The Road Ahead For NYC Animals - Message from NYCLASS President, Steve Nislick

steveheadshot.jpgTo All NYCLASS Friends and Supporters:

As we begin 2014, we can look back at 2013 as a watershed year in the animal rights movement…thanks to all of you! 

You made history in 2013 by making animal protection a part of mainstream political conversation in New York City. You mobilized your friends, coworkers and family members, and together we elected the first pro-animal Mayor in the country, along with nearly 40 pro-animal City Council members! We’re in a better position than ever before to finally end the inhumane carriage horse industry and retire these beautiful animals to loving adoption homes.

And as we begin this New Year, your hard work to crack down on puppy mills has paid off – on Friday, January 10, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the puppy mill bill into law!

But there is much more work to do. In 2014, NYCLASS will work with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the entire New York City Council to reintroduce legislation that will transition the city away from inhumane horse carriages and to state-of-the-art electric “Horseless Carriages”. In the coming months, we will be road testing these innovative vehicles: modernized replicas of the electric cars that used to carry passengers through Central Park at the dawn of the automobile age. These gorgeous, nostalgic tour cars will create considerable excitement – not just among the residents and tourists who frequent the park, but also among history and automobile buffs eager for a glimpse of a bygone era. We are committed to making this a smooth transition for all current carriage drivers.

In preparation for the transition from horse to horseless, we are currently lining up loving adoption homes for every horse, with our partner organizations, ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States. Please be assured that all 200 carriages horses will be protected -- not a single NYC carriage horse will go to slaughter. (Just like my rescued carriage horse, Chance, who now lives on a beautiful private farm in New Jersey with a small herd of horses.)

Recently, you may have read some negative news articles attacking NYCLASS, and I want to address them head on here. We will continue to be subject to bogus attacks, of course, since our opponents have no real facts to rely on. Some have attacked me personally, in fact, suggesting that I am somehow interested in the real estate where the carriage horse stables are currently housed. I’ve said it many times in the past, but let me say it again: No one at NYCLASS, including me, has any interest in these properties.

I have been involved in animal rights issues for years -- this is my passion. I retired from the real estate company where I served as CEO so that I could devote my time towards advocating for the humane treatment of animals. I’ve never been interested in these properties and do not want them now. These are private stables, under private ownership by entities who can keep them or sell them as they see fit.  But I will not bid on any property if it is put up for sale, nor will anyone else in our organization. Our sole interest is in the health and safety of the horses.

Again, after years of effort, it is clear that 2014 will be the year when New York City finally decides to transition away from carriage horses and toward more humane and sustainable tourist attraction. We will do everything we can in the coming months to ensure this transition is fair and reasonable…humane is the best word, I think…to everyone involved. We look forward to working with all of you as this vision becomes a reality.

2014 is going to be an astounding year for our city's animals - we will be able to accomplish milestones for animals that were unimaginable at this time last year.  NYCLASS is thrilled to expand to many other animal issues -- such as ending the use of animals in the circus, requiring humane education in public schools, cracking down on unscrupulous pet dealers, mandating fire sprinklers in pet stores, giving our city's homeless animals a first-rate shelter system and protecting a tenant's right to have a companion animal. 

I believe in the power of the humane voter movement -- and I know I can always count on you, our animal heroes, to flex that paw power for our city's animals.

Cheers to a happy, healthy and humane 2014.

Steve Nislick
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