A debate in Chicago over horse-drawn carriages has raged between animal activists and industry professionals for years.
More than 20 aldermen co-sponsored a proposal this year that would essentially ban the practice by halting the necessary licenses to carriage companies next year.
But City Council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection has yet to take a vote on the proposal, something Jodie Wiederkehr of the Chicago Alliance for Animals criticized Tuesday in a press release.
“Concerned citizens have documented Chicago’s carriage horses being overworked for three years now by a carriage horse industry that demonstrates complete disregard for their welfare as well as the law,” Wiederkehr’s statement reads. “Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), the Chicago agency tasked with enforcing the law regarding the carriage horse trade, continually fails the horses and neither Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) nor the police monitor this trade.”
Tony Troyer, second vice president of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois and the owner of a horse-drawn carriage business in LaSalle County, said horses in the industry go through extensive training and enjoy their work.
“This is a two-fold situation – for one thing, the horses are meant to work,” Troyer said. “Work is not a bad thing for horses, they’ve been doing it all their life – horses enjoy their jobs when they have them and they also enjoy the attention that they get with the interaction of the public as well.”
Current municipal regulations prohibit a carriage operator from working a horse more than six hours within a 24-hour period and under certain weather conditions: when the air temperature dips below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, wind chill measures below zero degrees, or air temperature exceeds 90 degrees.
Wiederkehr and Troyer join us to discuss both sides of the horse-drawn carriage debate.