Bureau of Audit
Audit Report On The Licensing And Oversight Of The Carriage-Horse Industry By The Departments Of Health And Mental Hygiene And Consumer Affairs
June 27, 2007
AUDIT REPORT IN BRIEF
Download the Complete Audit Report (pdf 356 kb)
This audit determined whether the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) have adequate controls over the licensing and oversight of carriage-horses, drivers, carriages, stables, and comply with applicable rules and regulations of the City of New York concerning the carriage-horses, drivers, owners, and stables. The scope period of this audit was July 1, 2005, through March 30, 2007.
DOHMH and DCA are the key agencies responsible for overseeing and licensing the horses, carriage-horse drivers, carriages, and stables. During Fiscal Year 2006, there were approximately 221 licensed horses, 293 licensed drivers, and 68 licensed carriages that provided horse-drawn carriage rides to the public.
The horses are monitored by the office of Veterinary Public Health Services (VPHS) at DOHMH. VPHS is responsible for reviewing and approving each carriage-horse license application and Certificate of Health (signed by a New York State-licensed veterinarian) stating that the horse is able to work. Once approved, the license application is forwarded to DCA, which issues the horse license. The drivers who operate the horse-drawn carriages and the carriages themselves are also licensed by DCA. While DOHMH and DCA have regulatory responsibilities, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) unofficially has a large role in monitoring the carriage-horse industry.
Audit Findings and Conclusions
DOHMH and DCA have adequate controls over the licensing of carriage-horses, carriage drivers, carriages, and stables, and generally comply with the applicable rules and regulations of the City of New York. Our observations at the hack lines revealed that in general the carriages had current license plates, horses had brass tags with identification numbers that matched the numbers branded into the hooves, and drivers held current driver’s licenses. Our review of DOHMH files showed that the department provided the required training program and examinations to drivers of horse-drawn carriages and maintained the Certificates of Health for the horses. Neither the ASPCA inspector nor the DOHMH veterinarian consultant found any serious violations regarding the health and safety of the horses when we accompanied them to the stables.
The Administrative Code statute relevant to the industry includes a requirement for an Advisory Board to have been established, but DOHMH failed to establish the Board since the enactment of the statute. As a result, regulations promoting the health, safety, and well-being of the carriage-horses remain broad and general in scope. Further, both agencies’ efforts in monitoring and overseeing the carriage-horse industry raise concerns. During Fiscal Year 2006, the DOHMH veterinarian consultant did not examine the condition of any of the horses in the field, and DCA inspectors did not perform the required number of inspections of the horse-drawn carriages. Additionally, both DOHMH and DCA rely on ASPCA to perform inspections of the stables and of horses, drivers, and carriages in the field. ASPCA performs these duties without a formal agreement. Without a formal agreement, DOHMH and DCA have no control over the ASPCA’s monitoring activities, plus the ASPCA could suddenly reduce or curtail its oversight role, which would leave a void in the oversight of the industry.
In addition, our review of DCA files showed that the agency issued and renewed licenses for horses, carriages, and drivers. However, in a few instances DCA renewed horse licenses before VPHS reviewed the Certificates of Health. According to DOHMH, all renewals are to come through DOHMH for review by the VPHS veterinarian prior to DCA’s renewing the horse license.
We make 11 recommendations, including those listed below.
- DOHMH should establish the required Advisory Board, as set forth in the Administrative Code. Once established, DOHMH and the Advisory Board should promulgate clear regulations to promote the health, safety, and well-being of the carriage-horses.
- DOHMH should establish written guidelines that include how often their veterinarian should inspect the stables as well as how often the horses should be evaluated in the field.
- DOHMH should determine how oversight for the monitoring of the established guidelines will be accomplished in the future. Should the determination be that an organization other than DOHMH, such as the ASPCA, is to be responsible, then a competitive contract for such services should be considered.
- DCA should return to owners any renewal applications for horse licenses and the original Certificates of Health that have bypassed prior DOHMH approval for the owners to submit to DOHMH.
- DCA should comply with the Administrative Code and the Rules of the City of New York by conducting the required carriage inspections or by entering into a formal agreement with the ASPCA that requires the ASPCA to perform all required carriage inspections.
DOHMH and DCA Responses
In their responses, DOHMH officials agreed with the five audit recommendations addressed to them, while DCA officials generally agreed with five of the six recommendations addressed to them and did not directly address one recommendation relating to ensuring that all required information is received and reviewed before issuing a carriage-horse driver’s license.