Collapsed carriage horse creates public outcry

Posted at 10:21 PM, Aug 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-20 00:21:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Two petitions circulating online are calling for Salt Lake City to ban horse drawn carriages. The move comes after a horse collapsed on Saturday while pulling a carriage along State Street.

“These horses are asked to pull carriages for hours through all sorts of temperature extremes, and I just don’t think that that’s an appropriate or humane environment for a horse,” said Jerry Beckham, a spokesman for PETA.

Beckham said he was one of several who witnessed a group of about 15 people try to lift the approximately 1,600-pound horse onto a vehicle with rope. Once it was transported, a bystander filmed a forklift moving the horse into a safer location.

“I mean, there were cars zipping by just a few feet from his head,” said Beckham. “It was a very noisy environment, and it was very difficult to get him into that trailer with that whole environment.”

He and others are calling on Salt Lake City officials to put an end to the business, which they believe comes at a cost to the animals. Two online petitions have already gathered more than 1,000 signatures for the cause.

The horse’s owners at Carriage for Hire said the animal was suffering from colic, but Beckham argues Saturday’s 97-degree temperatures couldn’t have helped.

A city ordinance actually only requires the service to stop if temperatures reach about 107 degrees, with 57 percent humidity. According to local equine veterinarian, the maximum may be set too high.

“You’re pushing the limits there. I don’t care what the humidity is,” said Rees.

Carriage horses should be able to work safely in 97-degree weather, according to Rees, but it may have felt significantly hotter in the middle of downtown on Saturday.

“The regulation may say one thing, but that hot in the street, when you look at the street temperature, I think it’s going to be much warmer than the ambient temperature,” said Rees.

FOX13 placed calls to Carriage for Hire, but did not hear back.

The Salt Lake City council released a brief statement via Twitter stating they were saddened by what happened and would be looking into the issue.

Officials with Salt Lake County Animal Services said they visited the company Monday and found Jerry’s condition to be improving under the care of a veterinarian. Per city regulations, the company was inspected once this year, in April, and was found to be in full compliance with city ordinances.