Incident Gives More Ammunition To Groups That Want The Animals Off The Streets


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A carriage horse apparently kicked off a wild police chase through Hell’s Kitchen over the weekend after getting away from its handler.

A video shows a horse being chased by police after the animal got loose and bolted up 11th Avenue on Sunday morning, the animal advocacy group NYCLASS said.

“This is the latest example of why horse-drawn carriages are not just inhumane but entirely unsafe in a city congested with cars, trucks and buses,” Allie Feldman, executive director of NYCLASS, said in a statement. “It’s time for the City Council to act and get the carriage horses off the streets of New York City.”

Feldman later told CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco, “It’s very upsetting and distressing to see a horse running wild through the streets of Midtown Manhattan. These animals get spooked very, very easily, and as we saw on the video it’s just an accident waiting to happen.”

It wasn’t the first time a horse went running through the streets of Manhattan.

In June, a 7-year-old carriage horse broke loose from its reins and ran around Central Park, only stopping when the carriage got caught in the door of a taxi.

Animal rights groups have long pressed to get rid of the carriage horses.

Mayor Bill de Blasio wanted to ban the horses during his first week in office, but said in April that he expected the City Council to ban the practice by year’s end, Carrasco reported.

Last month, however, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said legislation would possibly be delayed until next year.

“It’s only a matter of time, it’s not a matter of if, but it’s just a matter of when and how they are going to transition from using horse-drawn carriages to a new era of doing tourism in New York City,” Mark-Viverito said.

Backers of the industry said the animals are well cared for.

“The horse was getting groomed, getting ready to go to work as he does every single morning, and he got dislodged off his halter,” said Steve Malone of the Carriage Drivers Association.

Malone added that Barney’s escape was a rare occurrence.

“It happens with riding horses, it happens with show horses, it happens with police horses,” Malone said. “It’s an isolated incident.”

Barney has since been checked out and received a clean bill of health. He returned to work on Monday morning.

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