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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Scientists Blame Facebook and Twitter on Animals

And now for some good news about the human condition: We can't be held fully accountable for the creation of the two horrible timesucks that make social interaction meaningless Facebook and Twitter.

Scientists say that it's the animals' fault -- specifically, smart animals such as dolphins, whales, and monkeys -- that people behave like cliquish dicks online and IRL.

Researchers say that animals actually invented social networks. They also say that the way people behave in online communities is no different than the manner in which these species behave as groups, according to the Daily Mail.

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Small Crowd Rallies on Central Park South to Draw Tourist Support on a Horse Carriage Ban

Michelle D. Anderson
Donny Moss, documentary filmmaker, and Elizabeth Forel, president of CBHDC

Targeting tourists and New York residents, a group of horse advocates and animal-rights activists sought to bring awareness to and gain support for a citywide ban on horse-drawn carriages yesterday.

The group, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, hosted a rally and "hotel crawl" in response to three carriage horse accidents that occurred between Oct. 23 and Nov. 4. Yesterday we wrote about the group and its ongoing efforts to get the city to ban horse-drawn carriages, which it says are unsafe and inhumane, despite carriage operators who say the horses are treated well and politicians who say the carriages contribute to the city's culture and tourism industry.

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The Horse-Drawn Carriage Debate Continues; Local Groups and Celebrities Call for a Ban

Michelle D. Anderson
The effort to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City rages on.

Another report of a carriage horse collapse in a two-week span has left animal-rights advocates -- including celebrities such as Glee's Lea Michele and Pamela Anderson -- with a renewed passion to end the use of horse-drawn carriages.

Today the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages (CBHDC) will hold a rally and tourist-hotel crawl on Central Park South at 6:30 p.m.

According to Elizabeth Forel, CBHDC's president since the group's inception in 2006, the latest horse collapse, which occurred Friday, is not the second in two weeks but rather the third. Forel tells us that on Oct. 28, a horse bucked and nearly hit several taxis after racing along 59th Street.

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