De Blasio: 'It's Over' for NYC's Horse-Drawn Carriages

Image: De Blasio: 'It's Over' for NYC's Horse-Drawn Carriages

Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 06:58 AM

By Elliot Jager

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New York's incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to honor a campaign pledge by backing a City Council bill that would ban horse-drawn carriages from Manhattan's Central Park.

"We are going to get rid of the horse carriages. Period," de Blasio told reporters Monday at a news conference, the Daily News reported.

"It's over," de Blasio said.

Some 200 drivers and horses would be effected.

New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) and the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages, which have lobbied for the ban, say working horses in Manhattan traffic is inhumane.

As for the drivers, the groups say they could be re-trained to drive vintage-looking electrical cars.

But veteran horse-carriage driver Steven Malone told CNN, "You can't create tradition. You can't create kids coming with smiles on their faces to pet the horses. You're not getting that with an electric car . . . Kids can't pet fenders."

Carriage drivers say their horses are well treated: they never work them more than nine hours, they're kept warm with blankets in winter, and taken off the sweltering streets when summer temperatures go over 90 degrees.

If the carriage ban takes effect, opponents say most of the horses would not be put out to pasture and could end up being slaughtered, becoming some of the 100,000 horses sent to abattoirs in Canada and Mexico yearly.

"We do not have enough rescue space in this country for the horses we have now," equine expert Karen Waite of Michigan State University told the News.

According to the News, it could cost $8 million to rescue the carriage horses, but Allie Feldman with NYCLASS told the News that the group has promised to "raise whatever's needed to take care of every single horse."

Even had de Blasio lost the election to his Republican opponent Joe Lhota, the future of the horses would have been in jeopardy. Lhota supported the ban as well, the News reported.

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