Anyone who knows me knows that I am an animal lover, and I have a long history of voting for bills that protect the welfare of animals, including a 2010 bill that increased the size of the stalls for Central Park horses and mandated five weeks of annual vacation for them at a pasture -- a lot more vacation time than I and most of my constituents receive. After months of consideration and listening to constituents, I have decided that I will not support a ban on horse-drawn carriages.
I appreciate the vocal conversation that this issue has generated, but the more I study this issue, the more clear it is to me that the carriage horses are well-treated, in most cases by carriage drivers who grew up with horses on farms. It would be wrong to deprive the drivers of their beloved horses and livelihood, and to deprive New York City of the quality jobs and the character that these horse-drawn carriages contribute.
As debate on this bill continues, I urge all sides to be respectful. I said last week and I will repeat, I appreciate feedback from my constituents on the North Shore of Staten Island, but repeated phone calls from all corners of the country is not helpful and makes it difficult for my staff to serve the everyday needs of people in my district. I want to thank NYCLASS for all the tweets, Facebook messages, emails, paper mailers and constant phone calls. They certainly helped me make up my mind on this issue.
Finally, while I firmly oppose an outright ban, I remain committed to the humane treatment of animals and open to compromises that may be forged in the future.