NYC Passes PETA-Backed Law That Protects Horses From Deadly Summer Heat

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6 min read

What a day for animal liberation in the Big Apple! As a part of a huge animal rights legislative package, New York City just passed a new measure to protect horses forced to pull carriages from collapsing and dying in the summer heat.

Two horses with faces pressed together, surrounded by yellow leaves

For over a year, PETA, along with New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) and countless other activists, aggressively pressured the New York City Council to pass the Intro 1425A Carriage Horse Heat Relief Bill. Finally, all those e-mails, phone calls, protests, marches, and city council testimonies have paid off.

The new measure forces the industry to abide by the heat index (taking into account humidity and how hot it feels, not just the actual temperature) when it decides whether to call a heat suspension for the horses.

The New York City Council had posted the following statement:

This bill would prohibit carriage horses from being worked when the air temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or whenever the air temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or above and the equine heat index is 150 or above. Equine heat index is defined as the sum of the air temperature, in degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity at a particular point in time.

Forcing horses to pull heavy carriages in general is abuse, and that goes double at the height of the city’s humid, appallingly hot summertime. PETA thanks everyone who took action and New York City Council for making history for animals.

Updated on March 11, 2019: 

New York City’s horse-drawn carriage lines have been moved out of busy midtown traffic and restricted to Central Park. Crowds of people gathered at a recent rally to support this effort to protect horses, but they—and all animal advocates—know that these animals won’t be completely safe until none of them are made to pull heavy loads of human passengers.

new york city residents gather to celebrate progress for horses forced to pull carriages

an NYC parks department truck ensures new horse-drawn carriage line rules are followed
PHOTO: The NYC Parks Department ensures new pick-up line regulations are followed.

To learn more about this work on behalf of horses, continue reading. If you want to start taking action now, discover ways to help them below.

Updated on January 13, 2019:

The cruel horse-drawn carriage industry of New York City lost a major legal battle—a Supreme Court Justice ruled in favor of Mayor de Blasio’s new restrictions on the industry, which limit carriage pick-up stations to inside Central Park.

The new law—which will go into effect this Friday—was challenged by horse exploiters who sued Mayor de Blasio last month in a last-ditch effort to keep horses among unruly city traffic. But Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that the mayor and the Department of Transportation were well within their rights to regulate New York roadways.

“The city asserts that the purpose of this proposed change is to ‘reduce the amount of time that horses spend alongside vehicular traffic,’” Judge Engoron stated in the ruling.

Remember, the best thing that anyone can do to help these abused horses is to avoid horse-drawn carriages altogether.

Updated on January 4, 2019:

A step in the right direction! In September, PETA supported New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s stated intention to work with the Department of Transportation to restrict the city’s horse-drawn carriage pickup lines to Central Park. Now, this restriction has been finalized.

While moving the hack line into Central Park will go some way toward protecting both horses and the public, we must all continue to call for an end to the cruel horse-drawn carriage industry altogether. A recent incident in which a horse collapsed in Central Park is further evidence that these animals won’t be safe as long as they’re forced to pull oversized loads. Horses used for carriage rides breathe in searing exhaust fumes, and they often suffer from serious leg and hoof ailments as a result of standing and walking on hard pavement all day long. Watch this heartbreaking footage now to see why all horse-drawn carriage rides must end:

At a time when cities across the country are busy banning these archaic operations, this new restriction represents a reasonable and important move toward more humane treatment of animals and making city streets safe for New Yorkers and tourists alike. But remember: No matter the location or setting, you should never participate in a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Originally published on September 4, 2018:

Hundreds of activists stormed the streets of New York City for the annual Official Animal Rights March to speak out against animal oppression—which included a chant to get horses out of city traffic.

Activist Holding Sign

During the event, PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews spoke in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s stated intention to work with the Department of Transportation to restrict the horse-drawn carriage lines to Central Park. Most of the 1,500 activists followed Mathews’ lead in a chant demanding that the city “get the horses out of traffic.”

Just days before the march, the Department of Transportation (DOT) submitted new draft rules that would move horse-carriage pickups to five designated areas inside Central Park. Moving horse-drawn carriages out of the city’s midtown traffic would certainly be an encouraging step forward.

In addition to speaking out against horse-drawn carriages, Mathews and others highlighted recent breakthroughs in animal liberation, including that vegan eating is the top food trend across the country.

LIVE: We’re at the Animal Rights Rally in #NYC, showing the world why it’s time to go vegan!

Posted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on Saturday, September 1, 2018

“This march shows that more people than ever are helping animals by going vegan; ditching fur, wool, and leather; and rejecting products tested on animals and the use of animals for entertainment—whether at SeaWorld or in the cruel carriage trade,” said Mathews.

Horse-drawn carriages are deadly hazards on 21st century streets.

If you’re a tourist and you find yourself needing transportation in an unfamiliar city, choose a human-powered pedicab, rent a bike from a bike-share service, or simply walk. A carriage ride may be a fleeting moment of entertainment for you, but it supports a lifetime of torment and forced labor for horses.

We’ve seen everything from pools of blood left by a horse forced to pull a carriage while injured to a runaway horse who drowned in an icy river while attached to a sinking vehicle. Horse-drawn carriages are simply accidents waiting to happen.

Many accidents, injuries, and even deaths—involving both horses and humans—have occurred after the animals became spooked in traffic. Just like humans, horses experience anxiety and fear. In a split second, one can go from appearing calm and sedate to crashing blindly through busy streets in a panic.

What You Can Do

If you live in a city where carriage rides are still allowed, contact your local legislators to ask them to sponsor a ban. Many cities—including Biloxi, Mississippi; Camden, New Jersey; Key West, Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, and Treasure Island, Florida; and Salt Lake City—have already banned horse-drawn carriage rides.

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