News & Announcements

New York City Committee    
On Consumer Affairs

RE: Opposed to Int 0035-2010     
Support for Int 0092-2010

March 12, 2010

Testimony of PamelaG

Dear Sirs/Mesdames:   

   Please accept this submission in opposition to Int 0035-2010, introduced by Council Member James Gennaro, et al., and in support of Int 0092-2010, introduced by Council Member Annabel Palma.     

As a resident of New York City since 1987 (currently District 26) and a practicing attorney in New York City since 1988, I feel compelled to submit my opposition to Councilman Gennaro’s bill.  I find Councilman Gennaro’s and his colleague’s sponsorship of such a bill tantamount to condoning animal cruelty.  New Yorkers deserve better representation.  In contrast, I wholeheartedly support Councilwoman Palma’s bill, which is the only solution to such a brutal situation – ban horse-drawn carriages completely and ensure the horses are only sold or disposed of in a humane manner.  I will address the bills separately as follows:

Int 0035-2010     
    This bill is nothing more than a band-aid placed on a situation, on an industry, that can only be described as inhumane.  Horses do not belong on the streets of Manhattan or any other city.  It is an outmoded industry that depends on animal cruelty for profitability.  Just like in London, Paris, Toronto and cities in New Jersey, Florida, New Mexico and Mississippi, New York City should be on the side of animal welfare and progress.  The 

horse-drawn carriage industry needs to be completely banned.  Anything less will only serve to perpetuate horrific conditions for the horses.  The proposed bill is inadequate and it is clear the Committee was heavily influenced by the horse-drawn carriage industry.  It is obvious that the underlying purpose of the bill is to effectuate a rate increase for the drivers, with alleged improved conditions for the horses thrown in to garner support.  The inadequacy of the bill is evident in the weakness of the proposals and the inability for any agency to realistically regulate and enforce these amendments.

    Initially, the rules promulgated have several flaws; notably, lack of any real oversight.  The inability to regulate and enforce should be obvious to any member of the Committee and City Council by virtue of the history of lack of oversight.  In September 2007, the New York City Comptroller conducted an audit, spanning the period from July 2005 through March 2007, concluding that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs abandoned many responsibilities.  No inspection of a single horse took place, there was noted switching of horses, horses were shown to be in substandard conditions, receiving insufficient water and shade, and there were several cases of hoof and joint disease.  Further, neither the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene nor the Department of Consumer Affairs created the 5-member oversight committee it had been directed to do in the 1980’s.  Such history should not be forgotten.  Should this bill pass, we will all look back as history will undoubtedly repeat itself – no oversight.     

    Notwithstanding the inability to regulate and enforce any of the proposed rules, the bill fails in all other regards.  First, work periods of 10 hours in a 24-hour period, 7 days per week for 47 out of 52 weeks of the year is tantamount to slave labor.  That amounts to each horse working 70 hours per week – something that very few humans are required to do, even the members of this Committee.  Moreover, the conditions the horses must endure are nothing less than inhumane.  They go from the stable, which is inadequate in size, ventilation and location, to the hack line, work 10 hours per day in all temperature and weather extremes and then return to the confines of the stall.  Even if a 5-week furlough was mandated, this still subjects the horses to repeat this routine day and after for 47 weeks straight; that is, 329 days straight.  There is no other industry, whether animal or people-driven, that has a work schedule even approaching what these horses are subjected to.    

    Second, the proposed changes to the stables amount to no substantial improvement or difference in the lives of the horses.  The current stable size, as well as the proposed stable size, is not adequate for a horse.  Any reputable equine veterinarian recommends at least 12 x 12 feet for horses, with 14 x 14 feet for large draft breeds, of which several carriage horses are.       

    Third, the suggested 5-week furlough is irrelevant to the needs of horses.  All reputable equine experts recommend daily turnout for horses.  5-week furloughs are useless unless the horse also receives daily turnout.  The suggestion in the proposals that exercise for a horse includes time spent driving a carriage is preposterous and an obvious benefit to only the drivers/owners.  There is no reputable equine expert who would suggest driving a carriage equates with exercise and daily turnout.    

    Fourth, the temperature parameters set forth in the rules shows how callous the industry and the sponsors behind this bill really are.  It fails to take into account wind chill or heat index or any inclement weather such as ice rain or sleet.  Allowing the horses to work in such potential weather extremes is nothing less than abuse.  Moreover, the suggestion that drivers maintain a daily log of temperatures and keep those logs at the stable is pointless.  Who exactly is going to review the entries in each log book?  How can the entries ever be disputed?  Does this Committee or any council member actually think a driver is going to take the temperature each hour and record it?  Would a driver ever place an entry in the log book showing the temperature was below 18 degrees or above 90 degrees?  This is an utterly disingenuous proposal, which has absolutely no benefit for the horses.    

    Finally, there is little, if any, enforcement today.  Carriage drivers do what they want, when they want, how they want.  Creating additional regulations, even as weak as these are, is not going to improve the conditions for the horses.  It is not going to erase the problems and insurmountable difficulties these horses endure day after day.    

    For the foregoing reasons, I urge the city council members to oppose this bill.  Failing to do so will perpetuate this barbaric practice and allow the horses to continue to suffer.  Failing to oppose this bill will show the world that New York City promotes the horse-drawn carriage industry by allowing the industry to profit from its inhumane treatment of horses.      

Int 0035-2010    
    Council Members Palma and Gale A. Brewer should be applauded for their introduction of this bill.  They have taken a stand which, apparently, few members of the City Council have the heart or compassion to – ban the horse-drawn carriage industry.  This is the only way to stop the inhumane treatment of the horses and, in turn, preclude these horses from their wretched existence.    

    This bill, coupled with Int 0086-2010, which replaces horse-drawn carriages with alternative fuel powered classic cars, satisfies both positions.  It offers the owners and drivers an alternative employment, in precisely the same geographic area and engaging in the same type of work – taking people on drives through Central Park and other designated areas of Manhattan.  More importantly, it removes the horses from the streets of Manhattan.  Although this bill does not address what happens with the horses if the industry is abolished, Council Member Palma’s and Brewer’s bill does.  Merging these two bills will create a win-win for both sides.   

    I urge the council members to vote in favor of Int 0092.  I hope that the members will do the right thing, the humane thing, and close down the horse-drawn carriage industry.

                        Respectfully submitted,

                        Pamela B.G.  

Coalition To Ban
Horse-Drawn Carriages

A Committee of the Coalition For New York City Animals, Inc.

The Coalition for
NYC Animals, Inc.

P.O. Box 20247
Park West Station
New York, NY 10025


To honor
Bobby II Freedom
previously known as Billy
ID# 2873 rescued by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and Equine Advocates on June 25, 2010 from the New Holland auctions.

In memory of
Lilly Rose O'Reilly
previously known
as Dada ID# 2711
R.I.P.August, 2007