They hate deBlasio; and love the “idyllic” carriage rides
Roundup of topic items by Ruth Eisenbud
This past week, the NY Daily News went quite ballistic, trying to throw a monkey wrench into the ban horse-drawn carriage campaign. They ran negative articles, a crazy editorial and an interview with Mayor Bloomberg – using fear mongering and scare tactics. They wanted YOU to believe that if there is a ban of the carriage trade, all the horses will go to slaughter. News flash – if they do, it will be the drivers who lead them there because there are plenty of homes available if the drivers would just stop having temper tantrums. By the end of the week, a very well thought out and well researched article by Vickery Eckoff was published in Forbes, countering the lies. In addition, Kathy Stevens, founder of Catskill Animal Sanctuary weighed in with her blog on Huffington Post. At first the Daily News was only printing pro carriage horse trade letters but finally relented and printed a few anti carriage trade letters. Russell Simmons also blogged on Huffington Post, countering the charge made by the NY Times that simply because we care about animals and support a ban of the horse-drawn carriages, we are zealots.
These are some of the links:
- NY Daily News – Mara Gay – 10/29/13 – EXCLUSIVE: Both major mayoral candidates want to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park, but the effort to “rescue” the horses could lead to their slaughter instead
- NY Daily News – Mara Gay – 10/29/13 Mayor Bloomberg: If carriage horse business ends, horses will die
- NY Daily News editorial – 10/30/13 – Greeting a Dead Horse
NEWSFLASH – after beating up on deBlasio through months of their endorsement of Christine Quinn and also most recently, the schizophrenic Daily News has endorsed deBlasio. NOTE: this cartoon was published in the Daily News – their idea of fun.
Finally some intelligent articles
- Forbes – Vickery Eckoff – 10/31/13 – NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg Doesn’t Know Manure About Carriage Horses
- Huffington Post – Kathy Stevens – 11/1/13 – Sloppy, Slanted ‘Journalism’: New York Daily News’ Coverage of Carriage Horses (see Appendix, below)
- Huffington Post – Russell Simmons – 11-1/13 – Whoa New York Times, You Need to Hold Your Horses!
Mr. Simmons’ blog was very welcome to this cause because he truly does want a ban of horse-drawn carriages. He knows this inhumane and unsafe business must be shut down. But his knowledge of the recent history of the campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages is lacking. The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages started this historic campaign in 2006 and in 2007 then Council Member Tony Avella introduced a bill in the Council to ban horse-drawn carriages. First ever! We have always known that a ban on horse-drawn carriages must be pure and not related to the success of a private industry. What is difficult to understand is Mr. Simmons insistence on the electric vintage cars as a replacement for the horses. We do not need a replacement industry. A prototype does not even exist and the money to provide 68 cars is very high. Let’s shut down the carriage business first – no strings attached. I wrote a very long response to him but these are the important points:
- Mr. deBlasio has said he will ban horse-drawn carriages early in his term as mayor. Let’s hold him to that.
- A ban of the horse-drawn carriages must NEVER be dependent on the success of an independent, expensive and risky vanity industry. One has nothing to do with the other. This is important to understand. These cars will not magically appear one day to replace the horses.
If this concept is accepted and not challenged then a ban will never happen.
- The drivers do not want to drive the vintage cars. They have no interest anyway.
- It is NOT NECESSARY to provide an alternative business for the drivers. No other group of people has been catered to like this – i.e., those who lost their jobs due to redevelopment and gentrification of neighborhoods; City workers who have been laid off; others who have lost jobs. All of these people should be furious about a “special industry” being considered for the carriage drivers. They are a tiny business and are no more special than anyone else.
- Let’s stop providing entitlements to them. Let’s stop allowing them to hold the City hostage.
Vickery Eckoff from Forbes says in a blog comment: The horses that go to slaughter in the carriage industry are horses that no longer make money. Bloomberg and the carriage drivers have never objected to this-and 70 horses or so disappear into kill pens every year. But if the industry shuts down, the horses in question will all be sound money makers. These horses, as the article states, have economic value to their owners and sanctuaries have stepped forward to adopt those that may need homes. So the industry shutting down will not send horses to slaughter-but keeping it going surely will.
A sampling of letters including from ASPCA’s new president
These are a sampling of anti carriage letters.
- They adopt horses, don’t they? Manhattan: Fear-mongering and emotional blackmail are despicable tactics that serve no good purpose (“‘Saved’ horses face death,” Oct. 29). Reporter Mara Gay presented a contrived scenario where carriage horses would go to slaughter if a ban is enacted. In fact, 71 horses a year turn over in the carriage trade – their whereabouts unknown. Were they slaughtered? Possibly. If the horses end up at the slaughter auctions, it will be the drivers who take them. This unsafe and inhumane business needs to be relegated to the dust bin of history. There are many sanctuaries and homes that will take the horses. But Steve Malone of the Horse and Carriage Association of New York is quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t sell my horses to them. . . . (Bill de Blasio) wants to seize our horses from us and take them to a sanctuary. Not gonna happen.” Let’s hope people see through the hysteria. Elizabeth Forel, Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
- Disposable animals? Bronx: The real news is that carriage drivers are threatening to send their horses to slaughter rather than allow them to be adopted by sanctuaries or individuals. It reveals their true view of these animals as disposable. All the more reason to ban this cruel trade and require that the horses receive humane retirements. Jill Weitz
- Hack line sadness Little Falls, N.J.: As someone who has been observing the horses on the hack line since the 1970s, it is no secret that many are depressed, ill or both. The high rate of turnover (529 horses in seven-and-a-half years) attests to the fact that many are not well. In the 1980s, horses fell and died in the streets of heat prostration, a particularly horrendous way to die. Even now, the horses are allowed out in 90-degree weather with no adjustment for humidity. It is simply not true that these horses would be killed if they were retired. These horses are “stars” – with many offers for homes from people all over the city and even outside of the country. The only way one could go to slaughter would be if the horse’s owner – driver or otherwise – sold it to an auction or other facility where kill buyers could get their hands on it. Christine MacMurray
- Homes for horses Flushing: I am writing to express my sincere outrage that the Daily News did not include the fact that there are caring adopters from horse farms and horse-rescue organizations that are fully ready to take in the carriage horses. Ever since a ban was spoken of, the welfare of the horses has always been an immediate concern. Laura Fleischer
From today’s Daily News: ASPCA president speaks out: A fatuous defense Manhattan: Your primary defense of horse-drawn carriages imagines certain slaughter for these horses if they were liberated (“‘Saved’ horses face death,” Oct. 29). Based on what? In addition to speculation and self-serving comments from carriage owners, you quote two equine scholars from the same institution. Hardly a consensus. The truth is there are facilities and people willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these animals. The ASPCA has been advocating for the welfare of these horses since our founding in 1866. We would gladly get involved – including tapping into our network of rescue partners and resources – to help with any potential transition. The use of carriage horses in 21st century New York City is unnatural, unnecessary and an undeniable strain on their quality of life. Is it any wonder both mayoral candidates – and so many New Yorkers – are calling for an end?
Matt Bershadker President and CEO, ASPCA
NOTE: photo of drenched horse by Mary Culpepper
With New York’s mayoral race just days away, the city is facing the possibility that the carriage horse industry, dating back to 1935, may soon be abolished, as both mayoral candidates have stated their strong opposition to the industry. I understand that the New York Daily News is on the side of the carriage horse drivers. What I don’t understand is how the paper can call its coverage of the issue “journalism.”
Below are three key arguments presented in Mara Gay’s “Both major mayoral candidates want to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park, but effort to ‘rescue’ the horses could lead to slaughter instead,” published October 29. My concerns follow each one.
1. New York City Carriage Horses Live a Life of Luxury
These hard-working animals “clip clop,” as a Daily News editorial depicts their labor, in traffic and fumes and in temperatures up to 90 degrees, regardless of humidity. Their tiny stalls are too small for them to stretch out in after a long day’s work, and “guaranteed retirement at age 26” means horses work, in human years, until they are 78 years old. The job they are “lucky to have” — pulling carriages that weight up to 2000 pounds when loaded with tourists — is a job that has resulted in at least 20 carriage accidents in New York in less than three years, one of them killing a horse. Charlie, the horse who passed away on October 23, 2011, had a nagging ulcer and cracked tooth, both found during his autopsy. “We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies,” said Dr. Pamela Corey of the ASPCA.
2. If the industry dies, so will the carriage horses.
Buddy, a 28-year-old blind Appaloosa, was surrendered to Catskill Animal Sanctuary seven years ago because his family could no longer care for him. Casey, approaching forty, hobbles around on arthritic knees but is still his wise, unflappable self. These and other special-needs horses will, indeed, live out their days at our 110-acre haven two hours north of Manhattan. But New York City carriage horses aren’t special-needs animals, first of all, and secondly, few horses are more adoptable than these sound, beloved, iconic animals. They’ve got fans and sanctuaries around the country, CAS included, who would happily step up to ensure that each animal gets the home s/he deserved. Having recently purchased thirty additional acres in order to help greater numbers of animals, for instance, Catskill Animal Sanctuary will accept a number of carriage horses, should they become available, then use our nationwide network of animal advocates and “horse people” to place them, thereby making room for additional animals.
What’s more, when sanctuaries combine their efforts, we can do a pretty good job at accomplishing “the impossible” — like the recent saving of 3,000 chickens destined to be gassed by an egg-laying facility. If sanctuaries can place 3,000 “spent hens” in a matter of a couple weeks, I daresay placing beloved carriage horses will be a walk in the park, no pun intended. For the Daily News to report that “they would all die” is sloppy, slanted “journalism” at best; fear-mongering, or something more malevolent, at worst.
3. Well, then, okay… if the carriage horses don’t die because sanctuaries and private individuals take them in, then that means 200 other horses will die.
To the uninformed reader, this argument might seem credible. But each successful sanctuary has its own “formula” for accomplishing the greatest good. For instance, while Catskill Animal Sanctuary is currently maxed out in terms of permanent residents, we are often able to accept animals we believe will be adopted. By both providing sanctuary for a number of desperate “unadoptables” (horses who are old, blind, or unsound) and remaining open to accepting those we know from experience can generally be placed, we believe we do the greatest good for the greatest number. When we accepted ten miniature horses from a hoarding case, for instance, all were adopted within a few months.
High-profile rescues bring other residual benefits. Media attention to a large horse rescue brings thousands of eyeballs to our website, more visitors to our sanctuary, more funds to support our lifesaving work. It also raises the visibility of all our animals, not just those getting the news coverage. My strong suspicion is that the attention that would come from placing 200 beloved, iconic, deserving animals at reputable sanctuaries could result ingreater numbers of horses being helped, not fewer. I feel certain that I’m not the only sanctuary director who’d have appreciated the opportunity to address this issue and others.
Most of us don’t question the use of animals by humans for our own purposes. I do, and at Catskill Animal Sanctuary we work every day to usher in a kinder, more compassionate world for all beings. Still, if they are accurate and logical, I read opposing viewpoints with interest and an open mind. But The Daily News’ coverage of the carriage-horse industry is neither accurate nor logical, and it certainly is not unbiased. From its depiction of the horses’ lives as idyllic to their choice of “experts” to interview (Mayor Bloomberg, an expert on placing horses?) — and more notably, those not to interview — I’m not sure what you would call its reporting. Just don’t call it journalism.
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