Just three weeks before a New York City carriage horse collapsed and died on a busy Manhattan street, another unfortunate horse was being dropped off at New Holland auction in Lancaster County by a van labled with a NYC carriage company logo.
For many unwanted horses New Holland is the last stop before the slaughter house.
On Oct. 2, an investigation by the Maryland-based animal welfare group Animals Angels showed a van bearing the name of Chateau Carriage Horse Stables - one of about five licensed carriage operators in New York City - dropping off an underweight Percheron-cross at a horse dealer neear the infamous New Holland auction.
When investigators looked at the horse's left front hoof - where the license numbers are recorded - they saw no number but the hoof looked different from the other three. It has been documented before that some operators have sanded the numbers off hooves. The horse did not turn up at the auction the next day and it was unclear what happened to him.
The carriage horse industry took considerable heat in New York following an Oct. 23 incident when a 15-year-old Percheron named Charlie dropped dead on the way to his stable. Calls to ban the carriage trade were renewed. Letter writing battles ensued on the pages of daily newspapers with anti-carriage activists calling the industry inhumane and pro carriage forces arguing that the horses are well cared for and that the industry is vital to tourism and a city tradition.
A necropsy was inconclusive but the ASPCA, which enforces city animal cruelty ordinances, later dismissed its veterinarian after she changed her assessment of Charlie's condition, news reports said.
The carriage industry has fired the latest salvo, filing complaints with the state attorney general against the ASPCA, citing conflict of interest because of its alleged financial relationship with a clean streets group and for making "deceptive" statements about the carriage industry.
Meanwhile, a move is afoot in City Council to ban the sale of retired carriage horses at auction.