NEW YORK, April 13 (UPI) -- New York's iconic horse-drawn carriages have become an issue in the race for mayor, with candidates forced to say whether the rides are inhumane.
The arose this week when City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who has favored keeping the rides because she doesn't want to put the operators out of work, was the target of attack ads in the early weeks of the campaign. Animal rights advocates pitched in for a $1 million television ad campaign citing Quinn's support for the carriages, immortalized in movies and on TV shows like "Sex and the City" and "Seinfeld," The New York Times reported Saturday.
Critics say the horses aren't kept in appropriate stables and are at risk of injury when motorists strike the carriages on busy, cramped midtown streets.
One of Quinn's opponents, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, said he would outlaw the carriages on his first day in office.
De Blasio has gained the backing of several prominent animal rights groups for his stance.
"He just gets animal cruelty," said Mary Max, the wife of the artist Peter Max and a director of the Humane Society of the United States. "This isn't somebody who we have to convince."
She and her husband recently held a fundraiser that took in several thousand dollars for de Blasio's campaign.
Some prominent New Yorkers who support Quinn -- including feminist writer Gloria Steinem -- acknowledge the carriage ride issue is a sticking point.
Quinn has two rescued dogs and supports making the city's animal shelters no-kill facilities.