Carriage drivers say the animals are well cared for and happy, and that the legislation would needlessly wipe out 400 jobs during an economic crisis.
"Please, help me keep my job," begged Kierman Emanus, a driver and representative of Teamsters Local 553, during he hearing chaired by the city's Department of Consumer Affairs. He said the carriage business feeds his family.
Council member Tony Avella, a Queens Democrat, proposed banning the carriages two years ago after a spooked horse raced through the streets and crashed into a car. It had to be euthanized. Since then, Avella said three more animals have died.
He and activists have argued that Manhattan, with its heavy traffic, exhaust fumes and cramped stables, is no place for horses.
The Coalition for New York City Animals said it has collected 35,000 signatures in support of Avella's bill.
City tourism officials and people involves in the carriage industry, though, have said the activists are overreacting.
"We believe horse-drawn carriages are part of the fabric and integrity of New York City," said George Fertitta, CEO of the city's tourism organization, NYC & Company.
Carriage drivers favor an alternative proposal to raise the price of a ride and set some new regulations to ensure that the horses are healthy.
--- Information from: New York Post
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