Horsedrawn Carriages May Be Forced Into Retirement

02 Mar 2015 | 04:47

Assemblymember Rosenthal re-doubles effort to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC.

"Handsome cabs," the horse-drawn carriages and tourist draw that occupy much of Central Park and environs, may be about to have their "licenses suspended" indefinitely. The proposed retirement plan was brought to State Legislators by Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), who together first introduced the bill on May 16, 2011.

(Photo courtesy of AnnieGreenSprings)

Assemblymember Rosenthal, who resides over parts of Clinton and Hell's Kitchen is advocating the bill as an effective ban of horse-drawn carriages throughout the city, further requiring "the humane relocation, sale, or disposal (where necessary) of the horses released from their service." If passed, the law would allow an 18-day grace for carriage drivers, so that they can arrange for the safe relocation of their horses.

A string of recent events have renewed Rosenthal's concerns regarding the horse-drawn carriage business, and the dangers they pose to both horses and citizens. On Saturday, Mar. 3, a horse pulling an empty carriage was frightened, and ran into heavy traffic, which upended its carriage and put the horse in danger among vehicles for several blocks, until it became exhausted.

"Despite an increasing number of serious accidents involving horse-drawn carriages in the last several months, the City has refused to take any action to protect the public and the horses," said Assemblymember Rosenthal. "The City's congested streets are no place for horses, and horse-drawn carriages pose a serious danger to the public's safety. It is just a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of this industry."

While several animal rights groups, including the ASPCA are in agreement with Aseemblymember Rosenthal, Michael McKeon, a spokesperson for the Teamsters Joint Council 16, has said, "No one loves the horses more than the drivers, and to suggest otherwise is outrageous and wrong. The sad truth is that Tony Avella and the rest of the crowd care nothing about the welfare of these horses?to replace them with some ridiculous antique car scheme is a business plan."

Public opinion does, however, seem to side in favor of carriage bans. According to a Wall Street Journal survey of over 1,500 readers in Oct., 2011, the public heavily favors (76 percent) an outright ban of horse-drawn carriages. And for animal advocates, there can be no greater send off for the iconic carriage horses than a peaceful retirement away from the concrete jungle.