ASPCA Reminds Public of Laws Designed to Protect Carriage Horses

December 18, 2008

NEW YORK, December 18, 2008—During the busy—and very often cold—holiday season, carriage horse rides seem to be a staple of tourist activity in New York City. The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® would like the public to be aware of some of the laws designed to protect the carriage horses and which agencies are responsible for enforcing those laws.

“Since our 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,” said Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement division.

While ASPCA humane law enforcement agents and an equine veterinarian currently monitor horses and their drivers while out in the field and investigate complaints concerning the care and treatment of the horses, , the ASPCA reminds the public that several other agencies are also authorized to enforce the New York City carriage horse regulations, including the New York City Department of Health, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and the New York City Police Department.

“For many years, the ASPCA has stepped up to the plate and volunteered to oversee and ensure humane treatment of these horses at our expense,” Ms. Wolf added. “Because of limited resources, we can’t oversee them 24/7 and depend on the other agencies to work with us.”

New York city and state laws protecting carriage horses include:

  • Carriage horses cannot be worked when the temperature reaches 18 degrees and below.
  • During the winter, horses must be blanketed while awaiting passengers.
  • Carriage horses cannot be driven faster than a trot.
  • Carriage horses can only be worked nine hours during any 24-hour period.
  • Horses must be given a rest period of at least 15 minutes for every two hours they work.
  • Fresh water must be made available to them during their rest periods.
  • Horses must be provided with enough food and water and allowed to eat and drink at reasonable intervals while they are working. (Carriage horse drivers may carry water on the carriage or make use of troughs in the park. The law does not specify how to provide water--only that it be provided.)
  • Horses cannot be worked when they are lame or suffer from a physical condition, illness or condition that makes them unsuitable for work.
  • The law prohibits “abuse “of carriage horses which means physical maltreatment or failure to provide the care required by the regulations.
  • Horses are prohibited from working during “adverse weather conditions,” which means any condition that is hazardous to the health and safety of the horse, driver or the public. This includes, but is not limited to, ice, snow, heavy rain and other slippery conditions.
  • Carriage horses are not allowed on bridges or in tunnels.
  • Carriage horse operators must obey traffic laws. This includes traffic lights, signs, prohibitions on U turns, etc.

In addition to the New York City code and rules, state law makes cruelty to horses a crime. Cruelty means knowingly causing injury or death to a horse, or allowing someone else to do so.

Reports of suspected animal cruelty should be made to the ASPCA at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4450, or [email protected].