The death of a carriage horse in Central Park has animal rights advocates calling for an immediate shutdown of the popular tourist trade.
Video shared by New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) — an organization bent on banning horses-for-hire in the city — shows a carriage horse collapsing in the park Saturday before she ultimately died.
Christina Hansen, a spokeswoman for Historic Horse-Drawn Carriages of Central Park, said a “cardiac event” likely killed the horse. “This medical emergency appears to be something that could happen to any horse, any time, anywhere, for any number of reasons, under a wide variety of conditions,” she said.
Hansen also took issue with claims by the animal rights advocates that the horse — a 12-year-old mare named Aisha — was tied up and “roughly shoved” into a trailer and that its owners never called a veterinarian to treat her ailments.
“Her regular vet was able to begin assessment and treatment within an hour,” said Hansen. “Unfortunately, she was never able to stand… Her owner, in consultation with the vet, made the difficult but humane decision to put her to sleep.”
Activists staged a protest on Sunday outside the Clinton Park Stables in Midtown — the latest move in a fiery years-long push by NYCLASS to get horses off city streets. The group later held a “funeral march” up Eighth Ave. to Central Park.
“This video is just the latest disturbing piece of evidence we’ve seen showing how poorly these horses are treated and what they go through,” said NYCLASS executive director Edita Birnkrant. “How can this be legal in New York City, supposed to be a leader of the world?”
“This is not tourism,” she added. “This is abuse. It has to end.”
Mayor de Blasio promised to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry on “day one” of his administration. That never happened — and instead the mayor was subject to an FBI investigation after he garnered more than $100,000 in 2013 campaign contributions from NYCLASS around the time he decided to endorse a buggie ban.
The industry is now heavily regulated by the city, which prohibits the horses form working in extreme temperatures and mandates five-week vacations for them annually.
NYCLASS members regularly protest carriage horse operators in Central Park and publicize what they call mistreatment of the roughly 200 horses who trot across the tourist destination.
The group has for years called on the city to bring a halt to the practice of selling carriage horses for slaughter — and earlier this year began to stump for legislation that would require carriage horses to be equipped with cameras like police officers.
Read the original article by Catherina Gioino and Clayton Guse at nydailynews.com here.