Downtown Charleston was feeling the heat on Saturday as a group called for better working conditions for carriage horses.
“It’s hot, it’s humid, anyone who’s from Charleston knows exactly what we’re talking about,” Carriage Horse Advocates member Whit Slagsvol said.
The group held an “awareness rally” and march to advocate for better working conditions among carriage horses. More than 50 people were in attendance despite the high temperatures.
“It’s really hot,” Slagsvol said. “That’s the same conditions that the horses are going through.”
The attendees of Saturday’s march said they were marching to raise awareness of many issues in the carriage industry. Working in excessive heat only covers one problem.
“A march to raise awareness for the horse carriages working in extreme environment, meaning heat, traffic… an urban environment,” Carriage Horse Advocates member Elizabeth Fort said.
But Tommy Doyle, the general manager of Palmetto Carriage Works, said the carriage companies work hard to ensure the animals stay safe.
“The animals body temperature is taken after every single tour,” Doyle said. “We take the appropriate measures should the animal be overheated.”
He also said implementing new safety laws for horses would be unnecessary.
“You know, the animals are well cared for,” Doyle said. “It’s evident in the three veterinary checks they get a year, it’s evident in the success of the animal welfare program that we have in place.”
But the advocates want more: a study, to be exact. They’re asking for an unbiased opinion on the safety of horses.
“We’re just trying to push for a peer-reviewed scientific study to implement best practices,” Slagsvol said.
But Doyle said the carriage companies’ business practices speak for themselves.
“You’ve got to be an animal lover to be in this business,” Doyle said. “My whole business model is embrace. I embrace animal welfare.”
The Carriage Horse Advocates said they plan to continue holding rallies until they see changes from the city and carriage companies.
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