New York ““ On December 6th, New York City Councilmember Tony Avella joined animal-rights activists for a cold Saturday press conference to call for a ban on horse-drawn carriages.

Photos (by Edita Birnkrant for FoA and Elizabeth Forel for CBHDC): Dr. Deborah Tanzer, Adele Murphy, Christine MacMurray, and other horse advocates hold banner.

Friends of Animals and the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages told NY1, Fox News, Channels 2 and 11, NTDTV (a Japanese-English news station), the Daily News and others it’s unjust to enslave horses to the tourist business, and New York City should outgrow the tradition.

Allied advocates co-ordinated simultaneous vigils in more than a dozen other major world cities.

“We recognize cruelty to animals is no longer appropriate and the abuse that you see going on, while it might seem like some sort of holiday tradition, is far from it,” said Councilmember Avella, who has a pending bill to ban the industry. Avella joined advocates at Central Park’s Grand Army Plaza.

Industry PR people set up a stunt, inviting children to take pictures with a horse-feeding “Santa” surrounded by lobbyists handing out sweets. They started this directly behind the horse advocacy vigil and press conference.

Photos (by Edita Birnkrant for FoA and Elizabeth Forel for CBHDC): Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals and Councilmember Tony Avella. Jennifer Abrams holds banner in far-left.

“As soon as the press put their cameras down,” Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals observed, “Santa and the sweet distributors promptly scurried off.”

The advocates then crossed the street to the entrance to the park, where all the carriages emerge after rides.

It was a heavy day for tourism. The horses were drenched in sweat from constant pulling.

“But some people left to enjoy themselves in another fashion,” Birnkrant said, “after seeing our signs, reading our flyer and speaking with us.”

“A couple from Switzerland expressed apologies to us for nearly taking advantage of the horses’ situation.”

Photos (by Edita Birnkrant for FoA and Elizabeth Forel for CBHDC): Edita Birnkrant holds poster on street in front of carriage activity at entrance of Central Park.


Public hearing for Avella’s Bill, Intro 658
The Consumer Affairs Committee public hearing has been rescheduled for Friday 30 January 2009 at 10:00 AM in Council Chambers. This is on the 2nd floor of City Hall. As of this date, both Intro 658/2007 (Avella) and Intro 653-A/2007 (Gennaro) will be on the agenda. Intro 658 seeks to ban the industry. 653-A is an industry bill and must be opposed.

Elizabeth Forel asks New Yorkers to come and use their allotted two minutes and testify!

For all details (or for press enquiries), please contact Elizabeth Forel, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages or Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals NYC Campaign Coordinator