NEW YORK (AP) — A carriage horse driver was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty on Wednesday, more than a year after his frail, ill horse collapsed on the streets of Manhattan, prosecutors announced.
Ian McKeever, 54, was arraigned on a charge of overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal or failure to provide proper sustenance for his treatment of the horse, Ryder, on Aug. 10, 2022, when it collapsed during the evening rush hour and lay on the street.
Video published by the New York Post showed McKeever pulling on Ryder's reins and flogging the horse with a whip.
According to the criminal complaint, McKeever had been working Ryder since 9 a.m. when the horse collapsed in 84-degree (29-degree Celsius) weather.
Once Ryder was down, McKeever didn't give the horse any water, prosecutors said.
A police officer removed Ryder's harness and put ice and cold water on the horse for 45 minutes until he was able to stand up, District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a news release.
McKeever told police that Ryder was 13 years old, but a veterinarian who later examined the horse estimated his age at 26 and said Ryder suffered from health issues including pancytopenia, a condition that causes decreased blood cell levels.
“As alleged, Ryder should not have been working on this hot summer day,” Bragg said. “Despite his condition, he was out for hours and worked to the point of collapse.”
Ryder was euthanized two months later because of his poor health.
McKeever's attorney, Raymond Loving, didn't immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.
Ryder's death became a rallying cry for animal welfare advocates who have long pushed to ban the horse-drawn carriages that ferry tourists around Central Park.
Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to retire the carriage horses during his 2013 campaign, but they are still on the job.