ST. GEORGE — The cowboy who moseyed over the Outerbridge Crossing on horseback said he feels like his steeds have been "stolen" after he was hit with animal cruelty charges.
Tod "Doc" Mishler, 80, who made headlines after his traffic-snarling ride over the bridge Monday, was charged with torturing and injuring animals at his Friday arraignment.
Prosecutors say his two horses, Hope II and Charity II, were underfed and weren't given enough water or veterinary care.
The animals were checked out by two different vets who found that Hope II had open sores under her harness and lameness in her right leg due to an untreated infection in her hoof, prosecutors said.
Vets found Charity II was underweight and had pressure sores near her armpits, prosecutors said.
Outside court Friday, Mishler — who's ridden cross-country on horseback to raise awareness for childhood hunger — said he would file paperwork to get his animals returned to him.
"You don't ride three times across the country without caring for the horses," Mishler said. "I feel like my horses have been stolen from me."
In interviews with police, Mishler said he had Hope II for "a couple of years and she has 16,000 miles on her." He's had Charity II for two weeks after he gave up another horse because "people were complaining he was too thin," according to court documents.
"I leave it up to the horse how many miles they can go before I send them to pasture," Mishler said, according to court documents.
"Animals were given to man by God for their use but people have turned it into where they care more about animals than people."
Mishler told officers he noticed Hope II limping but "made her push through it" and "she started to walk right." He said if he saw injuries he "would put something on it," according to court documents.
On Monday, Mishler made headlines after he rode his two horses across the Outerbridge Crossing — which is not allowed — and was slapped with two summonses by the Port Authority.
While waiting at the West Shore Inn to make arrangements to cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the city took the animals to Ocean Breeze Park to get them checked out by a vet.
Despite the District Attorney's office saying Mishler signed a waiver of consent to have his horses taken, he rallied outside the park with supporters to get them back, the Advance reported.
This isn't the first time Mishler has been accused of mistreatment of his horses during his cross-country rides.
In 2011, he was arrested in Wisconsin after police there said his horses were underfed and dehydrated, but the charges were later dropped, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
For his latest arrest, Mishler was released without bail and is due back in court on Aug. 10.
His horses are currently being treated for their injuries by the ASPCA on Staten Island, the District Attorney's office said.