In PETA's response, they address all of the Horse and Carriage Association of NYC's arguments in a point-by-point rebuttal. Here are a couple of highlights, with PETA's responses in italics:
The carriage horse rep explains horses are limited to nine hours of work per day, only allowed to work ONE of the two shifts each day AND apparently get a five-week break during the year, during which they're turned out to pasture.
It is true that under current law, carriage horses are limited to working one nine-hour shift per day. It is also true that we have documented numerous occasions when this regulation was ignored by carriage drivers and horses were double-timed (i.e., worked for two shifts in a row).
A change in the law regulating the industry was passed in the spring of 2010 and required that the horses be given five weeks of vacation per year. The problem with this policy and with ALL the current regulations is that the city has devoted little or no resources to enforcement.
A few months ago, a New York City carriage horse was rescued from an auction in Pennsylvania, where the animal would likely have gone to slaughter. In trying to determine how the horse ended up there, animal advocates traced him back to West Side Livery. The owner of the stables claimed that she had sent the horse "on vacation" and, when she replaced him with a younger horse, told the farmer caring for him to sell him (see the New York Times article about this case here: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/05/for-a-former-carriage-horse-a-grassy-sanctuary/ ).
Clearly, oversight is lacking, and many of these so-called "vacations" will end up being permanent.
If regulations aren't met, carriage drivers face up to $2,000 in fines enforced by five organizations — the NYC Department of Health [DOH], NYC Department of Consumer Affairs [DCA], ASPCA, NYPD, and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.
The city has devoted very few resources to the oversight of this industry. Only the DCA and DOH are required to conduct inspections, and they do so on an infrequent basis.
Out of concern for the horses, the ASPCA has voluntarily funded a dedicated humane law enforcement officer to the carriage horse beat, but one individual cannot possibly keep an eye on 212 horses and 68 carriages housed in four stables at all times.
The abysmal state of record-keeping has been a further challenge to the enforcement of regulations. An audit by the New York comptroller in 2007 found numerous shortcomings, including a lack of inspections and many inconsistencies in the horses' health records.
Once again, PETA backs up their claims quite well!
Check out more of their point-by-point rebuttal after the jump…
The fact is that there's no tie-end stalls, there's box stalls, the rep clarifies.
The rep also says the stables [are] quite comfy for the horses, saying:
"My stable, which houses 76 horses, has automatic drinkers, oscillating fans, and sprinkler systems on them for the summer time."
The footage used in the video was taken during an undercover investigation by Animal Angels at West Side Livery in March of 2009. Unless our eyes deceive us, it is clear that the horses were being kept in standing stalls and were tied up. The quality and conditions of stables vary, of course, and some do have box stalls and better equipment.
Unfortunately, even these box stalls are only required to be 60 square feet—barely more than half the industry standard (i.e., 110 square feet) for the draft horses used in the carriage trade.
He also says barns are equipped with sprinkler systems in case of a fire and they're NOT run-down tenement buildings like the Glee star claims.
"Every stable in this city has been built as a stable at one point or another," the rep assures.
The West Side Livery, where the video was filmed, was not originally built as a stable. There is no certificate of occupancy on file with New York City, but based on its design and location, it's clear that it was built as a commercial or office building.
Again, his stable might have a sprinkler system, but an attempt to legally require every stable to have an operational sprinkler system was rejected.
In the same bill granting vacations to the carriage horses, language was also removed that would have required the public drinking trough for the horses to be "maintained and made available to horses for drinking year round." Either the city or the industry did not want the responsibility for supplying water year-round and had the language removed. During the winter months, the troughs are empty, though the horses are still working.