Legally Brief: Traffic Reports Finally Released in Horse Carriage AccidentsPosted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on November 20, 2014
ALDF has acquired shocking new records about horse-drawn carriage accidents documented by the New York Police Department (NYPD). In April 2014, the New York Supreme Court validated ALDF’s concern about the mistreatment of horses in the carriage industry and ordered the NYPD to produce the public documents ALDF had requested more than a year and a half previously under New York’s Freedom of Information Law. Those NYPD records show that keeping carriage horses on the streets of New York isn’t safe for anybody.
One of the most alarming revelations in the NYPD reports are allegations that New York carriage drivers have committed more than a dozen “hit-and-runs” during the past five years, fleeing the scene of traffic accidents. Further, the NYPD records recount 25 previously unreported horse carriage accidents—including one in which a child was run over by the wheel of a horse carriage after falling from the carriage itself. That child “suffered injuries to stomach, chest and head” and had to be rushed to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital. Another incident describes a horse carriage colliding with another vehicle, causing the carriage driver to be thrown from the carriage and found by police, “laying in street, not moving.” After the collision, the carriage horse broke free and “kept running downtown toward 59th Street,” colliding with at least two parked taxicabs, and reported as “hitting cars,” kicking, and suffering a “possible broken leg.” Even NYPD police officers are listed as being injured during these incidents.
Yet it is the carriage horses themselves who remain the most vulnerable of all. Just a few weeks ago, a carriage horse named Barney got loose and charged the wrong way down 10th Avenue, caught on camera being chased through traffic by police cars with blaring sirens and flashing lights. Two years ago, a terrified horse named Oreo bolted after a collision and dragged his broken carriage down several city streets. Three years ago, a horse named Charlie collapsed and died in front of NYPD officers. The stories of Barney, Oreo, and Charlie underscore the urban chaos and suffering inflicted upon carriage horses. Their experiences are not exceptions and NYPD’s incident reports are just a small piece of the larger story. Those records, and others from the Departments of Health and Consumer Affairs, are part of a comprehensive report ALDF is preparing that reveals grim truths about this dangerous industry.
New Yorkers are famous for their common sense, and the variety of accidents in these police reports makes clear that a ban is the only rational solution that can prevent New York’s citizens and horses from suffering future harm. ALDF is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to remove carriage horses from the streets of Manhattan, as he promised to do upon taking office. ALDF and a coalition of other animal protection organizations have procured the records that clearly document the dangers. Now, it is up to the Mayor and the New York City Council to introduce and pass such a ban to make New York’s streets safe for all.
- View the NYPD’s recently released records of horse-drawn carriage accidents (.zip).
- Sign the pledge to boycott horse-drawn carriages in cities.
- Take action to shut down New York’s carriage horse industry.
- 5 things you didn’t know about horse-drawn carriages.