Shut Down New York’s Carriage Horse Industry!

Posted by Jeff Pierce, ALDF Litigation Fellow on December 12, 2013


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

In New York City, the horse-carriage industry is causing great suffering for horses and putting people’s lives in danger. New York’s carriage horses labor nine hours a day, seven days a week, rain or shine. Often startled in traffic, some bolt along busy streets, causing serious injury to themselves or nearby humans. When not fastened to the carriages, the horses hover uncomfortably in extremely small stalls, and are rarely released to pasture. That is why today the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a petition with the New York Supreme Court asking the court to force the New York Police Department (NYPD) to turn over enforcement records regarding the city’s horse-drawn carriage industry. One of NYPD’s duties is to oversee the health and safety of carriage horses, passengers, and passersby in New York City. And yet, NYPD has insisted that, after conducting a “diligent search,” it could find “no records” of its own enforcement. New York’s Department of Health has indicated NYPD does have these enforcement records. ALDF contends that the carriage industry suffers from gross under-regulation, and notes evidence—from the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages—of a pattern of industry violations that disregard regulations designed to protect horse welfare and safety.

It is for these reasons—the inhumane conditions for horses and the grave risk to public safety—that Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has vowed to ban the industry upon taking office. Similarly, New York State Senator Tony Avella has sponsored a bill that would prohibit the operation of horse-drawn carriages in New York City and mandate the humane relocation of the horses.

Since October 2012, ALDF has filed numerous public records requests under New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)—the NY state equivalent of the federal Freedom of Information Act—as part of a long-term investigation of the horse carriage industry. In particular, ALDF has requested records concerning NYPD’s obligation to enforce regulations under the City’s health  and consumer affairs codes, the State’s anti-cruelty code, and any other laws and regulations respecting the protection of the health, safety and well-being of carriage horses. NYPD claims it has no such records despite evidence of a pattern and practice of ongoing violations. Winston & Strawn is providing pro bono legal assistance for the petitioners.

ALDF, the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages, Friends of Animals, NYCLASS, the ASPCA, and numerous other animal organizations have long sought to eliminate the horse-drawn carriage industry from New York City. “Without official records from the NYPD, it is difficult for citizens to evaluate how often horses spook and bolt into traffic causing injury to themselves, passersby, or even nearby cars,” said Elizabeth Forel, president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.  “There is great concern that this industry is under-regulated.”

Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of Friends of Animals said, “Our NYC office is located at Columbus Circle, the site of numerous carriage horse accidents. I witness daily the dangerous and chaotic traffic situations the horses are forced to pull carriages in, and often see drivers violating the law, putting both the horses and the public at risk. A ban on this heartless industry is long overdue.”

We at the Animal Legal Defense fund, along with the citizens of New York, hope the Mayor-elect holds true to his word.

Take Action!

Are you outraged about the treatment of horses in the New York carriage horse industry? Here’s your chance to do something about it!

We are asking everyone to contact Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio via social media to congratulate him on his recent campaign victory, and request that he stay good on his campaign promises to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City.

New York State residents: If you live in New York State, please show your support for State Senator Avella’s bill to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City by contacting your representative. Avella has introduced legislation (S.667) in the State Senate that would prohibit the operation of horse-drawn carriages in New York City, and mandate the humane relocation of the horses released from service. Show your support!


69 thoughts on “Shut Down New York’s Carriage Horse Industry!

  1. Isabel Martins says:

    Ban the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City. A lot horses are suffering withs they work conditions.

  2. Marcia Brown says:

    Shut Down New York’s Carriage Horse Industry!

  3. Edie Cleveland says:

    I live in NJ now, but I grew up on LI and lived in Manhattan. The fantasy of the carriages is lovely, but the reality is dreadful. Sadly, they have to go for the sake of the horses. I am just hoping that someone is taking the responsibility to assure them a comfortable, safe retirement, not just letting them be hauled off to slaughter. I didn’t see that issue addressed here.

    1. Julie Moutes says:

      That was the first thing I thought of too. Better this awful life than the slaughterhouse.

      1. Ed says:

        Why do some people assume that a lifetime of constant suffering is preferable to death? When these horses get old and lame and can no longer pull the carriages they are auctioned off to slaughter. I’m sure if the horses could talk they’d choose to be euthanized rather than be tortured for years on end and then slaughtered. But this is all a moot point as these horses will NOT be killed, they will be retired (not by their greedy owners of course but by their liberators).

        1. Shellie says:

          Right-on, my brother! I’m certain if these poor horses had a choice…they’d choose death over the awful exitence they are forced to undure!!
          As with any living,thinking feeling being…these horses deserve to live life free from any form of cruelty..whether it be phsyical,emotional,mental…they certainly deserve to be loved and treated with dignity and respect!!

    2. Debbie Valenta says:

      That’s the whole point–we want legislation that will guarantee that the existing horses pulling carriages now, are re-homed and rescued–not taken to the kill auctions.

      1. Michael says:

        You own a petting zoo. How can anyone who cares about animals take you seriously.

      2. G T says:

        Animals are NOT property. It’s not a persons right to deny animals THEIR freedom. Who taught humans to disrespect animals and view them as mere commodities? Who stole the human compassion, the empathy and their conscience? The vile human mindset of human-to-animal exploitation needs to be let go. Try to evolve!

  4. Gerald Martin says:

    We can only hope and pray that these hapless horses are finally recognised as sentient, feeling beings who no longer are to be enslaved.

    1. Muledriver says:

      I believe that animals have emotions and feelings as well. They are thinking beings. However, they are not equal to human beings. If you believe that we should not enslave sentient beings, I am assuming by that same logic that you also advocate making all pets illegal, confiscating them and re-homing them to sanctuaries. Forcing an animal to live with you for your own selfish comfort and enjoyment has to be just as wrong.

  5. Ann Charbonneau says:

    This is dangerous and cruel!

  6. Maureen Hovestadt says:

    These poor animals should not be allowed to buck the heavy traffic in NYC. They panic and there have been many accidents.
    Electronic carriages can be used and be safer and just as romantic. If you are not a romantic person, riding in a horse drawn carriage won’t make a difference. AS humans we should be taking care of the animal kingdom

  7. geraldine semtei says:

    Please Shut Down New York’s Carriage Horse Industry!

  8. Sharon Fischer says:

    I can’t imagine why, in this day and age, anyone would want to subject these poor animals to such torture, And yes, it is torture. They are totally out of their element, subjected to freezing cold in the winter, blistering heat in the summer. The noise, the fumes from traffic and forced to plod the hard, unforgiving pavement day after day. And then, the majority are sent to slaughter after they’re deemed unfit for further exploitation. This is madness!

  9. sue simons says:

    Well it is 2013 and the US is s 1st country. Long awaited decision

  10. susanna minacheili says:

    ban horse carriage in new york

  11. Christy Schakel says:

    Congratulations Mayor de Blasio on your victory. Thank you for being a supporter of ending the carriage drawn horse industry. The time is long overdue that this cruel and outdated practice stop. You have shown that compassion is more important than greed. Well done!

  12. jane says:

    stop the use of horses pulling carriages on busy city streets with rushing cars and buses, the extreme heat or cold. stop this heartless and cruel act!!! ban the use of any animal for profit, like in the use of horses pulling these carriages. shame on you for still allowing this to happen. its 2013…. we have vehicles so there is no need for these carriages. ban them IMMEDIATELY!!! and find good safe loving homes for all the horses!!!

  13. Tracey Merralls says:

    STOP THIS $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  14. cheryl says:

    Let the horses be horses, stop this abuse!

  15. Tiina Rantanen says:

    I was once in New York. I love that city. Only thing I did not like was this horse business.

  16. Nuno Almeida says:

    Appalling to use horses in NY streets. It’s a shamble. Horses are not fit to pull carriages in busy city streets, their stress levels may be fatal and last case scenario cause passengers to have an accident too. Even if you are not in touch with animals feelings surely you understand the only purpose of this is to show off money that you don’t have and nothing else. It cannot be enjoyable and you might wonder where do these horses get rest, sleep and forage in a polluted city like NY. Stop this idiotic front and behave like a normal tourist.

  17. Tom Cohen says:

    Yes! Ban this! It’s cruel and inhumane.

  18. Tiina Rantanen says:

    I was once in New York. I love that city. Only thing I did not like was this horse bisnes:(

  19. Stephanie says:

    Please end animal slavery. Let them have peaceful happy lives whichever industry it is involving animals

  20. Sally Chambliss says:

    This campaign against the carriage horse industry is very misinformed. They are not suffering, they are well-cared for, they have wonderful acomodations and they are working horses that get exercise. Our ancestors used horses every day to help them get work done. Do you think that they were suffering? A horse that is mistreated would show signs of mistreatment. These horses do not show this. Why aren’t you rescuing horses that are being slaughtered for no reason?

    1. Debbie Valenta says:

      Even the most cursory investigation proves that industry in NYC does NOT care properly for it’s horses.

      1. Scott Loyed says:

        When is that last time you toured one of the stables? Im thinking never?

        Before you try to put 400 people out of work you need to actually KNOW the facts.

  21. Jeff says:

    @Edie and @Julie: thanks for your concern for the horses! Senator Avella’s bill would require that these horses be relocated to humane sanctuaries, to guarantee that they not be sent to slaughter.

  22. barbara buchanan says:

    Stop the madness – put an end to animal exploitation

  23. Jennifer says:

    Please stop it!

  24. Jossie Ledesma says:

    Stop all this abuse!

  25. Maria Sundgren says:

    Please ban the horse and carriage business on the streets of NYC! The city will do fine without it ( I never hear anyone talk about it as something they want to do once they visit NY) and the horses would have a chance to live happy for whatever time they have left.
    Please make sure those horses get a good life, they really, really deserve it. Maybe there need to be an organization responsible so that they don’t get put down just because the business owners can’t make money off of them anymore. Thank you for caring about these horses.

  26. Valerie Stagg says:

    Is there a petition we can sign? If not, then set one up on – it’s free.
    I am looking for a place to list my name in dissent.
    Val from Toronto Canada

  27. Linda Guertin says:

    Time to end this senseless ‘entertainment’ was due long ago. Make your mark on your legacy and end this now. Waiting to give you much respect….

  28. Kirin Lee says:

    Please ban the horse drawn carriage industry. It is cruel, and NYC does not need this. There is plenty to do in the city without it.

  29. Laura Sink says:

    Please stop the horse abuse! No more horse drawn carriage business/industry in NYC! This is abusive and cruel to all the horses. Horses deserve to be treated better. No city should have horse drawn carriage companies. Please do the right thing and ban all horse drawn carriages from NYC A.S.A.P. Hopefully the horses will find loving and safe homes. Thank you.

  30. karen garcia says:

    o m g this is old school not meant 4 the awful congested streets of now stop this for at least safety !!!!!

  31. Penny Gregorio says:


    Shut Down New York’s Carriage Horse Industry!

  32. Irene Bradle says:

    Please sop this cruelty. why do animals have to always suffer for the pleasure of humankind?

  33. Dawn Miller says:

    The air they breath alone !!come-on People animals are NOT slaves !! Im so over money hungry Greedy selfish people !!!The time is now to make a change !!!
    Love Dawn and Harley <3 <3 <3

  34. Guy says:

    Leave them alone you people don’t know a thing about horses

  35. Laura McFarland-Taylor says:

    Have any of you actually been in the stables where the NYC carriage horses are housed? I have and I can tell you that you are seriously mistaken in your allegations.

    Isn’t it a part of the Rules of Professional Responsibility that you actually investigate a claim before making these kinds of allegations?

    Your reputation is going to be irreparably damaged by getting on this bandwagon, which is nothing more than a power play by a real estate developer that wants the land the carriage stables occupy.

  36. Melinda Bashen says:

    These horses dont raise in NYC. It should belongs to farm/ranch where all horse can enjoy with their horses.

  37. Mariella says:

    Thank you, ALDF, Senator Avella, the law firm and all the activists who have worked so long toward this necessary ban. New York City traffic is no place for horse-drawn carriages. To have them there is inherently dangerous and inhumane, and the string of serious accidents should clarify it everyone, including elected officials who can bring it to an end.

    How wonderful that this lawsuit was filed. It highlights the troublesome problems with the virtual lack of enforcement of regulations around this entitled, cash-only industry. Time for it to go, and to end the cycle of cruelty that results in accidents and in horses being sent to auctions frequented by kill-buyers. A ban would put an end to this once and for all and let focus on other critical problems.

  38. Bonnie says:

    It’s the right thing to do. As a fellow New Yorker…we have a low tolerance for animal abuse and this should not define our city. New York should lead the way on banning carriage horses from exploitation.

  39. Kathy Chadwell says:

    Banning horse carriages in EVERY city is past due. These majestic creatures do not belong in those big cities. Hell humans don’t belong in big cities but at least they have a choice

  40. yip ko yuen says:

    Stop Horse abuse!!!!!!!

  41. Karin Thompson says:

    I’m glad you will be stopping the horse carriage business in NYC. The charm and coolness factors are not enough to justify the housing of these horses like they are. Make sure they get a good home on a farm.

  42. D. Weiler says:

    Ban horse carriages in NYC, & ALL cities, including Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza.

  43. RAMONA PAOLINI says:

    In this evolving world we live in it makes sense that we as the animal, called human, begins the all encompassing embrace of our relatives of the animal world.

  44. This needs to stop..follow through with offenders..and stop this dangerous industry

  45. Shirley Zutes says:

    Please ban horse drawn carriages not only in NYC but, all over the world. Horses don’t belong in the city. Obviously this is very cruel to their nature. Stop horse/animal abuse for the pleasure of tourists. Introduce old fashioned cars if people want nostalgic memories. As a horse owner and lover I would never allow my horse to pull carts loaded with overweight people.

  46. Marilyn Beidler says:

    What’s wrong with people?

  47. Michelle Carpenter says:

    Shameful and says so little about the human race. . We really need to step up our game And take care of the animals.

  48. Alexza DeCroix says:

    Horses are so noble and deserve so much more than the life and working conditions that these horses have.

  49. Gayle Traver says:

    I am 52 years old. I was raised in a home that valued life, any life. I will never understand the taking of animals to use for the almighty dollar,or quite simply to abuse or torture as we will. I want someone to tell me where it states anywhere that this is acceptable and OK???? It is not, it breaks my heart.

  50. Maria Clara says:

    Stop Horse Abuse!!!

  51. Cmdrexler says:

    Stop the abuse of these horses

  52. Lorraine carter says:

    If you gain profit from animals then it should be illegal

  53. Shelley Young says:

    Stop the abuse!! People don’t need a damned carriage ride. They need to walk…

  54. adzz ayse says:

    we are not living in the stone ages! we have a wide range of transport available!! there is no need to abuse these horses by making them pull these carriages!! STOP STOP STOP THIS ABUSE!!!

  55. Xris Ng says:

    This is the 21st century, we are talking about man travelling to the moon for holiday, and you guys still ride on horses and donkeys?? Please give these animals a break and redeem some good karma for the human race….

  56. Shannon Cooley says:

    This is 2014 and counting, yet you choose to remain in the past, abusing your animals for the sake of profits. We do not really reflect the meaning of future if we continue to be so neglectful of those kind of actions. This kind of neglectful action reflect 1950’s way of living, refusing to realize, adapt and advance oneself for the sake of humanity. Abuse in ANY form is plainly WRONG!!!! “Humans must be humane for the sake of humanity”. Follow this or risk going down the history book as one of “those” uneducated citizens who continue to harm one other and living creatures. Please.

  57. Hanna says:

    Thank you Mayor Bill de Blasio for keeping your promise to ban horse drawn carriages. It really breaks my heart to see them suffering in congested traffic when they should be out in pastures. You are the best mayor ever and thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting an end to this inhumane act. Please make sure that all of the horses are re-homed to the right places where they can truly get to taste the real joys of living. Horses are beautiful, intelligent creatures.

  58. Val smith says:

    Please spare these horses from running through the city having to compete with motorised vehicles driven by people with no regard to the horses breathing in the fumes etc.

  59. Sályma Freitas says:

    Stop the abuse of these horses!! People don’t need a damned carriage ride. They need to walk… STOP STOP STOP THIS ABUSE!!

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