NYC Carriage Horses Killed by Neglect

NYCLASS Rally to BAN Horse Carriages, March 1, 2020

NYCLASS, PETA, and compassionate New Yorkers took to the streets yesterday to protest and hold a press conference to call on New York City Council to END horse abuse on the 1-year anniversary of carriage horse Aysha's agonizing, collapse and death. NYCLASS and NY Veterinarians exposed Aysha's autopsy results that reveal her preventable death was caused by severe industry-wide neglect and an underlying, undiagnosed and untreated disease, Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM) that is easily treated through dietary changes.  Watch a live report of the protest that aired on the Jane Unchained News Network.

Aysha was a sick horse chained to a carriage she was forced to pull until she dropped - she was killed by cruelty. And she's just one of many victims of the cruel carriage horse industry that denies all that is natural to horses in order to exploit them for profit.  After the press conference we marched over to the exact spot where Aysha collapsed to leave flowers and honor her with a beautiful song sung by Kiirstin Marilyn.

TAKE ACTION: If you live in NYC: Contact your New York City Council Member this week - ask them to take action to END this constant abuse and BAN horse carriages!  Find your NYC Council Member here:

 Sick and suffering carriage are being continually worked, partly as a result of the NYC Department of Health and the industry's inadequate in-stall vet exams that enable animal abuse. Common serious and painful ailments in carriage horses such as lameness, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease go unchecked and untreated.  Some horses collapse and die on the street like Aysha, but others die less visibly in their stalls of colic or languish for years despite their ailments and pain to pull heavy carriages. Enough is enough! Tell NYC Council: #BanHorseCarriages

NYCLASS protest and tribute to Aysha, a NYC carriage horse killed by cruelty and neglect. 


Former NYC Carriage Horse CHILD driver exposes horse abuse and cruelty in Daily News Op-Ed

BREAKING NEWS: Gregory, a former child carriage-horse driver in New York City, recounts the shocking horse abuse and cruelty he witnessed first-hand while illegally driving a horse carriage all over Midtown from ages 11-12 years-old in his Op-Ed published today by the New York Daily News.  Now Gregory is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council to BAN the abusive and dangerous carriage rides. Click here to read the full Op-Ed

Horse abuse, cruelty and law-breaking by carriage drivers is still happening EVERY DAY to NYC's carriage horses - which is why we need YOUR help to enact a BAN.

TAKE ACTION by contacting your New York City Council member THIS WEEK and urge them to support a BAN on abusive and dangerous horse carriages.


I was an 11-year-old carriage driver: The experience turned me against the trade forever

FEB 01, 2021

The images from Dec. 20 of a carriage horse who collapsed on the ice while carrying a family with a small child are heartbreaking. After the horse struggled to return to his feet, the driver resumed the ride without consulting a veterinarian. I have some insight into the cruelty and hardship the horses endure because, at the age of 11, I drove a carriage for over a year and a half.

Like many children, I loved animals and was eager to spend time with them. When a trusted family friend who drove a carriage invited me to visit him at work, I begged my mother to let me go. After a brief lesson, I was driving passengers all over midtown and Central Park with him seated at my side. This became a weekend activity.

An 11-year-old driving a carriage (even if supervised) was and still is illegal and dangerous. With the assistance of other drivers, we kept an eye out for the cops. I was always ready to subtly hand my friend the reins. It was exhilarating, and seeing a child in the driver’s seat was a novelty for tourists.

I have many wonderful memories of those weekends with the horses and a man who became like a big brother. Initially, I held the naively idyllic perspective of many who only see the horses in the Park. Only gradually did I learn of the everyday abuses the horses suffer.

The stable hands regularly and willfully neglected the horses, frequently forgetting to feed them or clean the stalls, leaving them to stand in their own filth. Stable hands and drivers alike would regularly punch horses on the nose for any small infraction. The horses had no pasture (and still do not). Their only relief from dragging the carriage came when they were crammed into their stalls.

Driving through New York City’s infamous traffic was always marked by assaults on the horse’s senses. Cars honked, blew exhaust in the horse’s face, and swerved around us. In an instant, a car’s sharp turn, a bicyclist cutting too close, or any of the city’s myriad sounds could jolt or spook a horse. Only broken animals could silently suffer the unnatural chaos surrounding them.

We spent hours in weather that ranged from New York’s sweltering summers to the now-famous blizzard of 1996. It was still legal to solicit customers in Times Square or Rockefeller Center and, if a customer was willing to pay, we would literally march the horses from one end of Manhattan to the other.

I was fed a slew of absurd justifications for the mistreatment: Horses like to work, they endure worse weather in the wild, and, even, they’re so large that they don’t feel smacks across the nose. Though never persuaded, who was I to argue with self-appointed experts? Indeed, I have some empathy for drivers because I glimpsed into their lives. Nevertheless, any fondness is colored by memories of brutishness.

My most vivid memory is of a newly acquired horse who was terrified by the city’s numerous manhole covers. With passengers aboard, I witnessed the horse begin wildly kicking when steam seeped out of a manhole in the middle of Sixth Ave. The driver leaped from his seat and, confronted by his own helplessness, mercilessly punched the horse till it relented. Venting his rage for the humiliation it caused in front of customers, I saw the driver deal countless sporadic smacks to the horse throughout the remainder of his shift.

The next weekend, I asked after the horse. “Dog food,” I was told.

Some of the conditions these horses face over the years have improved in spite of resistance from the carriage industry. Standards have risen. But the fundamental fact remains that forcing them to pull carriages through an urban environment is institutionalized cruelty.

In February 2020, I was appalled by the video of a carriage horse named Aisha collapsing. The images of panicked drivers mishandling her as they tried to drag her onto a trailer, causing her to flip over many times, were too familiar.

Aisha was euthanized at the stable. Representatives of the industry insist her case was unique. My memories are over 25 years old. However, even if the industry half-heartedly complies with common-sense reforms imposed by legislators, events like Aisha’s death are consistent with the mundane ugliness I remember.

Carriage rides remain seductive to customers because we derive enormous pleasure from horses. As a child, I learned that pleasure is not worth complicity in an animal’s misery. New York should also grow up by joining other major cities in banning this industry. On Jan. 1, it was seven full years since Mayor de Blasio pledged to ban the carriage industry on his first day in office. The mayor ought to finally keep his promise during his last year in office.

Smulewicz-Zucker teaches at Rutgers University.



NYCLASS Statement on Return of NYC Carriage Horses to Midtown During COVID-19 With Maskless Drivers

Protest Planned Saturday, Oct 3, 12pm-1pm at 59th St and 6th Avenue to Demand Shutdown of Rides

New York City carriage drivers have returned with horses to Midtown to solicit carriage rides, and on day one of their return they were seen recklessly disregarding the mask mandate, at a critical time when the City has reported large upticks in coronavirus cases in several areas.  A carriage driver soliciting rides with no mask on was photographed Thursday standing next to his carriage while a woman without a mask stood next to him and the horse getting her picture taken.  (Photo of driver with no mask available to the media upon request).

In mid to late March when New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic, NYCLASS documented carriage drivers putting many people at serious risk of infection by handing out filthy, shared blankets to carriage passengers crammed into carriages and flouted social-distancing protocols.  We urged Mayor de Blasio to shut down the carriage rides to protect public health then, and we urge him to do the same now.

What: NYCLASS and PETA protest of horse-drawn carriage rides, drivers seen flouting mask rules and to demand shutdown of rides.

Where: 59th Street and 6th Avenue entrance to Central Park.

When: Saturday, October 3, 12pm-1pm.

Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS said, "New York's carriage drivers have always shown absolute disregard for regulations designed to protect the public, passengers and horses, and it is clear that this behavior will continue during COVID-19 and put everyone at risk, if not stopped by Mayor de Blasio and City officials right away.  NYCLASS calls on the Mayor and the Department of Health to shut down these carriage rides immediately to protect public health during the uptick in coronavirus cases around the City.  

If drivers are seen violating the mask mandate on Day 1 of their return, they have no business being here at all. The Daily News reports that carriage drivers plan to give free rides to healthcare and first-responder workers on Saturday, October 3.  Can carriage drivers be trusted to wear masks after shown on Day 1 to flout them, and even if they do, how can they social distance in a carriage while talking to passengers throughout the ride in a cramped carriage? How can City officials allow New Yorkers to be put at increased risk during this highly sensitive time in the pandemic by carriage drivers that consistently violate rules designed to protect us all? NYCLASS and PETA will hold a protest Saturday from 12pm-1pm at 59th Street and 6th Avenue to call on the City to shut down these rides."

Dan Mathews, Senior Vice President of PETA said, "As New York comes back to life after the pandemic, one tiny trade that has no place is the deadly horse-drawn carriage business, which has long disregarded health and cruelty codes.”




Statement on Horse Carriage Incident with Pedicab

"Today's incident where three people were injured on the 65th Street Transverse when a horse carriage clipped and flipped a pedicab is yet another example of why horse carriages do not belong on congested city streets, and why this antiquated practice is unsafe for people and for horses.  

Just over a month ago, a horse named Norman collapsed at 2:00AM on 50th Street and laid there for more than 20 minutes before he was able to get up. Despite claiming that he’s an advocate for animal rights, the Mayor still has done nothing and said nothing about Norman's collapse. Mr. Mayor, keep your word. It is outrageous that in the year 2016, there are still carriage horses working on busy NYC streets."

Animal advocates from NYCLASS, The Animals' Battalion, TheirTurn, Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free will be protesting in front of Grace Mansion on Monday, October 17th 5:30PM-7PM to urge Mayor de Blasio to help the horses.




WHAT: Animal rights activists from NYCLASS, Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund, TheirTurn and Animals Battallion will protest at the home of Mayor de Blasio in light of the latest carriage horse accident. Despite a 14-year-old horse COLLAPSING in the middle of a Midtown Manhattan street at 2:00 AM over Labor Day weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio has been SILENT. He claims to be an animal advocate, but has done zero to protect the horses. His Department of Health hasn't taken any action, either. And if the brave, compassionate witness to the accident had not spoken up to expose what happened to the overworked horse, no one would have even known about it. The Mayor and the Department of Health hid Norman's incident from the public.

WHEN: Thursday, Sept 15th 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

WHERE: Gracie Mansion, East End Ave and E 88th Street




Statement on Horse Collapse on Street

NYCLASS's statement about today's report of a driver pushing the 14-year-old carriage horse, Norman, to collapse in the middle of the street:


"It is outrageous that in the year 2016, there are still carriage horses collapsing on Hell's Kitchen streets at 2:00 AM. Mayor de Blasio has epically failed our city's gentle giants. This Mayor has said nothing about the injured horse, despite claiming that he’s an advocate for animals. His excuses for lack of action are lamer than an overworked carriage horse.

Had this witness not come forward to report the incident to animal advocates, the public never would have known it even happened. How many other horse incidents have been hidden from the public? We are calling on city officials to allow an independent veterinarian to examine the horse, and calling on Mayor de Blasio to stop with the same old empty rhetoric and keep his promise to protect these horses."


Urge NYCHA to Lift Pet Restrictions

In 2009, the NYC Housing Authority implemented a ban on certain dog breeds and dogs over 25 lbs. This policy change was devastating for dogs and their guardians as many were forced to give up their beloved companions, while shelter and rescues took on the flood of homeless dogs. Mayor de Blasio is considering changing the policy, and we need you to speak up for pets in public housing.

There's an important hearing about this issue TONIGHT and we need your help. We need to let NYCHA know that changing breed and weight restrictions on dogs, allowing two cats instead of just one, and waiving the pet fee for any resident who adopts a pet from Animal Care Centers of New York will benefit both residents and NYC animals! You can comment at tonight's hearing or write in comments via email

Breed and weight restrictions, like those currently in place, are shown to be ineffective and lead to the abandonment of dogs which contributes to the already overburdened shelters. Lifting the weight restriction would allow for a greater number of homeless animals to be adopted from Animal Care Centers, other not for profit shelters and rescue groups in NYC working to find homes for cats and dogs.

Additionally, cats are social animals and most do well with a companion. Cats are quiet, non-disruptive, and provide companionship to their guardians. Allowing tenants to have two cats will benefit tenants, cats, and NYC Animal Care Centers.

We also suggest that if any pet is adopted from NYC ACC that the $25 fee be waived to promote the adoption of the countless homeless pets in our city shelters and support the requirements in place requiring all pets be spayed, neutered, and licensed.

What: The public is invited to comment on the FY 2017 Draft Agency Annual Plan at a public hearing

Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Time: 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Where: Borough Of Manhattan Community College
  199 Chambers Street
  New York, New York 10007

Details: Written comments regarding the FY 2017 Draft Agency Annual Plan are encouraged. Faxed submissions will be accepted at (212) 306-7905. Comments may also be emailed to [email protected]

You can attend the hearing to submit comments or submit comments via email or fax.

Please let NYCHA know how important these changes are for New York! We can make sure that NYCHA residents are able to benefit from the companionship and fulfillment of being pet guardians while addressing the overcrowding issues faced by animal shelters around the city. Use your voice - attend the hearing or submit written comments!


Media Advisory: Animal Rights Activists To Present 100+ Dead Animal Carcasses, Call On Mayor De Blasio To Go Vegan

National Animal Rights Day, Sunday, July 24th 12:00PM Union Square (across from Barnes and Noble)


Hundreds of animal rights activists from NYC and beyond will hold a demonstration against the abuse of animals in Union Square. Demonstrators will present over 100 dead animals in solidarity with abused animals in New York City and the world. This is the 6th annual National Animal Rights Day held in NYC with currently 15 other cities holding the same event in the US and Canada.


Read more


$10 million investment in new facilities will remove barriers, boost medical treatment 

NYCLASS: “The greatest city in the world deserves a world-class animal shelter system”

BRONX – City-led pet adoptions in New York City shelters are set to double over the next few years – to nearly 16,000 – as a result of the new full-service animal shelters coming to Queens and the Bronx, according to new projections released today by NYCLASS and Bronx Council Members.

The new projections come on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inclusion of $10 million for the design and siting of new shelters in the two boroughs – an investment that has been at the core of NYCLASS’ agenda for years.

“NYCLASS believes that the greatest city in the world deserves a world-class animal shelter system – with full-service shelters in every borough,” said Allie Taylor, Executive Director of NYCLASS. “These projections show that not only will the new full-service shelters mean better, more humane care for shelter animals, but they will help connect more New Yorkers to loving companions. It’s a win-win for animals and for New Yorkers.”

Specifically, the projections show that city-led pet adoptions will jump to nearly 16,000 by 2018, up from approximately 7,000 this year (Table below) – primarily as a result of building brick and mortar facilities in each borough to expand pet adoption.




































** These numbers do not include pet adoptions conducted by the New Hope Partners program, which currently provides the vast majority of adoptions in New York City.

The projection assumes modest growth in the number of overall adoptions – a three percent increase year over year. It also assumes that the new shelters will have similar adoption levels as their counterparts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The numbers include all types of animal adoptions.

"This is great news for animals and animal lovers,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "This project has been a major priority for many of my constituents, and I am happy to join NYCLASS today to celebrate the funding of a full-service animal shelter in my borough. “thanks to the inclusion of this funding in the budget by Mayor de Blasio, we will create a space where animals can receive humane care while pet lovers will have a place where they can adopt a new member of their family, helping reduce animal homelessness and abuse."

“The creation of full-service animal shelters in the Bronx and Queens is a win for all New Yorkers. These shelters will ensure that more pets will be adopted, making our great City even more humane. I applaud Mayor de Blasio, my colleagues in the Council and all of the advocates who made this a reality. I am committed to working with the City to finding the right location for this future Bronx shelter,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

Both Queens and the Bronx currently lack full-service animal shelters and the medical services and adoptions they provide. Instead, residents in these boroughs only have access to receiving centers – meaning that they must travel to another community or wait for a mobile adoption truck – if they want to adopt a pet. This creates an unfair obstacle for adoption for residents of Queens and the Bronx.

Council Member Fernando Cabrera said, “I am thrilled that the Bronx will finally be gaining a full-service animal shelter. Many of the residents of our borough desire to provide animals with safe homes, and now they will be able to do that without facing a number of obstacles. I applaud Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, my colleagues in the Council, and all the advocates who fought so hard to bring animal rescue, medical, and adoption services to the Bronx.”

Council Member Annabel Palma said, "I am deeply gratified that funding in this year’s budget has been earmarked for the construction of a full-service, city operated animal shelter within the Bronx. For too long, owners of pets, animal rescuers, and other activists focused on the concerns of injured animals, have been underserved in our great borough. I think this is a big step the city is taking toward creating a more humane environment for these creatures in need."

Council Member Ritchie Torres said, "The creation of a full-service animal shelter in the Bronx is a victory for all who have been pushing for this necessary service in the borough. It will ensure our furry friends get the treatment and care they deserve. I applaud the Council and Administration for including the creation of animal shelters in the Bronx and Queens in the FY17 City Budget."

"When it comes to the safety of our furry companions, once again the Bronx is the forgotten borough. We demand the Mayor keep his promise to every animal loving constituent in the city and build a new full-service animal shelter in the Bronx," said NY State Committeeman Kenny Agosto (D), 78th AD.

 Adoption Projections

Above: NYCLASS projections for city-led animal adoptions over the next several years as a result of the construction of two new full-service shelters.

NYCLASS: We Love Animals and We Vote

NYCLASS is an animal advocacy organization committed to creating a more humane city for all New Yorkers, two-legged and four-legged. We believe in the power of organizing and mobilizing the animal protection voting bloc to move humane legislation. Founded in 2008, NYCLASS has grown to over a quarter million supporters with activist chapters in all five boroughs.


MAY 24, 2016



NYCLASS on Montreal’s Horse Carriage Ban: “Their action only further highlights New York City’s inaction”

Lists specific steps Mayor de Blasio can take to protect horses without legislation

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