“Biggest Loser” star Jillian Michaels became the latest celebrity to publicly back Mayor de Blasio’s plan to ban the city’s horse-drawn carriage industry when she led a rally outside City Hall this afternoon.
“This is not just about animal welfare and animal rights, this is also keeping humans safe,” said Michaels,a longtime equestrian and avid supporter of animal rights.
“What people do not understand, is that by nature, horses are prey animals and this means they do not belong in city traffic.”
The rally of about 100 people was organized by PETA.
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez added: “New York City cannot be behind all the cities in the world who understand that being progressive also means protecting animal rights.”
Other speakers included PETA Senior Vice President Dan Matthews, City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and Michelle Alvarez of the Catskills Animal Sanctuary.
Today’s was the second rally in support of the ban over the past week. Supporters of the ban gathered on Central Park South last Thursday, spurred by the fall of a carriage horse just outside the park the day before.
A bill to ban the carriages has yet to be introduced in City Council.
While actor Liam Neeson has been Hollywood’s most active foe of the ban, celebrities who support it include Kristin Chenoweth, Pink, Alec Baldwin and Peter Dinklage.
A Siena College poll earlier this month found 59% of voters oppose a ban on carriage horses. Newsday last month reported that at least 27 of the City Council’s 51 members either oppose a ban or are undecided.
The mayor has proposed replacing the carriage horses with vintage cars, one of which was unveiled at the International Auto Show at the Javits Center earlier this month.
But those in the horse carriage industry are adamant that outrage over treatment of the animals is misguided. Towards the back of today’s gathering, opponents of the ban handed out copies of a statement released today by the Historic Horse-Drawn Carriages of Central Park and Teamsters Joint Council 16.
“Contrary to what many may believe about these horses and the environment that they live in, the horses are in good health,” equine veterinarian Dr. Mark Jordan, who visited the city stable last month, said in the statement.
The protesters ended the rally by chanting “Hey Hey, Ho, Ho.. We love Mayor de Blasio.”
With Pete Catapano, Newsday