The collapse of a 13-year-old carriage horse named Jerry in Salt Lake City, Utah, over the weekend has renewed the debate surrounding this practice.
Now some are questioning whether this business should be allowed to continue, while the Humane Society of Utah and other individuals are calling for an end to the industry in the city.
The incident happened on Saturday while Jerry was hauling patrons. He reportedly showed no signs of illness before suddenly kicking his stomach at which point Annette Overson, co-owner of the business Carriages for Hire, stopped to check on him and he went down.
Jerry’s problem was that he was suffering from colic. While that can happen even under the best of care, the bigger issue is that he was down, out in the middle of a city where he shouldn’t have been in the first place and had to be moved with a forklift.
Some believe the temperature, which reached a high of 97 degrees that day added to his discomfort. Under the city’s ordinances, horses are allowed to pull carriages until the heat index reaches 150 degrees, which would require a temperature of 107 degrees with 57 percent humidity, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Unfortunately, Jerry’s case is just one of many that have brought attention to the problems inherent with having horses in cities. There have been numerous incidents around the country involving accidents with carriage horses who have caused injuries and fatalities to themselves and people that have led to citizens and animal advocacy organizations fighting to get these animals off of city streets.
While many supporters continue to argue that having carriage horses adds to a city’s ambiance, there’s nothing charming about an accident or a collapsed horse suffering in the street.
The Humane Society of Utah, like others who oppose this industry, believes that the practice continues to unnecessarily put both horses and people at risk and that these horses shouldn’t be forced to work in the heat on hot asphalt, or in frigid winter temperatures, or have to endure the noises, traffic, exhaust fumes and chaos that come with city life.
Some have had luck with bans and have successfully gotten them enacted in cities in Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Jersey and South Carolina. The issue is also currently being raised in other places, including Old Sacramento and Georgia and has become a hot topic in New York City.
As for Jerry, he survived what could have been a potentially fatal condition and is recovering, but animal advocates hope he won’t be put back to work and continue to question the city’s lax regulations and voice their opposition.
The Salt Lake County Animal Services reportedly found no violations of city ordinances or policies after investigating this incident, but city officials have at least been convinced that a review of the city code is needed, although they aren’t committing to changing anything or to enacting a ban just yet.
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