Over the years, I have witnessed NYC’s carriage drivers working their horses in extreme weather conditions – from heat waves to thunderstorms to blizzards – even though the law states that carriage drivers “shall not allow a horse to be worked in snow, ice, heavy rain or other slippery conditions.” Recently, I saw the drivers working during the city shutdown in the rainy hours leading up to the arrival Hurricane Irene. (see story below)
During inclement weather, dozens of New Yorkers, if not more, call the ASPCA and ask them to take the horses out of harm’s way. We’ve learned from experience that, without these calls, the ASPCA will typically allow the carriage drivers to continue working. Is the ASPCA bending over backwards to accommodate the carriage drivers, or is it gross incompetence?
Given the ASPCA’s willingness to allow the carriage drivers to work in adverse conditions and their unwillingness to use their considerable power and influence to take these horses off the streets of NYC, I can’t help but wonder whose side the ASPCA is really on. Seeing an ASPCA humane law enforcement officer “high five” a carriage driver during a blizzard only reinforced this concern — as did Mayor Bloomberg’s statement that the “ASPCA has convinced me that these animals are treated humanely.”
After years of defending their decisions to allow the carriage drivers to work in adverse weather conditions, the ASPCA has finally admitted to a lapse in judgment around Hurricane Irene: “In retrospect we feel we should have imposed the suspension earlier on Saturday to better ensure the safety of the horses.” (see full statement below) However, the ASPCA is simultaneously shifting the blame to the city: “The city has abandoned its responsibility to monitor the carriage horse industry, and so the ASPCA has stepped in to do our best to protect these beautiful animals.” This comment is utterly disingenuous. The ASPCA has not “stepped in.” On the contrary, they have fought tooth and nail to protect their role as enforcers of humane law.
But why does the ASPCA fight to preserve their humane law enforcement power when they readily acknowledge that they can’t do the job? If the ASPCA put the same amount of energy into banning horse-drawn carriages in NYC as they have into preserving their enforcement powers, then the horses would have probably been taken off the streets many years ago.
On their website, the ASPCA states that they support the “legislation to phase out carriage horses in New York City, replacing horse drawn carriages with electric powered classic cars.” Where are these cars? We’ve been hearing about them since 2008. And how can NYC Council Members vote on legislation to replace the carriages with electric cars if they’ve never seen a prototype and have no information about them? Instead of hiding behind this bill that can’t be passed in the foreseeable future, the ASPCA should use their considerable power and influence to demand that our elected officials take these horses off the streets and out of harm’s way right now. If you agree, please ask them to use their resources to ban, instead of enable, this inhumane and unsafe industry in NYC:
President and CEO
Stacy Wolf, Esq.
Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel
Humane Law Enforcement
Pamela Corey DVM
Director of Equine Veterinary Services
Humane Law Enforcement
From: ASPCA Public Information Subject: The horse-drawn carriage industry is enabled by the ASPCA
Date: Monday, September 5, 2011, 10:06 AM
Dear Friends of Animals:
We genuinely thank you for your passionate concern for New York’s carriage horses. On Saturday we suspended carriage operations in advance of the City’s evacuation based on the best information available to us as to Irene’s potential impact on the city. Nevertheless, in retrospect we feel we should have imposed the suspension earlier on Saturday to better ensure the safety of the horses. We are committed to learning from this event and will continue to leverage our legal authority and advocacy to improve the lives of these horses while working in such difficult conditions. Unfortunately, the city has abandoned its responsibility to monitor the carriage horse industry, and so the ASPCA has stepped in to do our best to protect these beautiful animals. At the same time, we will continue to use our influence to pass legislation that will take the horses off New York City streets for good. We hope you will support our efforts to end the horse carriage industry in New York City.
ASPCA Public Information