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

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11 March 2007 - Vol. # 19

Tabling ** Opinion Piece ** Existing Regulations ** Making a Complaint

Tabling Resumes - March 18th
Please Join Us
The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages will resume tabling next Sunday, March 18th near Central Park South. We need volunteers to help us get signatures on petitions to the Mayor and City Council -- and to hold posters. This is not a demonstration but an educational event. It is an excellent opportunity to help the horses and get to see how supportive both tourists and New Yorkers are. You can volunteer for one hour or four. We need to know when you will be there so we are sure to have coverage. Please contact Teresa at if you can volunteer.

WHEN: Sunday, March 18, 2007 WHERE: near Central Park South - information will be given to volunteers. TIME: 1-5 PM

The "Carriage Horse" - Lessons We Teach our Children by Dr. Deborah Tanzer
carriage horseHorses are magnificent animals. Strong, proud, beautiful. They run in the wind, manes flying, legs galloping over the earth beneath their feet. This is the horse our stories and lessons teach our children about. But we teach a different lesson, an ugly one, when we allow horse-drawn carriages. "Carriage" horses have been cruelly deprived of their birthright to run free, to fly with the wind, to feel the earth. Even to see fully with the eyes that nature has given them.

Instead, they are exploited for human amusement, and forced to carry heavy loads. They stand imprisoned, their vision marred. Traffic noise, toxic fumes, blazing heat, freezing cold, rain and snow. This is what we have mandated for them.

The lesson to our children is an immoral one. We are saying it is alright to treat horses this way. That it is alright that they are imprisoned, exploited, and sad. Far from teaching compassion and empathy, this message desensitizes us, with harmful consequences for us all. For the sake of the horses, our children, and ourselves, it is time to ban horse- drawn carriages forever. Deborah Tanzer is a long-time animal activist in NYC, and a psychologist who writes about the links between human violence and cruelty to animals.

Regulating the Horse-Drawn Carriage Industry
The problems inherent in the horse-drawn carriage industry will not be solved by enacting more laws. There are many existing laws that are now either being inadequately enforced by the various NYC agencies and the ASPCA ? or not enforced at all. The answer is to get rid of this inhumane industry and to move forward with a more progressive and humane NYC ? one that elevates our moral and ethical sensibility; one that cares as much about victimized and exploited animals as it does about people; to free up the personnel in City Agencies assigned to work on this industry and who are paid with our tax dollars; to free up the ASPCA to focus on other issues; and to free up the people of the City of NY from being reminded of man's inhumanity to animal.

Many of you have asked me questions about the existing laws that regulate the horse-drawn carriage industry - most of which are part of the Administrative Code and are on the web site of the Coalition for New York City Animals. I have highlighted some of the most important ones below.

horses corralled for slaughterDEPT. OF HEALTH (DoH): Title 17 Chapter 3 are concerns of the Department of Health and cover the horses. Every horse in the system is required to have an official number engraved on his/her hoof and a separate identification tag, which is attached to the bridle. If you see a horse in distress, in theory it is important to get these numbers to make a complaint. However, it is virtually impossible for anyone ? especially someone wanting to make a complaint ? to be able to get close enough to read the numbers. Read more about making a complaint below.

DISPOSITION: Section 17-329 addresses the disposition of horses and states only that ?A horse shall not be sold or disposed of except in a humane manner.? Because of this inadequacy in the law, if a horse is not generating enough fares ? either too old, too tired, unattractive or unruly ? he can be sent to auction. Auction is the easiest way to ?dispose? of a horse. It brings in some cash, which can be used to buy a new horse. At the auctions, a horse generally goes to the highest bidder. Although rescue groups often frequent the auctions along with people looking for a horse to bring home as a pet, they are in competition with the killer buyers who work for the horse slaughter houses and are always looking for good specimens. These horses will be sent to one of three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants in the United States ? two in Texas and one in Illinois. More than 100,000 horses were slaughtered in the US last year for the foreign dinner plate. It only stands to reason that some were former carriage horses. No where in the law does it specifically state that a horse shall not be sold directly or indirectly for slaughter.

Byrne brothers stableWORK SCHEDULE/STABLE INSPECTIONS: This section of the law also addresses the number of hours a day a horse may work (nine) and the required rest periods and breaks ? again ? almost impossible to enforce. Stable inspections are included here and lists those authorized to do so. No matter how wonderful the carriage owners say their stables are ? (one was actually quoted in a newspaper as saying they were air conditioned) - I have never seen any stable tours offered to tourists.

TEMPERATURE RESTRICTIONS: The temperature at which the horses can work are regulated in this section. Horses shall not be worked whenever the air temperature is 18 degrees F. or below or 90 degrees F. or above. There is no consideration for wind chill or humidity. In addition, the law states that the temperature shall be measured by a ?state of the art thermometer" either by the Commissioner of the DoH or his designee at one of the hack stands ? in this case ? the ASPCA. So in essence, this means that it is the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) officer who determines the temperature ? not the carriage driver. It is not a matter of giving the responsibility to the driver to listen to the temperature on NY1. Adverse weather conditions are also addressed in this section and described as "dangerous conditions which are a threat to the health or safety of the horse" and mandate that the horse must be returned to the stable.

horse on rampTitle 20 consists of matters overseen by the DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS (DCA). This section deals with the requirement of a special license to operate a carriage. There is no requirement for a NYS drivers license. It also addresses the license plate that is required to be affixed to the back of the carriage. The plate consists of the letters "HC" followed by four digits. If making a complaint about a specific carriage (there are 68) it is important to get this license number. If you cannot get the identification number of the horse involved (it is very difficult to do this) the next best thing is to get a visual description of the horse.

DRIVING RESTRICTIONS: It is possible for the authorities - including police officers - to restrict drivers from operating in specific locations at specific times. Such exigent circumstances ?shall not be limited to, unusually heavy pedestrian or vehicular traffic." During the transit strike of December 2005, I was in a car heading north on 10th Ave. For those of you who live in NYC, you will remember that public transportation was non existent. It was bumper to bumper - like a parking lot. The police apparently did not restrict the drivers during this crisis because I saw several carriages going up 10th Avenue headed north to Central Park. Another example of the police not getting involved with enforcing these regulations.

NO. OF PEOPLE IN CAB: The number of people allowed to ride in a cab is addressed in this section ? not including the driver it may be 4 adults - or; 2 adults and 4 children under 12 - or; 3 adults and 2 children under 12. It does not include a 2nd driver who may be a trainee ? and it does not address the addition of a heavy folded baby carriage, often seen stuffed next to the driver on his seat. Inspection of horse-drawn cabs and insurance requirements are addressed in this section.

AREA & TIME RESTRICTIONS are also covered here. Carriages mostly operate around Central Park ? but they can go into the Lincoln Center and Times Sq. area depending on the time of day and day of the week. This is one of the hardest provisions to enforce because the ASPCA is not generally working the areas ? and the police are often not familiar with this part of the law, which requires one to commit the lengthy restrictions to memory.

What You Need to Know
NECESSARY INFORMATION TO MAKE A COMPLAINT: When you see a violation, mark down the following so you can make a solid complaint -- the location of the violation; the date and time; 4-digit license plate located on the back of the carriage; visual description of the horse if you cannot get the number -- and a description of what you consider to be a violation of the law. This can be a horse who has a bleeding leg; a notable limp; sores from ill fitting tack; any signs of distress; a carriage with more than the allowed occupants; carriages operating out of the allowed area; a violation of temperature restrictions. When making a complaint, you should always make a note of the date and time of your call; the person with whom you spoke and what they said. Always leave your name with a call back number to get an update - but make a point to follow through.

If you see a violation of any of the provisions listed above - you should report this to the ASPCA (212) 876-7700 - x 4450 - this is the Humane Law Enforcement number. Please notify me at about any complaint you make and its disposition.

PICTURES: 1st - tabling near Central Park; 2nd - "carriage horse"; 3rd - horses corralled for slaughter; 4th - exterior of multi-storied NYC horse stable; 5th - horse accessing steep ramp in stable to reach his stall.

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