New York City officials say there’s a lot you don’t know about those seemingly innocent (and in my opinion pricey) horse-drawn carriage rides through famed Central Park. Namely, that the horses responsible for taking you on your leisurely rides aren’t being properly cared for.
A recently published city report states that the animals are not getting enough water, shade or proper medical treatment. According to the report, city agencies “haven’t kept up with required veterinary checks and carriage inspections, and the horses work in sometimes shoddy conditions.”
The agencies that oversee the carriage rides are being accused of “dropping the ball.”
The findings come after hundreds of animal-rights advocates complained drivers were mistreating the horses. The furor over the horse neglect reached a fever pitch last year after Juliet, a horse that spent 17 years taking visitors through Central Park, collapsed in front of a crowd and died hours later.
Following Juliet’s death the city audited the horse-drawn carriage industry, which includes some 221 licensed horses, 293 drivers and 68 licensed carriages within New York proper. The audit revealed that there isn’t adequate shade for the horses and that there is not enough water spigots or drains for waste along Central Park South, where the horse-drawn carriages line up for passengers.
So who is to blame for the horses’ suffering? From what I read in the report there are a number of groups at fault. The city Department of Consumer Affairs is in charge of licensing horses, drivers, carriages and stables, while the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is in charge of insuring that horses are able to work. Both groups are currently under fire for not fulfilling their responsibilities. In addition, individual horse owners are also being called to the mat for their role in the mistreatment.
For their part the Health Department said it would increase inspections and set up an advisory board in the fall. However, at least one of horse-drawn carriage operator is going on the defensive telling local news reporters the industry generally takes good care of its horses and maintains his horses “have a better health care plan than most people.”
According to the city audit, that health care plan doesn’t include proper hydration for the horses.
Information to ponder the next time you are strolling through Centeral Park…
Have you ever taken a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park? I’ve seen the horses many times and have always felt sorry for them. Not because they looked thirsty; rather because they never appeared happy having to lug around so much weight no matter what the weather.
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