A peaceful Sunday afternoon in Manhattan went awry when a carriage horse named Gunner got loose and ran wild through Hell's Kitchen, injuring itself and damaging multiple cars. The incident has reignited the debate over the safety and treatment of carriage horses in the city.
According to police, the 15-year-old horse was being operated by its driver near West 55th Street and 11th Avenue when it became "agitated" and broke free. The operator had been attempting to fix a malfunctioning canopy on the carriage when the horse suddenly bolted towards the West Side Highway.
Witnesses reported seeing the horse running loose on the city streets, with its operator being dragged behind. The chaotic scene could have resulted in serious injuries to both the horse and bystanders had it not been for the quick actions of two off-duty NYPD mounted unit officers. They were able to corral the horse and load it into a trailer for transport to Clinton Park Stables.
During its attempted escape, Gunner collided with four parked cars before slipping and falling to the ground. The animal suffered injuries to its legs and cuts to its body and was later taken to the stables for further evaluation. While the horse is reported to be in stable condition, the incident has once again brought attention to the dangers of using carriage horses in a busy city like New York.
Animal advocates have long been fighting for the removal of carriage horses from Midtown streets, citing both public safety concerns and animal cruelty. Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS, a non-profit organization that advocates for animal welfare, stated that the incident was another "prime example" of why city officials need to take swift action to pass legislation banning carriage horses.
According to Birnkrant, forcing horses into the chaotic and busy streets of Midtown is not only cruel but also poses a significant danger to the public. The horse, clearly terrified and distressed during its escape, could have easily caused a serious accident or even worse, if not for the intervention of the mounted unit officers.
NYCLASS is urging City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Mayor Eric Adams to take immediate action to remove carriage horses from city streets and relocate them to animal sanctuaries. They stated that the majority of New Yorkers polled support banning horse carriages, and it is time for elected officials to listen to the public's demand.
The debate over the use of carriage horses in New York City has been ongoing for years, with passionate arguments on both sides. Proponents argue that it is a beloved tradition and provides a unique experience for tourists. However, opponents point to the risks and cruelty involved in using these animals to transport tourists in a busy and often chaotic city.
As Gunner recovers from its injuries and the city reflects on the dangers of using carriage horses, the call for action to ban this practice is growing louder. It is up to city officials to address this issue and ensure the safety and well-being of both animals and residents in New York City.