President’s Message:

Animal Advocacy Groups Work Together to Ban Carriage Horses in NYC

Laura Ann Cammisa, President of NYSHA

It is encouraging that a number of animal advocacy groups are working together to ban the use of horses for carriage rides in New York City. By focusing on a common goal, including agreeing not to allow dissension on unrelated issues to be divisive, there is finally real promise to help these terribly abused animals. Our own Dr. Holly Cheever, who has been representing NYSHA since 1988 on this issue, recently attended a meeting in New York at the request of Council member Tony Avella, who has introduced a bill to ban this abusive tourist attraction. Dr. Cheever joined representatives of The Humane Society of the United States, PETA, the ASPCA, Friends of Animals, and the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages, to whom we are grateful for reigniting the efforts to end this cruel industry.

According to Dr. Cheever, previous attempts to protect these animals included reform bills, but never a ban, which is really the only solution since this tourist attraction can never be humane – especially in NYC. They are rarely given a rest during the busiest seasons, and the city’s heat and humidity take their toll in summertime. The city is dangerous, noisy and frightening, and spooked horses easily gallop into city traffic, resulting in fatal accidents. Their “off” time isn´t much better – they are kept in ancient and outmoded barns, which are firetraps for equines on upper levels, with minimal veterinary care and no “turn out” — meaning that they never have (the opportunity to stretch, roll, or lie down comfortably).

Most of these horses are purchased from the New Holland “killer sales,” having lived out their “useful” lives on Amish farms or on Standardbred tracks, and are returned to the killer sales after their productive life on the street is over. Over the Christmas holiday, the reports of bystanders watching these horses on the hack lines were heart wrenching: the horses exhibited high respiratory rates, hung their heads in exhaustion, and were afforded no water during their long shift.

Years ago, on behalf of NYSHA and at the request of the ASPCA, Holly Cheever inspected the stables and lobbied for protective legislation. Until the mid-80´s these carriages were limited mostly to Central Park, but as city government changed, these overworked and under-cared-for animals lost what little quality their sad lives had and were exposed to the pollution and dangers of competing with vehicular traffic.

By all working together again, we can change that. We earnestly request that all our members write letters to: Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, City Hall, New York, NY 10007 or email the mayor. Ask him to support Council member Tony Avella´s Intro #658 to ban the industry (please specify it by name so as not to confuse it with a competing reform bill), and if you know anyone in NYC, please ask them to do the same. Together we can — and must — make a difference.

As always, for the animals,

Laura-Ann Cammisa

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXI, No.3, Winter 2007-2008.