NEW YORK -- There are new calls for criminal charges.
Critics say the animal was being mistreated, but the horse carriage industry says the horse suffered from something else, CBS2's Christina Fan reported Tuesday.
Animal rights activists are demanding prosecution over a video that has tugged at heartstrings across the country. It shows a 14-year-old carriage horse, Ryder,.
"This was not a spontaneous tragedy without any warnings, as the industry is falsely claiming," said Edita Birnkrant, executive director of NYCLASS.
Advocates rallied in front of the Manhattan DA's office Tuesday, claiming Ryder was unwell long before collapsing on Aug. 10, and that his driver whipped him as he lay defenseless on the ground.
Caroline Smidt, who snapped photos earlier that afternoon, said the horse looked distressed and malnourished.
"As the animal was struggling to walk, I saw the man yelling and cursing at him to go faster. My heart shattered. And I could not believe that injustice and cruelty that was being put in front of me," Smidt said.
Christina Hansen, a spokeswoman for the horse carriage industry, said witnesses she spoke to refute those claims, as did the horse's driver.
"Everybody else out here who saw the horse moving that day said the horse was moving fine and the picture seems to show the horse was moving fine. The driver has denied in any way that he was yelling at the horse," Hansen said.
Hansen said Ryder collapsed because of a neurological disease caused by eating grass contaminated with possum droppings. However, activists disagree, saying the horse suffered from long-term neglect.
"Ryder displayed neurological signs, muscle atrophy, poor body condition," Birnkrant said.
"Whenever there is anything that happens with our horses, they want to take the extreme," Hansen said.
The DA's office now says it is reviewing the incident, with a spokesman writing, "Animals should be treated humanely, and we take any incident of animal cruelty extremely seriously."
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