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Linda Brink / Sunnyskies Bird and Animal Sanctuary . -  January 30, 2009      

I have been asked to provide expert testimony on why the horse and carriage industry should be banned in New York City.     

There are things I can tell you about horses, and that will follow.  But a point that should get your attention, and hold it, is this:  one day, a person, or people, will die on a New York City street because of a horse drawn carriage.  

There have been accidents; in these accidents, luck has been on the side of people, though of course, not on the side of the horses that did not survive.  Horses are flight animals, and when afraid, they run.  They run to save themselves.  Blinkers and sharp bits and reins being pulled back, hard, and all the Whoas in the world--none of these things will stop a panicked horse.  

And so, one day yet to dawn, a horse will panic, and he/she will run, and there will be a human victim--at least one victim.  Perhaps an old person unable to get out of the way.  Perhaps a child.  Perhaps your child.  Perhaps--you.  As of now, someone is out there living their life who will die because of a carriage horse accident, if this industry is not banned, as it should be, for many very good reasons--but certainly, if not for all the others, for this very important one reason:  someone, some day, will die as a result of a carriage horse frightened, and out of control.

 And on that day, when someone does die, all eyes will very appropriately sweep back to you, and to the decision you made on this issue in this month of this year.  Fingers will surely point in your direction; blame will surely, and correctly, be placed--squarely upon you.  

You are the ones with the responsibility to act with wisdom, if not kindness.   The claim that,  It's Our Livelihood! will pale in importance, when at last, a person loses their life to a horse and carriage in flight.  A person, or people, will die, so horse and carriage drivers can make a living?  Inexcusable.  Irrational.  A case of not handling a preventable situation, with foresight.    
With foresight, and with kindness.  Here at Sunnyskies, we have rescued two carriage horses sent to slaughter by the Amish.  One horse had a broken hip from an "accident".  The other had chronic lameness due to being driven on hard road surfaces; his fetlock joints (think of the area of your ankle, though technically, on a horse, the fetlock joint corresponds to the knuckle of a finger, or the ball of your foot)--his fetlock joints were, and remained, permanently swollen to the size of very large softballs.  Imagine how your ankles would feel, swollen to the size of very large softballs--for all your life.  The tendons in his legs were also permanently damaged.  He could no longer pull, and he could not support a rider.  Often, we would find him sitting on his water bucket in an attempt to take his body weight off of his aching legs and feet.  It took a long time for treatment to make this horse truly comfortable with living--but clearly, he was willing to take on that challenge.  The horse with the broken hip--we could not mend him, and so, we ended his suffering.  We called him Big Ben.  He was sweet beyond belief.      

 I imagine many people have broached the subject of horses made to work in all weather nine hours of the day, and at the end of it, being returned to a stall until the next morning, when it starts all over again--their very unenjoyable existence.  No turn-out to graze, though they are grazing animals.  No green pastures, no breeze, no rolling in the dust to bathe, no time to be the creature a horse is at heart. 

 I respectfully suggest you think of these horses next time you decide the day too cold to run out for lunch; or too hot; or too humid; or raining; or snowing; or windy, with grit in your face.  Think of the horses enduring these conditions as they pull, on a surface that does ruin their feet and legs, no matter what else you have been told--think of these animals, out there for nine hours, working, in conditions you find intolerable for a matter of minutes, conditions you avoid, conditions from which you do, and can, seek relief.  Relief from the fumes, the grit, the noise, the weather, the dirt, the pollution.  When you leave work, free, give a thought to the horses--led back to a musty stall after working all day in the bit and the harness, enduring conditions many humans of the City have rather successfully sought to avoid.


Thank you,    

Linda Brink   
Director, Sunnyskies Bird and Animal Sanctuary     
115 Big Island Road     
Warwick, New York 10990

Coalition To Ban
Horse-Drawn Carriages

A Committee of the Coalition For New York City Animals, Inc.

The Coalition for
NYC Animals, Inc.

P.O. Box 20247
Park West Station
New York, NY 10025


To honor
Bobby II Freedom
previously known as Billy
ID# 2873 rescued by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and Equine Advocates on June 25, 2010 from the New Holland auctions.

In memory of
Lilly Rose O'Reilly
previously known
as Dada ID# 2711
R.I.P.August, 2007