The question of whether horse-drawn carriages should be banned has been in the news lately. Glee star Lea Michele has recently starred in a PETA campaign supporting a ban. An announcement has been made that Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton, will travel to their wedding by car instead of by carriage. Although the Royal Family has not explained this change, there has been speculation that it is either a security measure or an animal rights issue.
Horse-drawn carriages are popular tourist attractions in some cities, most notably New York City. Advocates of a ban on these carriages have a number of objections to the practice:
- Traffic is so congested in NY that accidents between horses and cars are a frequent occurrence and often cause the horses to be killed.
- Due to difficult working conditions, the average working life of a horse who draws a carriage is about 4 years. Respiratory problems and lameness are common issues. These horses often come to this job after a career as racehorses or as farm animals so they may have preexisting conditions.
- Although the ASPCA has agents who are entrusted with enforcing the laws regarding working horses, they don’t have the manpower to adequately regulate the entire industry.
- Tourism is not a good enough reason to put horses to work. Animals should not be used for entertainment purposes at all.
Those who argue against banning horse-drawn carriages make the following points:
- The New York City carriage horses are subject to strict licensing controls, under laws, updated as recently as 2010, that are enforced by the ASPCA, New York City Police Department, the Health Department, the Consumer Affairs Department, and the Parks Department. If indeed the horses (or some of them) are being mistreated, this should be dealt with, but is not a reason to ban the carriages entirely.
- These carriages are a long-held tradition and connect Americans to their heritage and to a simpler, more romantic time.
- Banning horse-drawn carriages would only lead to further bans of use of animals by humans. Although some people believe that animals should not be exploited for any human purposes, a more popular view is that animals can be used for human benefit, as long as they are treated well. In certain parts of the world, horses, donkeys and mules are the primary form of transportation. Banning the use of animals in this way would be catastrophic.
- A more worthwhile cause to promote would be the welfare and health of horses and other animals. Organizations which provide veterinary care to working animals and educate people about animal welfare are doing important work and should be supported.
What do you think? Should horse-drawn carriages be banned?