New York Carriage Horse Welfare Under Scrutiny

Amendments to improve care for New York's hard-working carriage horses were reviewed at a Feb. 3 NYC Health Department public hearing.

The NYC Administrative and Health Codes guide the health, safety, and well-being of the city's licensed horses. These Health Department Advisory Board amendments are intended to introduce more modern and humane standards into everyday operations, plus clarify procedures for oversight and enforcement. Read the document.

Should the proposals pass, owners, carriage drivers, and city agencies would face changes, including microchips for horses, stable sprinkler systems, and training courses for drivers.

Proposed at a Dec. 17 Health Department meeting, the amendments coincide with remarks by the governor about the treatment of the industry's equines.

According to the Los Angeles Times, New York Governor David Paterson recently said the practice should be banned unless there is a way to care properly for the horses.

"Governor Paterson's comments with respect to horse carriages expressed his desire for more humane treatment of horses," said Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein "Horse carriages are important to New York's overall tourism industry and to the fabric of New York City's culture, however we must be certain to treat horses and all animals ethically."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lauded Gov. Paterson for making New Yorkers aware of carriage horse conditions, and submitted their own comments on the proposed changes.

"We are waiting for a response from the Health Department on our comments, which will be made public when they respond to and post them," said Michelle Villagomez, ASPCA's senior manager for advocacy and campaigns.

While the ASPCA supports alternatives to the carriage industry, including "green" eco-tourism vehicles, Villagomez reported they'll continue to monitor welfare. "As long as carriage horses continue to operate, the ASPCA will continue to enforce the law to the full extent."

About the Author

Lisa Kemp

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