Mayor Bloomberg said Wednesday that the city's carriage horses are lucky to be working, because most of them "probably wouldn't be alive if they didn't have a job."
The mayor was responding to animal advocates who want the city to ban the carriage-horse industry.
They're upset about the death of a white horse that collapsed last weekend as it trotted toward Central Park.
The stout white horse named Charlie collapsed around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the ASPCA. Charlie had reportedly just left the 52nd Street Stables to begin the day's work when he toppled over.
Bloomberg says there's no indication the animal was abused.
A necropsy will determine the cause of death.
The mayor says the city depends on tourism and defended the carriage-horse industry as popular with tourists and "part of New York's heritage."
Donny Moss, an animal rights activist and filmmaker who directed a documentary about New York City's horse carriage industry, said horse carriages should be banned.
"The point is that there are certain conditions in New York City that simply cannot be corrected in a way that would make this industry humane or safe," Moss said.