FoA rallies in NYC to support introduction of carriage horse ban legislation

By Nicole Rivard


The nose to tailpipe lifestyle suffered by carriage horses in New York City is poised to come to an end thanks to an historic bill—#573—introduced today (Dec.8,2014) by New York City Council members.

Friends of Animals and several other organizations rallied together on the steps of City Hall Monday morning before the legislation, which ensures the horses will not go to slaughter, was introduced to show support for the City Council members and Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who vowed to abolish the carriage horse industry when he took office. 

The legislation lays out several steps including not renewing carriage operating licenses. Instead, hundreds of carriage drivers would be offered job training classes and will be eligible to get a medallion for green taxis, which can only pick up passengers in certain areas. Most importantly, the legislation ensures the horses will not end up in slaughterhouses. Friends of Animals has identified a sanctuary— the largest farm animal sanctuary in the country—that will take the first 100 horses, and another sanctuary has agreed to take at least 50 horses. Sanctuary space will be found for all the freed carriage horses.

“It’s great to be here. It’s finally happening,” said Council Member Daniel Drumm, the primary sponsor of the bill. “When I was growing up my mother taught me about animals—she’s a teacher—and she let me have a lot of pets, and I fell in love with animals. Today, the introduction of this legislation, is a continuation of that love for animals. It’s something that I have been involved with as a legislator since I was elected in 2010. Today the opportunity has come for us to introduce this legislation and to make sure that it passes. As an animal rights activist, which I consider myself, the question before us today is, ‘Do horses really belong in traffic in New York City?’ And an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers would say no to horses on New York City streets. They are there in the traffic, they are there breathing in the fumes, they are there in danger of being in crashes. … Animals do not belong on the streets of New York City, plain and simple. That’s why we are introducing this legislation into the Council and we look forward to its passage.” 

Donny Moss, the director of the documentary Blinders, which provides a look at the dark side of the carriage horse industry, said people who oppose the ban don’t understand that there are certain conditions that simply that can’t be corrected in such a way that would make the horse drawn carriages humane or safe in New York City. For example, there is no amount of regulation that can prevent a horse from spooking and NYC has no pastures where these horses can graze, roll, run or interact physically with other horses as herd animals do. 

Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals’ campaigns director, whose office is in Columbus Circle, has had a bird’s eye view of where the carriage horses operate and compete with dangerous and chaotic traffic every day and night. 

“Right outside our door is the location where so many terrifying accidents have occurred…and where horses suffer the daily indignities of being treated like machines, denied what comes naturally to horses—freedom of movement, pasture to graze in and to socialize with other horses and to simply run free,” Birnkrant said. “In four decades Friends of Animals has closely monitored and criticized the carriage horse industry, documenting a pattern of violations of laws by carriage drivers, a lack of endorsement of the weak laws that already exist and an attitude that values profit above the welfare of the horses. We’ve seen it all. 

“We have been campaigning to get horses off city streets for a long time and I am thrilled that today we have legislation introduced that will do just that. Mayor DeBlasio and City Council members committed to getting carriage horses off the streets understand that the treatment of animals in our society is not just a special interest. It is an essential component of social justice. We are New York City. We are innovative, we are progressive, we are pioneering. We are inspiring to the rest of the world. We are a just and compassionate city. Forcing horses to pull carriages in midtown Manhattan traffic wedged in between buses, taxes, emergency vehicles…can no longer be considered a tourist attraction.”

1. We are urging NYC residents to contact their City Council Member and ask them to support the passage of this bill. Find your Council Member's contact information right here.