NOVEMBER 29, 1993

Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee:

In 1982, there were 141 registered carriage drivers. There are now 296 drivers – almost three times the number in 1982. Are innocent immigrants obtaining green cards to come here for promised jobs that according to carriage owners, don’t exist?

I have heard no mention of a homeless person being hired as a carriage driver, nor have I seen one face that is not white driving a carriage.

If any other industry came before you crying poverty, and then submitted these impressive employment figures, would you then give that industry the entire City, as both the Dear and Vallone bills do? Would the Council ignore the pleas of ambulance drivers, bus drivers, major business associations, community boards, and the vast majority of those who live, work and seek recreation in Manhattan? All want these horses off busy streets. These bills sanction the brutalization of horses and the endangerment of humans.

Two horses, or more, per one driver is the norm in other cities. Here, it’s three drivers per one horse. How can one horse service three drivers who, as immigrants, need full time employment?

Could the answer lie in the fact that the average working life of a NYC carriage horse is less than three and a half years, and if the Health Department were willing to analyze the basic data (actual arrival and departure dates), it would probably be more like two and one half years?

(By comparing lists from 1985 to 1993, one sees that 439 horses were newly registered, about 55 per year to maintain an average of approximately 135 in the stables. This is a replacement rate of 41% per year.)

A NYC police horse has an average working life of 15 to 20 years. But then, a police horse carries a rider on an average of four hours per day with two days off per week, has excellent care, and decent housing. They are valued animals. They are also retired, not sent to slaughter.

Compare a carriage horse to a police horse. Visit, unannounced, a police stable. Then, visit, unannounced, a carriage stable. There is no comparison. The stable inspection results you were shown in 1992 as proof that these facilities were A-OK don’t wash. With two weeks notice a pig’s sty could be made a palace. “Far from ideal”, “such adverse conditions” and “stable conditions followed by harnessing and working at their trade is not in the horse’ best interest”, were the words uttered by one of the inspecting vets. You were not given that information.

Would any vet on the payroll of the industry testify against those who pay him? Would the city agency responsible admit the horses live in squalor?

Any horse owner who would lobby to make his horse work a 70-hour week, on hard pavement, dodging buses, his nose in tailpipes, and return to a stable where he cannot lie down or turn around cannot be considered one who loves or cares for that horse, and even if you know zilch about horses, you must know that. Some of these horses have been purchased for $300, as was “Misty” who after only two months in NYC, was worked to death at night, one week after the infamous collapse of “Whitey.” That is why Local Law 89 was passed. [see Peggy Parker’s “A Black Night Horse”]

With more passengers (increased to six) more than a taxi can legally carry, how can $20,000 in liability insurance be responsible?

Aside from the fact that these carriages are the most dangerous commercial vehicles on our streets at any hour – open seating compartment, flimsy construction, high center of gravity, no brakes, no seat belts, a flight & fright “engine”, they are also completely under illuminated, and exceedingly vulnerable at night. That is why almost all cities ban late night carriage rides. Our most serious accidents have occurred after dark. The City pays when the industry cannot, and with a top of $20,000 in liability insurance, the carriage owners cannot pay.

Will the EPA allow carriages in Rockefeller Center area in 1993, when they were not allowed in 1992?

Local Law 89 was enacted to prevent abuse to these horses, injury to people and ease traffic flow. You are being asked to completely eviscerate this law, which is already less than what other cities impose. The Dear and Vallone bills return these horses to the very conditions which existed prior to this law, and return NYC to the top of the list as horse abusers with lack of concern for people – a third world city. No one is even willing to consider a permanent and just solution which would benefit everyone. Why is this?

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