Recent amendments governing the transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock, aquaculture and insects, have elicited concerns from cattle, hog, sheep, horse, bee and aquaculture producers, since the time restrictions on transport without rest for the truck drivers would literally stop livestock haulers in their tracks, creating hazards for their live cargo.

These concerns were described on the webpage of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association:

The ELD enforcement date and existing hours of service (HOS) regulations pose significant consequences for the livestock industry. Current federal law limits on-duty time to 14 hours, with a maximum drive time of 11 consecutive hours. The driver must then rest for 10 consecutive hours before returning to duty.  For the great majority of the trips made by our livestock haulers, this is simply not enough drive time to accommodate the realities of hauling live animals across the country. Research also demonstrates that repeated loading and unloading of animals creates stress, harming the livestock as well as endangering the hauler.  Unfortunately, the impending December 18, 2017 electronic logging device (ELD) enforcement date and existing hours of service (HOS) rules may force small business owners out of the marketplace while also having the unintended impact of decreasing driver safety, and jeopardizing the wellbeing of hauled animals if they can no longer be hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers/stockmen.

To address some of these “unintended consequences” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced the publication of a guidance document, also published as a rule (83 FR 26374, pp 26374-26377) to:

clarify the applicability of the ‘Agricultural commodity’ exception in the ‘Hours of Service (HOS) of Drivers’ regulations.  This regulatory guidance clarifies the exception with regard to: drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity or returning from a delivery point; drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity; determining the ‘source’ of agricultural commodities under the exemptions; and how the exception applies when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip.

This is the latest of several attempts to clarify the rule as it relates to the transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock and insects, since its adoption.  Notably, the Electronic Logging Devices are not required for livestock transporters until September 2018.

FMCSA previously published guidance documents at the end of May 2018, including Agricultural Exceptions and Exemptions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service (HOS) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Rules and Regulatory Guidance: Transportation of Agricultural Commodities including Livestock. 

“This regulatory guidance clarifies that the following operations are not subject to the Hours-of-Service Regulations while operating within 150 air-mile radius of the source of the commodity:”

Drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity, as defined in 395.2, or returning from a delivery point; and

Drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity are not subject to the hours of service regulations until they exit the 150 air-mile radius.

The guidance also clarifies that when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip only the first loading point can be considered a source, which results in an ongoing concern about how these regulations restrict livestock haulers from loading and delivering livestock without interruption.

To fix some of the unaddressed issues with the law, on June 26, 2018, as reported in a press release on Senator Deb Fischer’s (R-Neb.) website, “[a] bipartisan group of 24 senators . . . filed an amendment to the farm bill that would provide an hours of service exemption for certain agriculture transporters, including livestock haulers, which would provide greater flexibility to operators throughout the country.”

The amendment ‘would ensure that the exemption for operations within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of an agricultural commodity applies year-round and does not vary from one state to another for certain months of the year.  The exemption currently applies to the planting and harvesting period, as determined by each state.  It would also provide an additional 150 air-mile exemption on the back end of a trip, as it currently exists on the front end.’

Before time runs out, it will be important for these issues to be ironed out so livestock can be safely transported without unnecessary and stressful stops.

You have likely heard about the recent attempt by an individual to board a flight with a peacock who purportedly served as an emotional support animal.  See, e.g., “Woman denied emotional support peacock on United Flight.

United has published current rules regarding Psychiatric/Therapeutic/Emotional Support Animal Authorization on its website, which indicates that changes to the current requirements will be forthcoming:

Pursuant to the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidance for the carriage of service animals, United requires a passenger with a qualified disability traveling with a psychiatric/therapeutic/emotional support type animal to obtain documentation from their medical/mental health professional.

This form is only valid for travel between now and February 28, 2018; additional documentation will be required for travel on or after March 1, 2018.

Other documentation may be required for travel entering or exiting an international location.

United requires service animals to be “properly harnessed for the duration of the flight. Small animals may remain in the passenger’s lap during the flight. If a carrier will be used, it must meet the USDA guidelines and fit under the aircraft seat.”

Notably, the airline also states that animals “must be trained to behave appropriately in a public setting. Animals found not to have been trained to behave will only be accepted in accordance with United’s current pet policies or may be denied boarding.” (Emphasis in original).

 

There is additional information on United Airlines’ Service animals webpage:

Beginning March 1, 2018, United will require additional documentation for customers traveling with an emotional support animal. Currently, customers must provide 48 hours’ notice to the Accessibility Desk and a letter from a licensed medical/mental health professional. For travel on or after March 1, customers will need to also provide a veterinary health form documenting the health and vaccination records for the animal as well as confirming that the animal has appropriate behavioral training.

Additional information and forms will be available soon, so please continue to check united.com if you have upcoming travel with an emotional support animal. The process for trained service animals is currently not changing.

We have published several blogs about legal requirements and provisions governing the use of service and emotional support animals.  Individuals with legitimate disabilities may be disadvantaged by those who want to travel with their pets but have no legitimate disability or emotional disorder.  Since specific certification is not required for service or emotional support animals, but a plethora of websites offer registration, vests and identification cards provided for a fee and based on the honor system, it is easy for people to fake it.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has published a comprehensive “Service Animal Definition Matrix—Air Carrier Access Act vs. Americans with Disabilities Act,” dated July 1, 2016, that includes helpful definitions, questions and answers summarizing information about:

  1. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and 14 CFR Part 382;
  2. DOJ’s interpretation of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA);
  3. FRA’s interpretation of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) 49 CFR 37.3;
  4. FTA’s interpretation of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 49 CFR 37.3, 37.167(d); and
  5. HUD’s FHAct and/or Section 504.

In addition to definitions based on the above-mentioned categories, helpful questions and answers are included in the matrix, including, for example:

  1. Should disability mitigation training for the animal be required as a condition of access?
  2. Should public access training for the animal be required as a condition of access?
  3. Should the rule designate eligible species and, if so, what species should be allowed? Should the rule allow certain species to travel as service animals subject to certain restrictions (such as remaining contained during flight)?
  4. What requirements should the rule impose to prevent fraud in the documentation process.

This matrix, while not legal advice, should be helpful to airline and other carriers considering whether to amend their policies regarding travel with emotional support animals.

It may be worth considering policies to permit pet owners to purchase seats for certain pets, with reasonable requirements for health and behavior, since it is likely that many people would pay for these tickets, if available.

Retail rescue organizations like Rescue Road Trips, inc. (the Rescue) who purport to provide “loving, humane road trips to homeless, unwanted, and unloved dogs from Southern Kill Shelters . . . deliver[ed] to Loving ‘Forever Homes’ in New England and surrounding areas,” do nothing to decrease the number of dogs being irresponsibly bred.  They actually do the opposite by facilitating the irresponsible, non-purposeful breeding of dogs.

And, while preventing a dog from unnecessary death is laudable, this operation, like other rescues and some shelters that have largely replaced pet stores and professional breeders as the source of pets in the U.S., this Rescue appears to be quite profitable.

As reported on their website, they have saved over 55,000 dogs to date.  These are dogs moved from southern states to the northeast, where the supply of dogs for sale/adoption does not meet demand, despite statements by HSUS, ASPCA and others claiming that pet store sourcing bans are needed because of the local overpopulation of dogs purportedly caused by pet store sales.

Notably, the justification of a bill recently passed in New York related to regulation of rescues and shelters described the current state of the supply of pets, noting

The number of animals euthanized in U.S. shelters has seen a precipitous decline in the past four decades, from around 15 million annually in the 1970’s to around 3 million currently . . . there are literally hundreds of unregulated entities importing dogs into New York each year . . . [through] the almost 500 incorporated animal groups currently registered with the Office of the Attorney General’s . . . Charities Bureau . . .

The Rescue, reportedly charging $185 per dog per transport―plus another unreported adoption fee per dog―has earned over $10,000,000 in revenues to date.  While there are costs related to transport, the Rescue reports that volunteers pay for the dogs pulled from shelters, and for their medical care, and assists them with canine care along the way, all for no charge to the Rescue.

Think about how that much money could be used to educate dog owners in the south about responsible breeding and provide voluntary spay/neuter programs that have been so effective in many parts of the country, including the northeast.

According to the Rescue’s IRS 990, available on ProPublica’s website, it was formed in 2015, and for that year, revenues totaled $230,000 and the officers reported no working hours or expenses.  Does that mean that they have transported 55,000 dogs since 2016?

To its credit, the Rescue’s “Requirements to Board Transport,” are generally consistent with interstate animal health requirements and sound veterinary medicine, but there may be other concerns about their conduct, particularly in the State of Connecticut, to be discussed further.

In New Jersey, yet another bill amending the animal cruelty statute (S1640) was recently passed into law.  The amendments “[e]stablish . . . requirements concerning necessary care of dogs, domestic companion animals, and service animals, and for tethering of dogs.”

Many of the other provisions requiring “necessary care” to a companion animal are reasonable if the laws are appropriately enforced by professional law officers, who have sought guidance from individuals with expertise in animal health, care, and handling.  Unfortunately this is not the case in New Jersey, where the animal cruelty statute is improperly enforced.

This makes the following provision extremely problematic and of concern to companion animal owners and their attorneys in the State:

any humane law enforcement officer or agent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, certified animal control officer, or other State or local law enforcement officer may immediately enter onto private property where a dog, domestic companion animal, or service animal is located and take physical custody of the animal, if the officer or agent has reasonable suspicion to believe that the animal is at risk of imminent harm due to a violation of this act.

While an earlier provision requires a showing of probable cause before a court of competent jurisdiction could issue a subpoena permitting law enforcement to enter private property and seize an animal, this latter provision impermissibly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

A district court case provides clarity of rights under the Fourth Amendment:

In Badillo v. Amato, Case No. 13-1553, slip op. (D.N.J. Jan. 28, 2014) the Court denied then Monmouth County SPCA Chief Amato’s motion to dismiss, in relevant part, Badillo’s allegation that Amato violated his right to be free from illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.  In this case, Badillo, a priest of the Santeria religion was issued nine municipal court summons for animal animal abuse and neglect after Amato “went around to the back of . . . [Badillo’s’ house, opened the gate and let himself in the fenced backyard without permission or a warrant and began taking pictures . . . “  Case No. 13-1553, slip op., at p. 3 (D.N.J. Jan. 28, 2014).

As the Court explained, finding that the Complaint sufficiently pleaded Fourth Amendment violations by Amato to survive a motion to dismiss, the Fourth Amendment provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and persons or things to be seized.  Id., at p. 8 (quoting U.S. Const. amend. IV.)

The Court reaffirmed that not only is the home “sacrosanct” but that “protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment extend not only to a person’s home, but also to the curtilage surrounding the property.”  Id., at p. 8-9 (citing Estate of Smith v. Maraso, 318 F.3d 497, 518-519 (3d Cir. 2003).

It appears that the foregoing provision of the newly amended animal cruelty statute, permitting entry to private property based on merely reasonable suspicion and in the absence of a court order would violate the Fourth Amendment.

Additional concerns about these amendments, previously discussed, remain included in the final adopted law.

For example, a person may not keep a dog (or other domestic companion animal) in an animal crate or carrier for transport, exhibition, show, contest, training or similar event if the top of the head of the dog touches the ceiling of the animal carrier or crate when the dog is in a normal standing position.  There are many acceptable, safe dog carriers that permit dogs to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably, but the top of their head would touch the ceiling of the crate.

The public must be adequately informed about this new requirement―that does nothing to provide for the welfare of dogs transported in dog carriers―so they are not victims of animal cruelty citations issued by over zealous agents and officers of the NJ or County SPCA’s.  As noted in the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 2000 report on Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  at least one County society (Warren) routinely stopped vehicles with horse trailers for proof that a Coggins test certificate was available as required by the NJ Department of Agriculture.  As the report concluded:

Not only is the absence of a certificate not cruelty, but SPCA personnel lack the expertise to know whether the horse described in the certificate, such as a Bay or Chestnut [which are specific horse colors and patterns], is in fact the horse being transported.

It would not be unprecedented if humane officers decided to target people traveling with dogs throughout the state, and started pulling over and issuing summons related to the size the their dog carriers.

 

Dog owners beware!

It’s summertime!

Many of us are planning some time away from home. If you plan on taking your pets with you, the USDA just updated their website with important information about traveling internationally with your pet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has launched a new Web site devoted to international pet travel. Pets are often considered part of the family, but traveling with your pet isn’t as simple as just booking a flight or driving across the border. There may be very specific steps you and your veterinarian need to follow, as well as pet vaccinations, treatments, and/or testing that your veterinarian must document.

 

We know this process can be stressful. That’s why we designed a new Web site to help guide you and your veterinarian through each step. Some countries have pre-travel requirements that take advanced planning and time to complete, so it’s important to start the process early.

The website includes instructions about taking pet to other countries and bringing pets into the U.S.

APHIS explains its mission “is to protect the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources.”

To prevent the entry and spread of foreign animal diseases into our country, pets entering the United States from other countries may need to meet specific APHIS requirements.

In addition to federal requirements, airlines may have additional requirements for pet owners.

Don’t forget to bring along any medication, and the food your pet is used to eating if it is not available at your destination, to avoid gastrointestinal disorders.

Make sure your pet is properly identified and keep in mind that microchip technology and readers may not be reliable at your destination, so make sure your contact information is included on your pet’s collar.

USDA’s website also includes links to other federal agencies that have additional requirements for pet owners.

For example, the CDC has regulations that “require that dogs imported into the United States are healthy and are vaccinated against rabies before arrival into the United States. These requirements apply equally to all dogs, including puppies and service animals.”

 

Plan accordingly and be safe.

Several bills have been introduced in the New Jersey Assembly which would unintentionally negatively impact biomedical research which is vital to the health of humans and animals alike. Below, the NJABR provides the basis for its recommended amendments to these bills to preserve their intent, while eliminating their unintended consequences to biomedical research.

New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR)[1] (republished with permission)

Assembly Bill Nos. 4773 and 4808, which seek to halt the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of certain animal species threatened with extinction, would unintentionally interfere with life-saving research.

The safe, humane, and rapid transportation of research animals is critical to biomedical research programs throughout the world. The ability to transport animals to institutions and scientists that need them is a crucial component of scientific advancement. Unique disease models, genetically modified animals, and professionally produced high quality animals of every species can only be provided to institutions conducting research if there is the ability to transport these animals from one location to another.

All chimpanzees, even those used in research, are designated as endangered species by the federal government. As such, A4773 and A4808 would prohibit the transport of chimpanzees through New Jersey. This prohibition would even apply to animals being moved to sanctuaries at the end of their time in research. Equally concerning, as defined in the A4808, “priority species” would include blood and other fluids as a product of the animal, which is also critical to certain research programs.

To be clear, NJABR’s concerns are not just focused on human health. Great apes in the wild, including chimpanzees and gorillas, are extremely vulnerable to the Ebola virus, with fatality rates as high as 95 percent. Ebola has killed as many as one-third of the world’s gorillas and chimpanzees in the past few decades in parts of Africa. In order to eradicate the virus in animals, testing on the affected species is needed.

NJABR proposes an exemption from any possession and transportation prohibitions in A4773 and A4808 for animals being used for biomedical research. (See attachment). The proposed amendment for the legislation is narrowly tailored to permit the transport of the designated species to and from legitimate research institutions that are licensed and inspected by the federal government to ensure animal welfare.

Scientific knowledge developed through animal research has saved countless lives, improved human and animal health and alleviated untold pain and suffering. The research community insists on the humane and ethical treatment of all animals used in research, education and testing. The community is guided by the 3Rs philosophy of reducing the number of animals used for research, replacing animals with other methodologies when possible and refining their use when possible. Without exception, the members of NJABR embrace their legal and ethical responsibilities to ensure that animals are not used needlessly and are spared all unnecessary pain and distress.

Proposed Amendment for Assembly Bill No. 4773

To be inserted as a third exemption listed in Section 1(d):

(3)  The priority species is being transported for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research at a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act or at a facility conducting biomedical research in compliance with the United States National Institutes of Health Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Proposed Amendment for Assembly Bill No. 4808

To be inserted as a new Section 9 in the bill:

Unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, nothing herein shall be deemed to interfere with any animal being transported, imported, exported, processed, sold or shipped for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research at a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act or at a facility conducting biomedical research in compliance with the United States National Institutes of Health Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

[1] Nancy E. Halpern serves on the Board of Directors and the Government Relations Committee of the NJABR

Senate, No. 2625, a bill introduced into the New Jersey Senate on December 8, 2014 by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, is a good attempt at tracking the movement of dogs and cats into New Jersey through rescue channels, as well as traditional sales.  There may be individuals worried that this Bill requires anyone purchasing a dog or cat out of state to register as an animal importer.  However, it appears as if such purchases would not require registration if the purchaser transports the animal personally.  Of course an interstate veterinary health certificate would still be required for such importation.

The Bill, if enacted, would establish animal importer registration, and animal grooming facility and animal training facility licenses; and also establish requirements for animal importers, animal grooming facilities, and animal training facilities and penalties for certain violations.

Specifically, the Bill would require the registration of any animal importer, defined as “any person who brings a cat or dog into the State from another state or sovereign entity for the purpose of offering the cat or dog for sale, adoption, or transfer in exchange for any fee, sale, voluntary contribution, service, or other consideration  . . . including animal rescues, adoption, or humane relocation, or delivery organizations.”

In addition to registering animal importers, the Department of Health would have to draft “rules and regulations for the health, safety, and humane treatment of cats and dogs by animal importers.”

Other States, including Connecticut and Rhode Island, already have similar requirements.  Rhode Island’s comprehensive regulations governing the Importation of Dogs and Cats for the Purpose of Rescue, Shelter, Foster, Adoption, Brokering, or Remote Sale, are a good reference.  See Rule 8.00.

The Bill also requires reporting of “the State or country of origin of each cat or dog brought into the state by the animal importer.”

This may be difficult to ascertain if the animal has been relocated from shelter to shelter, which purportedly is becoming more and more common, as shelters are increasingly pressured to minimize the euthanasia of the animals in their care.  While decreasing euthanasia is everyone’s objective, the repeated relocation of animals can create stress, and their care during transportation, often across state lines, should be regulated.

When possible, the history of movement from the place of origin should be included in each animal’s medical records.  Not only will this help us better understand the depth and breadth of the largely unregulated movement of dogs through rescue channels, but it will also help identify specific health risks that are associated with certain geographic regions.

Thoughts about the new requirements governing animal groomers and trainers coming soon….

 

When I first read about the “emotional support pig” who was kicked off a plane with its owner, 2 things came to mind:

Copyright: tigatelu / 123RF Stock Photo

1.         I would not want to be on a plane with a pig if it defecated;

2.         I would not want to be on a plane with a squealing pig.

So, I guess I should not have been surprised to learn that the pig in question was ordered off the U.S. Airways plane “after crewmembers determined the animal had become disruptive,” more specifically “the flight crew . . . kicked the pig off of the plane after it defecated and continued to squeal,” according to Paul Samakow, of Communities Digital News.

The airlines seem to go to great lengths to accommodate travelers with emotional support animals, even when not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

That is a good thing.  But, as we have previously described, some people take advantage of the situation and pretend their dogs are service dogs so they can travel together.

But this is a different situation.  A pig on a plane-not a good idea.  Why?  The squeal factor is one good reason.

Hog squeals measure 130 decibels, as reported by Iowa State University Extension.  Anything over this level causes physical pain.  To put it in perspective, a jet plane is 140 decibels and a lawnmower, 85 decibels.

The squeals are so loud, and persistent, that many hog farmers and swine veterinarians wear ear plugs when working on farms, as recommended by Iowa State U. Extension.

It is not likely that airline employees know what a hog sounds like.  Most people in the U.S. know very little about livestock. According to AnimalSmart.org:

“Over 200 years ago, 90 percent of the U.S. population lived on farms and produced their own food to eat. But today, only two percent of the population produces the food, including fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy, that everyone eats.”

But based on U.S. Airways guidelines, service animals must fit on the traveler’s lap or in front of the seat.

Most hogs, even pot belly pigs, who commonly weigh well over 100 pounds when mature, would not fit in front of a passenger seated in economy class.

Copyright: umkehrer / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: umkehrer / 123RF Stock Photo

Perhaps the airlines should limit emotional support animals to cats and dogs, like they limit the types of pets that can fly.

American Airlines posts these restrictions on its Web site:

“Types of Pets Allowed: Cats and dogs are the only types of pets accepted on American Airlines. View breed restrictions for more details. We maintain the right to refuse acceptance of any animal that is exhibiting aggressive behavior.”

Squealing is only part of the problem.  Another real concern is the potential transfer of infectious disease from one state to another, particularly if livestock species, like hogs or horses (the miniature variety) accompany travelers on planes.  Airline employees and travelers may not be aware of the state specific requirements for the entry of these species into a state, which can change in the face of local or widespread disease outbreaks.

While airlines require health certificates for traveling dogs and cats, and many post specific restrictions for entry of these species into other States or countries (e.g., Hawaii and U.K.), adding livestock to the mix will add much more complexity than airline officials realize, or may be able to manage.

New York City’s carriage horses, like fashion week itself, are iconic symbols of the city, as reported by NPR radio yesterday when the horses, carriages, and drivers took center stage at the opening of the fashion show.

Copyright: alex9500 / 123RF Stock Photo

Not everyone agreed.  Activists lined the streets, protesting ‘the use of horse-drawn carriages as unsafe and inhumane,’ according to CBSNewYork.

But people who want to see the carriage horses remain in the city were also on display along with the models who were driven “for a moving fashion show,” according to the Daily News, which hosts the Daily News Save Our Horses campaign and petition.

Horses have been used traditionally to pull carriages and farm equipment for business and pleasure for centuries, and like any other activity involving animals, can be performed humanely.

Copyright: tashka / 123RF Stock Photo

If the use of carriage horses in NYC is banned, what about the other horses that work in the city? Aren’t police horses also exposed to the same type of alleged harm from air pollution and traffic?  What about other horses who help farmers work their fields, provide transportation, pull sulkies at horse races, or participate in equestrienne competitions?

Blue Star Equiculture™, an all-volunteer non-profit working horse rescue operation urges people interested in the welfare of horses to support carriage horses and other working horses.  In an open letter about the carriage horses in NYC they say:

“Efforts to ban the carriage horses in New York and elsewhere are not only unfounded on the surface with their allegations of “institutionalized abuse,” but also are counterproductive to REAL progress in improving the welfare of America’s horses in meaningful ways.”

The Fédération Equestre Internationale, an international association that organizes horse shows and championships, added Driving as an official Equine Displine in 1970.  Other Equestrian Disciplines include Dressage, Jumping, Eventing, Endurance, Vaulting, Reining, and Para-Equestrian.

Copyright: joserpizarro / 123RF Stock Photo

The history of the use of horses in sports, dating back to 680 BC, is outlined on the FEI website.

Proper care of the horses is central to the mission of the FEI and other’s who use these animals for work, play, or entertainment.

Fair play, equality, complicity with the animal and respect for the environment and the horse are the core values of the FEI.”

Copyright: olgaru79 / 123RF Stock Photo

The care of the horse is also critically important to the carriage horse owners in NYC and other cities around the country.

It was nice to see these horses, their drivers, and carriages on display and honored by participants of fashion week.

However, this celebration of carriage horses may be short-lived.  If the Mayor fulfills his promise to ban their use in the city, this precedent will not only put an end to this historic (and humane) use of horses, but may also be a stepping stone to the end of similar and other equestrian activities in other localities.

 

The new mayor of New York City promised to ban the use of carriage horses in the city, an iconic attraction for city dwellers and visitors from around the globe.  Like my brother who proposed to my sister-in-law on a horse-drawn NYC carriage, these carriages have served as much more than a mere source of transportation.

Despite the fact that the carriage horses are apparently healthy and humanely treated, according to veterinarians who have recently examined them and inspected the stables in which they are housed, their current use has been condemned as inhumane.

If this use is inhumane, then what about other uses of horses, namely:

  • As service animals for law enforcement and crowd control, navigating the same streets of New York that activists claim are unsafe for carriage horses;
  • As carriage horses for the Amish and Mennonites, used to transport their occupants on highways alongside automobiles and trucks; and
  • As athletes in equestrian competitive events, including cart, carriage, and pulling events.

Opponents of the use of carriage horses in NYC claim that these horses are deprived of access to pasture, despite their 5 week/year required relocation to farms for such access.  If lack of pasture access is a measure of inhumane treatment, then the treatment of many show and race horses, similarly restricted,  would also be considered inhumane.  Additionally, many stables in the tri-state area have minimal, if any, land available for pasture.  Many horses living on these premises are extradorinary athletes who receive exemplary care.  Finally, restricting access to pasture is often beneficial to horses, especially when during icy, snowy, or other treacherous conditions.

Any legitimate concerns over the care and use of carriage horses should be addressed by amending the laws governing the standards of their care.  Whether used for work, entertainment, exhibition, racing, or other equestrian purposes, the best remedy is to require standards that ensure that the care of horses is humanely provided.  Bans on specific uses, like the use of carriage horses in NYC, is not the answer.  The partnership between humans and horses, one which has endured throughout history, is worthy of preservation, for the benefit of both species.