Municipal Government

Road Apples! Activists Back NYPD Nags; Oppose Central Park Horses

September 11, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco

Councilman Espinal (c) stands with horse carriage drivers.

Councilman Espinal (c) stands with horse carriage drivers.

New York, NY – On Wednesday, animal rights activists pushing Mayor de Blasio to scrap the Central Park horse carriage industry chided City Councilman Rafael Espinal [D-37th Councilmanic District] on the steps of City Hall for deciding to oppose a proposed ban – but it turns out that the same group is completely fine with cops continuing to fight street crime on horseback because they say the NYPD treats its animals better.

“Police horses have much better accommodations to go back to [at the end of the day] than the carriage horses,” PETA spokesperson Ashley Byrne told LaborPress this week. “They have a rink that they can turn out in every night, and they just get better care all together.”

Byrne went on to insist that the Central Park horse carriage industry is “crooked,” “cruel” and beyond regulation. 

“Drivers take advantage of every opportunity they have to skirt the rules and to abuse the horses,” the PETA spokesperson said. “This industry has shown that it can’t be regulated properly in a way that protects horses, or in a way that protects public safety.”

Not surprisingly, horse carriage drivers who belong to Teamsters Local 553, think the idea that the cops take better care of their animals than they do is, well…horse s**t. 

“That makes no sense,” said horse carriage driver Paul McDaid. “It’s just not true. Our horses are on display every day of the week for the world to see. Our horses are the best trained horses anywhere. The Police Department does a fantastic job caring for their horses. They look after their horses 100 percent. And we look after our horse 100 percent – it’s the exact same thing. Those guys love their animals just like we do.”

After looking at the issue, City Councilman Espinal – chair of Consumer Affairs Committee – said he doesn’t believe that the Central Park horse carriage industry is putting its animals in danger, either.  

Beyond that, the Brooklyn legislator said new stables established inside Central Park at a cost of around $70 million, could alleviate a lot of the fears that animal rights activists continue to have about the horse carriage industry – and wouldn’t even hurt the city’s pocketbook.

“Over time, I think the industry can make up for whatever the city has to pay to put the stables in the park,” Councilman Espinal said. 

Teamsters Local 553 Secretary-Treasurer Demos Demopoulos, said that horse carriage drivers do, indeed, take care for their animals, and “make the city proud every day.”

“They welcome tourists to our city, help New Yorkers celebrate a special day and give their horses the very best care,” the union leader said. 

Twenty-six members of the City Council have yet to announce where they stand on banning the highly profitable Central Park horse carriage industry. Now that Councilman Espinal has put the kibosh on a proposed ban coming out the Consumer Affairs Committee, some speculate that new legislation might bubble up in another committee not normally associated with the horse carriage industry. 

Councilman Espinal called such a move “unprecedented,” and said that City Council members who oppose the ban need to “step up, and back us in this fight.”

“If you don’t believe that we give our horses the best care, come see for yourself,” said Stephen Malone, spokesperson for the Horse Carriage Association of New York. “I will give your a tour of the stables myself.” 

September 10, 2014

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