New York City's carriage horse industry would have you believe their horses lead the equine equivalent of a pampered Manhattan life, complete with a retirement plan to look forward to. In reality, we don't know what happens to the horses when their carriage-pulling days are over, since disposition records are rarely required.
Maybe some carriage horses are rewarded for their work in the city — the respiratory problems from living nose-to-tailpipe, lameness and hoof deterioration from walking city streets, urban noise and risk of injury or death from accidents — by spending their golden years in lush green pastures. But others, like Bobby, get "retired" to auctions, which are one stop away from the slaughterhouse. Bobby II Freedom, whose ID traced back to the West Side Livery Stable, was rescued from a kill auction in Pennsylvania last summer by Friends of Animals, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, and Equine Advocates.
Nearly 3,000 supporters have signed the petition to protect New York City's carriage horses from slaughter. And now they have a champion on city council — Council Member Daniel Dromm has agreed to introduce "Bobby's Bill," which would close the loophole that allows unwanted carriage horses to wind up at kill auctions like Bobby did.
"We are delighted that a NYC Council Member has agreed to introduce this bill and we are grateful to Change.org for making these kinds of petitions possible to bring about progressive change," said Elizabeth Forel of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages. "People have often asked us 'What will happen to the horses if there is a ban?' This was troubling because the thing that they were concerned about that could happen (slaughter) was actually already happening. This new bill would guarantee that horses be placed in forever homes and sanctuaries and not run the risk of going to a kill auction. "
Administrative Code - §17-329 would be amended to include a real retirement plan for horses: they could only be given to an animal sanctuary or an individual willing to sign an assurance that the horse will be kept solely as a companion animal for the remainder of his natural life, not sold or re-enlisted to pull carriages.
Disposition of carriage horses has always been a concern of activists fighting to end the industry. This same language had been included in two previous bills to help carriage horses: one that would have banned the industry and another that would replace horses with vintage electric cars. But since the industry continues to hold the reins in New York City and there's no phase-out in sight, we can at least save horses from slaughter now.
Yet the carriage horse industry will oppose this bill. Because, despite all the energy spent defending an outdated tradition and their claims of caring about the fate of their horses, the industry doesn't want any harnesses on themselves.
It's time to take off the blinders and start protecting New York City's horses. Sign the petition to protect carriage horses from slaughter.