STATEN ISLAND — An 80-year-old man who gained national fame by riding his horse around the country saying he was a cowboy who wanted to help hungry children and who stopped traffic on the Outerbridge Crossing with those horses has been arrested, officials said.
Tod "Doc" Mishler was taken into custody Thursday, three days after riding his horse across the Outerbridge Crossing linking New Jersey with Staten Island.
Minutes before he was put into an unmarked police van, Mishler spoke exclusively to PIX11 News, saying he was looking forward to getting back on his horses and continuing his ride.
Mishler arrived promptly at 10 a.m., cowboy hat on, bandanna around his neck and spurs on his feet with the intention of picking up his horses. But he was taken into custody instead.
He's accused of violating four counts of agriculture law 353 - torture/ not feeding an animal, police said.
A veterinary examination of the horses found they were malnourished and dehydrated, police said. One horse had an untreated infection in its rear leg, while the other had sores from a halter strap that was too tight.
"Charity 2 had a little infection and gave her pencillin," Mishler told PIX11 News. "Hope 2 had an abrasion."
He'd signed a waive to allow vets to examine his animals, with the guarantee that he could pick them up on Thursday morning. He said he takes good care of his horses because they are his primary mode of transportation.
But animal advocates said Mishler has abused the horses that took him on what he says is his God-sent mission. They said he didn't feed them properly, exhausted them and gave them painful saddle sores.
The two horses he brought to New York were seized Monday for examinations.
"The ASPCA continues to provide veterinary assistance and care for the horses. We cannot comment further at this time," a spokesperson for the group said in a statement to PIX11 News.
Mishler was issued a court summons for blocking traffic and trespassing. He's been taken to the 120th Precinct and given a desk appearance ticket to appear in court on Friday on the animal-related charges.
Since he has no cellphone, Mishler has not been heard from since his arrest.