NYC Mayor signs off on animal bill that helps carriage horses

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 10: A carriage horse eats by Central Park moments before all drivers were ordered to return to the stables due to heat on August 10, 2018 in New York City. According to New York City administrative code, all carriage horses used in tourism must immediately stop working and return to their stables when the temperature reaches 90 degrees. Animal rights activists, who want to permanently end the carriage horse business in the city, say many drivers ignore the law or linger in the park looking for customers long after an alert has been issued. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Finally. Some encouraging news for New York City’s carriage horses.

New York City took another step towards the protection of animals across the city on Monday, with Mayor Bill de Blasio signing off on a new law that included carriage horses.

The legislation limits when horse carriages can operate in hot weather — six years after pledging to rid the city of the industry entirely.

Central Park’s carriage horses are already banned from working when temperatures hit 90 degrees or more in the summer and when it’s 18 degrees or below in the winter.

But the legislation signed by de Blasio would also prohibit carriage horses from working when temperatures hit 80 degrees and the “equine heat index” — the sum of the temperature and the relative humidity at any point — is at least 150. This will potentially increase the number of weather related suspensions from 24 to 44 which threatens the livelihood of the carriage horse business in New York.

A group called NYCLASS has pushed lawmakers to end the carriage industry for years, although critics of the group note its co-founder Steve Nislick, a real estate developer, has also in the past lobbied the mayor for an affordable housing plan in the neighborhood around Manhattan’s largest carriage stable.

After de Blasio’s 2013 campaign got a financial boost from NYCLASS, he promised to completely ban Central Park horse carriages “on day one.” The effort failed spectacularly, though the city limited pickups to inside the park in 2018 at the urging of NYCLASS.

“The mayor signing this bill indicates that he is part of NYCLASS’s systematic effort to destroy the carriage horses,” carriage driver Christina Hansen said, saying the bill was “unscientific.”

RELATED READING

In His 5th Year as Mayor, de Blasio Finally Acts on Horse-Carriage Pledge, New York Times, Aug 30, 2018 (Note: Mayor Bill de Blasio directed his administration to move the Central Park location where horse carriages wait for passengers to five boarding areas within the park only.)