At the urging of an animal-rights group that spent about a $1 million attacking his opponent last year, Mayor Bill De Blasio will announce a bill this month that would ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City by 2016.
The horses forced to draw carriages around Central Park live dangerous and tortured lives, according to NYClass, an animal-rights group that secured a campaign pledge from De Blasio to get rid of the industry, reported The New York Times.
NYClass officially endorsed De Blasio for mayor last year, calling him an “animal hero,” and it financed a Super Pac that spent about $1 million on ads attacking De Blasio’s opponent in last year’s Democratic primary. De Blasio maintains he is genuinely concerned for the horses welfare, but critics take issue with ties between NYClass and his campaign. Supporters of De Blasio donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the animal-rights group.
The carriage drivers are not happy.
“This is awful news to give a working family just before the holidays,” said George Miranda, president of the Teamsters union that represents Central Park carriage drivers, in a statement reported by The NYT.
The bill attempts to soften the blow to the newly jobless carriage drivers by offering them $6,000 permits to operate green cabs, reported the New York Post. But drivers interviewed by the Post were not satisfied.
One driver said he wouldn’t take the permit, another claimed De Blasio just wants the industry’s West Side real estate, and another argued the horses are better off in Central Park than with the Amish who would have turned them into dog food.
“The horses get better health care and more vacation than we do,” a driver told the Post.
The bill pits NYClass and its celebrity backers, including Miley Cyrus, Alec Baldwin and Lea Michele, against most of the general public, the carriage industry and Liam Neeson. In a visit to the stable last year, Neeson called the industry “a connection to our past,” according to the NYT, and said De Blasio should have “manned up” and visited the stable himself.
Supporters of the bill, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, argue city life for horses is like a prison. “These horses are surrounded by buses, cabs and traffic,” ASPCA President Matthew Bershadker told the NYT. “We believe that it no longer is, or never was, quaint or romantic.”
City Council is expected to vote on the bill next year.
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