What horses do not like, however, is being out in the snow and ice, tied to a horse carriage, with no freedom of movement, pulling ignorant tourists and greedy drivers; or made to stand in the same icy, slushy spot waiting for passengers.
This is not work. It's frivolous entertainment and it's cruelty.
But more importantly, it is illegal in New York City for drivers to work their horses in adverse weather conditions, which include snow and ice - regardless of the temperature. This can be found in the Administrative Code and Health Department regulations.
New York City Administrative Code - § 17–330 Regulations. f. Owners shall not allow a horse to be worked on a public highway, path or street during adverse weather or other dangerous conditions which are a threat to the health or safety of the horse. A horse being worked when such conditions develop shall be immediately returned to the stable by the most direct route.
The City Charter, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Rules & Regulations goes further in its description. § 4-05. Working Conditions. Adverse weather conditions shall include but not be restricted to snow, ice, heavy rain or other slippery conditions.
In January 2014, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) officially gave up humane law enforcement with the New York Police Department (NYPD) assuming the responsibility. The ASPCA was often criticized for doing a less than stellar job, but even though they did it on a volunteer basis, they still accepted that responsibility. Not so the police. Here it is more than one year later and the street laws are still not being enforced.
By street laws, I mean violations that can be observed outside - on the street. They include drivers making illegal U-turns; running red lights; using hand held mobile phones while driving; leaving their horses unattended and untethered; overloading their carriages - all laws whose genesis is in public safety, laws that are intended to protect everyone - horses, pedestrians, carriage drivers and their customers.
Why is it so difficult to get the NYPD to enforce these laws?
If they do not want to do so, then let them admit it and let's shut down the industry for noncompliance. Or is our government OK with allowing the drivers to break the law and essentially do what they want - contributing to the wild, wild west laissez faire attitude.
Or is it really just anarchy?
The carriage drivers have the shameless audacity to say that the industry is overseen by five different agencies with 144 pages of regulations. This remains unchallenged because the New York media is mostly on their side and accepts these pronouncements as truths.But 144 pages of regulations means nothing if they are not being enforced.
Horses working in bad snow conditions on 3/1/15. This past Sunday saw some heavy snow that started late morning in New York City. It got heavier and heavier causing dangerous driving and walking conditions. Both the Sanitation Department and New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) issued a travel advisory the day before. OEM referred to it as a "wintry mix of snow and freezing rain. The National Weather Service had also issued a Winter Weather Advisory for 10:00 am Sunday through 7:00 am Monday.
On Saturday, the Daily News forecast 4 to 8 inches of snow in New York.
Snow storm: Although this snow storm was forecast accurately, the carriage drivers were out plying their trade and the NYPD was nowhere to be seen.
Enforcement problem: Why weren't the officers out on the hack line after it began to snow, waiting for the conditions to worsen and suspend the operation? Instead, it took telephone calls from concerned citizens asking the NYPD to shut down this business. Even then, they promised different callers that they were sending a car out but ½ hour later, that car did not come. And this was from the Central Park Precinct, which is in Central Park! When the NYPD car finally came, they missed the carriages that had gone into the park with fares. So they had to be called again.
I am not sure if the carriages were officially suspended on Sunday because this is "secret" information - although I hear that most carriages eventually went back to the stables.
And of course, this begs the question as to why the carriage drivers would even subject their horses to this kind of harsh weather and dangerous conditions. After all, they claim to love them like their own children.
What a mess. Why does it take caring and concerned citizens to make the NYPD do its job?