On August 17, 2013, at about 2:00 pm, I videotaped and photographed a horse named Jerry who had collapsed on State Street in downtown Salt Lake City while pulling a carriage. Jerry could not stand on his own, and I watched as several people tied ropes to his body and dragged him into a trailer. Please sign this petition asking the city council and mayor to adopt an ordinance prohibiting horse-drawn carriages on city streets.
Hundreds of cars zipped by, only a few feet from Jerry’s body on the asphalt. When Jerry was taken to a stable in an industrial area of Salt Lake City, I kept the tape rolling and watched with sadness as Jerry’s limp body was lifted with a fork lift and carried into a barn. Jerry’s owners have stated that Jerry has colic. Colic can be brought on or exacerbated by dehydration, heat, and stress – three factors that are a part of daily life for horses pulling carriages. The high in Salt Lake City was 98ºF on the day that Jerry collapsed.
I documented this tragic incident in hopes that if Jerry’s story was told and enough people heard it, we could make sure this doesn’t happen again. Horse-drawn carriages do not belong in a densely populated and noisy environment like downtown Salt Lake City. Horses forced to pull carriages in Salt Lake City are overworked in miserable weather extremes, subjected to the dangers of congested traffic, and forced to walk on hard asphault for several hours each day.
These dangerous conditions are inherent to the use of horse-drawn carriages in an urban environment. They cannot be corrected with regulation because it’s impossible to reshape the landscape of our city to suit horses. No amount of regulation can protect the public from the danger of horses bolting when they become frightened. I’ve known and worked with horses at a nearby animal sanctuary for several years, and I know that they thrive in a quieter, more spacious, rural environment.
I know that Salt Lake residents care a lot about animals, and I’m urging the City Council and the Mayor to take action to end the use of horse-drawn carriages on our busy city streets. I’ve lived in Salt Lake City for several years and am proud to call it my home. We can do better than this. Please sign my petition if you agree.
Please note: Over 23,000 people have signed this petition so far from around the world, but we are just displaying the Utah signatures to the public.
Salt Lake City has developed quickly over the past few decades and is now a thriving and densely populated urban environment. In light of this, the use of horses to pull carriages is archaic and inhumane. Recently, a horse named Jerry was pulling a carriage when he collapsed on State Street near South Temple. Jerry’s owners state he was suffering from colic, a gastrointestinal condition that can be brought on or exacerbated by dehydration, heat, and stress – conditions that horses pulling carriages must frequently endure. State Street is not an appropriate environment for a horse. Horses deserve a quieter, more rural environment, where they can have freedom of movement and regular access to food, water, and shelter from the elements.
Horse-drawn carriages also pose risks for people. Horses are large prey animals who scare at the slightest provocation and bolt into traffic. Putting horses in a densely populated, noisy, and polluted environment is a recipe for accident and injury. In August 2009, a horse named Jim was pulling a family of seven when he became startled and bolted into a full run down 300 South near Main Street. The driver had exited the rig, but the terrified family continued to be pulled in tow. The horse was finally stopped after it collided with a parked car. This situation could have easily turned deadly, and we shouldn’t wait for such a tragic episode to occur.
The bottom line is that it is irresponsible and unethical to continue with a practice that is so dangerous to people and horses. Cruelty-free human propelled alternatives – like SLC’s Bike Taxis – are available and offer a fun alternative to the use of horse-drawn carriages. Other cities–including Palm Beach, Las Vegas, Reno, Santa Fe, London, and Paris–have already prohibited the use of horse drawn carriages, and I would like to see Salt Lake City follow suit. Thank you.