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Salt Lake mayor asked to revoke license from dead horse owners Carriage for Hire

Published October 29, 2013 1:19 pm

Violation • City to determine whether Carriage for Hire will lose its license.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

The death of Jerry the horse in August continues to haunt Salt Lake City.

On Monday, Mayor Ralph Becker was asked to revoke the license of Jerry's owner, Carriage for Hire.

Since the public outcry that followed Jerry's Aug. 17 collapse on a downtown street, the City Council has been wrestling with whether it should strengthen ordinances that regulate horse-drawn carriages. It could take up the matter again in November.

But last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Carriage for Hire had run afoul of an existing city ordinance that requires such businesses to report all traffic accidents.

Late Friday, Salt Lake County Animal Services confirmed PETA's allegation that Carriage for Hire reported only three of eight traffic accidents involving its horses during the past four years.

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

City Councilman Charlie Luke said Monday news of underreporting accidents by Carriage for Hire was troubling.

"We're seeing a pattern of behavior from Carriage for Hire that is concerning," he said, referring to a photo the horse's owner released earlier of a healthy animal with an explanation that it was of Jerry and he was on the mend, when, in fact, Jerry had died.

The county has forwarded its finding to Becker. The city has the authority to revoke Carriage for Hire's license — although it is not required to do so under its ordinance.

In a letter to Becker on Monday, PETA spokesman Jeremy Beckham said the carriage company's license should be yanked.

"In light of the fact that this company has demonstrated a reckless disregard for city law, I am writing as a resident of Salt Lake City and on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to request that Carriage for Hire's license be revoked pursuant to Salt Lake City code 5.37.185."

A spokesman for the mayor said the matter has been forwarded to the city attorney for review.

The company's owners, Blaine and Annette Overson, declined to comment for this story.

Jerry collapsed Aug. 17 near the LDS Church Office Building as temperatures soared into the high 90s.

News of Jerry's plight sparked a raft of rebukes from residents and animal-rights groups, which sought to ban horse-drawn carriages downtown.

Luke had sought a compromise. 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.

csmart@sltrib.com