Newly elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first order of business was to remove the horse-drawn carriages that have become a tourist attraction throughout NYC, but it will likely result in the slaughtering of more than 200 horses and putting hundreds of drivers out of work. At a press conference this week, de Blasio attempted to appease animal rights activists by declaring that “we are going to get rid of the horse drawn carriages. Period. It’s over.”
It costs roughly $200 per month to care for one retired horse, so the cost of caring for all the horses who pull the NYC carriages would start at $480,000. Based on their life expectancy, it could cost up to $8 million to care for all the horses. This doesn’t even factor in the cost of buying the horses from their owners, which could easily cost upwards of $200,000.
“Horses that have jobs are the last horses that get neglected,” said carriage driver Christina Hansen. “It’s the horses that don’t have jobs that we’re seeing shipped to slaughter.” Beyond abolishing the horse-drawn carriage in the industry, de Blasio has not made it clear how he intends to raise funds to care for the horses or if he plans to start a rescue organization for them.
Even city organizations against the carriage industry haven’t attempted to raise money, naively assuming that the horses will be quickly bought. “There are folks who don’t necessarily want to take any old horse, but they do want to adopt a New York City carriage horse,” said Allie Feldman, spokesman for New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets.
Carriage drivers said that they were outraged at the perception that the horses were being mistreated because the city maintained strict regulations regarding the industry. The horses could not work more than nine hours per day and received five weeks of “vacation” every year. They were also required to be covered with blankets in the winter and had to be removed from duty if the temperature reached over 90 degrees in the summer.