Skip to Main Content

Carriage Horses Trudging in Winter Storms

Written by PETA | December 23, 2008

Last Friday, a New York City “carriage horse” slipped on the ice and fell into a split on 59th Street. Big surprise!

Filmmaker Donny Moss asked the following to the ASPCA—which is charged with enforcing the anti-cruelty code and regulations on horse-drawn carriages:

“Why did the ASPCA allow the carriage drivers to leave the stables this morning when everyone in the City knew that a major winter storm was about to blanket NYC with snow and ice?

“At about 9:00 a.m., the agent who answered your ASPCA hotline told me that the drivers would be sent in when the weather turned. As you know, the long trip back to the “stables” through midtown during a wet and icy winter storm is treacherous. The horses should never have left this morning. But they did, and I videotaped it so that people can see the cruelty taking place on your watch.



“At 11:50 a.m. during the height of the storm, I saw the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement officer greeting carriage drivers with handshakes and high fives. Shouldn’t he have been reprimanding them for continuing to pick up passengers almost two hours into the storm?

“In spite of the best efforts of many activists, conditions for the carriage horses are worse now than they’ve ever been before. Because the ASPCA has been entrusted with protecting these animals, you have a duty to at the very least minimize the abuse and publicly call for a ban. Until you do, the ASPCA isn’t preventing cruelty to animals. You are enabling it.”

Well said, Mr. Moss. The New York horse-drawn carriage industry is an exploitive disgrace and a shame on the city, but the ASPCA could do something. It could take its enforcement role seriously and be pro-active—get out there when a storm is expected and advise drivers that anyone working a horse when it hits will be cited. The warning should come before the storm, not during it.

Oh, and while we’re at it, remember the horses trying to drink from the empty troughs? That’s a violation, too, as is going out without blankets in the cold. And we believe that it’s a violation of the anti-cruelty code when horses are unable to lie down at night and get the weight off their feet, because it causes the horses to suffer needlessly.

Written by Joel Bartlett

Commenting is closed.
  • Anna says:

    I konw that the horses probably should not have been out on the icy streets but to tell you the truth they didnt look in danger of slipping. Also a horses average body temperature is about 101 degrees thats healthy. So what we think is freezing cold with our 98.6 degrees is not as cold to them. 3 degrees does make a big difference. Just think of how hot you would feel if you had a fever… thats normal to them. Not to mention all their hair and body fat and muscle does not go to waste either.

  • megan says:

    whoever that joanne marie sevigny is she’s a moron. get out of our “AMERICA OF THE UNITED STATES” bulletin board because obviously we’re attempting to do something about it.

  • Joanne Marie Sevigny says:

    For a city like New York and all of its glories ect… and riches why will the city not stop this cruel way of travelling? Does it not occur to them that New York is not giving an example to the world that the safety and confort of these animals is part of their duty? What is it with new York that they cannot arrange for better conditions for the horses? They should make a law that all horses are the property of the city and they have to provide shelter and RESTRICTED AREAS FOR TRAVELLING AND ONLY WHEN THE WHEATHER PERMITS THE USE OF ANIMALS IF THEY WONT STOP THIS FORM OF ATTRACTION ALTOGETHER! lIMITED ACCESS TO STREETS AND HIRES PROFESSIONALS WHO KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF THE HORSES! lETS SEE HOW QUICK THEY WILL PULL THE PLUG IF THEy HAVE TO SPEND MONEY! I’M ASHAME TO SEE THIS HAPPENING AND THE ” AMERICA OF THE UNITED STATES ” ALLOWES THIS KIND OF FLAUNTED CRUELTY OF THE SUFFERING of HORSES. AS A CANADIAN I WOULD THINK THAT NEW YORKERS WOULD PROTEST THIS TERRIBLE WAY OF TREATING THE HORSES AND NOT BE IN AN UPROAR ABOUT IT !!!!!! SHAME ON AMERICANS !

  • lynda downie says:

    Beautifully written letter Carolyn.

  • Carolyn says:

    Below is the letter I sent to Ed Sayres President of ASPCA and Stacy Wolf Chief Legal Officer of ASPCAon 122208. I have not received a reply as of yet. Dear Mr. Sayres and Ms. Wolf I am a NYC resident and was shocked to hear that NYC carriage horses were allowed to work during the morning of the storm on 121908. I see the poor treatment of these horses everyday by many of the unconcerned and inattentive drivers observe that many horses are underweight and lame and I like many other NYC residents find their warehouse living conditions a DREADFUL SHAME on our city! To see these animals in Times Square at 2 am in the middle of loud drunk people with the crazy neon lights and noise is sad to the bone. I saw the recent the You Tube videos by Donny Moss and was left horrified and speechless. Until you take a forceful stand exerting maximum pressure to stop this reckless and inhumane business I have been assured by my friends and family that they will no longer send in donations when they receive ASPCA requests in the mail. CARRIAGE HORSES DESERVE THE SAME PROTECTION AS THE ANIMALS YOU PROTECT IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS ON ANIMAL PLANET! Mr. Sayres your 2007 comments in support of Tony Avellas proposed ban at the bottom of this email are correct however time has passed with no change whatsoever. Questions What will you do to prevent the horses from being allowed to go out again in inclement weather in the first place? Most school systems keep children home when the weather forecast for inclement weather is high to avoid the higher risk of traffic accidents with potential injuries andor death. Fact when horse drawn carriage accidents have occurred people have been injured requiring hospitalization and horses have been injured and died. ASPCA The P was missing on 121908. What will you do to ensure clean water is available throughout the horses working routes during the winter? As the animal protection agency who oversees the horses will you use your influence to notify the city of a basic need of all animals? Access to clean unfrozen water on their route. Drivers wont stop to get more water as time is money to them. The city must act immediately to provide clean water stations as many horses are working without access to clean water as I write this letter. We need your agency to advocate for these horses. Policemen never want to get involved. For example when I have told policeman about horses with raw sores on their faces from the head gear they have said I needed to call the ASPCA. When a driver screamed curse words and sexual profanity at me for asking him to please simply move his horse into the shade on a very hot day I told two policeman and they said Those people are scum. You need to call the ASPCA Will you monitor the drivers and ensure that all horses have blankets this winter and if not fine the driver and send him home? Will the drivers who didnt provide blankets on 121908 get a fine for not doing so? The ASPCA would not allow a dog or cat to be left outside waiting in the cold yet alone in the sleet and snow without shelter. On Animal Planet your agency emphasizes the need and right of animals to have protection from the elements and proper food and clean water. Will you do anything to hold the Comptrollers audit to plan? Has an oversight board been set up? A fair and equine educated board without conflicting interests is drastically needed. What actions are you taking with the Humane Law Enforcement Officer who was seen high fiving the drivers? This behavior looks and smells very bad. It is embarrassing. The job of a Humane Law Enforcer is not casual but one of strict observation and a zero tolerance police of accountability. Accountability was very poor the day he was so excited to see his buddies! What will happen to the driver who whipped Donny Moss or the drivers who were overcharging tourists? This is criminal behavior that he clearly felt he could get away with. To prevent future driver assault and cheating a firm notice to all stable owners and all drivers indicating fines and penalties for such egregious behavior is the bare minimum that should happen to negate the get away with it climate. I look forward to your reply as this issue has caused me sleepless nights and I want to be optimistic that you will demonstrate ethical leadership to make this an urgent priority with real results. Please use your influence to support a ban of this industry. ED SAYRES SUPPORT OF TONY AVELLAS PROPOSED BAN IN 2007 IS STATED BELOW. PLEASE STEP UP YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE 2009 BAN. TIME IS PASSING AND HORSES ARE NONE THE BETTER! Pressroom 2007 Press Releases ASPCA Supports Proposed New Bill to Ban Carriage Horses from New York City Bill to be introduced at City Council Meeting Tuesday December 11 ASPCA Media Contact NEW YORK December 8 2007The ASPCA The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals today announced it will support Councilman Tony Avellas proposed bill to ban carriage horses from New York City streets. The bill is scheduled to be introduced at a meeting of the city council next Tuesday December 11. As the primary enforcer of New York Citys carriage horse laws the ASPCA can no longer accept the status quo said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. Increased accidents the recent death of a carriage horse and the city comptrollers report all underscore the urgency to get these horses off the streets. For years many of the carriage horses have been subject to working in bad conditions and the laws protecting these animals are not always enforced. The urban environment and pollution compromise their health and this outdated industry is not vital to the operations of New York City added Mr. Sayres. The ASPCAs position is further reinforced with the introduction of two bills by Councilman James Gennaro that clearly demonstrate government support for the carriage horse industry. Intro. 652 would double the rates drivers can charge consumers making the industry more lucrative and Intro. 653 would remove the authority of the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs the police and agents of the ASPCA to inspect the horses and the stables. Instead the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would contract with a nongovernmental third party to perform this function. If Councilman Gennaros bills are passed they will remove oversight of this industry by law enforcement agents including the ASPCAs officers who have expertise in equine care and a commitment to the welfare of animals. Whats more there will be nothing that precludes this industry from selfregulating through the proposed thirdparty arrangementwhich is anything but appropriate said Sayres. As the Comptrollers recent audit clearly pointed out this industry needs more effective enforcement not less. In September New York City Comptroller William Thompson released an Audit Report on the Licensing and Oversight of the Carriage Horse Industry by the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene DOHMH and Consumer Affairs DCA. The report pointed out the lack of required number of inspections of horsedrawn carriages an absence of veterinary examinations in the field the presence of too many passengers in carriages and the lack of designated formal hack stands that result in horses often standing in their own waste without shade or water. Further an amendment to the New York City Administrative Code to create an advisory board in 1982 only recently convened and is comprised primarily of industry representatives and supporters. Many of the criticisms outlined in the report were things that the ASPCA has attempted to address over many years in both proposed legislation before the New York City Council and by trying to work collaboratively with both agencies said Sayres. The ASPCA supported Mr. Avellas previous bill to limit the horses to Central Park which would have reduced their exposure to traffic and other hazards and make them easier to monitor. However this bill did not gather any significant momentum and at best that was a compromise. Also in September 2007 the ASPCA investigated the death of a carriage horse that died after being startled by a loud drumming noise then bolted and collided into a tree on the southern edge of Central Park. Another horse apparently spooked by the drumming noise ran into the street and the buggy it was pulling crashed into a car. That horse was not injured. Although the DOHMH and DCA are currently tasked with regulating the industry as well as licensing drivers and enforcing carriage horse regulations to govern the horses care and the New York City Police Department is authorized to enforce the laws governing carriage horses and animal cruelty laws the ASPCA has long overseen the treatment of the carriage horses on a voluntary basis despite limited resources. Were now in our second century of voluntarily overseeing the horses but the public should understand that the primary responsibility for this function does not in fact rest with us said Sayres. Since its founding in 1866 the ASPCA has worked to protect and aid horses as well as other animals and continues that work today by enforcing carriage horse and animal cruelty laws in New York City as part of its extensive local services. Its agents currently monitor horses and their drivers while out in the field in addition to a providing a dedicated agent to all matters relating to their care. The ASPCA is not opposed to the use of horses and other equines in pulling carts and carriages for hire provided that animals’ physiological and behavioral needs are fully met housing and stable conditions are humane and their working hours and conditionssuch as temperature humidity proximity to traffic and rest periodsare carefully regulated. Unfortunately neither the New York City environment nor the current law can provide horses with these fundamental necessities to ensure their safety and well being Sayres said and we need to do something about it.

  • Dylan says:

    to me this odes not seem cruel horses have fur and if a shorthaired St. Bernard can go around saving hundreds of lives in the freezing cold of the swiss alps a horse which used to run around the desert and survive completely fine and prezelwalskies wild horses endure freezing temperatures at night and boiling temperatures in the day of course i am against fur kfc and hunting and whaling but the horses are not that cold animals would naturally live outside.

  • Jeanette Rodriguez says:

    Who do we write a letter to about this? Send to This is a disgrace and even more disgraceful are the idiots who continue to get into these carriages for what? They can’t see anything out the windows! What we need is a cable channel for PETA where these idiots can sit and view all the abuse to all these beautiful animals and then maybe they’ll get the picture!

  • Jaimie says:

    as much as i support your organiziation peta i cant help but wonder what well happen to all the horses if there is a ban on horse drawn cariages in NYC!? i’d rather see horses working in NYC then slaughtered because no better home was found

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    I love NYC it’s one of the great cities of the world. But until they ban carriage horses my money and I ain’t going back.

  • Taylor says:

    It is obvious that the ASPCA only cares about the money they make and not the welfare of these innocent animals. What a disgrace. I live in NYC and every time I see these drivers I tell them how pitiful they are. I also tell the tourists who ride in these buggies that they are also supprting animal cruelty. This has got to stop!!

  • jonasluvr says:

    WAY TO GO Anita50882!!! i totally agree and i would love to see how long the drivers can last!!

  • Jay X says:

    The ASPCA has been enabling cruelty against horses forced to pull carriages in New York City for years. This is a disgrace. I hope everyone who donates money to that organization sees this video.

  • yvonne says:

    these horses are practically ‘hairless’.. why they must be FROZEN to the bone esp in those frosty and freezing subminus temp.. AND they still have to work.. and plough on .. GHASTLY!!!! and heartless horse ownersdrivers!!!

  • valerie says:

    The ASPCA was the last group to support banning the industy in NYC and did so only because their lack of support made them look bad. Ironically the ASPCA was formed over 100 years ago when Henry Bergh witnessed a carriage horse being whipped to death. This group will NEVER EVER EVER get another penny from me! Go PETA! Please keep the abusive conditions of carriage horses in the forefront!

  • alicia says:

    This is both heart wrenching and absolutley infuriating. I just emailed the ASPCA regarding this artice. I encourage others to do so too. I use this email address and blasted them on how I have been a supporter of their organization for years but in light of this story and video I may have to move my donations elsewhere. This is horrible. Yes genius horses do get cold they shiver they get phnemonia. I had a horse for 17 yrs he was my child and this just angers me to NO end. I hate people!

  • Irene says:

    This is disgusting. Just….I cannot put it into words how disgusting this is. I’m going to be writing the mayor of NYC and Chicago about this. I’ll send them the link. Hell I’ll try to burn it and send a CD along with the film Blinders ’cause right now it’s below zero here in Chicago and the horses are STILL outside.

  • sarah says:

    I give monthly support to the ASPCA but I am going to question this organization about what I have seen on this video and I may consider redirecting my support. “Bless the beasts and the children for in this world they have no voice. They have no choice.”

  • rac says:

    Everyone who reads this should notify the ASPCA that they will no longer support the ASPCA until the ASPCA begins doing its job of enforcing humane treatment of the horses.The ASPCA claimed to be against continuing the carriage horse industry but like every other organization there will be rogues or incompetents such as this “enforcement” officer who have their own agenda and perhaps their own alternate source of income accepting payoffs. What else are we to think?

  • Carla says:

    Shame Shame Shame! Who then is keeping watch? I had faith in the ASPCA untill now. It is up to the citizens of New York City to take a stand and demand the end of horse drawn carriages FOR GOOD!! It’s a disgrace!! All eyes are on you!! Thanks to Donnyn for caring!

  • Anita50882 says:

    You stupid stupid bastards. Isn’t it obvious that those horses are freezing? Someone ought to strip you naked and make you pull a carriage in the freezing snow. I’ll even drive. Hand me a whip while you’re at it.