Weekly updates about issues and actions concerning New York City's Carriage Horses

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25 February 2007 - Vol. # 17

how the law works ****** horrific accident takes little girl's life

How it Will Become Law -- But Only With Your Help!
Council hearingThe best way to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry in NYC is through legislation. A draft of our proposed legislation appears on our web site. First, a Council Member must agree to sponsor the bill and then files it with Speaker Christine Quinn's office. It is then introduced into the Council and referred to the appropriate committee.

Historically, bills concerning horse-drawn carriages have been heard in the Transportation Committee, which is why we are first meeting with the Council Members on this committee. One or more public hearings are generally held on the proposed legislation. The public is given the opportunity to testify for or against the bill. Committee work usually represents a very long process involving bill amendments. However, in order for the council as a whole to vote on the bill it must be passed in committee and sent to the full council for more debate and a final vote. If passed by an affirmative vote of a majority of all Council Members (at least 26 members) the bill is then sent to the Mayor, who also holds a public hearing. If the Mayor signs the bill, it becomes law. If the mayor vetoes the bill, it can be overridden by two-thirds of the Council Members. If the mayor does not sign or veto the bill within 30 days, it is considered approved automatically.

All of you play a CRUCIAL role in seeing that this process happens. It is VITAL for you to contact your Council Member NOW to let them know that you would like to see this industry banned in NYC. If you do not contact them, they have no way of knowing that their constituents believe this to be an important issue. Don't think that someone else is going to do it so you are off the hook. Your comments matter and it takes but a few minutes to send an e-mail or to follow up with a phone call. We need you and the horses need you. Please do not let them down. You should also know who your elected representatives are. If you do not, you can access the City Council web site by clicking here - and entering the required information.

IF YOU ARE A NEW YORKER, you must also contact Speaker Christine Quinn. The Speaker's office is almost as powerful as the Mayor's and controls which bills are heard in the Council. And please contact Mayor Bloomberg. And while you are at it, do not forget the members of the Transportation Committee - even if they are not your representative. It can be the same e-mail to all of them. If you are stumped at what to say , please visit our web site.

NOT A NYC RESIDENT? Your comments are equally as important. Please contact Mayor Bloomberg - but also contact Speaker Christine Quinn and the members of the Transportation Committee. You are considered a potential tourist with money to spend in NYC. You might prefer to spend your money in a city that does not have the carriage trade - such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas-- or cities like Paris, London or Toronto, which banned the carriage-trade years ago.

PETITIONS - As you know, we have been collecting signatures on petitions directed to the City Council and Mayor. This is a marketing tool and does not have legal weight. It is not a ballot initiative so there is no requirement as to the number of signatures we need. This method of taking the pulse of the people (essentially a poll) has never been done before and we hope it will be received as impressive documentation by the City Council. Our petitions are broken down into states, countries and NYC zip codes.

This entire process can be described in a few paragraphs - but the actual process is not going to be that easy. It will take some time and we have to keep the pressure on. But it is the only right thing to do for these horses. Let's hope our City Council will heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right."

Trampled by Spooked Carriage Horse in Arizona

little girl - accident - 1A five year old girl named Brielle was thrown off her horse and trampled by an out of control team of horses pulling a wagon at the Tucson Rodeo Parade on February 22nd. The run-away horses crashed into her horse causing him to rear up and throw the little girl who was trampled by the carriages. She later died in the hospital from internal bleeding.

Arizona accidentThis is the first death in the parade?s history ? but in a similar incident last year, a runaway team of horses pulling a wagon rammed into a carriage carrying the mayor and his wife. Both were injured. The horses' owner says the horses are parade veterans and have never been involved in any parade accidents. "They were alarmed by some incident along the parade route and reacted instinctively." ?A person is not strong enough to stop a twelve- hundred pound animal? said a bystander. ?Bringing a horse under control is enough of a challenge. Driving a wagon team puts at least 15 to 20 feet between the driver and the horse they're trying to control.?

Thank you for caring about the horses, Elizabeth Forel - Coalition for NYC Animals, Inc. for the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages