Horse Carriage Ban the Only Meaningful Way to Protect NYC’s Carriage Horses

Posted by Jeff Pierce, ALDF Litigation Fellow on June 5, 2014

Saverio Colarusso, the horse-drawn carriage driver charged with criminal animal cruelty in New York, is due back in court on June 16. Regardless of whether he cuts a plea deal or takes his case to trial, the allegation that he knowingly drove an injured horse (named Blondie) speaks volumes about the suffering that New York’s carriage horses endure.

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(Mary Culpepper/Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages)

The facts in Blondie’s case, as alleged, are simple. Late last December, a police officer noticed that Blondie was limping and struggling while Mr. Colarusso was working her. When the officer questioned him, Mr. Colarusso reportedly stated that Blondie had been injured for four days. On that fourth day, Blondie had already been working the streets of New York City for five hours, all while her driver, by his own admission, knew she was injured.

Blondie had thrush, a painful hoof infection that, when left untreated, becomes severe enough to cause lameness. Thrush occurs in wet, muddy, or unsanitary conditions, like an unclean stable. Blondie lived at Clinton Park Stables–the same stables where, in early May, Irish actor Liam Neeson publicly hosted city councilmembers and touted the supposedly high quality of care the industry’s animals receive. Mr. Neeson, who has become the industry’s unofficial spokesman, insisted during an appearance on the Daily Show that carriage drivers “treat these horses like children.” But Mr. Colarusso’s case proves the contrary: carriage drivers make money by driving their horses, not by giving them the care and rest they deserve.

The case of Frank Luo, another shady carriage driver, reinforces the point. Mr. Luo is accused of trying to make an unhealthy, retirement-age horse named Ceasar (sic) appear to be a much younger, healthier horse named Carsen, so that he could continue to exploit Ceasar. When he got caught, he sent Ceasar out of state, beyond the reach of an official investigation. This is hardly any way to treat your children.

We’re sure Blondie and Ceasar are not the only horses forced to endure inhumane treatment, which is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has an ongoing lawsuit against the NYPD to obtain public records of carriage-related accidents and injuries. This lawsuit was bolstered in April by the N.Y. Supreme Court’s agreement with ALDF that the public has a right to see these records.

With Mr. Colarusso’s criminal case still pending, the New York Post reported recently that New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which regulates the carriage drivers, has revoked Mr. Colarusso’s license. The DCA opened its own case, opting wisely not to wait for Mr. Colarusso’s criminal case to run its course. Appearing before the department’s administrative judge, Mr. Colarusso tried to take back what he’d told the police officer, claiming that Blondie injured herself when she stumbled just 15 minutes prior to his questioning, startled by a garbage truck. The administrative judge didn’t buy it, and neither does the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

We applaud the DCA for revoking Mr. Colarusso’s license and urge it to do the same with Mr. Luo. In the meantime, we hope that Mr. Colarusso’s criminal case will reach a just end that properly acknowledges the suffering the industry’s voiceless victims endure, and we call upon the Mayor and City Council to move more swiftly to shut down an industry that, ultimately, victimizes all its horses.

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22 thoughts on “Horse Carriage Ban the Only Meaningful Way to Protect NYC’s Carriage Horses

  1. Dawn Mulroy says:

    No need for this during this day and age. Ban it now!

  2. Elizabeth Forel says:

    Colarusso was the driver and rightfully should have been charged. But Blondie’s owner should have been charged also as should Conor McHugh, the stable manager and part owner of Clinton Park Stable. A manager should be aware of what is happening in the stable – i.e. horses standing in filthy, urine soaked bedding. I could never get an explanation from the DA as to why this was not done.

    The fact that a police officer first noticed this limping horse was a fluke. The drivers get away with a lot and violate many laws with impunity. The NYPD, which took over for the ASPCA in supposedly overseeing the carriage business is so far a failure. The cops are not versed in the regulations at all.

    The mayor just needs to move forward and ban this exploitative and unsafe business. Can’t be too soon.

    Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
    http://www.banhdc.org

  3. Diane murphy says:

    These horses have been suffering for a long long time
    and everyone looked the other way, they did not want to know, about the abuse and hurting these horses were going thru and feeling, Why? Because they can’t speak
    And suffer in silence,,It’s time to stop this out dated
    Torture, Let’s be their voice and put an end to all horse
    Carriages,,ASAP,,,Thank You,,,,Diane Murphy.

  4. margot casalena says:

    Horse drawn carriage DO NOT BELONG IN NYC TRAFFIC..
    they breath in toxic fumes all day
    I have seen the drivers making illegal turns and going thru red lights…I see the food buckets with pigeons and their poop inside the bucket when they put it on the ground for the poor horse to eat…I NEVER SEE THEM GIVE THEIR HORSES WATER~ PLUS THE TROUTH IS ALWAYS DIRTY WITH GARBAGE INSTEAD OF FRESH CLEAN WATER…THEY SHOULD NOT BE ON HARD ASPHALT IN THE COLD WINTERS AND HOT SUMMERS, AND THE STABLE CONDITIONS ARE HORRIBLE. BOX SIZE STALLS TO SMALL TO TURNAROUND OR LAY DOWN, WHICH HORSES DO NEED…THESE NYC HORSES ARE WORKING SLAVINGS….THIS IS ALMOST YEAR 2015!!!!! IT’S TIME HAS COME TO END THIS HORSE ABUSE AND NOW !!!! WE WANT A BAN ON HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES NOW!!! I HAVE SEEN THE DRIVERS YANK ON THE HORSES BIT IN THERE MOUTHS AND PULL THEM REALLY HARD, WHERE THE HORSE SHAKES HIS HEAD BACK AND FOURTH CAUSE THIS IS SO PAINFUL…I HAVE SEEN A HORSE BUCK AT THE HACK LINE, AND ALMOST HIT PEDESTRIANS WALKING BY!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH….ALL THINGS END, AND CHANGE MUST HAPPEN NOW….BAN ~BAN ~ BAN THIS INDUSTRY NOW!!AND I AM A NEW YORKER BORN AND RAISED HERE !!!!!!

  5. margot casalena says:

    AND TO ADD TO MY LAST POST, I HAVE SEEN SOME OF THE ACCIDENTS/ AND HORSES DROPPING DEAD IN THE NYC STREETS AND IT HAPPENS MORE TIMES THAN HAVE BEEN REPORTED !!!WE WANT A BAN NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Roxana says:

    Stop this insanity!!! Horses should not be pulling carriages right next to NY City traffic! How can that not be obvious ?????

  7. Martha herman says:

    this is an antiquated luxury that is no longer necessary and is at the expense of a loving animals

  8. Jamie Amar says:

    BAN THIS NOW. TOO MANY HORSES ARE MISTREATED. IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED. PROTECT THESE HORSES!

  9. mat kanno says:

    please end the cruelty and ban the horse carriages!!!

  10. Clyde Johnson says:

    YES! Ban this cruelty NOW! Retire ALL of these anachronisms to the glue factory! This day and age, there is no need to have these road apple factories in our midst! Let them ride Segways!

  11. Desi HAcker says:

    Put these beautiful,intelligent horse out in a pasture where they can graze
    , roll and gallop.People are paying towards cruelty on a daily basis. Stop the abuse

  12. barbara mangan says:

    These horses deserve love, respect and kindness. Please do not continue this cruelty.

  13. Stop this insanity.

  14. I am so disgusted with people or the so called human race. If these carriage drivers need a horse to pull their carriages then why don’t they be like some of the other countries and they be the horse. I have seen men pulling carts carrying people and men on bikes pulling people in carts. Horses are not ours to abuse. They can think, feel pain, and have emotions like we do. They do not have a voice to tell you they are exhausted. Just look at them and you will see they done it. Look at their eyes and see the frustration and sadness in them. Help stop this cruel inhumane practice now. GET RID OF HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES NOW.

  15. Linda Brown says:

    Please stop this cruelty !

  16. Sasha Jensen says:

    Please ban the horses. It’s unnatural for them to be in a city with pollution and cars and trucks. People shouldn’t be so lazy, if you want to travel somewhere in the city then walk. It’s not that hard. The horses deserve a better life.

  17. Sharmila Munver says:

    Don’t let tradition and money justify animal suffering. Stop the horse carriages in NYC.

  18. Rene'e Cond'e says:

    This has got to stop. We cannot accept animal cruelty in what is supposed to be a civilised city!

  19. tyrone jones says:

    Frankly, this polluted, privatized, overcrowded city is much less than ideal for HUMAN habitation and transportation, let alone that of horses. If not for our economic obligations, I imagine many of us, along with the horses, would prefer to steer clear of the carcinogenic fumes, cramped quarters, deafening, obnoxious car horns, litter and feces-smeared concrete jungle.

    Unfortunately, as long as capitalism is king in this anthropocentric world, people will be more than willing to sacrifice their own health and well-being as well as the health of other beings to ‘get ahead’. The horses are merely a sentinel indicating the risks of our own exposure, both physical and psychological. From the banker’s business to the taxi driver’s carriage, perhaps we too could all free ourselves from our bridles for but a moment to experience a temporary sliver of pseudo-freedom.

    As money gets tighter than the time and space we live in, we are no longer free to roam. This is the culture we have chosen. Aren’t you appalled?

    Why limit another living being from traversing parts of this beautiful earth before reducing the harmful pollutants, waste, invasive structures and extreme societal demands that cause the greater harm? Why not improve conditions and appropriately accommodate for biological needs? Shall 800 more honking, speeding, weaving taxis replace these beautiful creatures? Shall we ship away all of our Manhattan horses for slaughter? Has society allowed oil, steel and electricity to finally trump all of nature and its conscious beings? When does the marginalization end?

    Reduce the preposterous and inefficient vehicular traffic, not the horses! Save the humans from this land of concrete and walls! Save nature! …or it will only get more crowded, more dangerous and less humane for us all while chasing and competing for the almighty dollar! …and perhaps then we too will be banned from this soil to make room for more efficient money-making technologies.

  20. Melissa Compston says:

    This should have been banned a long time ago. Have empathy for the horses. A loud city no place for them it’s time to end this inhumane activity. More people need to walk anyway.

  21. Julie Pearson says:

    So cruel for them in this day/age with so many cars etc, needs 2 be closed down now.