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Public speaks out on issue of SLC horse-drawn carriages

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Posted at 9:26 PM, Aug 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-21 00:15:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Comments from all over the world have flooded the Salt Lake City Council office to weigh in on the issue of horse-drawn carriage rides. After a carriage horse collapsed in the middle of State Street on Saturday, many believe the practice should be banned.

“I found out about this on Saturday and immediately felt that this is something that the city does need to look into,” said Charlie Luke, councilor for District 6.

Video that captured a portion of the incident shows the horse being moved by a forklift to safety. The images have sparked a public outcry that’s prompted the council to begin review how other municipalities handle similar businesses.

“As horrible of a situation as this is, at least it has us talking about it and working on something,” Luke said.

According to Luke, he has heard from both supporters and critics of the business. During a council meeting Tuesday evening, he said the council will likely come to a decision that will address the concerns from those on both sides.

“I think everything is on the table and I think if we’re really going to do the job the right way everything does need to be on the table,” Luke said. “The status quo should be on the table, as well as an outright ban.”

During a routine public comment session held after Tuesday’s meeting, a few critics of the business addressed the council, all either calling for a ban or change to the city’s regulations.

Luke is already looking into one of the more controversial city ordinances, which addresses what weather conditions the animals can work in.

“We do currently have an ordinance, there’s a heat index temperature of 150 degrees, which is pretty ridiculous,” he said.

But getting rid of the business altogether is going too far, according to Brandon Thompson, who said he used to be a driver for Carriage for Hire.

“These are work horses. They shouldn’t be banned at all. People love riding in the carriages, love taking pictures with them,” Thompson said.

He proposes a compromise that would keep the horses off the street in extreme heat, but allow them to continue working, otherwise.

“People need to just leave the company alone and the horses alone. Horses like pulling the carriages,” Thompson said.