ASPCA, NYCLASS and Elected Officials Call for Increased Protections for NYC Carriage Horses

<p>Electeds stand with organizations in support of intro. 86A and proposed reforms</p>
November 16, 2011

New York, NY - At 12:30 PM Monday on the steps of City Hall, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Fernando Cabrera, Vincent Gentile, Sara Gonzalez, Letitia James, Rosie Mendez and Ydanis Rodriguez stood with the ASPCA and New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) to address the concerns in New York City surrounding the carriage horse industry.

The organizations have partnered to work to pass Intro. 86A, legislation that calls for a phase-out of horse carriages in New York City and replacing them with 21st century "Horseless Carriages", electric-powered vehicles constructed to replicate turn-of-the-century cars. Intro. 86A is a transformation of the industry--one that will maintain jobs, generate revenue, attract tourists and aim to provide a better life for the City's carriage horses.

Given the string of unfortunate carriage horse-related incidents that have occurred over the last five months, the ASPCA and NYCLASS have proposed and submitted a list of reforms further regulating the industry to protect the health and safety of all carriage horses. These reforms include increased penalties for drivers working during a suspension, the ability to issue a preventative closure in advance of severe inclement weather and when a state of emergency is declared in the City, a restriction of operations only to Central Park, and stricter regulations on the horses' working conditions.

Ed Sayres, President and CEO of the ASPCA, stated, "The recent incidents involving the carriage horses underscores the need for reforms that will safeguard the horses while they are working on the streets of New York City. We are pleased to stand alongside our public officials with NYCLASS to introduce these comprehensive new protections that we believe will make a difference in the lives of the carriage horses."

Executive Director of NYCLASS Carly Knudson added, "The recent death of a carriage horse and other related and upsetting incidents send a clear message that it is time for a change. We have a responsibility to these animals to do better, just as we have a responsibility to this city to do better."

"In the last month alone, two carriage horses have collapsed on the job," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. "It is clear that this inhumane practice should have been changed long ago, which is why I am proud to stand with the ASPCA and NYCLASS in support of these proposed reforms. Additionally, I will continue to call for the passage of Intro. 86A, which would replace horse-drawn carriages with a humane alternative and bring New York City together with London, Paris and Beijing in ending this out-of-date practice."

"Given the accidents we've experienced over the last few months, it's time for New York City to provide much stronger protections for carriage horses on our streets and to improve public safety," said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. "We need to beef up the frequency and effectiveness of veterinary examinations to ensure that horses are in good health. Carriages with passengers should be restricted to Central Park, and no longer be allowed in Midtown traffic, where they are vulnerable to increasing automotive and pedestrian congestion. The City should also mandate that horses work a five-day week because they face serious respiratory health problems with prolonged exposure to our streets. These are just a few of the reforms we need to introduce, and I am pleased to stand in support of them today, along with NYCLASS and the ASPCA."

Prime Sponsor of Intro. 86A, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, announced, "These reforms are another stepping stone to protecting the horses in our city, but carriage horses will not be fully protected until they are off Manhattan's dangerous, high-traffic streets. Passing Intro. 86A is critical to the safety and well-being of the horses."

Council Member Sara Gonzales explained that, "Until we pass Intro 86A, at a minimum we must ensure these necessary reforms are put in place and that the industry adheres to these basic principles. The recent collapses of carriage horses on our City streets attest to the urgent need for reform so these beautiful creatures are afforded the dignity they deserve."

Council Member Vincent Gentile acknowledged, "How we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other. These reforms would make our streets safer while improving conditions for workers and creating a better environment for the horses. You don't have to be an animal lover to see that Intro. 86A makes sense."

"With these reforms, it is my hope that we can better protect the health and well-being of New York City Horses, as well as the safety of all residents and tourists," added Council Member Letitia James.

Council Member Rosie Mendez added, "As a life-long supporter of animal welfare and workers' rights, I support this list of reforms as a forward movement towards passing Intro. 86A. I stand with NYCLASS and the ASPCA in their ongoing efforts to better this industry, and will work alongside my colleagues in the City Council to take action."

The list of proposed reforms includes the following:

1. Allow law enforcement officials to issue summonses for work during suspensions without any prior written warning.

2. Institute a mechanism for preventative closure of stables in advance of severe inclement weather (such as snow or a hurricane) and whenever a state of emergency is declared in New York City.

3. Increase penalties for working after a suspension has been declared.

4. Require a second veterinary exam be conducted when each horse returns from vacation prior to returning to work.

5. Require a certification process including a thorough physical exam of each horse by an independent veterinarian within three months of initial licensure.

6. Streamline the two-agency horse licensing process. This should only be under the oversight of one agency to speed up certificates and catch mistakes - also to track disposition of horses when retired or sold.

7. Restrict operations to Central Park.

8. Add in science-based temperature restrictions, as well as a wind chill restriction.

9. Regulations to mandate time off - a five- day work week would be beneficial to horse health in general. (Horses work on hard surfaces for long periods of time, up to nine hours per day, which can exacerbate or accelerate progression of any existing arthritis, which is common in all horses over the age of 10 years).

10. Require daily "turnout" (horse allowed outdoor exercise, untied in fenced corral or paddock) for at least one hour per day.

11. Mandate at least one horse trailer on stable premises for emergencies. (Currently, the industry relies on the generosity of the NYPD Mounted Unit horse trailer.)

12. Require necropsies of deceased carriage horses.