Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WE REMEMBER SMOOTHIE...



We remember Smoothie...
12-year old carriage horse  who died on the street seven years ago
September 16, 2014

One of the most tragic incidents in recent history in the NYC carriage trade occurred in the late afternoon of September 14, 2007 on the hack line bordering Central Park.  A 12-year old mare named Smoothie, hooked to a carriage, was waiting for a fare.  In other words -- she was "parked."  Her driver was obviously not paying attention to her – probably off talking to his buddies.

It is illegal to leave your horse unattended and untethered, which Smoothie undoubtedly was.  This is nothing new, we see it often.  The street laws are generally not enforced.  They were not then and they are not now.  The driver should have been near Smoothie holding her by a lead line.  If he had done the right thing, he might have prevented Smoothie’s death.  

Horses can spook very unexpectedly and easily – but they often give you a clue - a little advance warning  that they are having an anxiety attack.      Smoothie spooked at something   perhaps a loud noise -  and tore down the street, hitting a tree.  She died on the spot. Poor girl, she deserved much better. 

A second horse – also unattended – was unnerved  by Smoothie, broke free and ran into traffic, crashing into a car.  The passengers were not injured but one of the women said that when she saw the horse coming at them, she was very frightened and thought it was over. 

Smoothie was owned by Cornelius Byrne who was arrested just weeks  later and charged with bribery.  He received a slap on the wrist but eventually lost his license – apparently only for a short time since he is still in the business.  

This is a very upsetting photo but we need to bear witness to these kinds of tragedies so it makes
our argument that much stronger.  I saw this particular photo recently for the first time and I was very moved and saddened.  Other photos published at the time showed Smoothie dead on the ground.  But this is Smoothie with her head up, dying, and no one is comforting or petting her in her agony.  I cannot imagine loving an animal as the carriage industry claims to do and then to ignore the most basic expression of compassion.  Look at the body language of the men surrounding her – hands on the hips, looking at her with disdain – probably thinking about the financial loss.  

This is a sampling of some letters published in the NY Post at the time.  

Although it happened seven years ago, this is the type of accident that could happen tomorrow.  It is a horse’s nature to spook.  At 1,500 to 2,000 pounds, when they bolt, they become unwitting weapons and can kill themselves or innocent passersby.  They do not belong in the congestion of NYC.  Please read It's a Safety Issue. 

Council Members who are are opposed to a ban are choosing a small group of people over the welfare of the public at large.  

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

NYC CARRIAGE DRIVERS BEHAVING BADLY

NYC Carriage Drivers Behaving Badly

They whitewash their license plates; do not pay attention to the road, make illegal U-turns; leave their horses unattended and pull them by the bit - and still this tiny (but protected) industry manages to survive. WHY do these violations matter? Because failure to adhere to these basic laws—and basic rules of horsemanship—endangers the public safety.

this is a post on Buzzfeed.  Please click here to see it.   

Here are a few examples from the post:

White washed license plate

Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
Why make it easy to report a violation?

Parked over a steaming manhole cover

no concern for the possibility that it could EXPLODE! as many have done in Manhattan. Not to mention that it must be uncomfortable for the horse.
Mickey Z

Wrong way on a one-way street

Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
Seems that the driver forgot his street map, because he is traveling north-east—illegally—on a street that goes south-west. Cops? nowhere to be found.

“Unattended and Untethered”

Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
perfect recipe for a “spook and bolt.” If something happened and this horse spooked and bolted into traffic, his driver would not be able to stop him. This is very unprofessional and irresponsible behavior.

This can happen when horses spook!

Smoothie’s driver left her unattended and untethered at the hack line and was not paying attention. A loud noise spooked Smoothie and her driver was not close enough to calm her. She bolted and ran into a tree where she hit her head and died. She was only 12 years old.

OPEN LETTER TO NYC COUNCIL RE CARRIAGE HORSE BAN ISSUE

Open letter concerning the horse-drawn carriage issue
September 11, 2014

Dear Council Members:  We elect our representatives because we hope that they will make smart, fair, ethical  and informed decisions on issues that concern us and our City.    We also expect that our elected representatives will not be a mouth piece for any union - especially one that does not play fair – and especially the Teamsters.  Any time this happens, they are helping to kill democracy and fair play.   It gives the perception of a deal made and it is ugly.    The middle class was created because of unions and we support them. However, while unions are strong, the majority of people in NYC do not belong to unions.   

But this is exactly what Council Member Espinal, a first term council member, did on Wednesday,
September 10th when he allowed the Teamsters and carriage trade to co-opt him and came out against a ban of the inhumane and unsafe carriage trade – something that we – the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages - have  been working on since 2006 as a grass roots, all volunteer organization. 

Espinal  says he has done a lot of research but his arguments are straight from the carriage drivers’ play book – almost the exact words and they are clearly either lies,  exaggerations or manipulations of the truth.    I do not know why he is doing this.  I think it is foolish for a first term council member  to play with fire on something he knows little about.  I suspect he made a deal with the Teamsters.  He is also wrong suggesting  that the only committee for such a bill is Consumer Affairs.  In the 1990s similar bills were in the Health Committee.  It was not until 2007 that it was put in Consumer Affairs. 

Anti labor?  don't think so:  Espinal says he will convince all of you who are undecided to join with him.  Quite presumptuous. 
Please read these articles below first and become educated.   Know the issue.  Also know that the Teamsters’ carriage driver local is not a real union shop. Approximately 150 drivers belong to the union and pay $60 a month dues. Drivers and owners are in the same local.   There is no collective bargaining; no medical or vacation benefits; no paid days off.   Based on this estimate, the Teamsters get about $108,000, which goes toward their already hefty salaries.  Please do not think these are real union jobs.  They are not.  This is all about bully politics.   Any real union member should be ashamed that this is what the Teamsters are fighting for while  risking any good relationship they might have with the Mayor.   

Mayor deBlasio & the Teamsters:  It is also curious that Mayor deBlasio is the first pro union mayor in 20 years and the Teamsters are trying to hurt him on this issue.  If they could get him to back off and flip flop, this could work against him in the future and he may not get reelected.  Is this what the Teamsters really want or have they even looked ahead and weighed the consequences of their actions.?  Are they willing to sacrifice their many members for a tiny group of people - many of whom are not even union members?  How quickly they forget that municipal workers went five years without a contract under Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor deBlasio is working through and settling the contracts.  

Mayor deBlasio has never wavered:  With all the pressure, we are grateful that Mayor deBlasio continues to remain firm on this issue.  He has always said he will find other employment for the drivers.  An excellent solution is one offered by Andres Carriage Tours, which was approved by legislation for Detroit.  It involves the same carriages  -- just not the horses.  We have sanctuaries waiting to help find homes for all the horses if the drivers agree.  Instead they are acting like spoiled children wanting their own way, something that all past administrations have given them.    Last year I produced a well documented report that revealed a turnover of 529 horses in 7 ½ years.  This is not something you will ever see in the Daily News.  The link is at the end of this letter.
 
Revenue:  Do you realize that no one really knows how much the carriage trade contributes to the

economy?  It is a cash only  business.  Inside sources have told us that a medallion can bring in about $130,000 per year, which is a little over $8,000,000 (68 medallions).  But this same source says that the amount reported is a fraction of that, which means that the City of NY is losing out on tax revenue.   The carriage drivers should be forced to produce their tax returns. 

The Daily News has taken control of this issue spewing outrageous, unchallenged lies about the carriage trade.  Why are they doing it?  Please do not think they care about the horses or drivers.  It is a metaphor for Mayor deBlasio’s progressive agenda, which they despise,  and a Mort Zuckerman payback for Christine Quinn’s primary loss and his  loss of access to City Hall.    We have not been able to get the truth out.  I implore you to read these documents below to learn the truth about this business and issue.  

A few months ago, the Daily News, supported by the carriage drivers, Teamsters, Working Families Party (the latter referred to the carriage trade as the third most popular tourist attraction in NYC - and they did this with a straight face) and various council members ran a cover saying "You're an Ass, Mr. Mayor."  simply because the Mayor could not be bullied by them.  

Support is there.  There is a lot of support for this ban.  Do not think otherwise.  Before the Daily News got involved with this crusade, every poll taken showed 75-80% of respondents in favor of a ban.  But after they polluted the atmosphere with lies about this issue for one year, it is not surprising that the Quinnipiac polls show that 60% of the respondents are opposed to a ban.   The truth is not getting out. 


this is what the stables are really about

Anyone considering whether to support a ban or not must be informed about the inherent dangers of the carriage horse trade and the nature of the horse.

Since the ASPCA gave up humane law enforcement in January 2014, most of the street laws are not enforced.  The drivers are getting away with a lot. 



Thank you for reading this letter.  Please learn about this issue.  If anyone is interested in seeing how horses are supposed to live WHILE they enjoy being real horses, I suggest you visit the sanctuaries at Equine Advocates or Catskill Animal Sanctuary about 2-2 1/2 hours from NYC.  Equine Advocates is the home of Bobby II Freedom, a former NYC carriage horse we rescued from the kill auction in 2010. 



Bobby II Freedom - the NY Times report on his rescue  




List of Accidents - outside of NYC.  (remember horses do not care where they are to spook) 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fashion Week NYC: Some of us care - some of us could not care less.



Fashion Week in NYC.   Some of us care.
Some of us could not care less. 
what went on behind the scenes...

Fashion designer Victor deSouza, in an obvious desperate attempt to get noticed, decided to use models and horse drawn carriages to show off his “designs” – scheduled for the evening of September 3rd. 

Sponsored by NYClass, about 80 activists protested – representing many groups – the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, Friends of Animals, PETA and the Animals' Battalion.







   
Meeting at 5:30 PM  in front of the NY Athletic Club on Central Park South, we were told by club employees that the event had been canceled because of the protests. 

 Never try to con an activist.  


We thought they were trying to get us to go away and remained until just before 7 PM when activists went one block to Sixth Avenue where the carriages were converging to load up the models.

This blog by Donny Moss, is the best representation of what happened.  Activists and Fashion Models Clash in Mid Town
models looking like "what did i get myself into?"



OK - enough with fashion.  I'd like to take a different approach – two things that happened last night that shed light on the kinds of people in and associated with the carriage trade -- those who exploit horses and do not recognize the wrong they do. 
   
      As the seven horse-drawn carriages waited within Central Park for the models to make their entrance,  Edita Birnkrant, head of the NYC office of Friends of Animals, reached over to pet the horse hooked to the carriage of a well known driver, whose wife is the VP of the Carriage Horse Association.   She noticed him shaking his head and wanted to soothe him

      He said to her Don't you dare touch my horse. That's my PROPERTY. Get your hands
Property
off my PROPERTY!”
 

"Property"  I say?  I thought this was a sentient being - a horse.  Yes I know that horses are legally property but we were not in a court room.  We were in Central Park.  And aren't these the same people who got the Daily News to report on how much they "love" their horses and that they are part of their family?  These horses are just like a TV or computer.  When they get old, they are discarded too.  

      This just shows what we knew all along.  They objectify their animals.  They are "property."  They can be sold  just like a car; they can sent to an auction and picked up  by a kill buyer with no tears lost because "it" is only property.   

      The second incident of note ...

      One of our very favorite and most dependable activists is Natasha Brenner.  She, along with her late husband Noah, had been regulars on the activist front – coming to and actively supporting the ban carriage horse trade activism, the Defeat Christine Quinn campaign – among others.  Natasha will soon be 93 years old and is an inspiration.    Although she walks with a cane, she has more energy and spirit than many people half her age.  She is always willing to “go.”  She is simply one of the “guys.” 

She was recently interviewed on TV during our Gracie Mansion demo. Click here. 
Natasha and several terrific activists

We do not know the woman in red pictured below.  She is involved with the carriage trade and often shows up at City Hall with them.  Last night she looked at the crowd and saw Natasha and said “Look at her – who let her out of the nursing home?”  Someone told Natasha who wanted to know who said it.  She immediately went over to the woman and said “I’m not in a nursing home” to which the woman replied  “well you should be.”

Don’t think this cruel woman got away with saying that.  Several of us took her to task.  

This is what these people are.  Soulless.  They cannot argue against a ban based on the
Yup this is the one - not exactly young herself
merits unless they lie about the industry; what a horse needs; the number of accidents – and then call us names -- criticizing our looks, age, trying to expose any personal information they have on us - about our jobs, employers, loss of a pet.  They are cruel.  And they are the ones who have the horses.  

It is childish, mean spirited and low class.  They have also shown themselves to be racists, anti women, anti gay and anti anything that is not them. 

I expect that they will send me nasty, threatening,  vile anonymous messages because of this blog -- this is how they fight.  They tell lies while donning a mask  of anonymity.  

Note: photos by Miriam Lucille


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IF ONLY THE MAYOR WOULD VISIT THE CARRIAGE STABLES ...



IF ONLY THE MAYOR WOULD VISIT THE STABLES

He would find religion and dub the horse carriage trade in NYC hands off and good to go.

So says the carriage trade.  In trying to keep the status quo, they have lied and lied with the Daily News supporting and elaborating on their fantasies.  

West Side Livery stable - has one means of egress

We have previously addressed the reasons why the Daily News has gone after the Mayor on this issue – and it is not their love of horses, the drivers or the industry. Click here. 

In March 2014,  the NYC carriage trade organized an event at their stables, which included actor Liam Neeson.  A few Council Members attended.  None of them knew what to look for and just went because they supported the industry anyway.  It is quite embarrassing to listen to a particular Council Member  or member of the media say – “the horses look fine – they do not look abused”  when that person doesn't have a clue what to look for in the stable or with the horse.  

Liam Neeson in his “refined”  way said this about the Mayor:  “He should have manned up and come.[to the stable]   I’m disappointed he's not here."

Excuse me – “manned up?”  What a disrespectful thing to say to our mayor.  And it is  clear that Neeson was about ready to take to the streets and arm wrestle Mayor deBlasio  to show he is a macho man.  He wanted to bully him into going to the stables but it did not work.    

Yes - if only the mayor would visit the stables because this is what he could find  – and it’s not pretty!:

STALLS – legally the stalls are required to be 60 square feet –and are actually referred to as "standing stalls."   This is small but considering the number of horses the NYC trade has,  it is all the space available at the four stables.   

Experts recommend stalls for standardbreds to be 144 square feet – 12’ x 12; - and the larger draft breeds should  get even more – 196 square feet – 14’ x 14.’

Although the intake information for NYC carriage horses does not include their breed, from observation, between 60 to 75% of the horses are draft breeds – these are the sweet big boys who need lots of space and are not getting it. 

In no way are the NYC stalls big enough.  But the owners get around this duplicity by bait and switch logic, referring to them as “box stalls,: which sounds better than “standing stalls.”   But this refers to a configuration, not a size.
West Side Livery at Clip Clop event - note small dirty stall with inadequate bedding
 
Bottom line is that the existing stalls are less than half the size of what experts recommend.  

These are articles on this topic by respected sources:  




 
Clinton Park Stables - notice how small the "legal box stall" is
 
horse on steep ramp - typical for all stables

STALL LOCATION – the stables are old multi-storied buildings with stalls mostly on upper floors.   If there were a fire on these floors, it would be unlikely that the horses would get out since the only access  or egress is a steep ramp.

Imagine this – a staircase connecting two floors; remove the staircase and install a ramp in its exact place -- it is very steep.  It takes its toll on the horses – especially the older ones with arthritis. 

TURNOUT – there is no pasture available in NYC, consequently  there is no turnout for the horses.  A horse may legally work for nine hours a day.  When he returns to the stable, he is not turned out but instead is put in his stall until he is taken out the next day.  Humane?  I think not.  The  owners cannot provide that for their horses on a daily basis even for a few hours.

Some articles on the value of turnout for horses:    



turnout - NYC style
 5-WEEK FURLOUGH:  The drivers thought they would pull a fast one on everyone by having this added to the 2010 law.  This is how it reads from the RENTAL HORSE LICENSING AND PROTECTION LAW:

2.  Carriage horses shall receive no less than five weeks of vacation or furlough every twelve months at a horse stable facility which allows daily access to paddock or pasture turnout. Proof of such vacation or furlough shall be provided upon request to the department and/or the ASPCA.


Sounds good rightBut this is what it is missing:
Horses need daily turnout – this is a given and the NYC horses simply do not get it

-       The Department of Health did not require that a list of such farms be provided to them for approval.  Proof of such furlough is simply a signature.

-       The Department of Health also did not require that the furlough farms be inspected.   It is not known where the horses go for furlough or the  kind of conditions they endure.

-       Some of the owners have farms but we believe that many of the ones who don’t, which is most,  send their horses to the Amish farms with whom they have relationships.  No Amish farmer is going to allow a draft horse to hang around eating bon bons while his land needs to be plowed.  The Amish have a work ethic for animals that has made them notorious for animal cruelty and abuse.  

-       We have heard rumors that many of these horses are sent to the Amish farms to work in exchange for being able to say that the horse went away for 5 weeks.  

-       in October 2011, the NY Post published this quote by former ASPCA equine veterinarian  - Pamela Corey:   
 
       Dr. Corey, the director of equine veterinary services of the ASPCA’s humane law-enforcement department, said, “We have observed some horses returning to New York City after furloughs on a farm in worse condition than when they left.”

      This was never investigated. All of those who could have done something about this turned the other way. 


This industry must come to an end.  It is a blight on NYC’s honor.  It celebrates greed. Unfortunately the Mayor has allowed the Daily News, backed by the Teamsters and Working Families Party,  to control the dialogue.  Most of the media have followed the Daily News and the truth has not gotten out. 

Well this is the truth about the stables, stalls and furloughs.  

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