The New York State Veterinary Medical Society: Leading New York State veterinarians through education, advancement and protection of animal wellness, public health and the veterinary medical profession. For 125 years, the NYSVMS has been the resource for New York State’s veterinarians.
May 12, 2014
The Honorable William de Blasio
Mayor of New York City
New York, NY 10007
RE: Support for Carriage Horse Industry in New York State
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
For over 125 years, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) has been committed to ensuring the humane treatment of all animals throughout New York State. Because of this commitment, the NYSVMS respectfully opposes the proposal to eliminate New York City’s heritage of horse-drawn carriages in Central Park and urges the proposal’s defeat.
Many residents of New York City are unaware that New York State faces a major problem with unwanted, and even abandoned, horses, whose owners, for a multitude of reasons, are unable or unwilling to provide further care for them. Although rescue groups and individuals struggle to do what they can to save these animals and find them an appropriate home, euthanasia is all too often their fate.
Much of the public debate over the horse-drawn carriages fails to take into account what is likely to happen to the City’s current carriage horses if their jobs are taken away from them. The naive assumption is that somewhere there is a pasture to which they can retire, masks the reality that sooner, rather than later, many of them will be put down.
Opponents of horse-drawn carriages are also misinformed about the conditions in the carriage industry, frequently claiming that the horses are forced to live and work under inhumane conditions. A careful examination of the lives of these animals reveals the opposite. These horses, many of which are rescue animals themselves, live and work under the careful scrutiny of the veterinary profession, which follows stringent standards designed to ensure the animal’s welfare is of paramount importance.
Carriage horses generally live a long life during which they are ensured regular examinations and treatment by equine veterinarians, live in structurally sound and safe stables, have adequate supply of quality food and water, and ample opportunities for socializations with others of their species. Existing New York City regulations offer extensive guidelines that require ample rest periods, moderate driving paces, and protections from extreme weather conditions.
The equine practitioner members of the NYSVMS, both within the City of New York and elsewhere, have familiarized themselves with the conditions under which these animals live and work and find they are healthy, happy, well-fed and sheltered. They are the recipients of the best level of health care possible.
From 2007 to 2013 a past president of the NYSVMS chaired the Rental Horse Licensing and Protection Board, established under the auspices of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and mandated by Sec. 17-331 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York. This board inspected each one of the carriage horse stables in the City, reviewed their equine practices and made a number of recommendations to strengthen the health, safety and well-being of the horses. The carriage industry accepted all of their recommendations.
A 2013 scientific study, published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, examined the conditions of carriage horses in South Carolina and found no issues of concern relative to the horse’s welfare, safety or working conditions. The study outlined recommended conditions for working horses to thrive, which can serve as a benchmark to examine New York City regulations. Finally, the study supports the NYSVMS position that outlawing the carriage horse industry would only result in an increase in the numbers of unwanted horses.
For all these reasons, the NYSVMS strongly urges you to re-consider your position with respect to disbanding the carriage horse industry in New York City. Please feel free to contact NYSVMS if we may provide additional thoughts on this proposal.
Christopher Broket, DVM
Ann Dwyer, DVM
Chair, Equine Subcommittee
Cc: Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council
The New York State Veterinary Medical Society: Leading New York State veterinarians through education, advancement and protection of animal wellness, public health and the veterinary medical profession.
For 125 years, the NYSVMS has been the resource for New York State’s veterinarians.
Read more about the NYSVMS’s endorsement of the carriage industry here.