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S.L. City Council sends carriage horse question to mayor's office

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 24 2013 7:24 p.m. MDT

Draft horses at Carriage for Hire stand in their downtown stables, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. One of the horses, Jerry, died of colic last week. Jerry had collapsed almost two weeks ago during a ride downtown.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The City Council shied away from pursuing a ban or increased regulations for carriage horses in Utah's capital city, opting instead to forward the question on to city administrators.

An emotionally charged debate about the carriages erupted after a horse named Jerry collapsed while pulling passengers along State Street on Aug. 17 and later died.

The horse had colic, according to its owners at Carriage for Hire. Employees from the company initially reported the horse was recovering well.

Councilman Luke Garrott was the only person to vote in favor of attempting to ban carriage horses altogether.

In a work meeting Tuesday, the council took a series of straw poll votes to direct how the discussion will proceed, ultimately deciding to hand off its staff report to Mayor Ralph Becker's office, animal services and other agencies for suggestions.

Once those recommendations come back, the council will revisit the issue, though it's unclear when that will happen.

The City Council voted 4-3 against pursuing a proposal by Councilman Charlie Luke to bulk up regulations for horse-drawn carriages. Following the meeting, Luke said his goal was to find middle ground on the issue and avoid a complete ban on carriages.

"We haven't looked at the horse carriage ordinance for over 10 years," he said.

Luke's proposal called for designated routes for carriages, requiring safety and cleanliness equipment be carried by every carriage and establishing equine welfare standards like maximum work hours, required breaks and weather-related limits on when carriages could operate.

Jeremy Beckham, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, expressed disappointment that council members chose to "pass the buck" to the mayor's office rather than tackle it themselves.

"I know (the council) heard from thousands of constituents from across the spectrum, and I think that they need to have some kind of finality," Beckham said.

The owner of Carriages for Hire did not return requests to comment about the council's decision.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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