Call for ban on horse and carriages in NYC continues as horse collapses
What some call their livelihood others call cruelty
Animal rights activists are continuing their calls to ban the horse and carriage industry in New York City, after an incident on December 4th when a carriage horse slipped and fell near Central Park.
The repeated pressure comes after a 15-year-old draft horse called Charlie died after collapsing on the street with a stomach ulcer in October.
Cornelius Byrne, of Byrne Stable on West 37th Street, told the New York Times this week that the once well regarded industry is now facing unprecedented criticism and pressure from activists, as well as mayoral candidates and even celebrities.
It's an ever intensifying drumbeat that may eventually spell the end for the longstanding tourist attraction, many fear.
Carriage owners claim that their livelihoods are being threatened by exaggerated claims and they insist activists are harassing them. However, they also admit that they have carried out their own covert campaign to infiltrate activist groups, secretly recording their strategy sessions. Both sides also claim they have been subjected to threats of violence by the other side.
In fact, tensions have risen so high over the seemingly unresolvable standoff that, when a carriage driver was left in in a coma after an accident last year, the hospital he was recovering in was not disclosed, for fear of protestors gathering outside.
But perhaps the greatest threat facing the industry is a financial one; real estate developers reportedly covet the stables in the Hells Kitchen district where the horses have long been kept.
Irish horse and carriage man dies in New York subway accident
'People in our business probably think that we probably won’t survive forever and are asking how long will we last,' Conor McHugh, a carriage driver and the manager of Clinton Park Stables, told the New York Times. 'But we will keep fighting,' McHugh vowed.
The city’s licensed carriage horse industry, which includes 68 carriages, 216 horses and 282 drivers, brings in an estimated $15 million annually, the New York Times claimed.
Driver's earnings range from $40,000 to $100,000 annually, the Times reported.
But activists point to the seven reported incidents involving carriage horses this year, one of which included a collision with a taxi. Carriage horses work under cruel conditions with nine-hour shifts, in busy four and five lane Manhattan traffic, in almost all weathers, with no access to pasture.
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