Thursday, May 29, 2008

Slave Photos

Today's Bizarro is made possible by Human Arrogance. "We do it because we can. Deal with it."

The subject of this cartoon was suggested by my friends at PETA. New York City still has carriage horses stumbling through Central Park and these animals lead miserable lives. They live in concrete garages by night, on the streets among traffic by day. They never get a break until they are hit by a car and killed, which happens with sad regularity.

Some U.S. cities have outlawed this industry, as have London, Paris, Toronto, and even Beijing, and many people are trying to get the practice banned in New York City.

"But the sight of suffering horses pulling an old timey-time carriage is perdy," the tourists complain as they snap their pictures. "Buy a postcard," I reply, "Photoshop your gigantic selves into it, and let the horse have a life."

Animal abuse makes me cranky. We only do it because we can.

To be fair, I took carriage rides myself some years ago. I was so used to seeing these beautiful creatures moving through the streets that I took them for granted and assumed they were well cared for. Later in life, I began to see these situations through the animal's eyes and everything changed. They are slaves, pure and simple, and only treated well enough to keep them alive and working. No animal deserves that life, human or otherwise.

If you agree, here is a petition to ban carriages in NY.


Eric said...

LOVE this panel. Caught it in the paper and cheered. We have them here too in our "entertainment district." Spoils my entertainment every time we go down there and I start weeping for these poor beautiful creatures. I hope history judges our culture most harshly.

Daniel Joseph Sardella said...


I'm curious what your thoughts are regarding horses being ridden and also what you think of zoos.
I always have mixed feelings about these two.


Mel2 said...

I especially enjoyed the detail of the guy with the giant gut climbing into the carriage. How true it is.

The petition site said that people from other states could sign, so I did.

Unknown said...

why not petition for laws to better treat the animals, rather than outlawing the carriages? That's what you're after, is it not?

Unfortunately, they'll just get mistreated elsewhere if you shove them out of your city. Focus on the problem of mistreatment, if that's what you're going to fight against.

Piraro said...

I'm mixed about horses being ridden, too. Like dogs, I suspect a well-treated horse doesn't mind human relationships or being ridden. But I admit I don't know horses that well, so I could be wrong in this. Clearly, many horses that are ridden are not treated with much respect. The race horse industry is infamous for its poor treatment of the 99% of the horses that are not champions.

On the other hand, I'm completely against zoos of any kind. No sentient being belongs in permanent captivity for any reason, in my opinion. Some argue zoos help humans appreciate animals and care about saving them in the wild. Ridiculous. If Norwegians were nearing extinction, would we put little blond children in zoos to help people understand they are worth saving?

Piraro said...

There are those who try to focus on the treatment of the animals and some laws regarding this have been passed. But they largely are ignored and unchecked, of course, and in the end there is no way to properly treat a horse in the city. Horses need to be in pastures, not in traffic. A horse is no more comfortable in traffic than a dog would be living its life in a swimming pool. In the end you have tourist's amusement on one side of the scale and animal misery on the other. Obviously, it's not a balanced picture.

Daniel Joseph Sardella said...


Petitioning to have the horses treated better is certainly a step in the right direction. I suppose it can be argued whether taking this step will make it easier to outlaw the practice eventually.

However, from a vegan perspective, the better treatment suggestion is like suggesting we give chickens in battery cages a few extra inches before the get brutally slaughtered.

We want to see the chicken not being confined for slaughter at all, as we'd like to see the horses not being used for transportation in an environment they don't belong in just for tradition's sake.

Take care.

Unknown said...

No one said that the horses have to stay in the city - they could live upstate and pull carriage duty once a week or something. I don't know. Seems that completely outlawing the horse-drawn carriage is about as likely as completely outlawing tourism.

dphunct said...

I recently walked by one of these carriages with my 4 year old daughter. She wanted to ride the horse because it was pretty. I had to explain how mean it was to make a horse walk around on city streets. I am not sure if she understood, but the carriage driver was close enough to hear.

marine_explorer said...

If Norwegians were nearing extinction, would we put little blond children in zoos to help people understand they are worth saving?

The blond ones can go extinct...the rest of the Norwegians will live on, lol.

I suspect a well-treated horse doesn't mind human relationships or being ridden.

My family raises horses. Yes, horses can enjoy being ridden, but usually only as part of a relationship with one human. "Rental" horses dislike the insensitivity of many riders, and it takes some kindness to reassure them you won't be another stupid human on their back.

Regarding city horses--of course before the auto, horses were used en masse as metro transportation. Despite being very sensitive animals, I'm sure many were simply a source of income for their owners in that era, with little regard for the animals' feelings. Fortunately for most horses, we now have alternative means of transportation.

Love that panel--obviously that family could get off their lardy butts and walk around the city.

moquiti said...

... They live in concrete garages by night, on the streets among traffic by day. They never get a break until they are hit by a car and killed ...

kinda describes newyorkers in general, dontcha think?

Piraro said...

Yes, it does indeed. : )

Of course, we human New Yorkers do it by choice, that being the important difference.

Carriage horses have successfully been outlawed for cruelty and safety reasons in London, Paris, Toronto, so it can be done. Having them live in the country and pull carriages one day a week is a nice idea, but it would be impossible to make a profit that way, so the carriage companies would never go for it.

Karl said...

Until humans learn to treat each other with kindness, you can expect to see cruelty towards animals, unfortunately. We, as a society, take na├»ve and inquisitive young children and send them through an educational system that produces ambitious and competitive adults, with the goal of seeking power and wealth. The philosophy is simply that the best and brightest students are rewarded while many others, who don’t measure up, fall through the cracks with failure being inevitable in their future. We rarely learn in school how to treat others with sensitivity or how to respect and look at nature. Animal cruelty is a manifestation of our culture; we take care of those who are close to us, like our family and friends, and ignore the beggar on the street, because it doesn’t affect us directly. If we are taught to care about each other, then perhaps we can learn to care about animals as well.

Pseudonym said...

I'm not against zoos of any kind.

If Norwegians were nearing extinction, especially if it's because other beings were taking their land forcibly, we would indeed take some kind of conservation action. We can and do set up refugee camps for humans, for example.

It's not ideal; a far better solution would be not to displace beings of any kind in the first place. In the mean time, both refugee camps, refugee resettlement, zoos and preserves do play a vital role in keeping beings alive.

mcchris said...

As Leo has been quoted on Dan's homepage, "Time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." What is murder, but the theft of life?? Just as man, an animal can experience death long before the hearts stops to beat.

Piraro said...

pseudonym makes a good point about refugee camps, but a zoo is far from that, in my view. The vast majority of animals in zoos are not endangered, they are there purely to amuse humans. They are far closer to slaves than refugees.

marine_explorer said...

If Norwegians were nearing extinction, especially if it's because other beings were taking their land forcibly, we would indeed take some kind of conservation action.

A difference here may be that humans are able to adapt despite displacement, while most other animals have usually have far less flexible conditions by which they can eat, live, and reproduce. For that reason, I'd generally say zoos are a poor replacement for a lost habitat because a species relegated to "internment" essentially has no future; species and habitat are inseparably connected.

There's an assumption that zoos can provide a haven from our ravages to the environment, but it's far better we just leave species and habitats alone and let nature work things out. Humans have a tendency to project their priorities onto a natural world that simply does not care.

Oh no...another serious monologue about a cartoon, LOL.

Pseudonym said...

The reason I brought it up, by the way, is that there was a big thing about our local zoo recently concerning Asian elephants.

Asian elephants really are in danger of becoming extinct due to habitat destruction, and zoos in the region are involved in a very big captive breeding programme to ensure that the gene pool doesn't become too shallow.

While our zoo's actions weren't enirely honourable (IMO), the principle I think is sound. While not destroying habitat is the "right" answer, but is extremely difficult to police in places where the elephants live. So someone has to put in the hard work preserving the species.

Most of the "big" zoos of today are not the stereotypical Victorian museums of curiosity any more. I wish I could say the same for smaller zoos.

Anonymous said...

Love it!

Peter Anthony Holder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Anthony Holder said...

Montreal is another city that is famous for it's "caleche" rides, or carriage horses. I think the biggest concern is on those hot summer days with high humidity and all the polution from the vehicles they traverse through. That's what makes it tough

HollyBerry said...

i agree, karl. it is (sadly) human nature to waste things because we have this unhealthy mentality of "out of sight; out of mind." it's also human tendency to push things to the limit, and animal cruelty is definitely one of those continuums. while we're figuring out all the big questions in life (as most humans find it completely difficult to just accept that we, too, are just animals), we're wasting time and resources to find a meaning in life that will never be found (at least not by the popular vote).

i find it such a shame that strong-willed people are swept under the rug of capitalism while the big-wigs can't see the difference between honesty and bullshit. we have to live under rules that apply to people who can't wipe their own asses, and they say WE are the ones ruining the country because we have the mental capacity to understand the ill-effects of human naiivety. anyway.. good post.

SIGNED and signed.

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of my favorite from you, Piraro! I showed this to my fiancee who grew up in NYC and she was die-laughing. Well, what do u know? Welcome to Fat America!

On the other note, I didn't know the horses are being treated badly. Now that's making me really pissy pissed big time!

Unknown said...

Nothing is wrong with a horse pulling a carriage. However, It's pretty shocking that a supposedly progressive city like NYC allows horses to work amidst cars and excessive exhaust fumes, not to mention the din of that city.

B.A.D. said...

Love the panel. I have only been to NYC on a few occasions (as a lowly tourist myself). And I have never had the desire to participate in a carriage ride, I was still able to enjoy my time in the city and rid myself of a large chunk of tourist change.

Anonymous said...

You know, that's EXACTLY what I thought.. we only abuse animals because we CAN
Which is a pretty poor reason to do so...

Dovie said...

I'd like to reply to this simply because I'm a carriage driver who knows exactly what the horses go through.

I drive in Dallas, Texas, a place known for it's hot days. Legally, you are not allowed to take the horses out in hotter than 100 degree weather. This may seem warm to you, but if you're not keeling over or feeling sick, then the horse certainly isn't.

They're not overworked, either. Legally they can't be out for more than 8 hours, which is shorter than many people's work days. This isn't out on the streets, however. It's from the time they step off the trailer to the time they get back on. There is about two hours of prep and breakdown. So that puts them actually doing something at about 6 hours. They get daily cool baths, water available the entire time they're at the carriage house and every hour while out on the street, and food is always available at the house and at the barn. Speaking of trailers, horses are not kept in concrete barns overnight in my area. They're transported back and forth from a very large ranch where they get free reign for approximately 14 hours a day on the max four days a week they work and 24 hours on days they don't. There they receive consistent vet care and weekly attention from a farrier. These horses are treated better than many of our own citizens.

Horses only keel over with bad drivers who aren't paying attention. If anything the drivers should be required to take a standard exam to ensure that the horses are properly cared for. In the thirty years my employer has been on the streets, no horse has died or fallen over from exertion and only twice has there been a car accident, neither of which proved fatal. Horses also sustain injuries no matter what setting they're in because they're flesh and blood. They're just as likely to gouge themselves on a fence post or passing through the barn doors as they are on the street, believe it or not.

Regarding the level of work, these horses are draft horses than can pull ten times their own weight. Five times their own weight is a piece of cake. Take my horse for example. He's 1800lbs and on the small side. The carriage is roughly 500lbs. The most the actual carriage will allow is 1500lbs. Give 200lbs for misc. things like lights, purses, batteries, radios, etc. Add 100lbs for tach on top that and you get 2300lbs. That's no where NEAR his max weight. Hell, it's a ninth of that. That would be like carrying a baby on your back all day. And keep in mind that he only feels 100lbs of that when standing still, which is like a woman carrying a purse. The idea that they're drudging along dejectedly because they're overburdened is ridiculous.

Now, keep in mind that all my talk of how they're treated is based on what I see here in Texas. It may be different elsewhere. But I really can't believe that they'd be treated any differently considering the strict laws that carriage companies are required to follow.

Daniel Joseph Sardella said...


i'm glad to hear that the company you work for treats the horses well. honestly, i am.
but i'm still of the opinion that horse-drawn carriages are unnecessary. people can just walk, bike, drive or take public transportation if they are trying to get somewhere. but, from what i understand, that's not the reason people take carriage rides. they do it for the old-timey feel, the "romance", because they've never done it or for whatever reason. as far as an environmental impact, it seems to me all the effort put into maintaining the horses, carriages, etc. probably causes more waste than taking public transportation or even your own car. and the most important reason there shouldn't be horse-drawn carriages is that the horses don't have a choice. no one asked the horses if they wanted to work for these companies. it's just not necessary.

Dovie said...

The environmental impact is next to nil, actually. There's a fair bit of water used to clean and water the horses, I admit. But in one night eight horses can't even begin to touch the impact a single cab has in an hour.

It's also not just about "romance," though that has a fair share to do with it. Historical rides are great for tourists who wouldn't otherwise make it to all the hot spots. It's not meant to be practical anyway.

Also, the idea that a 1500-3200lb horse has no choice is just ludicrous. If that horse doesn't want to move, it's not going to. Period.

Sharon said...

I agree with Dovie completely.

I am an Equine (horse, if you didn't know)Science major at New Mexico State University. Those horses are bred to work, that’s what they are supposed to do. They are bred to pull carts and wagons for long periods of time. They are draft breeds. They come from a long line horses used to do farm work. IF they don't get out and do what they are bred to do, then it negatively impacts their mental health. Their impact on the environment is alot better than that of a cab which is what the tourists would take if there were no carriages.

I don't know of anybody who treats horses with brutality. The horses are so much larger and stronger than us. They demand respect or you are going to get hurt.

I hate that people always put negative connotations on anything involving animals being used to work or run a business. People who abuse animals are only a fraction of the people who really care about the animals.

I just wanted to clear things up. People who treat animals with respect and dignity should not be punished for other's mistakes.

Anonymous said...

PETA has the right idea of helping animals and i am all for it, but they need to think about it before going out and slamming something.

What i see happening if the horses stop working-
1) loss of jobs for people, most of whom care for the horses
2) where are the horses going after this ends? The slaughterhouse? An even worse working condition?

What they should do-
1) Petition for better hours, longer vacations, and safer routes
2) Have better health requirements (weight, age, etc.)

Riding horses is very fun for both rider and horse, if the horse likes it and the rider is a good one.

If i see that a horse does not enjoy something, i change it. I pulled a $200,000 hunter off the show ring and now we go swimming in the bay by my house and go on hunter paces and foxhunts (we don't actually hunt fox, it is just the tradition of the hounds are following a scent layed out the day before) and we have the best partnership ever.

I have two mini horses and retired one from his little jaunting cart at a young age because he has bad asthma and now requires special care and a large inhailer.

I have seen those people who are just so disgusting they don't deserve to walk the earth, the person who rides horses just to say they can (us equestrians call them bobos) i put in a complaint and had her banned for 5 years from riding and publicly humiliated her.

so not all people appreciate the fine art, sport and teamwork of equestrian sports but there are still those like me who will do anything to keep the fun and friendship of horses and humans alive.