Lew Leone is the vice president and general manager of WNYW-FOX 5. He is taking to the airwaves with his thoughts on current affairs. It's called "Lew's View." The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.
In this edition, Mr. Lew Leone comments on the controversy over horse-drawn carriages in New York.
Should we ban carriage horses from the streets of New York City? Democratic state Sen. Tony Avella from Queens is leading the charge that these animals are being tortured and carriages should be off the streets.
"I think we've grown up as a society to realize that cruelty to animals is no longer appropriate," Avella said.
Avella and his fellow protestors show graphic photos of horses. It's like a re-enactment of Black Beauty -- the part where poor Ginger, thin and shackled, is carried off.
But what's the truth here?
It costs plenty to keep a horse: They gobble up hay, at up to 12 bucks a bale, grain twice a day. The shoes on these guys can cost more than Gucci Loafers
So carriage horses have to earn their keep, and at 50 bucks a ride, it "behooves" these drivers to take good care of them.
Besides eliminating an iconic tourist attraction and hurting the city's $31 billion tourist economy, banning carriage horses may actually make things worse for the horses.
The sad reality is rescue organizations can't keep up with the number of horses coming in -- abandoned horses that don't come from the streets of New York City. They are from professional stables and backyard farms across our area, where owners can't afford them any longer. Thoroughbreds, injured on the track, or show horses who no longer can meet the physical demands of sport jumping; many are rescued from horse auctions where so-called kill buyers pick them up and ship them to slaughter houses.
Ban the carriages and New York's horses will be on the auction block too, especially because they are larger animals -- they'll bring a better price -- and they're even more expensive to keep. It's not as if they can easily find a new role -- after all, you can't teach an old horse new tricks.
The carriage horses in New York City are well cared for by horse standards because their owners depend on them. The law even requires they get a mandatory 5 weeks off a year -- more vacation than most of us!
All in all, not a bad gig, and the alternative is much worse. Like everyone else in this economy, it's better to have a job, even if it involves pulling some weight.
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