Thankful for horse-drawn carriage ban

One thing Friends of Animals (FoA) is extremely thankful for the day before Thanksgiving is that the Salt Lake City Council voted to ban horse-drawn carriages on Nov. 25. The ban comes in the wake of an incident that happened in the summer of 2013, when Jerry, a 13-year-old carriage horse, collapsed on a busy street in downtown Salt Lake City. Jerry would die shortly after the incident. In September of 2014, Carriage for Hire, the city’s only horse-drawn carriage company, went out of business, paving the way for the Council members’ unanimous decision, which they had been considering since Jerry’s tragic death. 

“This is a great victory,” said Edita Birnkrant, FoA’s campaigns director. She spoke on numerous occasions with Salt Lake City Council members via phone, sent many emails and letters in support of a ban and sent out action alerts to FoA members. 

The issue hits home for FoA as the organization has been pressing New York City Council members to support and pass a bill that would get the long-suffering horses off the streets of Manhattan and into waiting sanctuaries.

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio has pledged to ban the dangerous, cruel horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City. You can help pass the upcoming legislation by contacting your City Council Member and asking them to support a ban. Here are some of the reasons why FoA supports De Blasio’s pledge and Salt Lake City’s ban, followed by lies told by the carriage industry:

1. It Is an Exploitative Industry

In order to generate a profit and provide short-term entertainment for tourists, the horses are forced to work on hard pavement in dangerous, unhealthful and unnatural conditions, in all manner of extreme weather, confined between carriage shafts and then inadequate warehouse stalls. This is an inherent injustice to horses, who evolved as social (herd) animals, and who are naturally meant to socialize with other animals and run free. An existence as a carriage horse necessarily means one that is psychologically and physically unhealthy for a horse.

Horses are sometimes sent to the “killer buyer” auctions when they can no longer make a profit for their owners. Horse meat is consumed in other countries, and used-up horses are at risk of being trucked from the United States to Canada and Mexico to slaughterhouses when they are no longer deemed valuable to their owners.

2. It is a Public Safety Issue

Blinders cannot erase the relentless stimuli that horses endure on city streets. Horses instinctively bolt when frightened. Horses in chaotic urban environments alongside swerving vehicles, blaring horns, constant noises, and crowds of people is a recipe for disaster and a public safety hazard to people in vehicles, pedestrians and bike-riders. In the past several years, New York City has seen many horrific accidents resulting from horses “spooking” on the street, running out of control in heavy traffic and crashing into cars, taxis, motorcycles and buses.

In the past few years, several horses have died as a result of accidents, and there have been people injured as well, some seriously. More accidents are inevitable, so getting horses off the streets as soon as possible means a safer city for all.


3. Current or Modified Regulations Will Not Solve the Problem.

For decades, horse advocates have fought to improve conditions for the horses, but little has changed, and the regulations that already do exist are inadequately enforced. The time has come to put an end this degrading practice. No amount of regulations or rules can change the fact that the life of a carriage horse entails a lifetime of drudgery. 


4. Aren’t Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides A Romantic Tradition?

Horse-drawn carriages are a dangerous, unethical tradition that relies on exploitation and one that is completely unnecessary in the 21st century. This is the antithesis of romance.


5. What Will Happen to the Horses When the Proposed Ban is Implemented?

As part of the proposed legislation, all of the horses will be placed in sanctuaries. This is urgent. The current New York City law has not prevented horses from being offered for sale to killer buyer auctions, through which horses are sold for their flesh in order to generate a profit once they are no longer able to pull carriages. In July 2010, Friends of Animals helped facilitate the rescue and transport of a NYC carriage horse named Bobby from one of these slaughter auctions in New Holland, Pennsylvania. Bobby now lives at an equine sanctuary in Chatham, New York. It is impossible to rescue every horse, and this vicious cycle of exploitation and death is happening right now and will continue as long as the horse-drawn carriage industry operates.