, we’re arranging a Lobby Day in Albany on May 1 st so that New Yorkers can join us to speak directly with New York lawmakers and garner their signatures for this bill. All those New York residents who would like to attend this important day of legislative action for the horses should contact Edita at the phone number or email below for more information and for organized transportation options. Join us on the group bus!

A Committed Senator

Senator Avella, now a Democrat representing the 11th Senate district, served on the New York City Council until 2009, and supported the effort to ban horse-drawn carriages consistently. The senator worked closely with Friends of Animals to create the landmark ban bill introduced into the city council in 2007.

By taking this initiative to the state level, Senator Avella has shown his deep commitment to making New York City a travel destination with safety and fairness in mind for all.

At the June 2011 press conference announcing the state bills, Senator Avella was quoted by the Daily News:

Banning the operation of horse-drawn carriages within the city of New York is long overdue. It is simply no longer appropriate or safe for a horse carriage to operate in congested and often perilous midtown traffic. Equally as important is that we can no longer turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of these animals. The conditions they live and work under are clearly wrong and should not be tolerated.

“Animals do not have the ability to advocate for themselves, so I believe it becomes our duty to act to protect them and advocate on their behalf,” said Assemblymember Rosenthal, a Democrat representing the Upper West Side and parts of Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, who also told us:

In the 2010-2011 session, I introduced the bill A7748 to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City.  These work horses spend hours each day toiling in the oppressive sun of August or the sub-zero temperatures of February with little rest.  It is a hopeless existence, to be sure. 

Shortly after the bill was introduced, three serious accidents involving horse-drawn carriages and vehicles occurred in less than three weeks.  These accidents comprised a painful reminder Rosenthal stated, that the bustling streets of New York City are no place for horse-drawn carriages. Rosenthal added:

Decades ago, when the city had fewer cars and people, these carriages may have been viewed as magical or even romantic to some.  But given the reality of the New York City of 2011, it is clear that there is no way to justify a barbaric and archaic practice that puts the lives of the horses, their drivers, pedestrians and motorists in serous peril every day.

New York City is one of the best in the world to enjoy while walking, thus making the existence of horse buggies even more absurd.

The world takes particular notice to what happens in New York, and the precedent of a ban on horse-drawn carriages here will have a momentous effect on other cities and countries working for the same goal. So no matter where you live, please help us help the horse. Call the Senate and Assembly in support of the bill. Create a buzz in Albany about the effort in New York City in the days leading up to our Lobby Day. Here are sample calls to make:

For Readers who Live in New York State

We urge you to contact your state senators and assemblymembers and ask them to sign on in support as sponsors of Senate Bill S5013, the Bill to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in New York City, introduced by Senator Tony Avella, and Assembly Bill A7748, the Bill to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in NYC, introduced by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal. State the correct bill numbers and the name of each legislator. Reach the State Senate operator at 518-455-2800. Reach the State Assembly operator at 518-455-4100. It’s helpful to communicate detailed reasons why you strongly support a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City, and why you are urging your state representative to support the bill.

For Readers Outside of New York State

Your power as a potential tourist to New York matters to politicians, and we ask you to please make four calls: two to the New York Senate committee chair, and two to the New York Assembly committee chair—to both their local district and Albany offices. The bills are currently in the Cities Committee in both the Senate and Assembly. Explain to each lawmaker that as a tourist, you would never use a horse-drawn vehicle, and ask them to help make New York State more progressive, and more beloved, by supporting the bill that would stop this use of its most famous city’s exploited horses and let them go into sanctuary. Be sure to tell each person you speak with where you live. Hearing from people from all over the country and the world will have a huge impact on these decision makers.

  • Contact in the Senate: Senator Andrew J. Lanza. District Office, 718-984-4073; Albany Office, 518-455-3215. Be sure to tell Senator Lanza’s office that you support Bill S5013, introduced by Senator Tony Avella.
  • Contact in the Assembly: Assemblymember Carl E. Heastie. District Office, 718-654-6539; Albany Office, 418.455.4800. Be sure to tell Assemblymember Heastie that you support Bill A7748, introduced by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.

What Else Can We Do?

Support ethical entertainment that does not rely on animal exploitation. Pedicab rides are a wonderful alternative that already exist in New York City to give tours through Central Park. Please let your family and friends know the reasons to avoid horse-drawn carriage rides. You can request copies of Friends of Animals’ educational horse-drawn carriage flyer to help spread the message.

Also, writing letters and op-eds championing these historic bills is something anyone can do, and it’s a wonderfully effective tool for spreading the word about this effort.

If you can participate directly in the political process, we and the horses need you! Attend the Lobby Day in Albany on May 1st. Other volunteering opportunities in our campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City and beyond should contact Friends of Animals’ New York director Edita Birnkrant at edita@friendsofanimals.org, or 212-247-8120. Educational “Why Should New Yorkers Support A Ban of Horse-Drawn Carriages?” pamphlets are available upon request to hand out to the public in New York; information can also be obtained about how to help with our campaigns for the horses in Philadelphia and Victoria, Canada.

Edita Birnkrant

Act•ionLine Spring 2012

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