New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has vowed to move quickly to outlaw the horse-drawn carriages that pull tourists around the city's famous Central Park.
"We are going to get rid of the horse carriages. Period," de Blasio, who takes office New Year's Day, said at a news conference Monday. "They are not humane, they are not appropriate for the year 2014. It's over. So, just watch us do it."
Animal-rights activists say the carriage horses are overworked and claim that the city's traffic and pollution create an unsafe environment.
"They constantly breathe exhaust while dodging dangerous traffic," says the website of one anti-carriage group, New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), "confined to the shafts of their carriage and their tiny stable stalls, with no access to green pastures."
Drivers say that the horses are well-treated and receive plenty of vacation time in exchange for their work. They plan to fight de Blasio's proposed ban in court, whenever it comes.
"It’s not over,” driver Christina Hansen told the New York Daily News. "You cannot just get rid of a business, a perfectly legal well-regulated … just because a few people don't like it.
"If (de Blasio) wants to ban them because they're dangerous and inhumane, he needs to prove that."