MANHATTAN, N.Y. – The horse drawn carriages in Central Park are getting attention once again after an animal rights group posted new photos online claiming the horses are in bad shape, pointing out wounds on the animals and alleging they’re underweight.
Edita Birnkrant, the executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, called what happens to carriage horses in Central Park animal abuse.
“We’re enabling animal abuse right out in the open on our city streets,” Birnkrant said.
Christina Hansen, a spokesperson for the carriage drivers, said otherwise.
“We’re always looking after them,” Hansen said. “The horses are really well cared for.”
NYCLASS tweeted images of a carriage horse named Michelle where you can see her ribs and a scab. Hansen says Michelle was checked out by a veterinarian.
“She has a nickel-sized scab on her hip unrelated to her harness,” Hansen said. “She probably bumped it going in or out of the stable. The driver had treated the scab, which was closed, with Blu-Kote which is an antiseptic spray so it had stained the area and made it look much bigger.”
Birnkrant took a video of the same horse back at the livery stable on W. 38th Street with a yellow gel substance covering the scabs.
“Anyone that would justify this animal torture should be criminally charged and not be around animals,” Birnkrant said.
Hansen says the yellow gel substance is a commonly used topical antiseptic.
“Anybody who knows anything about horses, this is like having Neosporin or band-aids in the medicine cabinet,” Hansen said. “There is no mystery to this.”
NYCLASS filed a complaint with the Health Department over the weekend.
“To force a horse that is emaciated with multiple wounds, to pull a carriage until she drops dead is obscene,” Birnkrant said.
Hansen is shutting down claims of the horse being emaciated, saying she just had her bi-annual exam and was inspected by the vet again because of the complaint.
“The veterinarian reports that she’s in good weight,” Hansen added. “She’s a four on the Henneke body condition score. Four to six is normal, with one being emaciated and nine being morbidly obese.”
The horse is now in Pennsylvania, where she’ll be for at least a month on vacation which is mandated by the city, according to Handen.
Years ago while on the campaign trail, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised that he was going to get rid of the horse and carriages. Eight years later, they’re still working on the streets, angering activists with horse owners on the defense.
NYCLASS is offering to take the horse and place it on a farm or sanctuary home where it can roam free at all times and be surrounded by greenery.