Animal Welfare At Issue in Fight Over NYC Horse Carriage Rides (Video)
The issue of NYC horse drawn carriages is a complex one to many people. Are horses being inhumanely treated? The Humane Society states that according to an independent audit of the stables of the carriage horses that indeed they are mistreated. The working conditions include: Dehydration, very hot asphalt, and standing in their own waste for hours – that sounds like abuse. ~ HfH
From: Voice of America
By Carolyn Weaver
NEW YORK — A campaign by animal-rights activists to abolish horse-drawn carriage rides in New York gained a powerful supporter with the election of Mayor Bill De Blasio last fall, or so it seemed at first. Even before he was inaugurated, the new mayor said he planned to move “quickly and aggressively” to ban the horse-drawn carriages, which take passengers on rides through Central Park and, at certain hours, along some Manhattan streets.
“They’re not humane; they’re not appropriate to the year 2014. It’s over,” De Blasio told a crowd last December. Those in agreement include the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is responsible for policing the treatment of the carriage horses.
Yet polls show that most New Yorkers want to keep the horses. “We’re an iconic part of New York City,” said driver Christina Hansen. “Even people who don’t necessarily take a carriage ride, just being near the horses on Central Park West gives people the opportunity to interact with them, to see how horses work in partnership with people.”
The industry, which employs about 300 people and 200 draft horses, is regulated by a myriad of animal-welfare rules. Horses may not be worked long hours or in very hot or cold weather, and must have regular veterinary check-ups. Each horse must also be sent for a five-week annual “vacation” in a Pennsylvania pasture.
Driver Conor McHugh helps manage one of the stables in the city. He said every horse has ample room, good feed, and contact with other horses in the next stall.
“All we want a horse to do is just give a nice walk through the park. It’s relatively easy for the horses, and it’s a good life for what I would call a working-class horse,” he said, adding that draft horses bred to work would not do well if they spent their lives in pastures. “Their work is their exercise, and it gives them a purpose, and earns their keep,” he said.
Allie Feldman, executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), the main group fighting to abolish the horse carriages, scoffed at that. “Anybody who knows horses knows that horses don’t need five consecutive weeks of vacation,” she said. “They need daily turn-out. There’s no pasture in Manhattan for these horses to go to. They live their lives between the shafts of the carriage and the shafts of their stalls. They don’t have time to roll, to socialize, to graze.”
Feldman said that horses inevitably suffer from the noise and unpredictability of congested city streets. She and other opponents also point to occasional accidents when carriage horses have bolted and to incidents of abusive treatment or neglect by owners. However, her group does not object to mounted police horses, although their conditions are similar. It also has not campaigned against the Aqueduct Race Track in the city, where at least ten horses have died in the last five years.