Ban the dangerous and cruel practice of horse-drawn carriage rides in Birmingham, AL

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Collapsing while pulling carriages during summer heat waves, being forced to stand stationary in the bitter cold while awaiting the next fare, being tethered to a carriage while being forced to inhale the exhaust fumes of the automobile just inches in front of them - Carriage horses are overworked in the harshest weather and most polluted conditions. 

There is nothing charming about this.

Built for soft ground and pastures, these horses are suffering from early lameness, respiratory disease, heat prostration and spooking (which can lead to accidents and injury).

Many cities in the United States and around the world have already banned the use of carriage horses. Such as: San Juan, who's mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto banned them with an executive order citing "deplorable conditions of exploitation and mistreatment to which horses are subjected to in Old San Juan." 

Other cities who have banned carriage rides include: 

Asheville, Beijing, Biloxi, Broadway at the Beach, Camden, Deerfield Beach, Guadalajara, Key West, Las Vegas, London, Mumbai, New Delhi, Oxford, Palm Beach, Panama City Beach, Pompano Beach, Reno, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe, Toronto, & Treasure Island

As other cities have been banning carriage rides, I do not see why Birmingham would allow this cruel practice to take place on our streets.

Birmingham City Council recently approved the permitting of Magic Tours to have horse-drawn carriage rides without even a discussion. 

This cruel and unsafe practice should not be allowed in our city and especially in Alabama heat where there is no provision in the law that limits the temperature in which the horse can work under.

Need more convincing? Here are some good reasons:

1) Public Safety: Birmingham does not currently have proper regulations for safely operating carriages in the city. The Partnership to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages Worldwide keeps meticulous records of *reported* injury and incidents involving horse-drawn carriages. Since 2015 there have been 10 counts of human fatalities associated with carriage-horses, 58 counts of injury to passengers, 19 counts of equine fatality, 17 counts of equine injury, and 21 counts of property damage. These are caused not just by vehicle collisions, collapsing horses, spooked horses, and working not under regulations. This is a public safety matter.

2) Traffic: Has the city even considered how a slow-moving carriage horse is going affect our traffic and roadways? Bicyclists are currently struggling to be able to ride alongside the city drivers. Now, we will have cars speeding around carriages spooking the horses. This is a public safety issue. There are currently no regulations, on carriage routes, for times of day and routes by which congestion can be avoided - not only for the safety of the passengers, but the horses as well.

3) Regulations: The city of Birmingham does not currently have adequate regulations for the safe operation of carriages or the safety of the animals. The current regulations are antiquated and completely inadequate. Of utmost concern is that there is no regulation on the temperature at which a carriage can operate. In our Alabama heat, this is a deep concern for both the horse and the safety of the passengers riding. The horse is allowed to work for up to 10 hours a day no matter the temperature. There is no regulation on hand walking the horse after trailering it into town, per veterinarian recommendation. Water is not required while working, but is up to discretion. And, the horse can be worked up to 5 days in a row in these conditions. All of this is completely inadequate. With little to no oversight, this can be deadly for both horse and human.

4) Enforcement: Even if we did have adequate laws surrounding carriage horses, who is going to be enforcing these laws? Currently, the regulations only stipulate that a veterinary certificate of health should be filed with the chief of police annually. If a horse dies, would there be an investigation? If a regulation is broken, would the BPD be trained on enforcing? It is common in many cities that the officers are not adequately trained to understand violations, making violations rampant. There is little to no oversight which puts the public and horses at risk.

5) Animal Cruelty: If none of the above really convinces you, think about the horses who are loaded up and trailered in for who knows how long, not required to be walked before being hitched up, then forced to work for 10 hours with no temperature or water regulations amongst vehicles, then to be trailered back just to go back to a stall and not have free reign in a pasture. Not to mention the countless injuries and deaths that occur to these horses while they are working.

Let's demonstrate our compassion by supporting the ban of horse-drawn carriages in our city. Cruelty to animals does not belong in the streets of Birmingham.

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