Everyone from the carriage-horse industry itself to onetime anti-carriage-horse crusader Bill de Blasio may want the push to eliminate the cruel industry to go away.
But that’s not going to happen.
Regardless of how many Council members say they are tired of it or how much the media mocks it, animal rights advocates’ fight to free these horses from this inhumane duty on city streets is here to stay. Last month, a carriage overturned near Central Park, dragging the horse with it — confirming the flimsiness and danger of these conveyances. (Fortunately, no one was injured.)
Recognition of animal cruelty is the issue of the 21st century. Barcelona recently announced it will ban horse-drawn carriages; so did Guadalajara. Montreal’s mayor supports shutting down the industry there. Even Rome is considering electric carriage replacements.
When de Blasio ran for election in 2013, his promise to ban horse-drawn carriages was front and center. After a fierce backlash, that didn’t happen, and the humans who profit off animal suffering now think it never will.
De Blasio has won another, and a final, four years; he doesn’t have to worry about reelection. It’s time again to talk about the horses again.
Those who operate carriages insist, as they did before, that the animals are happy, and that all regulations are strictly enforced.
That’s just not true.
Weather restrictions are generally followed, but beyond that, few are. These rules bar, among other things, overloading carriages to leaving horses unattended and untethered while the drivers look for business — a serious safety issue because of the nervous nature of horse, which can spook at the slightest provocation, injuring or killing himself or passersby.
Why aren’t they getting enforced? Largely because two overburdened agencies — the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs — share oversight. In a 2007 audit by the city controller’s office, both were deemed to have “dropped the ball” on their responsibilities.
“Enforcement efforts are peppered with failures in execution and oversight,” the audit report said. Not much had changed in a 2009 follow-up.
The ASPCA used to enforce many of the regulations, but since 2014, is out of the picture, having shut down their Humane Law Enforcement Division.
So the horses have been left in the lurch.
We don’t know if stable and horse inspections are occurring . The requirement that horses are supposed to be disposed of in a “humane manner” when they leave the industry is vague and inadequate to assure their future well-being. We need accountability to make sure the horses are protected and don’t end up on the auction block.
Meantime, on Central Park South, you will undoubtedly see drivers making U-turns in heavy traffic. You will also see drivers using their cell phones while driving. Both are dangerous and thus illegal for motorists.
This industry just doesn’t make sense in a modern city like ours.
Some members of the City Council are pushing for what they consider a compromise: Creating more regulations, such as moving the hack line — where carriages pick up passengers — to inside the park.
This should be unacceptable to those of us who care about these animals. Accidents happen in the park as well as on the street. And why pass new regulations when the existing ones are rarely enforced?
The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, which I oversee, began our ban campaign in 2006 in response to the death of a young horse named Spotty who was killed in a spooking accident on his way back to his stable. In 2007, then-Council Member Tony Avella introduced a carriage ban bill. It didn’t get much traction in the Council because then-Mayor Bloomberg opposed it.
Now, nobody in the Council even has the courage to carry a carriage-horse ban bill. New Speaker Corey Johnson has been opposed to a ban.
Unless and until we get a ban, the public needs the truth about law enforcement of the carriage industry.
The city controller should conduct a new performance audit like the one it did in 2007. Additionally, it needs to audit and assess existing laws to find out if they are being ignored or observed.
Anyone who purports to care about animals needs to recommit to the fight to ban this arcane and inhumane industry.
Forel is president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.
By ELIZABETH FOREL
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Complete article available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/stop-horsing-ban-carriages-article-1.3795830