A life-size dead horse replica surrounded by crime scene tape made for potent symbolism today outside New York City Criminal Court in Manhattan, where a carriage horse driver appeared to face charges that he abused his horse. The driver, Saverio Colarusso, was arrested in December for allegedly forcing his horse, Blondie, to pull the carriage for days despite a painful injury to its hind leg.

Colarusso was stopped by a police officer who observed Blondie hobbling and struggling to pull her load. Colarusso later admitted that Blondie had been injured four days earlier, and a police veterinarian determined that the horse had developed a leg infection. The Department of Consumer Affairs subsequently revoked his ­license, and the Manhattan DA charged Colarusso with animal cruelty.

Protesters gathered outside the court today to protest the DA's offer of ​community service to Colarusso, which he rejected today, the Post reports. Several protesters shouted "Justice for Blondie" as Colarusso left court.

If convicted, Colarusso could face up to one year in prison. "Cruelty cases such as Blondie's and other recent incidents from the Clinton Park Stables show that the corrupt, cruel carriage trade has no regard for the law or the well-being of the horses," PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews said in a statement. A spokesman for the union that represents carriage horse drivers declined to comment.