New York artist Peter Max has added his voice to those would like to see an end to horse-drawn carriages because of the suffering endured by the animals.
Max, whose studio is near Central Park, and his wife, Mary (a member of The Humane Society of the United States’ Board of Directors), believe there is no way to operate the horse carriage rides humanely in the city.
“It is going to take tremendous cultural education and evolution to change,” Max was quoted as saying in an article on the Humane Society of the United States website. “We need to stimulate people’s minds that animals are just like us—they love each other and they love breathing in and out the way we do.”
The horses, which can legally be worked for nine hours a day - seven days a week, are constantly breathing in exhaust fumes, and their hooves are damaged by hours of travelling on pavement. Many of them work in areas of high traffic congestion, ans sometimes collisions with vehicles result in injury or death for the horses.
The ASPCA states that it "does not believe New York City can meet the needs of its horses. Neither the New York City environment nor the current law can provide horses with the fundamental necessities to ensure their safety and well being."
There are currently about 200 carriage horses in New York. These animals spent their free time inside of small stalls (often travelling up ramps in multi-storey buildings to reach them), never getting an opportunity to graze in a field, run or roll.
Equine Advocates reported that the average working life of an urban carriage horse is less than four years, while mounted police horses are able to serve an average of fifteen years.
Paris, London, Beijing, and several cities in Canada and the US have banned or strictly limited the use of carriage horses.
New York council member Melissa Mark-Viverito introduced legislation to phase out carriage horses in the city and replace them with classic cars. Those currently driving carriages would be offered jobs driving these vehicles.
Pamela Anderson also supports replacing the carriage horses with cars.
"It has much political support because the carriage drivers will have the first crack at obtaining the licenses to drive these beautiful classic cars, which will be a lure to tourists and show that one can have a fabulous New York experience without dragging animals into it," Extra quoted her as saying
To help raise awareness of the situation, Max painted a picture of a horse called Bobby II Freedom, a former carriage horse who was sent to auction at the age of 15. He was almost shipped to a slaughter house, but Susan Wagner, of Equine Advocates, rescued him and took him to the organization's sanctuary.
The painting of Bobby II Freedom sold at auction for $12,000 and the proceeds were donated to the Henry Street Settlement, a nonprofit social services organization, which is splitting the money with Equine Advocates.