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At Last! NYC Moves To Ban Horse Carriages

<p>Henri Ton/Flickr</p>

A crowd of animal advocates, politicians and press stood on the steps of City Hall in New York Monday morning, waiting for the announcement of a bill that could take carriage horses off the city's streets for good.

The bill, introduced by two City Council members Monday afternoon at the request of Mayor Bill de Blasio, aims to phase out the industry by May 2016 by not renewing drivers' licenses, as well as outlawing driving carriage horses in the city.

(NYCLASS)

Epoch Times reporter Catherine Yang recorded Daniel Dromm, the Queens Council member who is sponsoring the bill, telling the crowd, "Animals do not belong on the streets of New York City, plain and simple."

City Council member and chair of the transportation committee Ydanis Rodriguez joined animal advocates at City Hall on Monday morning to call for the horse carriage ban:

Councilman Fernando Cabrera did the same:

Shortly after the rally to support the ban, a group of carriage drivers and union members arrived at City Hall to protest the carriage ban.

So far, eight council members have announced their support of the ban, while another eight have announced their opposition. While other cities like Salt Lake City, Utah, have banned their horse carriages recently, the issue has been at the forefront of New York media lately, with The New York Times editorial board weighing in against the ban on Sunday:

Details are lacking, but questions are many. Why eliminate an entire class of Teamsters union jobs? How will the horses escape slaughter? What will happen to the stables, on coveted property on the West Side of Manhattan?

In fact, the proposed legislation requires that any carriage drivers wishing to sell their horses must notify City Hall 10 days beforehand to ensure they don't end up in slaughterhouses. Several animal welfare organizations and sanctuaries have already come forward saying they would adopt the horses.

Animal advocates argue that the industry subjects horses to dangerous traffic, citing several recent accidents and injuries, including cabs crashing into horses and one driver being arrested for forcing his severely injured horse to work for four days. Last June, public records from the Department of Health revealed that more than 200 retired carriage horses were unaccounted for, with no records of their whereabouts after they left the city's streets. Horse drivers argue that the animals are well-cared for, and that their livelihoods depend on the horses.

But, in fact, the carriage drivers may not be out of a job if the ban goes through. The proposed legislation includes requirements for training carriage drivers to get licenses to operate green taxis (cabs that operate in New York City's outer boroughs). An antique-style e-carriage has also been proposed as a replacement for the horses.

Now, the City Council must vote on the bill, and an environmental review will be conducted.