Saturday, January 16, 2016

DeBlasio's Ill Conceived Plan to Slowly Kill New York City Carriage Horses


Will NYC carriage horses become icons of the past?
Taking time for a carrot.
Engaging with the children.
Taking a moment for a little grazing.
 
On the surface, it sounds wonderful.
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"Retire" 2/3rds of the New York City carriage horses, build stables in Central Park and keep the horses out of traffic.  
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Unfortunately, matters are seldom what they appear on the surface nor how they are spun by politicians.
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In bid to get the pricey West Side land (for developers) that the current carriage horse stables sit on, as well as appease those who helped put him in office, Mayor Bill deBlasio has come up with a "plan" to slowly kill the horse carriage industry in New York City --though the proposed bill doesn't say that.
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DeBlasio's campaign promise of a horse carriage "ban on day one" of his administration failed to fly with both, the public and the City Council.
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And so he is trying a different tack. 
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But, the "plan" would actually create the very situation deBlasio is portending to care about and solve: That of real animal abuse.

How do 75 horses pick up the work load for more than 200?
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Presently, there are 220 carriage horses. The horses rotate to work in day or evening shifts, get days off and are required to get at least five weeks vacation every year.
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But, reducing the number of rotating and available horses from 220 to 75 would dramatically raise the work load for the remaining animals, thereby effectively tripling it.
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How could such bare-boned supply of horses allow for vacations or even days off as required by law? Would the horses be compelled to work double shifts in order to cover the demand for carriage rides, both day and night? 
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While consumer desire for carriage rides falls during certain times of the year (primarily winter), it is extremely high during other times -- especially holidays, when long lines of people (mostly tourists) are frequently seen waiting for an available horse and carriage.
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During slower parts of the year, the horses get significant rest periods between rides and are the subjects of much human admiration, photos and carrots.
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But, no matter how invigorating or even pleasant the job, no horse should be forced to work longer than the stipulated regulations simply because there are no horses to rotate and relieve him/her.
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Such situation is tantamount to animal abuse and effectively usurps the very laws and regulations enacted over the past several decades to protect horses and prevent abuse of them.
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But, if potential and likely overwork of remaining horses isn't bad enough, there is also the question of what happens to the roughly 130 horses who are supposedly, "retired?" Where do they go?
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Horses are legally considered "property" of their owners.
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Owners of carriage horses suddenly put out of work are under no obligation to hand those horses over to those who crusaded for their banishment -- and it's highly unlikely they would do so. But, horses are also expensive to keep or to board, especially when little or no money is coming in. While there supposedly is wording in the proposed bill that would prohibit the horses being directly sold to slaughter, it is also unclear what does happen to them.
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Reality is, that if "retirement" farms were plentiful and available for adult,  healthy horses, we would not be sending more than 150,000 horses for slaughter to Canada and Mexico each year.
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Virtually, every horse rescue and sanctuary in the USA is overwhelmed, underfunded and cannot take in all the young, beautiful and healthy horses otherwise bound to foreign slaughter destinations every day of the year.  
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Those campaigning for the ban of carriage horses have repeatedly stated that they have "waiting sanctuaries" for the banished carriage horses. But, were that so, why are these sanctuaries not using that "space" for horses heading to slaughter now?
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Finally, there is the issue (or hollow promise) of "stables in Central Park" for the 75 equine survivors of this hasty, ill conceived and cruel plan.
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In attempt to avoid all the legal snafus of requesting new public land (in Central Park) for private enterprise stables, the administration is apparently putting forth the suggestion that the antiquated building at the 86th Street Transverse in Central Park can magically be transformed into a "stable" to house the remaining 75 carriage horses. (It's currently being used to store equipment for park workers.)
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This is so absurd, as to be laughable.
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The building is a smallish, one-story, century-old former stable for police horses. (It is adjacent to the Central Park police precinct.)  But, no longer suitable for police horses, it is mostly now a warehouse and working space for electricians and park employees.
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There is no mention in the new proposal where the carriages for the 75 horses would be stored, nor all the equipment and supplies necessary to care for them properly.
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Moreover, while police personnel leaving or entering the police station in cars from the middle of the Transverse can push a traffic signal to temporarily hault traffic, how would this work for much slower and larger horse carriages?  The heavily trafficked, two-laned, Transverse is extremely narrow and on its face, seemingly represents a death trap for slow-moving carriage horses trying to compete with fast-moving cars and buses.
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One article suggested the carriage horses would walk along the Bridal Path in Central Park to get to 59th Street, a mile and half away. But, the rocky and uneven dirt, Bridal Path was designed for riding horses, not horses pulling bulky carriages.
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One might suppose, that if you cannot improve something, then it is best to leave it be.
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The laws, regulations and amenities currently in place to protect carriage horses and ensure their humane and healthy care were worked for over decades. But they would virtually be dismantled and rendered meaningless if deBlasio's ill thought proposal were to pass and be enacted.
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Such "plan" pleases neither those seeking a ban nor those wishing to keep carriage horses in New York City.
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Perhaps because it's a plan that sacrifices both, animal and human welfare for the sake of land grab, building development, political payback and greed. -- PCA
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7 comments:

Renae241 said...

Nicely put, Patty

Christina said...

Well said. You're absolutely correct that such a plan was put together by the Mayor without any idea or any thought about how it would really work.

It might be feasible if we were working with an administration that respected the carriage drivers and their horse knowledge, who could provide information to legislators about what would be needed to make such a stable in the park work.

PCA said...

Thanks, Renae and Christina. It seems obvious this inept mayor was seeking a compromise between those who helped put him in office and the majority of New Yorkers who say this is a non-issue and the horses should remain. But it is no "compromise" that basically cripples an industry, displaces 2/3rds of the workers and sends more than 130 horses to unknown and precarious fate. -- Not to mention, creating a situation of over-burden and possible abuse for the 75 equine survivors who remain.

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