NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Accusations of deceit and lies.
Horse carriage drivers say the ASPCA misled the public after the death of a carriage horse and now they are demanding the city investigate.
Mounting tensions between horse carriage drivers and the ASPCA erupted when 15-year-old draft horse Charlie collapsed and died in the streets of Manhattan last month.
“When you have an agency like the ASPCA who police us and at the same time want us banned I think that’s very un-American,” driver Ian McKeever told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
Some groups who oppose carriage rides said at the time that the results proved the horse was suffering while still being forced to work.
The initial report issued by the ASPCA, which is campaigning to ban carriage horses, quotes Dr. Pamela Corey — their chief equine veterinarian — as saying, “We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies.”
But days later Dr. Corey herself sent a letter to the health department saying she felt pressured to portray the incident in the worst possible light and correcting what she calls “misleading statements.”
In part, the letter read, “There is no evidence that Charlie was experiencing any pain. There was no evidence of cruelty or neglect in this case.”
Dr. Corey was quickly suspended without pay by the ASPCA.
An agency spokesperson points out the original report never implied Charlie’s owners were aware of his condition and says the agency was blindsided by Corey’s change of heart .
“Dr. Corey was intimately involved in drafting and ultimately reviewed, edited, and approved the final statement. We are not aware of any new facts that have come to light,” the ASPCA said in a statement.
The ASPCA has authority to enforce the city’s animal cruelty laws but carriage drivers — who have faced intensified calls to ban carriage rides since the incident happened — are now demanding those privileges be revoked.
Dr. Corey declined to speak on camera while she is still under suspension
However, late Thursday afternoon Dr. Corey sent a letter to several agencies, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department of Health, acknowledging that she signed off on the original report and calling that a personal mistake.
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