Monday, December 10, 2007


Update on Rally

From the Colaition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages:

Yesterday was an historic event!. Council Member Tony Avella made the long awaited announcement that he would introduce legislation into the City Council on Wednesday, December 12th to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC. More than 100 people were on the steps of City Hall to show their support and to stand up and be counted. Besides CM Avella, speakers included Elizabeth Forel/Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages; Jill Weitz/Coaltion to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages; Edita Birnkrant/Friends of Animals; John Phillips/League of Humane Voters NYC; Jannette Patterson/People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ; Donny Moss/McMoss Productions; Susan Brandt/Rational-Animal and Sherry Ramsey/Humane Society of the US (HSUS). JoAnne Worley who is currently starring in The Drowsy Chaperone was also there in support. JoAnne said "I used to wear fur - I don't anymore; I used to smoke - I don't anymore; I used to think horse-drawn carriages were romantic - I don't anymore - They are cruel and should be banned."

While no one from the ASPCA was present, CM Avella read an announcement that the ASPCA is backing his legislation. This was met by a round of applause and cheers. Two letters of support were read - one from Tim Trow, Toronto Humane Society (Jill Weitz) (scroll down) and one from John Carmody from Animal Rights Action Network in Limerick, Ireland. (Edita Birnkrant.) We also presented CM Avella with a plaque of appreciation for his compassion in recognizing the plight of New York City's Carriage Horses and for his courage in introducing legislation to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry - a long awaited and historic first. It included a quote by 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."

Our organization - the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages - and all the people associated with it made this happen through our consistently hard work in bringing this issue to the public. All of the people who come out every week to table and educate people deserve many thanks. And all of you who write letters to newspapers, participate in blogs and have contacted your legislators and the mayor deserve equal thanks. It is because of you that we have reached this point not even two years after we began. To quote Margaret Mead "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." So congratulations to all of us! ACTIVIST MEETING: Wednesday, December 12th at 6:30 - YMCA 5 W. 63rd St. Only those who are known to us will be allowed. Carriage owners, drivers, spies and other infiltrators will be not be allowed.

LOTS OF MEDIA COVERAGE covered by every TV network in NYC
All of the TV networks - 1,2,4,5,7,9,and 11 covered this event. Most of the coverage was balanced. Please visit these sites to see the coverage.

NY 1 - December 08, 2007 Tourists looking for a horse and buggy ride in Central Park could be stuck walking if a Queens lawmaker has his way. City Councilman Tony Avella is set to introduce a bill next week that would ban the carriage rides. He says the horses are victims of animal cruelty and risk injuries and even death in city traffic. This all comes after a carriage horse died in September after being spooked by musicians on Central Park South. It's unclear how much support Avella's measure has in the council. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the horses are cared for and should remain a city fixture, and New York's Horse and Carriage Association says their 220 horse fleet is in excellent health.

WCBS - Channel 2 - NEW YORK (CBS) ― Horse-drawn carriages were in high demand today in New York City. Dozens of tourists were competing for a ride. "I think the horse rides are really nice for New York City," said Ashley Troup. But down at City Hall, the mood was angry. Animal activists armed with alarming photographs surrounded a city councilman as he called for a total ban on the industry. "There have been more accidents, there have been more horses who have died or been put to sleep and the situation is only getting worse," said Queens Councilman Tony Avella. It was the latest shot in a war that's as old as the horse and carriages themselves. But after years of fighting to restrict this age-old industry, concerned animal rights activists are making a push to abolish it. "Every time a horse is killed, injured or beaten on New York City streets, PETA is inundated by calls from tourists and residents appalled that city officials still allow them to be on city streets," said Jannette Patterson. There are over 200 licensed carriage horses in the city, and the practice is heavily regulated by the city. But CBS 2 recently discovered poor conditions at one stable, and there have been scattered incidents of horses hurt or killed in traffic. Ian McKeever, who owns the Shamrock Stables, says the industry has an excellent safety record. He says the councilman, a mayoral candidate, is just looking for publicity. "He doesn't know the care I take of my horses," said McKeever. "He doesn't know I go home every night and tell stories of my horses to my three kids." It's not clear how much of a future this proposal has. Mayor Bloomberg supports this industry, saying it's part of what defines the city, but Avella says he'll introduce his bill to ban horse-drawn carriages on Wednesday.

Channel 4 - WNBC - NYC To Consider Ban On Horse Drawn Carriages - NEW YORK -- A city councilman wants to ban the horse-drawn carriages that clip-clop around Central Park -- a move strongly opposed by the city's carriage drivers. Queens Councilman Tony Avella said he will introduce a bill next Wednesday calling for a ban. He and animal rights advocates contend the horses are exposed to cruel conditions and are at risk of injury or death in city traffic. The move comes just months after a carriage horse died when he became spooked by sidewalk musicians and then darted into traffic. Animal advocates backing the plan include "Friends of Animals," who called the move to an carriages "overdue." But the Horse and Carriage Association is lashing back. The group is fighting to protect its industry and say the city's 220 licensed carriage horses are in excellent health. Group spokeswoman Carolyn Daly called Avella an "ill-formed, publicity-seeking opportunist." A carriage horse died in September after it was spooked by street musicians and bolted down Central Park South. It was the second such incident in less than two years. It is not clear how much support Avella's bill has in the 51-member council. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that the horses are cared for and should remain a New York City fixture.

WABCTV - Eyewitness News - Channel 7 - NEW YORK -- A city councilman wants to put a stop to the horse-drawn carriages that clip-clop around Central Park. Queens Councilman Tony Avella says he will introduce a bill next Wednesday calling for a ban. He and animal rights advocates say the horses are exposed to cruel conditions and are at risk of injury or death in city traffic. Those allegations are being denied by carriage owners.

Channel 5 - -- A New York City councilman plans to introduce a bill that would ban horse-drawn carriages from Central Park. Councilman Tony Avella cited past examples of abuse and animal deaths. Fox 5's Andre Hepkins got reaction from New Yorkers and the carriage owners.

Bill to Ban Horse & Carriages Met with Unbridled Anger By John DeSio The clip-clop of equine feet through midtown Manhattan would be a thing of the past if City Council Member Tony Avella gets his way. But opponents of the council member say he has no horse sense. Avella will hold a press conference on Saturday to announce a bill that would ban horse-drawn carriages, hansom cabs if you're olde tyme-ish, from all City streets. The bill will be officially introduced in the City Council next Wednesday, and represents the first time any elected official has pushed for an all-out ban on perhaps the City's most famous tourist trap. For animal rights activists, Avella's bill cannot be passed soon enough. Edita Birnkrant, spokesperson for the non-profit Friends of Animals, said there has been discussion of simply reforming the industry in the past. Such reforms, she added, would offer only cosmetic changes to a barbaric practice. "There's no way to make it better," said Birnkrant, calling horse-drawn carriages "horrible" and "cruel." "It's time to get it out of the City." Not so, says the horse and carriage industry.

"This is just a cheap publicity program he is running on the backs of these horses," said Carolyn Daly, spokesperson for the Horse & Carriage Association of New York "He should be ashamed." Avella has aligned himself with extremists, said Daly, knows nothing about horses and does not truly care for the animals, only his political career. "This is not about the horses," said Daly. "This is about Tony Avella. He's the worst kind of elected official." [READ THE REST and comment on blog]]

BANNING HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES Associated Press - December 8, 2007
New York City Council to consider banning horse-drawn carriages at urging of animal advocates By SARA KUGLER - Associated Press [this article was picked up around the country] NEW YORK - The horse-drawn carriages that clip clop around Central Park could be banned under New York City Council legislation to be introduced at the urging of animal advocates who say the horses are treated inhumanely. Councilman Tony Avella, who plans to introduce the bill on Wednesday, said the horses that have entertained tourists and New Yorkers for decades are exposed to cruel conditions and are at risk of injury or death as they weave through city traffic. In September, a horse died after it was spooked by street musicians with drums and bolted down Central Park South. It was the second such incident in less than two years. "This situation is only getting worse _ the animals are not being treated properly, and enough is enough," Avella said. "Horses are incompatible with traffic _ especially midtown traffic." It is not clear how much support his bill has in the 51-member council, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week that the horses are cared for and should stay as a New York City fixture. "These are things that the tourists like and New Yorkers like and they define a city," he said. The Horse & Carriage Association of New York issued a scathing statement in response to the proposal, stating that the city's carriage horses are in excellent health and Avella "is the one who should be put out to pasture." "Our industry is made up of predominantly Irish and Italian working families who have for generations made their livelihoods in the horse carriage industry," the group said. "NO ONE is more invested in the health, safety and welfare of our horses than we are. They are not only our livelihood, they are a part of our lives and we care deeply for each and every one of them."

The city has 220 licensed carriage horses, 293 certified drivers and 68 licensed carriages, said association spokeswoman Carolyn Daly, who noted all horses spend four months each year at a farm and are eventually retired to farms. The Health Department issues permits and registration for the horses and stables, and is responsible for inspections. A spokeswoman on Friday declined to comment on the legislation, but said the agency has convened a horse advisory board to address horse health and safety issues in the city. The board of members from the veterinary community, the horse carriage industry, the riding community and the public, met for the first time last week. The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages has long been campaigning for the city to shut down the stables and end the rides. Avella said he has visited the stables on the west side of Manhattan, and described the conditions as small and cramped. On Saturday, the Queens Democrat was to announce his legislation with the coalition and a number of animal rights activists, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and television star Jo Anne Worley. "The industry is inherently inhumane, and we feel that way because it denies a horse its most basic instincts," said Elizabeth Forel, president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages. In September, an audit by the city's comptroller found that the horses work in an area without enough water spigots, shade or drains for their waste and without enough oversight by authorities. ___ Associated Press Writer Samantha Gross contributed to this report.

AVELLA CARRIAGE BAN ANGERS OWNERS Times Ledger - December 6, 2007
Avella Carriage Ban Angers Owners - Incensed by Councilman Tony Avella's (D-Bayside) impending City Council proposal to ban horse and carriage service in Manhattan, industry members, roughly one-sixth of whom are Bayside residents, are lashing out at the councilman and deriding him as "a horse's ass." "He is running for mayor on our backs through the animal rights people," asserted Stephen Mallone, a Bayside resident who has been in the business for 20 years. "The people of Bayside should be revolting" against the councilman, he said. Advertisement Avella says he is sponsoring the bill to ban the service because horses are overworked by the industry. He also asserted that using horses to cart people around in modern traffic is antiquated, pointing to two accidents in the past two years in which horses died as evidence. "This is actually torture for the animals," he said. "There's a reason horse carriages don't exist in downtown traffic." Industry members hotly dispute those accusations, claiming the claims are a product of ignorance and political grandstanding. Mallone said the horses are well-maintained and well-treated, with their condition overseen by a host of city agencies and clear for all passers-by to see. "It's an absolute travesty to even imply" the horses are maltreated, he said. The horses work six- to seven-hour shifts and average one ride per hour, he said, with a 15-minute rest required by law every two hours. When they can no longer work, the horses are sent to pastures or maintained privately, but not euthanized, he said.
Ian McKeever, owner of Shamrock Stables on 45th Street and 10th Avenue, said the councilman should worry about his own district instead of meddling in Manhattan. About two years ago, he said, Avella visited one of the stables. "He was very happy and had nothing negative to say,"McKeever said. "Now he's being a horse's ass." Avella sharply dismissed that assertion, calling it a "total lie." He said he visited stables, inspected conditions and submitted follow-up questions which, he says, were never answered. The councilman proposed a partial ban on the industry almost two years ago. "The truth has to come out," he said. "These horses are in bad shape. They're downtrodden." Eva Hughes, a Bayside resident who owns a carriage service and met her husband in the business, said Avella was aligning himself with radical animal rights groups and distorting the facts. "He's the kind of politician who gives politicians a bad name," she said. Hughes said the two recent horse deaths were the only ones since 1985 and added that the industry has a vested interest in protecting the animals. "They're our livelihood," she said. "Accidents happen, but we have to be allowed to live." [write a letter to the editor:]

ARTICLE ON OFF-THE-BOOKS WORK SPURS LETTER Letters to the editor - December 7, 2007
An article in Metro "Off-The-Books Work Booms" by Amy Zimmer discussed how the city stands to lose at least $550 million in 2008 in unpaid payroll taxes. The article has nothing to do with the carriage horse controversy. However the reporter chose to include a gratuitous comment by Jim Conway of Local 14 operating engineers. "You see these women who protest the mistreatment of horses in the carriage industry at Central Park, yet these women buy condos built by exploited workers." It seems that some reporters will print anything that comes out of the mouths of carriage owners and their cronies.

My response printed in Letters to the Editor - December 7, 2007. Jim Conway's comments about women protesting the mistreatment of carriage horses and also buying condos built by exploited workers are so ludicrous that they are just silly, false and unrelated to this issue. But since he brought it up: The carriage drivers operate in a cash only - off the books business. They can report whatever they want to the IRS causing the City of NY a loss of tax dollars. Is this fair to those of us who do pay taxes on what we earn? To add insult to injury, they often cover their rate card and charge unsuspecting tourists what ever they want. And yet Council Member James Gennaro has introduced a bill asking for a rate increase that essentially rewards this unethical practice. Elizabeth Forel - Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

The anti horse extremists really pull at straws to knock the horse & carriage services.None of them have the nerve to accuse a specific person of any of the accusations they talk about,and sign their name to that complaint.They like to generalize and con the public for ''donations'',with the lies they love to spin.In my case,this is my business,horse & carriages,whether it be in NYC,or Long Island,or NJ,we love our horses and the jobs we do with them,and they will never be ''poster children'' for the extremists to scam more money off the public.
I have grown up with horses all my life. I went to NYC a couple of weeks ago to take a carriage ride out of curiousity and was appalled at the hatefulness of the horses. I inquired to my Irish driver about how these horses lived and this is what he told me:

They ride them to and from the barn which is about 5 miles away. They do NOT have any paddock or field to run around in. These horses are put in a stall and kept there until the next day when they are tacked up and driven into the city again for a grueling 12-14 hours of work including travel time.

Anyone that knows horses know that 1) They are herd animals and need to be around other horses freely 2) They need down time to kick up their heels and gallop around and play/relax, roll on the ground or just plain be with other horses in a wide open space somewhere munching contentedly on their hay.

I can see why most of these horses are insane and mean temperered. They live in a prison every day and even on their days off do not get out of their stalls to "be horses".

To me, that is the epitome of cruelty and totally slavery. I am saddened that most people do not know this and that hardly anyone taking the poll seems to think it is cruel to the horses. How would you like to be locked in a little bedroom after a hard day of work, not able to come out until you were at your workdesk and ready to do it happy hour, no socializing freely with others, no trip to the gym, no watching tv. Some of you might like that but it is the point that you have a choice and can be "human" if you choose to. Cruel cruel cruel.

You can believe that I will not be taking another ride again in New York City unless they change the living conditions of these horses.
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