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Horse carriage debate headed back to Salt Lake City Hall

Published January 6, 2014 6:30 pm

Regulations proposed to be tightened for public, equine safety.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Three new members of the Salt Lake City Council will ride into the horse-drawn-carriage debate Tuesday as the ghost of Jerry the horse clomps, once again, through City Hall.

At its 2 p.m. work session, the council is slated to discuss an overhaul of the ordinance that regulates horse-drawn carriages downtown. And at 7 p.m. it will host a public hearing on the matter.

The debate over regulating the equine powered tourist attraction was rekindled on Aug. 17 when Jerry the horse collapsed in the afternoon heat near Temple Square. Although the owners of Jerry and the company Carriage for Hire originally reported that the horse was on the mend, he, in fact, was dead.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sought an outright ban on horse-drawn carriages. But the council, in conjunction with Mayor Ralph Becker, determined to strengthen the regulations in an effort to safeguard the horses.

Most recently, Jeremy Beckham of PETA, complained to Salt Lake County Animal Control that Carriage for Hire was operating during rush hour 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. despite a Salt Lake City ordinance banning that.

Carriage for Hire did not respond to inquiries from The Salt Lake Tribune regarding the allegation.

Complicating regulation of horse-drawn carriages is that Salt Lake City contracts with Salt Lake County Animal Control on all animal matters. For example, the cause of Jerry's death could not determined by Animal Control officials because Jerry's owners already had destroyed the carcass by the time they were dispatched to inspect the operation.

Inspectors then forwarded findings through county channels and eventually to the city's licensing division, which can revoke an operator's business license.

Among the new regulations being considered by the City Council are limiting to eight hours the time a horse can work each day, restricting operations in extreme weather and adding stricter qualifications for carriage drivers.

Carriage for Hire is the only horse-drawn carriage operator in Salt Lake City.

The council could adopt new regulations as early as Tuesday evening.

csmart@sltrib.com