STATEN ISLAND — The cowboy who rode his horses over the Outerbridge Crossing has filed a $50 million notice of claim against the city for taking his steeds.
Tod "Doc" Mishler, 80, who was arrested and charged with animal cruelty, filed the notice of claim against the city for "false imprisonment," seizing his animals and taking away his right to travel freely around the country, the Staten Island Advance first reported.
"It's our theory was that his horses were targeted prior to coming with Staten Island," his lawyer, Richard Luthmann, told DNAinfo New York. "There was chatter with very specific people on Staten Island that Doc was coming."
The notice of claim — the first step in a lawsuit against the city — was filed against the Parks Department, the NYPD, the Staten Island District Attorney's office and the city itself.
"The City will review the notice of claim," a spokesman for the city's Law Department said in a statement.
Mishler made headlines in June for his traffic-snarling ride across the Outerbridge with his two horses, Hope II and Charity II. He was slapped with two summonses by the Port Authority for the equestrian journey — which is not allowed on the roadway — and the city took his steeds to Ocean Breeze park to be checked out by a vet.
The vets found that both animals were underfed and weren't given enough water or veterinary care, prosecutors said.
Two different vets found Hope II had open sores under her harness and lameness in her right leg from an untreated infection in her hoof, according to Mishler's criminal complaint.
Charity II was found to be underweight with pressure sores near her armpits, prosecutors said.
Mishler — who's ridden cross-county on horseback to raise awareness for childhood hunger — was arrested and charged with torturing and injuring his animals.
In August, Mishler rejected a plea deal that would have cost him ownership of his horses because Luhtmann said they're his preferred means of transportation and he never abused them.
"These are go horses not show horses," said Luthmann. "You expect the horses to have wear and tear and you expect the horses that are riding in the summer sun to be a little bit dehydrated... There's a fine line between use and abuse and we don't believe he crossed it."
If Mishler wins any money from a suit, Luthmann said he plans to donate it to Staten Island groups that work with the heroin issue in the borough.
Mishler is due back in court on January. A spokesman for the DA declined to comment for this story.