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Read the press release here.

Pro-Carriage Horse Group Demands Ousted ASPCA Veterinarian Get Job Back

By Mary Johnson | November 9, 2011 3:20pm
The horse-drawn carriage industry has come under fire recently a carriage horse died on its way to work in Central Park on Sun., Oct. 23, 2011.
The horse-drawn carriage industry has come under fire recently a carriage horse died on its way to work in Central Park on Sun., Oct. 23, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Jim Scott

MIDTOWN — A pro-horse carriage advocacy group is calling for the immediate reinstatement of an ASPCA veterinarian who was suspended from duty after contradicting the ASPCA's official press release about a carriage horse that unexpectedly died.

In a press release issued Oct. 31, ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Pamela Corey was quoted as saying that Charlie the carriage horse, who dropped dead in the middle of West 54th Street near Eighth Avenue on Sun., Oct. 23, while on his way to work in Central Park, was likely in severe pain prior to his death because of a chronic stomach ulcer and a cracked tooth.

"We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies,” the release, which chronicled the preliminary results of Charlie's necropsy, quoted Corey as saying.

On Monday, Corey was quoted in the New York Times, saying that that there was in fact no evidence of pain in the horse and that the information as it stood was “misleading.”

“I was under a lot of pressure during the writing of that press release," she told the Times.

The ASPCA confirmed to DNAinfo that Corey had been suspended some time after the press release went out, but declined to explain why. The animal rights group is responsible for monitoring signs of animal cruelty or abuse in the horse and carriage industry, according to the city's Department of Health, which oversees licensing for the carriage industry.

“It’s simply stunning that the ASPCA would suspend a doctor for telling the truth about Charlie and carriage horses here in New York,” said Stephen Malone, a spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, a group of carriage drivers and stable owners that promotes the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City.

The ASPCA is continuing its necropsy on the horse’s body. A cause of death in the case has yet to be determined, and the final results are still pending.

Malone — himself a carriage driver — added that the ASPCA “has suffered a major blow to its credibility with this outrageous punishment.”

“Dr. Corey’s retraction and apology to the industry and to the public corroborates what we in the industry have said all along — that our horses are fit to work and that allegations of cruelty, neglect or mistreatment resulting from their care in the city are completely unfounded,” Malone said.

The ASPCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. But in a previous statement, spokesman Bret Hopman said the organization was "perplexed" by Corey's backtracking.

"Dr. Corey was intimately involved in drafting and ultimately reviewed, edited, and approved the final statement," the spokesman said. "We are not aware of any new facts that have come to light."

Amid the back-and-forth, animal rights advocates continue to ride the wave of outrage that has come since Charlie’s death.

Several days after the horse died, about a hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil held in Charlie’s honor. And on Wednesday night, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages is planning a rally and "crawl" to several hotels around Central Park to preach to tourists about what they feel is a cruel industry.

The rally is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. starting at the northwest corner of Central Park South and Fifth Avenue.