by ELIZABETH FOREL
There are many misconceptions about the NYC horse-drawn carriage trade.
The primary reason for this is because the media are mostly on the side of the carriage horse industry and have not reported fairly or honestly on this issue.
Here are what I see as the top five most common misconceptions concerning the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City.
1. If there is a ban, all the horses will go to slaughter.
Intro 573 — the new bill to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC — prohibits the owners from sending their horses to slaughter. However, although the fine is high, the horses are privately owned and it will be up to the drivers whether they send their horses to slaughter or not. It will be difficult to track.
Many organizations have offered homes for these horses. If the owners are willing, there is sanctuary space for all carriage horses.
Since 2005, 581 horses have passed through the NYC carriage trade. The Department of Health does not require sales records for horses sold outside of NYC. We believe many have gone on to livestock auctions and then to slaughter.
• What Happens to NYC Carriage horses when they’re “retired”; One Green Planet; December 2, 2014
• NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t know manure about carriage horses, (Forbes counters Daily News articles & Mayor Bloomberg); Forbes.com; by Vickery Eckhoff; October 31, 2013
2. The ban will eliminate good union jobs.
These are not “good union jobs.” The Teamsters represent the drivers but as a lobbyist group, for which they charge $60 a month dues. Not everyone is a member and those who are get no benefits – no medical, vacation or sick days.
Intro 573, the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages, will provide the drivers customized job training tailored to their needs and also offer medallions for green taxis to the owners.
This peculiar union effort is to protect the Entitled 68 – the owners – with no consideration for the more than 200 workers, most of whom are nothing more than independent contractors.
3. This is not an animal rights issue – it is about the stable property.
False. Our organization began this campaign in 2006 because of the inhumane conditions endured by the horses. We have no interest in the stable property.
However, because the head of one of the organizations involved with the ban is a retired real estate developer, this unfounded rumor got started.
The stables are privately owned and it will be up to the owners to decide when, if, and to whom they want to sell.
Furthermore, the stables located on W. 37th and W. 38th Street are in the path of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment project, which has been going on for more than ten years.
• Step-by-step truth about NYClass and the carriage horse stables (not what you think); carriagehorsesnyc.blogspot; December 27, 2014
4. The horses get five weeks “vacation” every year.
The horses may legally work 9 hours a day, 7 days a week, 47 weeks a year on the tough, unforgiving streets of NYC.
When they go back to the stables, they are put in their small stalls and stay there until the next day when their routine begins again. There is no turn out to pasture. (Why this is important)
The Department of Health neither requires a list of facilities where the horses go, nor do they provide for inspections.
There is evidence to suggest that some of the horses may actually be worked on Amish farms in exchange for a place to “vacation.” Horses need daily turn out to pasture – not a “vacation.”
• The truth about those vacations; carriagehorsesnyc.blogspot; October 14, 2014
5. This is a heavily regulated industry overseen by four City agencies.
Although there are many regulations governing this industry, most of them – especially the “street” regulations – are not enforced and many of the drivers blatantly violate the law.
The ASPCA gave up humane law enforcement in January 2014 and the NYPD was supposed to have taken over. It has not been realized.
Elizabeth Forel is the president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in NYC, which was founded in 2006 in response to a horrific accident involving a spooked carriage horse who was killed. A long time vegan and advocate for all animals, she has been involved with the carriage horse issue since the early 1990s. She is the author of many articles and opinion pieces on this topic, most of which can be found on the website www.banhdc.org.
For more on this issue, please see Elizabeth Forel, Ban of The Horse-Carriage Trade in New York City; Vegan Publishers; January 23, 2014.