Despite spending months forging a deal that fell apart a day before the City Council vote, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly is not giving up on his bid to limit Central Park’s carriage horses.
The New York Post is reporting that De Blasio’s administration is drafting a new proposal that would allow pedicabs to operate within Central Park below 85th Street.
The original bill would have reduced the number of carriage horses from the current 220 to 110 by December, and another 15 were to be retired by Oct. 1, 2018, when new stables were to be built by the city in Central Park. Twenty additional horses would have been rotated in and out of service to allow them rest. It also banned pedicabs.
The deal collapsed after the Teamsters union, which represents the horse carriage drivers, pulled out before the scheduled vote.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters at a news conference that is “not entertaining [carriage horse] legislation at this time. We’re putting that aside.”
De Blasio’s administration is denying that new proposals are being floated.
The latest set back comes more than 3 years after de Blasio vowed while campaigning for office to “quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City. They’re not humane.”
De Blasio enjoyed significant financial and electoral support from New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), which claimed the horses are abused. Those claims fly in the face of observations and examinations from a number of equine veterinarians and organizations such as the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), American Veterinary Society, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, Dr. Sarah Ralston and International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Fame members Dr. Harry Werner and Dr. Stephen O’Grady.
“I had my eyes open for any and all problems,” Werner told American Farriers Journal. “I was pleasantly surprised not to see them.”
O’Grady applauded the horses’ living conditions and the care they receive.
“The farriery on the horses was very, very good,” says O’Grady, who was a farrier for 10 years before earning his veterinary medicine degree and maintains a practice devoted to therapeutic farriery. “One of the biggest things that keep these horses sound is what you do with their footcare. We made some recommendations that were carried out straight away, and in a very good manner.”
The agreement will have a economic trickle down effect on those who depend on the carriage industry — stable hands, feed vendors, vets and farriers.
It’s too early to determine what the deal will mean for Lancaster County, Pa., farrier Aaron Hoover, who cares for about 40% of the carriage horses at three stables.
“I’ll pretty much be between a rock and a hard place,” he said in March 2014. “I guess I’ll have to find customers around my home.”
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