Elizabeth Forel—like many successful advocates for animals—is an intelligent and charismatic woman who certainly could be doing easier and more glamorous things than carrying placards to ‘Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages’ and organizing outdoor events year-round in the torturous New York weather to remind everyone who will listen to stand in solidarity and expose the injustice, cruelty, and inhumanity in the horse-drawn carriage industry.
An animal advocate for more than 25 years, Elizabeth founded the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in 2006 in response to a horrific carriage accident in which the five-year-old horse was killed. She now serves as president of this all-volunteer grass-roots group that focuses on New York City. Elizabeth is also co-founder of Horses Without Carriages International, a global coalition of advocates from many cities throughout the world with the common goal of exposing and ending the injustice, cruelty, and inhumanity in the urban horse-drawn carriage tourist trade.
“A horse should not be forced to work between the shafts of his carriage for many hours per day, with a metal bit in his mouth, a diaper tied to his rear, blinders blocking his view, ear plugs, and sometimes a muzzle. “We are opposed to the carriage trade in urban cities, which is where most of the accidents and abuse occurs. We advocate for the right of these horses to live free according to their own terms and not to be enslaved,” Elizabeth Forel told me.
“The use of horse-drawn carriages for entertainment has been banned in London, Oxford, Paris, Toronto, Beijing, and numerous smaller cities throughout the United States. It is our goal to expand on this list of cities that have banned the use of horse-drawn carriages for the tourist trade and cart horses,” she said passionately.
And now it appears, this goal finally may be a possibility. In 2007, then Council Member Tony Avella introduced an historic bill in the NY City Council to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry in NYC because it was inhumane and unsafe. “Because of political connections between the Administration, Council leadership and the industry, the bill did not move forward,” says Elizabeth.
NEW BILL TO BAN HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES SAVES THE HORSES FROM SLAUGHTER AUCTIONS
Now NYS Senator Tony Avella and Asssemblymember Linda Rosenthal have introduced a similar bill into the New York State legislature--– S5013/A7748-- which would prohibit the operation of horse-drawn cabs in the City of New York. The bill would also save the horses from the slaughter auctions.
We hope that this bill will now stand a better chance at the state level, away from the strong political influence the small industry has in New York City,” say local supporters.
And now there is an opportunity for everyone who wants to help end the cruel use of horses in the carriage trade to take just a minute to sign the petition on Change.org in support of this bill. Each signature automatically generates a letter to the appropriate New York legislators
If you live ANYWHERE IN NEW YORK, it will send a letter to your state Senator and Assemblymember.
If you live OUTSIDE NEW YORK STATE and want to help, please don’t hesitate to sign. Your letter will be sent to the heads of the CITIES committee and to Senator Avella and Assemblymember Rosenthal.
Every online poll since 2006 has shown between 75 and 80 percent of respondents want this business to be shut down, according to theCoalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.
“There have been 11 carriage-horse accidents in the last year,” Senator Avella told the Queens Chronicle on August 23, “Enough is enough,” he said. “How many more accidents, injuries and deaths is it going to take before we end this inhumane industry?
Senator Avella was interviewed about Oreo, the victim of the latest accident, which occurred on August 16. 2012. The young carriage horse spooked on Central Park South from a truck or loud construction noise as his driver was making an illegal u-turn. He bolted into traffic, dragging his carriage with two tourists, sans driver, behind him, crashing into cars as he panicked. He was eventually stopped and was tranquilized by police.
This latest accident serves as a prime example that horses are easily excited by everyday occurrences in city life,” Avella told Queens Chronicle. “It is absolutely clear that the time has come to ban horse-drawn cabs in the city. We can no longer justify the risk of serious injury or death to these animals or to the public at large.”
VINTAGE ELECTRIC CARS ARE NOT THE PANACEA THAT WILL END THE SUFFERING
The NYC Council is also considering a bill that would replace the horses with vintage electric cars—a bill Elizabeth Forel says the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages does not support. “It is a waste of activists’ energy and will probably not happen because it is too expensive. Besides it creates a situation where a ban of this cruel and inhumane trade depends on the success of a commercial private enterprise.”
Councilmember Vincent Gentile confirms her concerns in an interview about the cars with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on August 22, when he promotes a pilot project wherein electric cars would coexist with the carriage horses. Gentile said that while he has respect for animal-rights advocates, he is also aware of the importance of carriage horses to the city’s tourist industry, an industry that brings in millions of dollars a year.
STOP THE INSANITY! (Elizabeth Forel on Carriage Horses – NYC)
Elizabeth Forel discusses this issue in detail in a compelling blogpost entitled, Stop the Insanity. She reminds us that horses are nervous prey animals who can spook and bolt at the slightest provocation. “NYC traffic is an abomination and is no place for such a volatile, unpredictable and powerful animal,” she says.
“At 1,500 to 2,000 pounds, they become unwitting weapons and can seriously injure or kill themselves or bystanders. In 2010, a bystander was killed in Saltzburg, Austria when a spooked horse plowed into her. She died from head injuries.”
Christina Hansen, spokesperson for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said, "Just because a horse once in a blue moon spooks, doesn’t mean something terrible is going to happen." (Fox News 8-17-12.)
Many people would beg to differ. There is no necessity for the carriage horse business to exist and thus, no accidents need occur, says Elizabeth Forel.
If you agree with Elizabeth and almost 125,000 caring people have already added their names, you can consider signing the petition on Change.org in support of the bill to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.
For more information:
A Horse of a Different Color - One Green Planet
NYC Fails Its Carriage Horses - One Green Planet
NYC Carriage Horses Don't Get What They Really Need - One Green Planet
New Council Bill Will Prevent Carriage Horses from Going to Kill Auctions - One Green Planet