Salt Lake council members consider horse-drawn carriage ban

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Horse-drawn carriage in downtown Salt Lake City. (Photo courtesy of Elliott Miller)

During a public hearing on Tuesday, Salt Lake City Council members said they are keeping their options open.

“We are keeping the idea of an outright ban on the table,” said city councilman Luke Garrott.

The death of a horse, which collapsed while pulling a carriage in August, sparked the controversy. Since then, many Salt Lake City residents have voiced concern about the horses.

Amy Meyer, a Salt Lake resident who spoke Tuesday, said, “I grew up around horses. Horse-drawn carriages should be banned, like they are moving toward in New York City.”

Most who spoke were in agreement of the ban, calling the use of horse-drawn carriages silly, absurd and cruel. Speakers listed arguments including the fact that horses don’t belong in the city because of ever-increasing traffic. Some said the horses were mistreated because they don’t get enough water and are forced to work in extreme temperatures. Others said carriage rides are outdated and no longer necessary.

“The City Council is very serious about looking at various solutions,” promised Councilman Charlie Luke.

If the council doesn’t pass an outright ban, most residents agree that at the very least the regulations should be tightened. Council members agree.

The council, following Luke’s proposal, is looking at restricting carriage business operations during extreme temperatures, implementing a designated route that avoids the more dangerous roads for the horses, and making sure the horses are better taken care of.

Other potential changes could include limiting the horses’ work hours to eight each day, making sure the horses get a 10-minute break at the end of each hour, implementing stricter standards for carriage equipment and maintenance and further regulating drivers with background checks and licenses.

No official decisions were made Tuesday. The council plans on holding another hearing in the next few weeks, although no official date was set for that hearing on Tuesday night.

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