The recent cancellation of HBO's new series Luck, spawned by three consecutive horse deaths during filming, has refueled fires amongst activists working with NY CLASS, an organization which seeks to stop the use of horse-drawn carriages for the unsafe conditions associated with the city's famed hansom cabs. This march, after HBO's decision to cancel Luck, activists working for the organization, aware of the grim realities for animal safety in the horse-drawn carriage industry, voiced this powerful statement in reaction to the premium network's decision to cease production after animals endured harm and were even killed during the filming:
“HBO should be leading the way on entertainment, not animal welfare issues,” said Carly Knudson, Executive Director of the program and avid animal rights activist, during an address to the New York City Council this week.
For these frustrated animal rights' campaigners, there's simply no reason New Yorkers can't be moved to action when faced with mounting numbers of carriage related emergencies, accidents, injuries, and deaths. After all, if HBO's management and Luck's production team are capable not only of coming together to recognize an unethical situation in need of a remedy, but also of taking collective action to stop these wrongs- then what's stopping concerned New Yorkers from doing the same?
In their latest petition to the council this March, NY CLASS emphatically restated the need to pass legislation for cleaner and safer green alternatives to Manhattan's horse-carriage industry. In the past year alone there have been a series of highly publicized accidents involving horse-drawn carriages, some related to horses' sometimes erratic and unmanageable behaviors, sometime related to outdated, dangerous technologies, as well as many other variables. A simple Google search of "horse carriage accident nyc" will reveal just how deadly the horse carriage business is. Earlier this month another famous incident involving an inexplicably startled horse ended in disaster when the horse overturned the carriage and dragged it behind him down 11th Avenue, until finally collapsing violently at the foot of The Daily Show Building and studios.
But what about the beloved, albeit anachronistic, hansom cab, one of the quaint staples of Central Park South, one of the most ubiquitous, historically evocative tourist attractions in the city, an industry which draws so much business from the old-fashioned charm and style of their transport? NY CLASS has attempted to incorporate such considerations into the current plan they're pursuing through legislation.
The proposed plan highlights the dramatic improvements in animal welfare and public safety it would enact, while still attempting to preserve some of the allure of this old-fashioned transportation novelty. The plan also accommodates carriage-drivers and maintains employment opportunities within the new system, so as not to negatively impact the workers. The proposed legislation outlines an operation to gradually phase-in two varieties of vintage, turn-of-the-century replica cars, as replacements for the carriages. The cars will run only on electricity, in addition to meeting NY CLASS's primary goal of alleviating some of the unsavory and negligent treatment practices horses are subjected to everyday under current conditions. And, most amazingly, making the proposed changes can be accomplished at no cost to the city!