One of New York City’s iconic carriage horses collapsed on the street amid the summer heat – as bystanders watched in horror and animal lovers called for a ban.
Ryder the carriage horse collapsed near the intersection of W 45th St and 9th Ave in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen neighborhood around 5pm on Wednesday.
According to onlookers, its driver began ‘flogging’ the exhausted horse, trying to get it on its feet and out of traffic.
The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) mounted unit responded to the scene at 5.04pm after a worried onlooker made a 911 call.
Police arrived to find the horse ‘lying in the middle of the roadway in distress’, the department told Metro.co.uk on Thursday. The mounted unit was able to aid the frightened creature by hosing it down and cooling it off.
One video taken by a bystander shows a crowd cheering and clapping while the horse heroically struggle to its feet. Mounted officers were able to lead the animal into an NYPD horse trailer.
The horse was then transported to a private stable on West 38th St, where police confirmed it was conscious and awaiting veterinary care.
‘The NYPD takes the health and well-being of our four legged friends in New York City very seriously, and are glad that our trained equestrian officers were able to assist,’ a police spokesperson said.
It appears no arrests were made at the scene, and it remains unclear if any citations for animal abuse will be issued.
The temperature on Central Park yesterday was recorded between 82 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service.
New York City’s horse-drawn carriage drivers are represented by the Transportation Workers’ Union Local 100. Pete Donohue, a spokesperson for the union, told Metro.co.uk that the horse was examined by a veterinarian who diagnosed it with equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM.
‘It wasn’t heat, it wasn’t exhaustion, it wasn’t overwork,’ Donohue said.
He noted that Ryder only took two rides that day.
EPM is a neurological disease transmitted by a parasite found in possum feces, Donohue explained.
‘We want to thank the NYPD, and thank the concerned New Yorkers who stepped up to help out and expressed genuine concern,’ Donohue said. ‘You never want to see a person or an animal on the ground.’
The union also confirmed that Ryder was eating, drinking and doing much better in the stable.
‘This horse is, in all essence, a rescue horse. It was previously owned by someone in Amish farm country, where horses are required to trot up to 30 miles per day,’ Donohue said.
He explained that Ryder was purchased when after he went up for auction earlier this year. He was brought to New York in April.
Horses at auctions are regularly shipped to overseas slaughterhouses, Donohue explained.
‘If not for the carriage industry, this horse could have been dead,’ he said.
However, one local advocacy group, New Yorkers for Clean, Liveable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), is pushing to outlaw the horse-drawn carriages entirely.
NYCLASS is lobbying New York City Council to pass the a bill introduced by Queens City Councilman Robert Holden which would ban the carriages citywide and replace all of them with electric vehicles by 2024.
NYCLASS successfully lobbied the city council to pass the Carriage Horse Heat Relief Bill, which prevents drivers from working horses when the heat index is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
It was signed into law in 2019 by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ran on the promise to ban horse-drawn carriages but did not accomplish it in his two terms.
Metro.co.uk has reached out to NYCLASS for further comment on the incident and the proposed legislation.
NYCLASS joined members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Thursday outside City Hall to rally for the proposed ban on horse-drawn carriages.
‘Just weeks after a horse in New York City’s carriage trade collapsed and died in his stall, another horse collapsed yesterday and lay on Ninth Avenue for over an hour with no veterinary care while his driver reportedly slapped him, whipped him, and screamed at him to get up,’ PETA Director Ashley Byrne stated to Metro.co.uk.
‘The city’s horse-carriage trade has been plagued for years by complaints of mistreatment and overwork of horses, and PETA is calling on the NYPD Animal Cruelty Investigations Squad to launch a criminal investigation into this incident.’
Neither NYCLASS nor PETA has commented on the horse’s diagnosis of EPM.
TWU Local 100 opposes both the ban on both horses and the proposed switch to electric cars.
Union spokesperson Pete Donohue called the proposed legislation ‘horrific’.
‘People in New York City have fought for decades to get cars out of Central Park,’ he told Metro.co.uk. ‘Nobody wants this, except those that would have a financial interest in it.’
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