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Bloomberg Insensitive To NYC’s Overworked Horses

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible. – Bertrand Russell, 1929

(ANIMAL WELFARE) NEW YORK — Just days after the death of Charlie, the carriage horse who suddenly collapsed and died, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg dismissed animal activists’ calls to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York, claiming horse-drawn carriages are part of the city’s heritage. For the mayor, history trumps being humane, even when overworked horses are dropping dead on the street. Bloomberg implies that horse-drawn carriages are condoned by the ASPCA, which is charged with the industry’s supervision.  In reality, the ASPCA vehemently opposes the city’s horse-drawn carriages, stating “…horses were never meant to live and work in today’s urban setting.” 
Bloomberg also stated that the horses are “well taken care of…and most of them wouldn’t be alive if they didn’t have a job.” However, in light of the recent loss of Charlie, it is becoming clear that NYC carriage horses are dying as a direct result of their working conditions. In fact, ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Pamela Corey claimed in response to Charlie’s autopsy results, “We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies.”
The approximately 200 carriage horses in Manhattan can be worked seven days a week and up to nine hours each day without restriction. For these indentured city horses, this means no green pastures for grazing, no opportunity to roll in dirt, lie in the sun, run freely or frankly, be a horse.  See the New York Times article below for more. – Global Animal

A horse-drawn carriage outside of Central Park. Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

New York Times, Kate Taylor

Days after a carriage horse collapsed and died in Midtown, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday dismissed calls for a ban on the carriage industry, saying he could not imagine why “anybody wants to destroy something that is part of New York’s heritage and that tourists love.”

“I have no idea what goes through their minds,” the mayor said of opponents of horse-drawn carriages.

“The horses here are supervised by the health department, the A.S.P.C.A.,” he said. “They’re well taken care of. And most of them wouldn’t be alive if they didn’t have a job.”

Mr. Bloomberg, taking questions from reporters after attending the opening of Yelp’s new offices in Union Square, said the city had asked for an autopsy of the horse, which died Sunday morning on West 54th Street near Eighth Avenue. He said there was no evidence it had been abused.

There have been several efforts in the City Council in recent years to ban horse-drawn carriages. Most recently, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem introduced a bill last year that would phase out the carriages and replace them with a fleet of electric cars designed to look like vintage automobiles. The bill is being sponsored by 15 of the 51 council members.

In response to the mayor’s comments, Carly Marie Knudson, the executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, the nonprofit organization behind the electric-car proposal, said, “Our electric-car alternative protects the tourism industry, the jobs of the drivers and the lives of the horses.”

Stephen Malone, a spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, called the industry’s critics “bleeding hearts” and “uninformed.” He said his family had been in the horse-drawn carriage business since 1964.

“People want to really humanize the horse and compare it to a dog or a cat in the sense that it should be living in an apartment,” he said, adding that despite what critics assert, the horses had adequate room in their stalls to turn around.

Mr. Malone acknowledged that the death of the horse on Sunday, and a widely circulated photograph of the horse’s body on the street, had attracted new attention to the issue.

“Because of an iconic image and the size of the animal, it is a high-profile story, and we understand that,” he said. But, he added, there are “horses that are abandoned and left for dead all over this country.”

Mr. Bloomberg has been consistently supportive of the horse-drawn carriage industry and dismissive of its critics, but he seems to have one of those critics in his own family. The Web site of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets lists among its supporters Mr. Bloomberg’s daughter Georgina, who is a professional equestrian and an equine welfare ambassador for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Ms. Knudson said that Ms. Bloomberg was introduced to the organization through the society, and that she “stepped up and said that she supports our efforts as an organization to replace the carriages.”

Ms. Bloomberg did not return a call for comment.

More NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/nyregion/

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