It’s time to retire the carriage horses says ASPCA spokesman in the Daily News

PHOTO: GARTH BURTON Fallen carriage horse, New York City.
Fallen carriage horse, New York City.

When I first saw the headline “It’s time to retire the carriage horses” in the online version of the the New York Daily News (the “Daily News”) it caught my eye.

I have disregarded much of what they have had to say in recent weeks because it is just more of the same to push its save the carriage horses coupon.

Then I noticed who wrote the piece. That got my attention.

Surely Matt Bershadker, the president and CEO of the ASPCA, knew when he agreed to pen an article for the Daily News on the carriage horse issue in New York that it was an ambush. Or perhaps he submitted it an they agreed to publish it. Either way, boy was it. The Daily News even used an unflattering photo to the industry (seen on this page) of a fallen carriage horse.

In our view, the Daily News have been practicing a rampant form of yellow journalism in its crusade against the banning of the horse drawn carriage industry in New York. Note I use the word industry here. Who among the all of these groups for and against the carriage horse trade actually care about these horses? There are a few, but only a few.

Once you read the article, the most interesting part are the comments. It is like the Daily News sent out runners to fire up as big an arsenal of ridiculousness that they could find to make comments. But it could easily be this is simply the type of readers they typically attract.

What a farce it has been from day one. Except it isn’t funny. Especially to the horses at the center of it all.

Here is the article by Bershadker (in italics):

The New York City horse-carriage debate is not doing these animals justice.

The dialogue has been continuously contaminated by inaccuracies, exaggerations, presumptions, and worse-case scenarios masquerading as inevitabilities.

Typically, it’s the media’s job to separate fact from fiction, but, sadly, few outlets in New York City have lived up to that critical responsibility.

Many carriage-horse industry supporters — and let’s keep in mind this issue is about industry survival more so than equine survival — want you to believe carriage horses face a bleaker future if unleashed from their urban servitude than if they remain on the streets as tourist vehicles.

Yes, horse care is very expensive. But does this automatically mean horses will not be well cared-for in a post-carriage horse New York City?


As we in the animal welfare community have made clear, there are many rescue organizations and shelters ready, willing and able to find homes for these horses if their current owners allow it.

Should this industry come to an end, the ASPCA will gladly get involved — including tapping into our network of rescue partners and resources — to help with any potential transition and to find and facilitate humane placement options for any horse then in need of a home.

Carriage operators sometimes claim that once their horses are retired, they simply ride into idyllic futures.

But the fact that Frank Luo — the driver accused of tampering with identification numbers to make his breathing-impaired 22-year-old draft horse Ceasar appear to be a healthier and much younger horse — sold the animal to a Pennsylvania farmer demonstrates that a carriage horse’s future is no more secure than that of any other owned horse.

While some carriage horse owners show lasting dedication to their horses, the truth is there’s nothing to stop owners from effectively selling off their animals like obsolete equipment.

When the ASPCA — the oldest animal welfare organization in the country — says that it’s stepping in to help, we mean it. The ASPCA has protected horses since our founding, and we continue to this day — including fights against horse slaughter, the use of performance-enhancing drugs for race horses and cruel practices and training for show horses.

In 2013, we awarded approximately $1.4 million in grants to support equine rescues and sanctuaries in 43 states and the District of Columbia. And the ASPCA Equine Fund has existed since 1996 to provide grants to non-profit, U.S. equine welfare organizations that work to rescue and protect horses.

Our position on carriage horses has always been clear. The industry as it exists in New York City is unnatural, unnecessary and places an unacceptable strain on the horse’s quality of life — especially given increasing levels of traffic.

There are simply more humane ways to entertain tourists in our city.

And it is our city, too. New York City is where our national offices are located, as well as the ASPCA Animal Hospital, the ASPCA Adoption Center and the ASPCA Spay-Neuter Clinic. It’s also the home of the largest and most effective animal cruelty law enforcement agency in the world — the NYPD.

What happens to New York City animals matters to us. And the truth means just as much.

Bershadker is the president and CEO of the ASPCA.

One commenter, Joyce Hansen, said “Ditto, time to retire the Animal Rights movement and their lies, extortion and the lively hood they make off animals”.

A vet who commented used this quote, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Take note everyone!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s