Another New York City carriage horse has fallen in Manhattan.
Horrified holiday shoppers and tourists looked on as carriage handlers tried desperately to get the white horse to its feet Sunday afternoon near the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. One onlooker managed to film the struggle and submitted it to the group Win Animal Rights.
(Warning: Graphic language)
Animal rights activist Mary Xanthos blamed the holiday season as putting an extra burden on carriage horses, telling The New York Daily News, "These horses were being worked non-stop, going over and over again, ride after ride without a break."
A spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York however, objected to the title of the YouTube video (NYC Carriage Horse Collapses 12/4/11 Copyright Win Animal Rights) telling The News, "No horse collapsed. It caught its toe in the pavement, which is quite common."
Bret Hopman of the ASPCA tells Gothamist, "the horse has been suspended pending a veterinary exam and won't return to work until the exam is completed."
And Kenneth Malone, president of the association, said in a press release, "The carriage industry in New York City is such a public institution that a horse can sneeze funny and some activist is in our faces with a camera to post footage to YouTube."
Mayor Bloomberg shrugged at the news. "They're animals and animals and human beings, eventually, we all unfortunately stop continuing and it's unfortunate when it happens, but that doesn't mean that you stop doing things," the mayor said. "You just want to make sure that they're well treated."
Animal rights groups have long complained that carriage horses are overworked and aren't taken care of properly.
New Yorkers For Clean, Safe, Livable And Safe Streets, an advocacy group, have been joined by some local politicians in pushing to pass Intro. 86A, a City Council bill that ups restrictions on horse carriages and aims to eventually replace them with "horseless carriages," i.e. vintage, turn-of-century, motorized cars.
We at the ASPCA express our sadness and concern at this tragic incident. The life of a carriage horse on New York City streets is extremely difficult and life threatening, and the ASPCA has long believed that carriage horses were never meant to live and work in today's urban setting.
A couple weeks ago, The Horse and Carriage Association Of New York filed a complaint against the ASPCA and NYCLASS. "Both the ASPCA and NYCLASS have made false, misleading and/or deceptive statements about the carriage industry," the statement said.