Two Sides Of The NYC Horse Carriage Ban Debate

Encore: October 21, 2015

SPEAK UP: Are horse carriages a treasure or cruelty?


Vintage horse-drawn carriages have been an iconic sight around New York for more than 150 years. You’ve likely seen them on New York’s streets and in its parks — maybe you’ve even taken a ride.

However, not everyone supports the tradition. Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to rid them from the city’s streets at the beginning of his term. The effort lacked support in the City Council but sparked a heated debate between buggy owners and animal rights activists.

Horse & Carriage Association of New York City spokesman Stephen Malone says the horses are well-cared for and safe.

“We have 68 carriages that go to and from the park four times a day, it’s 272 trips. Since 1981, which is 35 years, 34 years, we’ve had three horse fatalities. Three, due to cars,” says Malone, who also a carriage owner and driver. “We’ve done 25 million trips, it’s not hazardous. It’s not dangerous.”

Animal rights activist Jane Velez-Mitchell disagrees.

“Horses are flight animals. They’re also pasture animals. They go from being locked in a carriage horse to locked in a stall behind bars. They do not get to go into a pasture and they’re in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the entire world,” said Velez-Mitchell, a former HLN anchor who launched the animal rights website

Velez-Mitchell pointed to NYPD documents obtained by the Animal Legal Defense Fund that show 25 carriage accidents.

“They’re downplaying the danger of these carriages horses in the middle of a busy street,” Velez-Mitchell tells MetroFocus Host Rafael Pi Roman. “You can’t use tradition to justify cruelty.”

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