Should horse-drawn carriages be banned as both leading mayoral candidates would like, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he assumes all the animals will die.
"If you do that, yeah, I assume all the horses will go to slaughter," Bloomberg said Tuesday when asked about the effects of shutting down the industry, including thehorses being slaughtered.
The mayor said that even if enough funds are raised to care for the animals at sanctuaries, they will only take up space and cause the deaths of other horses.
"That's just obviously what's going to happen if they go ahead," the mayor said.
Both Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota support a bill before the City Council banning the practice, but Bloomberg said that the move would hurt horses and carriage drivers.
"These horses work, like you, like me. There's a few hundred people that work in this industry who support their families based on it," he said.
The industry is well-regulated, the mayor said. City law mandates the horses work no more than nine hours at a time, be covered with blankets in the winter, not work in temperatures over 90 degrees and have five weeks of vacation a year.
Allie Feldman, executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, or NYCLASS, said the anti-carriage group is "committed" to finding the funds to house more than 200 horses in the industry. (However, as theNew York Daily Newsreported, Feldman would not provide specifics on how the money might be obtained.)
"Mayor Bloomberg is fear-mongering and being completely disingenuous in suggesting that there would be any slaughter of horses associated with the ending of the abusive horse carriage industry," Feldman said.
But Bloomberg said he's hoping New Yorkers will realize "there's nothing really wrong" with the industry. People do, after all, use animals for a variety of things, he said.
"We keep animals as pets. We slaughter animals for food," the mayor said. "We use animals and have always used animals to help us feed ourselves and our families. To work. We use animals in the military, we use animals for peaceful purposes."
Though Bloomberg added that visitors and New Yorkers "seem to enjoy" the carriages, he said he's only been on one or two rides himself.
"Not in the last 20 years," the mayor said when asked if he's ever taken a horse-drawn trip. "Once for sure. I've been living here since 1966, so it's been a long time and certainly not recently."
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