Ad targets animal cruelty, urges NYC police to ban horse carriages


An animal rights group is launching a six-figure ad campaign to pressure 15 waving New York City Council members to ban horse carriages and replace them with electric ones.

The 30-second spot, appearing on social media sites and targeting the specific lawmakers’ districts, shows horrifying video of sick carriage horse Ryder, who collapsed on a Hell’s Kitchen street last month.

It shows the creature being flogged by its carriage driver to “Get up!” while on the ground and later getting hosed down with water to get back up on his feet.

“There are no more excuses for allowing animal and worker abuses. The Ryder collapse and cover-up exposed the complicity of carriage horse owners and their union allies in industry-wide abuse and corruption. With the whole world watching, they lied about Ryder’s age, they lied about his health, and now they are facing a criminal investigation,” said Edita Birnkrant, executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS).

NYCLASS said it is targeting Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and council members Shaun Abreu, Alexa Avilés, Diana Ayala, Justin Brannan, Gale Brewer, Carmen de la Rosa, Amanda Farias, Oswald Feliz, Crystal Hudson, Shekar Krishnan, Julie Menin, Carlina Rivera, Lynn Schulman and Marjorie Velazquez

A bill sponsored by Queens Councilman Robert Holden would phase out horse carriages and replace them with electric ones by June 1, 2024. Fourteen other members of the 51-member council have signed on to the measure.

A union representing the horse carriage drivers said the latest scare campaign backed by NYCLASS millionaire donors will fail, as have prior ones.

“We take the NYCLASS campaign seriously. But we believe in science and facts. We believe the council won’t be fooled by NYCLASS,” said Christina Hansen, a carriage driver and representative for Transport Workers Union 100.

“We are a well-regulated industry. The carriages are happy, healthy and well protected.”

Carriage horse in NYC
A six-figure ad campaign seeks to replace horse carriages with electric ones.

But following the outcry over the Ryder’s collapse, the union has proposed measures to bolster equestrian safety — including building a stable in Central Park so the horses don’t have to commute between the park and their current West Side stables on city streets, doubling the required annual physicals from two to four and establishing additional driver training.

The plan also includes greater access to water and more shade trees at carriage stands, along with additional heat regulations and new safety hitching posts. These posts would prevent the rare occurrence of a startled horse bolting from the park and running loose, the union said.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is looking into the caught-on-camera whipping of ailing Ryder after the creature’s horrific collapse.

Carriage horse in NYC
The new ad campaign urges New York City Council members to pass a horse carriage ban.
Hayley Seidman

“Animals should be treated humanely, and we take any incident of animal cruelty extremely seriously,” a spokesperson for DA Alvin Bragg said last month. “We are reviewing the incident.”

Ryder fell to his knees in rush-hour traffic around 5 pm Aug. 10 on Ninth Avenue near the intersection of West 45th Street.

After cops arrived, they repeatedly sprayed Ryder with cold water until the horse was able to stand up and be driven away in an NYPD Mounted Unit truck about 45 minutes later.

Sick carriage horse on the ground
The 30-second spot features a horrifying video of the sick carriage horse.

The carriage driver, Ian McKeever, told cops that Ryder was 13 years old and had just finished a 7-1/2 hour shift, but a veterinary exam “determined that the horse was 28-30 years old rather than the aforementioned 13 years old, ” according to an NYPD “unusual-occurrence report.”

In addition, the initial diagnosis was that Ryder “was malnourished, underweight and suffers from the equine neurological disorder EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis),” according to the police report.

EPM results from a parasite that attacks the central nervous system and “can cause devastating and lasting neurological damage,” according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners.



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