The Coalition began this campaign in 2006 after the death of a young horse named Spotty. He was on the way back to the stable when he got spooked and bolted into traffic. Terrified, he ran into a station wagon, wrapping himself over the top. He was so badly injured, that he was euthanized on site. This horrific image of the carriage wrapped over the vehicle went viral.
At that time, we were told by many political veterans that we'd never get a ban and should instead try for better conditions. But I knew from experience that "better conditions" do not happen when the carriage industry had such strong influence with past administrations. I was confident in my belief that if I were to spend an inordinate amount of time on an issue, it would be for a ban – not so-called improvements. We persevered and here we are nine years later.
We have not seen the bill yet. But we were given the opportunity of an extensive briefing by the Mayor's office on Monday night. The bill wisely takes into consideration the disposition of horses and jobs for the drivers, offering them extensive custom designed job training or green cab medallions. Most people who lose their jobs do not get anything like this. The drivers' licenses will be sunsetted, expiring in 2016, not to be renewed.
The primary issue that has always concerned us is what happens to the horses when they are no longer wanted in the industry. There currently is no protection and we want to make sure this requirement appears in the new proposed legislation. The carriage trade and some of the media have brainwashed many to believe that if there is a ban, the horses will go to slaughter. This was successfully countered in a Forbes piece in last October by Vickery Eckoff, which made reference to the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries that offered to manage the process of finding homes for the horses through their member sanctuaries. At that time, there was a waiting list of people and organizations who were interested. But the drivers would have to agree to this valuable resource since the horses are privately owned.
Last year I released a study that showed that over the course of seven and a half years, beginning in 2005, at least 529 horses dropped off the Department of Health (DoH) rolls.
Between April of 2013 and September of 2014, my research from the DoH revealed that at least 59 horses fell off the rolls. The present law requires only that horses are disposed of "humanely" but provides no definition for what that means. Horses do not go directly to "slaughter." The route is more circuitous. If a horse is sold outside New York City as most are, sales records are not required to be submitted to the DoH. We believe that many of the horses are laundered through Amish farmers who take them to kill auctions where they may be purchased by kill buyers who have contracts with Canadian slaughter houses. Drivers refuse to provide sales records saying this is none of our business. They need to show accountability for the horses who were used to make them a living.
We feel confident this will be worked out and the horses will be saved. If the drivers truly care for their horses as they claim, they will cooperate and be grateful for any help in placing their horses.
The spotlight will be on the drivers and if they attempt to get rid of a horse as they have done in the past, they will get bad publicity. Horses like Chris, pictured at the top, who was involved in an accident in midtown last September, is no longer in the system.
His "release" document is below.