CENTRAL PARK, Manhattan (WABC) -- The debate over the horse-drawn carriages in Central Park has taken another turn. Animal rights activists with the 'Empty the Carriage' campaign are encouraging riders to get out, but some are calling this move harassment.
"They'll try to tell customers that the animals are abused, or that the horses are working 14 hours a day, or that they're not fed...all sorts of things," says horse carriage driver Gareth Smith.
"So when they tell that customer 'get out, and don't pay', they're not volunteering money to keep up the horse," added Craig Shelton of Friends of NYC Carriage Horse.
'Empty the Carriage' defends the practice, in a written statement, saying,
"Empty the Carriages is having great success with our tactics of educating tourists about the cruelties and danger inhered in NYC's reckless carriage horse industry. The carriage drivers falsely accuse us of 'harassing' these tourists when it is clear they were eager to get off the carriage."
"The children were looking at the horses, and we were making sure that they had water...it's very visible that they weren't stressed," said tourist Diana Heffernan.
A debate comes at the time of the year when tourists line up along Central Park for hours to mark the iconic New York experience off of their bucket list.
The group is planning another rally on Sunday, where they plan to form a 'human chain' near the entrance to the Park to support animal rights.
Animal rights activists encourage Central Park horse-carriage riders to get out, not pay