City Council discuss horse carriage regulations

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Video of a carriage horse collapsing on State Street in Salt Lake City in August brought questions about the industry to the top of the city council’s agenda Tuesday.

“We heard from thousands of people. It was unbelievable how much feedback we received,” said councilor Charlie Luke, District 6. “Not only from Salt Lake City residents, but people throughout the state, throughout the nation and actually throughout the world.”

Critics of horse drawn carriages wanted to see the city ban the practice after the horse died from colic, about a week after the incident on August 17.

“In looking at both the pros and cons, a lot of the issues for me that I’m concerned about were not only the well-being of the horses, which I think we can take care of a lot of those things without doing a ban,” said Luke.

He put forth a proposal to change the city’s regulations to limit where carriage businesses can work, as well as, among other things, what conditions the horses can work in. However, the plan did not gain enough support during Tuesday’s work session.

“Charlie’s proposal is to adjust the ordinance, so that we fix, that we jerry rig, a vehicle that’s not working very well now,” said councilor Luke Garrot of District 4.

For Garrott, the measure didn’t go far enough. He was the sole council member to vote in favor of a ban.

“I don’t think they belong on Salt Lake City streets,” Garrott said, “That’s my opinion. I’m disappointed that the council didn’t ask that question in a wide-ranging way. We kind of punted.”

According to the council, Salt Lake City police responded to eight incidents since 2009 involving Carriage for Hire’s horses, including another horse that collapsed.

“The council leadership decided that this was not an issue that they wanted to spend a long time on, so in our work session today our discussion was kind of truncated,” said Garrott.

The council, instead, voted to hear from outside agencies, such as animal control and the health department, before making any changes in regulations. Once they collect more information, they will also consider the possibility of using a contract or business license with carriage companies in the future.