New York Mayor de Blasio named PETA's Person of the Year
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks after being sworn in on the steps of City Hall in Lower Manhattan Jan. 1, 2014 in New York (AFP)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was named 2014 Person of the Year by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for opposing horse-drawn carriages in Manhattan and advocating other animal-friendly causes, the group said on Thursday.

De Blasio, a liberal who took office less than a year ago, campaigned partly on the promise to push for a ban on horse-drawn buggy rides in Central Park, a cause that has won him the support of PETA and other animal rights groups.

“I’m humbled to receive this support from PETA," de Blasio said in a statement. "From moving horses off our busy streets to protecting circus animals, our administration remains committed to safeguarding the well-being of our animals and the livelihoods of all New Yorkers who care for them.”

This month, de Blasio formally proposed a ban on horse carriages, which supporters say causes horses to suffer by exposing them to extreme temperatures and heavy traffic.

Opponents of the ban say it would put about 300 drivers out of work and could result in horses being sent to slaughterhouses.

In March, de Blasio was the first New York mayor to suspend a circus act for giving tigers too little enclosure space and failing to provide consistent tuberculosis test results for elephants, PETA said, citing another example of why he won the award.

The mayor also has promoted animal-free eating by unveiling a model of the Manhattan skyline carved out of vegetables when his city was named as the most vegan-friendly city in the nation.

"When the mayor of New York City talks, the world pays attention and Mayor de Blasio's kindness to animals and determination to protect them speak volumes," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

De Blasio, who will receive an engraved horse sculpture as an award, joins high-profile PETA Person of the Year honorees including Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Russell Simmons.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Walsh)