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