Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where do the horses live?

Getting real about living conditions
Tourists often ask where the horses live and are surprised to learn that the horses aren't housed in Central Park. Nope. Try W. 38th Street, over by 11th Avenue. Two miles from the park--20 blocks in frightful traffic.

Horses need high-quality sleep, and they need to stretch out. Here you see a New York City carriage horse who cannot lie down comfortably. This is typical of the living conditions for these horses: dirty, disgusting, and accessible only by way of a steep ramp.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Civil liberties

Horses like to roll around in the dirt to scratch their itches. That is, if they have the opportunity. That small liberty is not afforded to New York City carriage horses. For them, it's all work and no play. No respite at home, either. They're warehoused on the industrial west side of Manhattan, up to 2 miles from Central Park.
Pictured: West Side Livery. See why the nabe is called "Hell's Kitchen?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Treats in Hell's Kitchen

For the drivers, that is
Ever find yourself on 10th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, around 9 a.m., or 6 p.m.? These are rush hours, for motorists as well as carriage drivers from West Side Livery and Central Park Carriages. It's surely a good thing that a Dunkin' Donuts has opened on this noisy speedway, between 43rd and 44th Streets. The treat shop is a little farther down from the bus lane. This offers a bit of reassurance, because drivers have been spotted stopping for a snack in the deli just below the bus stop, leaving the carriage right on the avenue and trusting that the horse doesn't get spooked, or worse. Here you see "Rip Van Winkle" getting ready to pull over to the tried-and-true deli, and grab some smokes!
Bonus: Dunkin' sells soy lattes! Some of the drivers love that soy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Avella: the quality of life candidate

Tony Avella works tirelessly to make the city a better place. He did a tremendous amount of good by stopping by an outreach event Saturday on the issue on New York City carriage horses. Avella, a Queens City Council member who is running for mayor, told an enthusiastic crowd that gathered near Central Park what is wrong with the industry--and the long and short of it is that the industry is outdated and inherently inhumane. Time for a ban!

The outreach is a regular event that has drawn ongoing support for Avella's landmark legislation that would ban the industry. Thousands of New York City residents and tourists have signed a petition asking lawmakers to co-sponsor the bill and support a ban.

Avella has an outstanding record of support for animal-friendly legislation, including the pets-in-housing bill. He is strongly committed to reducing taxes for all New Yorkers, halting overdevelopment that is putting neighborhoods at risk, and reforming the Department of Education. He made headlines recently by promoting a "three-strike" policy for truck drivers who violate the city's truck route rules, a problem that he wisely has identified as potentially dangerous quality-of-life issue.
The carriage bill introduced by Avella, Intro. 658, calls for a full ban and is supported by the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States, Friends of Animals, and numerous other leading U.S. and global animal protection organizations.

Learn more about where Tony Avella stands on the issues affecting New Yorkers. Visit

Photo credit: Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages/friend of horses

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bad days for horses

Horses are in the news this summer, and it usually isn't good news
Take a look at undercover video from "Exposed Truths" that reveals horrific conditions at the stables of J.C. Cutters, which bills itself as Chicago's "premiere carriage company."

Consider the story of Heavenly Perfect, a 5-year-old mare who was raced to death.

The horrors of the slaughterhouse have struck a nerve with people. A Boston racetrack has enacted a zero-tolerance slaughter policy. [; free registration is required]
Now it should take a cold hard look at the common practice of running horses to death.

It's been a deadly spring and summer for horses that pull buggies in rural or less heavily traveled areas, with accidents in Nappanee, and Goshen, Ind.; Lawrenceberg, TN; Lancaster and Meadville, PA.; Mercer County, Ohio; and Alamosa, Colo., to name a few. Human lives were lost in a number of these crashes, at least one of which is a consequence of a drunken motorist who plowed into the buggy.

Conditions cannot be made safe or humane for New York City carriage horses, who travel miles in noisy, heavy traffic. Support a full ban, which is advocated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Friends of Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States, among a host of others. Let your City Council member hear from you. If you are not a New York City resident, contact the mayor's office and voice your concern for the horses.

Heavenly Perfect, raced to death

It's only three months since Heavenly Perfect was racing her heart out. Her best efforts weren't enough, though. She'd been raced with laminitis, and, left untreated, it had progressed soon enough to the place where bone was coming through the soles of both front feet. Her other injuries were not insignificant: chipped knees, 2 fractures, and severe arthritis. She hadn't run well in her last race, to no one's surprise. So, trainer and owner Jerry Hollendorfer shipped her off. Destined for a Mexican slaughterhouse, she got a reprieve by rescuers who pulled her out of a kill pen 10 days after she'd run her last race.

At the track this brave 5-year-old had been little more than a number (G24671) and a would-be money machine, but her rescuers called her Melody. A caring vet who examined her pronounced her injuries too severe to overcome, and Melody was compassionately euthanized on July 8. Her final days brought her some comfort and, ultimately, a death with dignity rather than an agonizing and horrific stabbing death in a Mexican slaughterhouse. This fate befells so many horses after they are discarded like garbage.
Lean more about Pure Thoughts, Inc., and The Triumph Project, through whose combined efforts Melody was rescued.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Treats, and terror

Bourbon didn't like being a Philadelphia carriage horse...
His driver was none too thrilled about the job, either. She writes in The Washington Post about the claustrophobia of being in traffic, the searing heat, the people yelling at them. Bourbon worked in a world of things he feared: jackhammers, skateboarders, and Dumpsters, to name a few. He was a stressed-out eater and often succeeded in getting people to turn over to him the treats they were munching on.

And just like that, his days as a Philadelphia carriage horse were over. One winter, he was sold by Adele's boss to a carriage company in Minneapolis. She says they both loved Bourbon, and the thinking was that he would find a place that was more enjoyable.

His driver, Adele Levine, wrote fondly of her days working with Bourbon, even though she says they both hated the job. I guess they were both desperate. She, however, surely had more options that being bought and sold like an old car. We can only hope that Bourbon enjoyed a new life somewhere, but we are not so optimistic.

In an industry that is too cheap to euthanize the horses when they deemed unable to do the job, horses often come to a terrible end.

Read: "The City Was His Feedbag" (Aug. 15, 2008)
Photo credit: George Widman, The Associated Press

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More mush from the wimp

Mayor Bloomberg, that is
The wimp is patting himself on the back for championing a new online system that allows dog owners to license their pets online. "Licensing is not just a good idea--it's actually the law," the mayor explained. The display is maddening, in view of the fact that Mayor Bloomberg couldn't give a damn about animals and he sure doesn't mind it that the horse-drawn carriage industry roundly ignores the laws pertaining to the welfare of the horses. What a guy.
Mayor McCheese allows Christine Quinn to corrupt the city council even beyond the its historic boundaries of awfulness, and he looks the other way when it comes to the politically entrenched, cash-only carriage industry that flatly disrespects the laws. Not to mention the virtues of decency and civility. It's been nearly a year since the audit detailed the any problems with the carriage industry. Does anyone have a progress report? Anything?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Once more, slowly

For the benefit of today's reporters and editors
Things are getting worse for the carriage horses of New York City, and a collective apathy among those in the news media isn't helping.

It's been nearly a year since city Comptroller William C. Thompson released an audit that detailed a litany of problems within the carriage industry and a series of tactical failures among the organizations that would regulate it.

Little has changed, and reform won't be likely, given the obvious conflict of interest that stands in the way. The woman whose fingerprints are all over this is Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs, whose department is responsible for oversight of the carriage industry. Ms. Gibbs has strong and numerous family ties to carriage industry lobbyists, a circumstance that represents an obvious conflict of interest. This is being investigated by the Conflict of Interest Board.

How long will the real story of New York City's carriage horses be ignored by the news media? Showbiz gossip reigns supreme, apparently. This is the era of Brangelina and Britney. Right? "All the news that's fit to print" has become "All the entertainment news that fits!" Reporters (journalists?) now apparently get away with merely editorializing and publishing news releases that have been provided by those paid to represent business interests. It's kind of embarrassing. Who needs a newspaper? I'll just read PR Newswire.
What Does the City Audit Say