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April 17, 2012

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THIRD Central Park carriage horse collapses in just six weeks on busy New York street

By Mike O'Brien,

Another exhausted Central Park carriage horse has collapsed on a busy New York street - bring the total to three in just six weeks.

The horse fell to the ground late afternoon on Sunday on 59th Street and Central Park South.

The area was filled with tourists at the time, who looked shocked as the horse lay motionless.

horse, carriage, central park
Exhausted: The horse colllapsed on 59th Street and Central Park South on Sunday

Eye witness Mary Xanthos told MailOnline: 'I saw the horse laying on its left side for a few minutes. Then about six people managed to get the horse back on his feet, which also took a minute or two. The horse was apparently taken back to the stable. I just hope he'll receive a proper veterinary exam.'

Another horse fell in Manhattan in early November, reigniting tensions over the horse-drawn-carriage industry.

The debate had flared two weeks earlier when a horse died, and was said to be in terrible pain. The accuracy of that was called into question when the same vet changed her statement days later, saying that animal rights groups pressured her to hint the animal was abused.

Though representatives from the Horse and Carriage industry say that the most recent incident was not caused by illness or neglect and was simply an accident, many animal rights activists are calling for the complete end of the historic industry that caters to tourists.

The horse that tumbled Friday in Columbus Circle, on the south west side of Central Park, is still alive after his hind leg got caught in the carriage shaft, causing him to hit the ground.

'Yet again it's another illustration of why these horses do not belong on the streets of New York City,' said Carly Knudson.

Friday night's incident comes just two weeks after another horse, named Charlie, collapsed and died on his way to Central Park on October 23.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) paid for Charlie's initial autopsy, and released a statement saying that the horse suffered from a stomach ulcer and a fractured tooth.

Tragic: The New York carriage horse collapsed and died in the street as it made the early morning commute from its stables to Central Park to begin its shift

Outrage: Campaigners argue that the number of collisions and the suffering of the animals make the cost of the industry too high

Dr Pamela Corey, speaking on behalf of the ASPCA, then released a statement saying that that they were 'very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies'.

Ms Corey has since been fired from her job because she later released a correction, lessening the severity of the ASPCA's first statement, creating another drama amid the debate.

horse, carriage
Dead: The horse that died in New York on October 23 is covered with a tarpaulin before being loaded into a police vehicle

In her correction, Ms Corey tried to clarify that any statements saying that it was false to interpret that Charlie was abused. She said instead that the ulcers were common among working horses, and that there was no way to know if the animal was feeling any pain.

Native: Lea Michele grew up in New York and said that putting an end to hansom cabs was the first issue she wanted to work on with PETA

'I was under a lot of pressure during the writing of that press release and that the mistake and the need for the correction is the result for that pressure,' Ms Corey said in her second statement. She was promptly suspended without pay.

After Charlie's death, a representative from the Horse and Carriage Association of New York said: 'It's not something that happens regularly - our horses are taken care of.'

The continuation of horse drawn carriage has been a point of contention with animal activists for years, though the debate truly picked up steam this year as four horses have fallen since late July.

Singer Pink and actresses Pamela Anderson and Lea Michele have worked with the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for years and both issued statements condemning the practice. Ms Michele, a native New Yorker, wrote an open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the death of Charlie, calling hansom cabs dangerous.

Mr Bloomberg has long been a supporter of the industry, saying it promotes tourism and helps the horses.

'Most of them wouldn’t have been alive if they didn’t have a job,' the Mayor said of the horses.

As an alternative, there is a city council bill that would replace the horse drawn carriages with vintage-replica electric cars. The thought is that the cars would still provide the economic tourism boom typically earned by the horses and be safer for the city's residents - both human and animal.

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