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Westchester County Assemblyman Jockeying To Keep Horse-Drawn Carriages In NYC

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to send the controversial horse carriages running for the hills, but an effort in Albany may stall that plan.

As WCBS 880′s Jim Smith reported, New York State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Westchester) is planning to introduce two pieces legislation on Monday to save the horse carriage industry.

“The horses are bred to do work. These are work horses and this is their job. And they’re performing their job and from what I’ve seen, these particular horses that we’re referring to have been performing their job with joy in their hearts,” Pretlow, of Mount Vernon, told CBS 2′s Sonia Rincon.

The mayor on Friday said he’s standing his ground and won’t consider a compromise.

“I’ve said I don’t think it’s a humane practice, I don’t think it’s smart for the future of the city, I don’t think it’s safe,” said de Blasio. “Horses working on the streets of New York City, the biggest city in the country, something’s wrong with that picture.”

Pretlow’s efforts in Albany would try to block the city from reducing the number of carriage licenses it offers. The other measure would “make it a legislative finding that a horse drawing a carriage is not cruel nor unusual punishment for that horse,” said the state lawmaker.

De Blasio has backed an effort to bring in throwback electric classic cars to replace the horse carriages.

“I think we have a great alternative and an alternative that will allow employment opportunity for the folks who are in the industry now. There’s a lot of details to work out but I’m convinced we’ll find a good way to do it,” said the mayor. “Our job is to create a humane, safe, clean outcome that also creates job opportunities and the first of those opportunities will go to people doing the work now.”

De Blasio said other major cities around the world have worked to get horse-drawn carriages off the streets.

The mayor said he’s yet to see the prototype car unveiled this week at the New York Auto Show, but says the concept is one he believes in.

The group NYCLASS, which is leading the effort to ban the carriages, has been at the auto show promoting the prototype electric car. The group is shrugging off criticism from the Central Park Conservancy, which said it doesn’t want more vehicles in the park.

“Clearly, Assemblyman Pretlow does not understand what these horses go through in Midtown Manhattan, because he’s a legislator from Westchester, New York. This is an issue that’s going to be decided by the mayor of New York City and by the New York City Council, not a legislator that doesn’t live in New York City and doesn’t see what these horses go through on a day-to-day basis,” said Allie Feldman with NYCLASS.

But Pretlow said that was not the point.

“I’m not meddling in New York City politics,”Pretlow said. “I think that horses — these particular horses should be left to do what it is that they do.”

One of Pretlow’s concerns is that the horses working would end be sent to slaughterhouses if they’re banned. NYCLASS insists it won’t let that happen.

Pretlow said even if the carriage horses are banned, he’d like to work with the group to make sure all the horses get proper homes.

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