NYCLASS and PETA Demand Apology After Re-Releasing 2009 Video of Carriage Driver Calling Protester a Whore

A still from the video.
The two most prominent animal rights groups pushing for a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City are holding a press conference today, calling for an apology from a carriage driver who they say hurled "racist, sexist hate speech in Spanish at a Latina who merely expressed concern for his horse." According to a release, New York City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez will join members of NYCLASS and PETA, the animal rights groups, on the steps of City Hall today at 1 p.m., asking the City Council to "demand a public apology from the carriage industry."

Their press release doesn't mention, however, that the incident they're referring to, between the carriage driver, who NYCLASS and PETA identify as Frank Rodden, and an anti-carriage protester named Claudia Rose Emerson, took place in 2009. The 45-second clip released by PETA earlier this week is part of a five-minute video released in 2009 by a group called Heart for Animal Rights.

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Animal Rights Groups Plan Protest At Stables After Carriage Driver Is Accused of Horse Switch

Photo by Jesse Dittmar
The interior of the Clinton Park Stables.
If you haven't quite gotten your fill of carriage horse-arguing, today's your lucky day. Last week, the Associated Press reported that carriage driver Frank Luo is accused by the city's health department of falsifying the brand on one of his horses. Today, in what promises to be an unpleasant situation on all sides, two animal rights groups, NYCLASS and PETA, will protest in front of the Clinton Park Stables on West 52nd Street, where the horse in question used to live.

Luo supposedly took a 22-year-old draft horse named Caesar and branded the number of a 12-year-old horse, Carsen, onto his hoof. Caesar suffered from heaves, a chronic lung disease, and was supposed to be resting on a Pennsylvania farm. City health officials accused Luo of misbranding Ceasar so he could continue to work him. But Luo told the Associated Press that the whole thing was a mistake on the vet's part, saying, "I did not switch the horses. It's just very confusing because they look alike."

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Protest Planned After a Carriage Horse Named Spartacus Fell Near the Plaza Hotel [Updated]

Image via NYCLASS
The two sides of the carriage horse debate are arguing furiously this morning, after a horse named Spartacus toppled over near the hack line at Central Park yesterday. Predictably, neither side can agree on what happened: the anti-carriage, pro- animal rights groups, including NYCLASS and Friends of Animals, say the horse spooked after a bus got too close while making a turn. But a spokeswoman for the carriage industry who was present during the incident says the horse simply got tangled with another carriage, and was soon back on his feet and heading for home, where he was examined by a veterinarian and found to be unharmed.

The photo above is being distributed by NYCLASS, who posted it on their Facebook page last night. They're calling for an emergency protest and press conference at 1 p.m. today at 59th St and 5th Ave, near the hack line, where the incident took place.

Friends of Animals New York director Edita Birnkrant says the incident highlights the need to push a ban bill quickly through the City Council: "Had there been passengers in that carriage when the horse spooked and it fell over, they could have been badly injured."

But Christina Hansen, a carriage driver and spokeswoman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, an industry group, says that while Spartacus did trip, he was quickly helped up by a team of drivers and sent home to his stable. She also sent the Voice of a photo of Spartacus, standing in his stall this morning, "happy and unharmed," she says.

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Celebrity-Stuffed PETA Video Denounces Carriage Horse Industry, Urges de Blasio To Ban It Already

Screenshot via PETA
The battle over carriage horses in the city is dragging on and on, with no end in sight, and, as yet, no bill introduced in the City Council that would actually ban the industry and replace it with the classic cars favored by animal rights group NYCLASS. While Bill de Blasio famously promised "an immediate ban" on carriage horses during his campaign, the mayoral reality hasn't been quite so neat; a recent Newsday story found that 19 city council members are undecided on the merits of a ban, versus 15 who support it and eight who oppose it.

Neither side definitely has the 26-vote majority they'd need for victory, and in the meantime, everyone is ramping up their publicity. First there was Liam Neeson's big visit to the Clinton Park stables, where he called carriage driving "a beautiful industry." And yesterday, PETA released a new video wherein millions of celebrities denounce the carriage horse industry as cruel and inhumane. If you were waiting to hear what Dave Navarro's eyebrows think about horses before you made up your mind, wait no more.

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A Chat With Norm Augustinus, the Guy Holding the "Die de Blasio Die" Banner at Columbus Circle [Updated]

Photo by Reddit user Livings124

The carriage-horse debate has gotten rather heated lately, with animal rights activists and the de Blasio administration saying it's time for the practice to end, and carriage drivers, the Teamsters and Liam Neeson saying a ban on carriage horses will send the drivers into unemployment and the horses somewhere unpleasant. (NYCLASS, the main group pushing for a ban, says the horses can be saved from slaughter and sent to ASPCA-approved adoptive homes, if their owners will agree.)

A couple weeks ago, eccentric comedian and satirist Norm Augustinus decided to wade into the debate, with that eye-catching banner you see above. To answer all of your immediate questions: It's hyperbole, not an actual death threat, but Augustinus does really want the horses to stay. And yes, the NYPD has already been out talk to him.

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EXCLUSIVE: Rafalca Romney, Mitt Romney's Dressage Horse, Speaks to the Voice!

Rafalca Intro.jpg
Like much of America, we at the Village Voice have been bemused by Rafalca Romney, Mitt Romney's dressage horse who will be competing in the XXX Olympiad in London tomorrow. Imagine our surprise when we noticed that @RafalcaRomney was Tweeting*! We immediately emailed her, and Rafalca was more than happy to share her thoughts on being Mitt's horse, the difficulties of tweeting with hooves, the even more harsh realities of living off of expenditures that exceed those of the average American family's each year, and traveling to London via FedEx.

Thank you for speaking to the Voice by email from London, Rafalca! An indelicate question for a lady first: How old are you?

I'm a 15-year-old Oldenburg warmblood mare. Translation: I'm pretty as hell.

When did you first start Tweeting?

I decided to save the world sometime in late April.

Is it hard to Tweet with hooves?

Typing with hooves is not easy, even with a custom-fitted equine keyboard. Usually, I just dictate tweets to my PA.

Apple or Android?

I like Apples. Mitt's an Android guy.

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Melissa Mark-Viverito, Bill de Blasio Call on City To Retire Carriage Horses

Around fifty people gathered on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to demand the City Council test out a prototype electric car that they hope can replace horse-drawn carriages. That proposal, Intro. 86A, is sponsored in the City Council by Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.

New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets(NYCLASS) -- joined by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Mark-Viverito, and animal welfare advocates -- lead the rally, calling on Council Speaker Christine Quinn to support the pilot program.

The vintage-replica vehicle initiative would not cost the city any money, the group says, as it would be funded entirely by NYCLASS donations.

NYCLASS also delivered a petition to the Council -- signed by 85,000 New Yorkers -- supporting the replacement of horse-drawn carriages with these cars.

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What Time Does the Belmont Stakes Start? This, and Other Burning Questions, Answered! [UPDATE]

Categories: Horses

Forgive us for the blatant SEO-whoring in the headline but, you see, we have no choice. "What Time Does the Belmont Stakes Start" was not our original story idea. Up until about 30 hours ago, we had a 7,500 word long read about I'll Have Another, the Triple Crown, and the pursuit of immortality in sports ready to go. It was elegantly written and slated to be the defining piece about a defining horse race. But then I'll Have Another showed signs of a swollen tendon and we had to scrap it. So instead, we bring you "What Time Does the Belmont Stakes Start?"

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Assemblymember Amy Paulin On The Shelter Access Bill

Amy Paulin
In response to longtime concerns over how shelters and rescues treat animals, Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) has sponsored the Shelter Access Bill.

The proposed legislation has been in the works for several years. After intense debate -- including outcry from some "no-kill" animal rights and welfare groups -- a revamped version recently got the OK from the Assembly's agriculture committee, and will soon go before the codes committee. If it succeeds there, the bill will go before the entire Assembly.

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Aqueduct Racetrack Sets New Horse-Death Record

This isn't the kind of record any racetrack wants to set.

The 12th and 13th horse deaths of 2012 took place at Aqueduct on Sunday, according to the Daily News -- "more than any other year going back to 2004."

During the third round of competition, Big Polk a Dot and Almighty Silver ran their last, the paper reports.

The growing list of fatalities dates to the inner-dirt track's Nov. 30 opening. Since then, there have been 14 deaths -- "which averages to more than one a week."

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