New York City Horse Carriage Industry Survives Attacks

Back in 2014, we covered the attack by radical animal rights organizations and Mayor Bill de Blasio on a thriving New York tradition. Years later, de Blasio is still being pressured by the animal rights base to end the use of carriage horses in Central Park. In a 2014 news conference he said, “We are going to get rid of horse carriages, period.” As we pointed out in our article at the time, he didn’t feel that way just five years prior when he refused to support two different pieces of legislation that would have implemented a similar ban.

So what changed his opinion so drastically? Perhaps it was the overly generous campaign donations from prominent animal rights groups. The same groups from which, if you do a little digging, we see their own motives stray away from animals. The so called “New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets” (NYCLASS) led the charge against horse carriages. This was a group founded by Steve Nislick, creator of the fake antique cars they wished to replace the horses with and CEO of Edison Properties – a real estate development company with a vested business interested in getting the carriage horses out of the way. Nislick already has several properties around the area of the stables where the horses reside and if they went out of business then that land would be up for grabs. Seems like a win-win for him, hello parking lots!

Turns out, it was a lose-lose. Their venture failed. They had neither the support of the council nor the public needed to strip this tradition from New York. In 2015, the Mayor was still feeling extreme pressure to pay off Nislick’s investment with a political win, and responded in an interview, “The fact is, the industry has a lot of support in the City Council,” and that “What I’d say to every advocate is, ‘You already have my vote, go get the votes in the City Council and solidify the support in the City Council so we can make this change.” Needless to say, NYCLASS was not happy with this statement.

Their dollars got them far less than they were hoping. What the Mayor failed to point out, and what activists refuse to acknowledge, are the reasons why the Council supports the carriages:

1) The New York population supports the horse carriages, with an amazing margin of 63% to 25% opposing the proposal to ban or limit their use.

2) The horse drawn carriages are not inhumane as the radical activists claim. According to Blue Star Equiculture, the horses live long and fulfilling lives. Most pull carriages for 10-15 years and then are retired to private facilities. While working in Central Park, they are consistently fed and watered throughout the day. Their legs and joints receive the best care with specially made horseshoes and only using a walking pace. City regulations ensure that their stables and stalls are kept in top condition, being cleaned several times a day. And through thorough training they are conditioned to not be spooked by traffic and are accustomed to their urban surroundings.

3) Finally, the iconic tradition brings many tourists to the city who are in search of a romantic night amongst the city lights.

Despite all of this, de Blasio attempted again to hinder horse carriages and pay off his debt early this year. This time he simply proposed restrictions, but they would have cut the number of carriage drivers in half, limited where they could go, and change the stable requirements – requiring them to build an entirely new facility. He originally intended the bill to be a ‘compromise’ between the Teamsters union representing the carriage horse drivers and animal rights activists, knowing that only with the Teamsters support could he get an new restrictions passed through the City Council. However, according to the local Teamster union President George Miranda, “With the legislation now finalized, our members are not confident that it provides a viable future for their industry.” They pulled out of the ‘compromise’. Without their support the vote on the regulations which was supposed to be held Friday was called off. We think Liam Neeson puts it best in an op-ed for the NY Daily News over the issue, he writes,

“A majority of carriage drivers and stable hands are recent immigrants, often raised on farms in their home countries. They love their jobs and their horses, and they take pride in being ambassadors for this great city. I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: Their livelihoods are now at risk because the animal-rights opponents of the industry are well funded by real-estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties occupied by the stables.”

This controversy was another instance where the wealthy individuals driving the AR agenda were using it for personal gain and not to better the lives of animals. When the Teamsters decided to step away from negotiations, it was a great victory for horses, the city of New York, and the families that depend on the jobs associated with carriage rides.

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