Trial of Carriage-Horse Abuser Postponed

Friends of Animals' Campaigns Director Edita Birnkrant was at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse today for the court hearing of Saverio Colarusso, the carriage horse driver charged with animal cruelty in December of 2013 after allegedly forcing a horse named Blondie to work despite a painful leg infection.

An NYPD officer spotted Blondie in visible pain struggling to pull her carriage on Dec. 20, 2013. Colarusso admitted to the officer that he knew the horse had been injured for the past four days yet had her out for five hours that day, and he was subsequently arrested. It's not clear why Blondie's owner or the owner of the stables were not also charged with animal cruelty for allowing Blondie to be worked with a painful injury. 

The NY Times reported that this not the first time Colarusso has gotten in trouble for violating laws while driving his carriage. 

At the hearing, Birnkrant learned that his trial was postponed until Sept. 10.

“This is an out of control, cruel and selfish industry that needs to be shut down as soon as possible so that the horses can be placed into waiting sanctuaries and finally get to live in freedom,” said Birnkrant. “We're urging Mayor De Blasio and the New York City Council to speed up the process of finally banning carriage horses in New York City. The horses have suffered long enough and New Yorkers want a more humane city that rejects animal abuse as a so-called tourist attraction.”

Friends of Animals is urging Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to also bring forth justice for carriage horses by prosecuting Colarusso to the fullest extent of the law. It would be a disgrace if this carriage driver was punished with just a few days of community service for so flagrantly violating the already weak laws in place protecting the carriage horses.  Colarusso admitted to NYPD officers that he knew Blondie was suffering and in pain for several days yet still chose to make her work. There is no excuse for such abhorrent, selfish behavior and a strong message needs to be sent to the public that animal abuse is a serious crime that deserves more than a slap on the wrist. 

This is not an isolated incident, but just one of many that continually occur within the abusive carriage horse industry in New York City where serious accidents are common and horses are forced to work in extreme and dangerous weather. Most recently, on July 3, carriage driver and industry spokesperson Christina Hansen was caught on video driving her carriage with passengers 77 minutes after the NYPD had ordered all horse carriages off the street due to the extreme heat. 


It’s time for de Blasio to make the carriage horse ban a priority. Friends of Animals is asking its New York members to contact the mayor and their City Council members and urge them to write and pass the legislation that would get carriage horses off city streets and onto sanctuaries where they can live free instead of as prisoners to this industry.

NYC Council Members can be reached here.

De Blasio can be reached by calling 311 or 212-NEW-YORK 

You can also consider donating to Equine Advocate Sanctuary to help them care for these horses. Check out their website here.