The New York Police Department came to the rescue of a distressed carriage horse that collapsed on a hot New York City street Wednesday, leading to renewed calls for an end to the controversial tourist attraction.
The crowd grew on Ninth Avenue and 45th Street in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan after the horse collapsed and the driver of the carriage was seen whipping the animal with reins to get it to stand back up.
“Get up! Get up! Get up! C’mon, get up,” the driver begged the horse, to the dismay of onlookers.
Kelvin Gonzalez told NBC New York that he watched the scene in horror.
“He started whipping and saying, ‘Get up, get up.’ Like, bro, don’t whip your horse. He obviously needs some water. He looked dehydrated,” Gonzalez said.
The horse eventually laid its head on the pavement, and the driver was forced to remove his carriage.
The New York City Police Department said officers responded at about 5 p.m. "Upon arrival, patrol officers observed a carriage horse lying in the middle of the roadway in distress," it said in a statement.
Mounted officers hosed the horse down to help lower its body temperature, police said. Video also shows a pillow was placed under the horse's head.
The horse was taken to a stable about 10 blocks away, where it received care from a veterinarian. Police said the horse was conscious Wednesday night.
"The NYPD takes the health and well-being of our four legged friends in New York City very seriously, and are glad that our trained equestrian officers were able to assist," police said.
Carriage horses have caused contentious debate in New York for years. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed that one of his first acts in office would be to ban horse-drawn carriages. He was unsuccessful, but he was able to sign a carriage horse relief bill into law, which makes it illegal for the horses to work in temperatures 90 degrees or hotter. Wednesday's high temperature was 87 degrees.
New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, an organization dedicated to banning the horse-drawn carriages, called on officials to pass pending legislation to replace the carriages with electric vehicles.
"The world is watching," the group tweeted.
Voters For Animal Rights called in incident "horrifying," while People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tweeted: "Horses don’t belong in big cities where they’re put in constant danger because of cars, humans, weather, and more."
A spokesperson for the Transport Workers Union, which represents the carriage drivers, said the horse, named Ryder, was diagnosed with equine protozoal myeloencephalitis Wednesday night. The neurological disease, which is caused by a parasite found in possum droppings, can be treated with medicine.
The union spokesperson said Ryder is 14 years old and had been a carriage horse for four months. Ryder gave two carriage rides Wednesday.
The spokesperson added that the driver was trying to get Ryder up because a horse on the ground can hurt itself.