NYC Carriage Horse Audit Pushes for Licensing, Inspections

New York City's 203 carriage horses could be better monitored by city agencies, according to a follow-up audit report recently issued by the office of NYC Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.

The two NYC agencies in question are the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Health Department) and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The Health Department inspects commercial horses and stables; the DCA oversees licensing for horses, drivers, carriages, and stables.

This second report revisited findings and recommendations from audit No. MH07-092A (issued June 27, 2007) to determine which of the 11 recommendations from the earlier audit had been put into practice. Seven have been fully implemented, one partially, and two not at all implemented; one was found not to be applicable.

  • Outstanding recommendations include:
  • more stringent and reliable equine identification methods;
  • adherence to regular inspection schedules and use of the proper form to document inspections;
  • development of a carriage horse inventory that corresponds to license tag information, both for inspection and license renewal purposes; and
  • support from outside entities to corroborate inspection and licensing data.

Although the report says the DCA failed to adhere to an inspection schedule during the audit period, a spokesperson from the DCA indicated that their carriage inspections have been completed on schedule for more than a year.

A Health Department statement indicated some progress, but stated that some recommendations contained in the audit report may require City Council action to change the city's administrative code, such as replacing hoof branding with microchip identification of horses.

Representatives from the Horse and Carriage Association of New York and Carriage Operators of North America were unavailable for comment.

According to the Comptroller's press release, he feels the outstanding issues must be corrected in order to provide humane living and working conditions for the city's horses. "It is imperative that the agency act appropriately and quickly to effect appropriate change in the horse-carriage industry," said Thompson. See the report.  

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Lisa Kemp

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