The good folks at the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages (CBHDC) teamed up with PETA members to hold a protest outside New York City’s Central Park on Valentine’s Day. They witnessed several disturbing incidents that illustrate a culture of inaction by ASPCA officers charged with monitoring the carriage industry and enforcing regulations. Read and weep:
CBHDC President Elizabeth Forel reports that one of the roads coming out of the park had a large pothole and that the drivers repeatedly drove their carriages over it. Elizabeth believes that ASPCA officers were within their power to bar the carriages from using the road, but, after numerous complaints, the only action that was taken was to put an orange traffic cone in the pothole.
Carriage drivers were so busy hurling abuse at the protesters and trying to videotape them that they came perilously close to becoming involved in serious accidents. According to witnesses, one driver drove his horse right into the traffic cone, which nearly caused the frightened animal to bolt. Shockingly, when protesters brought this incident to the attention of an ASPCA officer, he blamed the horse and refused to cite the driver.
Another driver was talking on his cell phone and almost ran into the cone. At the last minute, one of the ASPCA officers touched the horse’s face in an attempt to divert him from the pothole (the horses wear blinders and can only see what’s directly in front of them). This startled the horse, who veered sharply into the path of a car, which some witnesses believe may have struck the animal.
A veterinarian who attended the protest reported seeing areas on horses’ skin rubbed raw by their harnesses. One lame horse mysteriously “disappeared” after protesters brought the matter to officers’ attention.
Drivers repeatedly—one might even say routinely—ran red lights, but, again, the ASPCA officers did nothing. In fact, Elizabeth reports that the officers seemed more concerned with whether or not she had a permit for her protest (she didn’t need one and they knew it) than they were with doing their jobs.
“The drivers do not take the ASPCA officers seriously,” says Elizabeth. “If they did, they would show more respect for the law and would do as told. … They act with impunity—like they know they will not get a ticket no matter what.”
Please click here to read more about the cruelty of the horse-drawn carriage industry and what you can do to help.
Written by Alisa Mullins