Photo of the dead horse, covered by a tarp. By Matt Miller, courtesy of Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
A horse that collapsed and died as it trotted toward Central Park last month suffered from a stomach ulcer and fractured tooth and was not fit to work as a carriage horse, a report said Tuesday.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said a preliminary necropsy report indicates that Charlie, estimated to be 15 years old, was not in good health.
Pamela Corey, director of equine services for the ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement department, said Charlie was "not healthy for a career in an urban carriage horse business."
"We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies," she said. The conditions from which Charlie was suffering can be difficult to diagnose, she added, because his breed is "stoic" by nature and does not show signs of pain until they are severe.
Charlie had reportedly just left the 52nd Street Stables to begin the day's work when he collapsed.
He was licensed in August and had only been working for a few weeks.
The ASPCA said New York City has few requirements for the health of its carriage horses. The animals must be examined twice a year, but "there is no directive concerning the thoroughness of these exams," the ASPCA said.
A spokesman for Teamsters Local 533, the union that represents horse carriage drivers, said the animal was not overworked.
Charlie's death has renewed calls from animal advocates to ban the practice of horse-carriage rides in Central Park. Mayor Bloomberg said last week that he was not in favor of such a ban, and that carriage horses are lucky to be working because most "probably wouldn't be alive if they didn't have a job."