Contrary to assertion, carriage horses never have a nice day
Re John Harpur’s Nov. 4 letter, which claims “it’s not inhumane to use horses to pull carriages”: Despite what Mr. Harpur may think, there is no “charm, romance and historical perspective” associated with horses being forced to pull carriages through congested city streets seven days a week — regardless of whether it’s bitter cold or swelteringly hot outside.
The reality is that many carriage horses toil under abominable conditions because anti-cruelty laws provide few safeguards to horses, and many humane authorities just don’t have the resources or time to ensure that horses are not being overworked and that operators are following regulations.
The abuse of the carriage horse actually provided the original impetus for creation of the humane movement in this country in the 19th century. While things have improved somewhat since then, horses are still suffering and dying from pulling carriages through the streets of our cities.
A recent case is Jerry, the 13-year-old horse who collapsed this past August while pulling a carriage in downtown Salt Lake City during extreme heat, and whose plight was captured on video by passersby. Jerry died a week later, but his owners tried to cover up the death by sending a photo of a different horse to the newspaper as proof that Jerry was recovering.
It took one of those animal rights advocates that Mr. Harpur disdainfully calls “champions of correctness” to uncover the truth about Jerry and prompt the Salt Lake City Council to launch an investigation into carriage horse practices.
Let there be no mistake — carriage horses lead a miserable life. Despite carriage horse operators’ claims, most horses are not comfortable working among cars and trucks, and many accidents, injuries and even deaths — to horses and humans — have been caused by horses becoming “spooked” in traffic.
Injuries and fatalities resulting from collisions between cars and carriage horses have occurred in almost every city that allows carriage rides. And, after being subjected to honking horns, inhaling exhaust fumes and pounding the hard pavement, carriage horses are not turned out in some lush, green pasture for rest and relaxation at the end of the day (they’re in the city, after all), but rather are confined to cramped stalls in which they are unable to turn around or even lie down comfortably.
Mr. Harpur implies that because all carriage horses would not be provided loving, happy forever homes if retired, that makes it OK to abuse them on the streets of our cities. It’s true — there aren’t enough homes for the cast-offs from the carriage industry, not to mention the racing, rodeo and other industries that use horses for entertainment and then throw them away when they become too sick, injured or old to continue making money for their owners.
The shorter-term solution of what to do with the animals that no one wants is up for debate — the longer-term solution is halting the careless, self-serving, overproduction for monetary gain of not only horses, but dogs and cats too, that results in life-long suffering and untimely death, in the slaughterhouse in the case of horses or by euthanasia in crowded pet shelters in the case of dogs and cats.
Schenectady sub’s view from the trenches
Re Oct. 31 article, “Feds: Blacks, Hispanics treated differently”: I have been a substitute teacher in the Schenectady schools for the past 10 years. I’ve worked in each school, multiple times.
The administrators, teachers and staff have always been courteous and respectful toward me. I’ve only had two days where plans weren’t left. Teachers are some of the most diligent people there are! About half my days in the district are good and half are very difficult.
One of many classroom management techniques is to move students to other seats when they’re talking or distracted. Children as young as second grade will ask “why?” Because I’m the teacher. Granted, I’m not their regular teacher, but this is a matter of respecting authority.
Increasingly, students have a hard time respecting authority. In one school, I turned around and a student hit another student with a pointer, leaving him with a bloody lip. (I now refuse to teach at that school.) At another school, I had a lock thrown at my head, my wallet stolen and students ready to fight each other within the first few minutes of class.
Maybe teachers are discriminating, and maybe more ethnic teachers are needed. But I think the city of Schenectady needs to address problems within the families: More parenting classes, financial assistance for single parents, out-of-school activities and early intervention in Family Court may be needed.
In an Oct. 29 article, one student left Mont Pleasant Middle School for Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons after repeatedly being threatened by a student’s sister. Will there be any repercussion for this troubled young lady? If not, she learns she can bully and intimidate and get away with it.
Lastly, teachers and students are very stressed by continual testing and teacher performance standards. Maybe if these were relaxed and [the district got] the financial aid [it deserved], Schenectady schools could deal with its problems in a more constructive, communal way.
Joe Paterno deserved better than he got
Reading the Oct. 29 Gazette, where Penn State University will pay $59.7 million to 26 young men over claims of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky, reminds me, once again, of the bashing that football coach Joe Paterno took. [He was] a good man, not a perfect man.
Having the pleasure of living in State College, Pa., and attending most home and away games, was a most exciting and exhilarating time, and will remain a high point for me always.
Joe Paterno was a remarkable man, and I feel compelled to tell all who would believe him to be less than honorable [that] he was, without a doubt, among the finest of the fine. When I came to know Joe in the 1960s, he was grappling with finding the right mix of players, and busy earning a place high in the ratings of this very competitive sport.
This was a man whose quest to be the best was lifelong, and was, indeed, his purpose in life. Many lives were impacted for the good by Coach Paterno. He had an inexhaustible desire and love for the sport, and wanted to have the best darned football squad in the nation. This affection for not only the game, but for his players, was all-consuming. He gave his all to this endeavor, and to this university, which should have been grateful [rather than] looking to destroy the man, the legend.
Joe Paterno would never intentionally harm another individual, and it is my belief that he is not deserving of the disgrace he and his family have had to endure.
For those who have never been troubled by an error in judgment, and persecuted as this person was, lucky you. He went to his grave with this terrible end to a great career ruined by some of the very people who trusted and believed in him, and by a man he trusted, who committed these unspeakable atrocities against these young men. Joe P. did not deserve this end.
Our tendency to hold mankind to such impeccably high standards is, in itself, unrealistic and flawed.
Casinos won’t save N.Y., but hydrofracking might
Hats off to Gov. Cuomo for casinos in New York [Nov. 6 Gazette]? Preying on the poor, while protecting his NIMBY (not in my backyard) foes of fracking, the governor has done it again.
How about real economic development?
The governor will keep kicking the fracking can down the road while the poor spend their last dollar on a dream. And Democrats say they are for social justice? Shame on them!
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