ASPCA Issues Statement on NYC Carriage Horse Audit Report

September 6, 2007

NEW YORK, September 6, 2007—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauded the New York City Comptroller’s recently released Audit Report on the Licensing and Oversight of the Carriage Horse Industry by the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs.

“The ASPCA welcomes the City’s recognition of the need for improvements with respect to the carriage horse industry,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “Many of the points illustrated in the report are items we’ve been concerned about for some time, and I applaud the fact that the City is acknowledging its responsibility.”

Since its founding in 1866, the ASPCA has worked to protect and aid horses, as well as other animals, and continues that work today by enforcing carriage horse and animal cruelty laws in New York City as part of its extensive local services. “Although the ASPCA is authorized to oversee the carriage horses, and does so voluntarily despite our limited resources, the public should understand that the primary responsibility for this function does not, in fact, rest with us,” said Sayres.

Two municipal agencies are mandated to regulate the carriage horse industry: the department of consumer affairs (DCA), which regulates the business end of the industry; and the department of health and mental hygiene (DOHMH), which licenses the drivers and enforces regulations that govern the horses’ humane care and treatment. The New York City Police Department is also authorized to enforce the laws governing carriage horses as well as animal cruelty laws.

“Realizing that there are often gaps in enforcement, we stepped up to the plate and volunteered to oversee and ensure the humane treatment of these horses,” said Mr. Sayres, “Toward this end, we also assigned one of our humane law enforcement agents to monitor the horses and issue summonses when we find violations.” (Toward this end, our humane law enforcement agents continuously monitor horses and their drivers while out in the field, in addition to a providing a dedicated agent to all matters relating to their care. )

The Audit Report points to, among other things, the lack of required number of inspections of horse-drawn carriages, an absence of veterinary examinations in the field, and the presence of too many passengers in carriages. The lack of designated formal hack stands also results in horses that must often stand in their own waste without shade or water. Eleven recommendations were made in the report to address the findings, including how the oversight for the monitoring of such guidelines will be established in the future.

“We are definitely open to discussions with the City on creating and implementing a plan to deal with the carriage horse issues,” said Mr. Sayres. “They say it takes a village to raise a child; it will take a collaborative effort on the part of all the community’s agencies to respond adequately and effectively, to make the lives of our city’s carriage horses better.”