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Death of Jerry the horse spurs PETA complaint

Published October 23, 2013 7:41 am

Animal rights • Group wants carriage firm's license yanked.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jerry the horse may be gone, but he's not forgotten.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a complaint Tuesday with Salt Lake County Animal Services alleging that Jerry's owner, Carriage for Hire, had run afoul of Salt Lake City ordinances by not reporting all accidents involving its horse-drawn carriages. As such, the carriage company should lose its license to do business, said spokesman Jeremy Beckham.

The city contracts with the county to provide services on animal-related issues.

Jerry collapsed on a downtown street Aug. 17 and later died, although Annette Overson, of Carriage for Hire, initially reported that he had recovered and even released a photo of a healthy horse purported to be Jerry.

Jerry's death drew a chorus of complaints from residents and animal-rights groups. The City Council continues to study whether it should revamp and strengthen the ordinance that regulates horse-drawn carriages. The council could vote on the matter Nov. 12, according to council Chairman Kyle LaMalfa.

But PETA's action Tuesday was aimed at revoking Carriage for Hire's business license under the current ordinance, Beckham explained.

"Carriage for Hire hasn't even complied with these weak regulations," he said of the city's current ordinance.

The company did not respond to a telephone call Tuesday afternoon.

According to the complaint filed with Don Porter, acting director of County Animal Services, city police reports reveal eight traffic accidents involving carriages operated by Carriage for Hire since 2009. The company reported only three, according to PETA's evaluation of records obtained from Animal Services.

Alyson Heyrend, county communications director, said Animal Services would review the complaint before commenting on its substance.

The complaint also highlights portions of the ordinances: "The operator of a horse-drawn carriage shall report to the office of Animal Services any accident involving such carriage. ... If any person to whom a license has been issued pursuant to this chapter commits a violation of this chapter, such license my be revoked or suspended."

Beckham said the records show Carriage for Hire is out of compliance. "If Carriage for Hire can't follow the law, they should not have a license to do business."

That allegation aside, City Councilman Charlie Luke is seeking a compromise, rather than a ban, on horse-drawn carriages.

His proposal would limit horses to one eight-hour shift per day with 10-minute breaks each hour. It would prevent horses from working in inclement weather, including thunderstorms and icy roads, and it would disallow operations below 26 degrees and above 90.

In addition, it would limit carriages to a single route: east from 300 North and 300 West to West Temple, then south to North Temple, east to Canyonside Road and north to Memory Grove. Carriages would then retrace the route back to the Carriage for Hire barn.

csmart@sltrib.com