NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — Animal rights activists held a protest Thursday, demanding action after a carriage horse collapsed in Hell’s Kitchen.
Members of NYCLASS, PETA and community leaders held the rally at City Hall after the incident was caught on video.
It happened around 5 p.m. Wednesday on Ninth Avenue and West 45th Street, and police officers requested the Mounting Unit to tend to the horse.
They placed a pillow under its head while cooling it down with ice and a hose, and the crowd cheered as the horse managed to get back on its feet with the help of the NYPD.
The horse, 14-year-old Ryder, was then taken to a private horse stable on 10th Avenue and West 38th Street.
Onlookers assumed the horse had collapsed from the heat and steamy conditions, but veterinarians said otherwise.
“We thank everyone for their concern about Ryder, one of the beloved Central Park carriage horses,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “The veterinarian who examined Ryder believed he has EPM, a neurological disease caused by possum droppings. This is another example why people shouldn’t rush to judgement about our horses or the blue-collar men and women who choose to work with them and care for them. Sadly, horses – like people – can get sick.”
Still, animal rights activists renewed their calls for legislation that would replace carriage horses with other modes of transportation.
“It would take the horses off the street and replace them with cruelty free electric carriages,” said Ashley Byrne, with PETA. “This would be a win for everyone.”
The industry employs about 150 people who love the tradition, and advocates say they care about the horses with whom they work.
They say the horses are well protected.
“We have extensive regulations,” carriage driver Christina Hansen said. “This horse, because he’s a carriage horse, has way more protection than anywhere else he can be.”
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