In a New York Times editorial Tuesday, Neeson said he sees the proposal “as a class issue” that threatens the livelihoods of carriage drivers and stable hands.
“We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars,” he said.
Neeson, who has lived in the city for over 20 years, again appealed to Mayor Bill de Blasio to visit the stables and see how the horses are cared for.
“Before we lose this signature element of New York’s culture and history — instantly recognizable to the millions of tourists who visit our city and contribute to its economy — the least the mayor can do is come down to the stables and see how the horses are cared for,” Neeson said.
He said the city’s horse-carriage trade is a humane industry that is well regulated by the city health and consumer affairs departments and that it has “a remarkable safety record.”
“Every horse must be licensed and pass a physical examination by a veterinarian twice a year; typically, the horses spend about six hours per day in the park,” he said. “They cannot work in excessive cold or heat, and must also be furloughed for five weeks a year on a pasture in the country.”
Last week, de Blasio said he expected the City Council to ban the practice by year’s end.
“A horse in the middle of the streets of Midtown doesn’t belong,” he said. “I think a humane society doesn’t do that to animals and we have an alternative where we’ll have an opportunity for tourists to have a similar experience but without horses being a part of it.”
De Blasio has proposed replacing the carriages with electric cars. The City Council has not yet introduced the legislation.
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