The Salt Lake City Council is revisiting the topic of changing its horse-drawn carriage regulations to protect the safety of horses, pedestrians and drivers downtown. About 50 people attended a public hearing on the issue last night.
The conversation began in August last year, when a carriage horse named Jerry collapsed on a Salt Lake City street. His death prompted residents and animal activists to call for better regulation of the industry. Currently only one business called Carriage for Hire operates in Salt Lake.
Jeremy Beckham is a local member of PETA. He was there when Jerry collapsed.
“It’s just not worth the risk anymore," Beckham says. "It’s not a necessary practice. These horses aren’t serving any kind of function anymore. They’re there for just some kind of charm. But really it’s not charming what these horses are going through.”
In September, the city council directed the mayor’s administration and Salt Lake County Animal Services to develop recommendations for the city’s horse-drawn carriage laws.
Dr. Kim Henneman is an equine veterinarian. She hopes the city will act to prevent horses from working in extreme temperatures and heavy traffic.
“But I think the city is large enough and I think it’s a nice enough thing for people and it gives the horses a job at a time right now when we’ve got horses being abandoned, horses found in Cedar City, not being fed, frozen to the ground,” Henneman says. “These horses are being well-cared-for and they have work. “
Some of the recommendations from city staff include limiting the number of hours a horse may work in a day to eight and limiting business operations to between temperatures of 4 degrees and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Council Member Charlie Luke’s says those temperatures may still be too extreme. He has a separate proposal on the table.
At an earlier meeting of the council, members voted informally to move to a contract-based licensing system with the business, which would give the city more authority to regulate their operations.