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Letters & Editorials

Topics of The Times; The Carriage Horse Question

September 25, 1989

Mayor Koch has scheduled a hearing for today to help him decide whether
or not to sign a measure to protect carriage horses in New York City. The
need for the bill is obvious.

It passed the City Council, 31 to 3, after complaints about traffic jams
and danger to the horses when carriages plod through crowded midtown
streets. The Council also remembered Whitey, a horse felled by heat
exhaustion when his driver overworked him on a hot summer day. The bill
would confine horses to Central Park for much of their working day, ban
their use in extreme temperatures and require better training of drivers.

Mayor Koch is not yet convinced. Veterinarians representing the carriage
horse industry asked for a study to determine what temperature limits
should be set. That sounds like a red herring. But in any case, there is
no reason for a study to stall the measure. Its safeguards could always
be adjusted in light of new information.

Mr. Koch also frets about industry claims that the bill's limits may put
operators out of business. If the drivers persist with that line of
argument, they force the Mayor to confront a stark question: Why does New
York City need an industry that depends on snarled traffic and cruelty to

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