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Animal activist group turns on Mayor de Blasio over horse-drawn carriage ban

A horse-drawn carriage operator waits for customers near

A horse-drawn carriage operator waits for customers near Central Park. Photo Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

An animal-welfare group says it has lost faith in Mayor Bill de Blasio's long-standing vow to ban Central Park's horse-drawn carriage industry.

The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages "is very disappointed that Mayor de Blasio reneged on his promise to shut down the inhumane and unsafe horse-drawn carriage trade," the group said in a statement.

Its members planned a candlelight vigil Friday evening near the carriage drivers' "hack line" on Central Park South for horses that have died and those that are still working.

"We supported Mr. de Blasio in the mayoral race because he made that promise, donating time and money to his campaign," the coalition said in a statement Thursday.

De Blasio -- boosted in the 2013 mayoral campaign after New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, or NYCLASS, attacked his then-leading opponent, Christine Quinn, because she supported carriage drivers -- promised when he took office in January 2014 to immediately ban the industry.

But last week, he appeared to shift the responsibility of securing a ban to activists.

"What I say to every advocate is: You already have my vote. Go get the votes in the City Council," he said in a WNYC radio interview.

De Blasio "ultimately did not lobby the City Council. Instead, he blamed activists for not doing enough," the coalition said.

Other opponents of the horse-drawn carriage industry have been less critical of the mayor, though they expressed impatience.

Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals last week noted that de Blasio still voices support for a ban, but she called his change in tone "disappointing."

"It sort of can feel like a cop-out to say 'Now you get the council' because we have been doing that," she said.


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