Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tourist attraction, or cruel spectacle?

"We have an impeccable safety record."
--Carolyn Daly, public relations professional hired by the NYC carriage horse industry

A review of the facts is in order. At least six people have been hospitalized and three horses have died from carriage accidents in New York since 2006. From 1994 to 2007, there have been at least 26 accidents, at least two of which were unreported (have there been others?)

A 2007 audit by City Comptroller William C. Thompson acknowledged the disheartening fact that the city had "dropped the ball" with respect to adequate care of New York City's carriage horses. The report also had something to say about poor record-keeping. The problems include lack of water and risks of overheating. In February 2008, Clancy, an 8-year-old Percheron, died in his stall.

The trade does profit on the ignorance of tourists. To what degree, we don't know, because it's a cash-only business. What we do see, however, is that prospective tourists increasingly are forgoing visits to New York City because they don't want to see this inherently abusive industry.

Tourism? Not! Read one visitor's recent comment (HorseWatchNYC post, May 3).

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to support a ban on horse-drawn carriages. She rules the Council with an iron fist, intimidating colleagues who would support the ban (Intro. 658). She is effectively blocking this legislation, as she has done with all humane legislation pertaining to animal well-being. This includes the pets-in-housing bill.

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